A Course in Miracles

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass


Buddha at peace by Wil Biggers
 A Course in Miracles

from The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell (Celestial Arts, 1990) by Toby Johnson

This article has 4 parts. This is the last part
Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2: The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3: Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4: A Course in Miracles

One of many current attempts to articulate this wisdom is the amazingly popular A Course in Miracles. The Course is a three-volume set of books that was "dictated" to an anonymous, and previously agnostic, psychology professor at Columbia University. Her name was Helen Schucman. The "speaker" in the books, most of the time, seems to be Jesus. The message, however, is only occasionally like orthodox Christianity.

I came by the Course in a curious (miraculous?) way. I had been in New York City with my friend and one-time collaborator Toby Marotta, talking with people in the publishing business. We had been given the name of an editor at a Christian Fundamentalist press. Since one of the manuscripts we were marketing was Toby's Harvard dissertation analyzing the history of the homosexual rights movement in America, we didn't think he would be of much assistance to us, but as a courtesy to the person who had given us his name we called him. Yes, he said, he'd like to meet us, if only socially. We made a date to meet in Central Park.

He turned out to be a delightful man, not at all what I had been expecting from a Christian Fundamentalist. He talked with us superficially about New York, about the publishing business, about our lives. I talked a little about Buddhism and comparative religion. He said something that caught me off guard. He made an offhand remark about "those of us who have made the vow." What had he meant by that? "Bodhisattva?" I said quizzically and cryptically. If he didn't pick up on it, I'd know he had not meant what I'd thought.

"Well, yes," he said. I hadn't expected to meet a bodhisattva that day or to have him recognize that I too was drawn to that spirituality. Later, over drinks in one of the fancy hotels that face the park on Fifty-ninth Street, he asked me if I had heard of A Course in Miracles. I hadn't.

One day a month or two later, back home in San Francisco, I was feeling a bit glum, uncertain of the direction my life was moving. All day I'd been singing under my breath a song by The Moody Blues. Though I really couldn't understand all the lyrics, the refrain seemed to catch what I was feeling: "I'm looking for someone to change my life. I'm looking for a miracle in my life."

I came home in the afternoon to find a package waiting for me. Inside it were three books titled A Course in Miracles. My bodhisattva friend had gotten them to me right on time. (That was Richard Baltzell; here's link to a page about him.)

The next day I began studying the Course, which the book--assuming a pattern of reincarnations--tells "is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean you can establish the curriculum. It only means that you can elect what you want to take at a given time."

The Course consists, in part, of practicing a 365-day series of short meditations. The starting meditations center on the experience of emptiness: "Nothing I see means anything"; "I have given everything all the meaning that it has for me." A mythology is gradually introduced which says that God, of whom each of us is a "Son" like Jesus, wills happiness and health for each of us. But because we "see only the past," living in memories that are fraught with anxiety and dissatisfaction, we tend to create around ourselves an illusion full of disease and ignorance. The Course promises to teach us to work "miracles," which are natural consequences of grace in our lives. "When they do not occur something has gone wrong." And the Course warns that "miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. Consciously selected miracles can be misguided."

The secret to working miracles is forgiveness. And forgiveness consists in seeing that disease and suffering are illusions that only seem to exist because of memories of the past. The method of the Course is to forgive all that seems to have wronged us, to rise above fear and desire, and to see that life is indeed giving us all that we need, since clearly, God wills our good fortune and what we have is exactly what we need and everything is working out just the way it should.


That same wisdom, expressed without the Christian mythology, appears in a concise and wise little book that grew out of the psychedelic Age-of-Aquarius, Summer-of-Love mysticism of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury culture. This is Thaddeus Golas's The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment. The metaphysics is simple and as vague as the emptiness it alludes to would require: "We are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other." We cannot know what kind of beings we are; we can only know that we are in relationship with one another.

The spirituality is simple and phrased in short mantra-like epigrams: "No resistance." "Love it the way it is." "Love as much as you can from wherever you are." "I wouldn't deny this experience to the One Mind." The spiritual method of The Lazy Man's Guide is to "raise the level of one's vibrations" by loving and affirming life, remembering the epigrams as aids to lowering resistance and generating love.

Perhaps the most effective spiritual method of all is to believe in life. We cannot fight it. We can only pay attention, resisting as little as possible, investing it with meaning and significance that allow us to say yes to our experience. For in that experience and nowhere else can we find a God that is capable of satisfying and supporting us.

The verification almost every belief system claims for its doctrine is that "it works." For believers in every system--especially as new converts--begin to experience miracles, find meaning and significance in their lives, discover joy and delight. Coincidences abound; the universe seems full of the sweet touch of God. For it is, after all, not the content of belief that matters, but the fact of belief. True believers find that life supports them because their faith, and their contact with the deep stratum of consciousness from which faith arises, activates and vivifies them.

We don't need miracles--though we may get them--nor do we need intentionally to manipulate our destiny. We need simply to accept our lives attentively, to be aware of being alive in a benign universe. Then our lives can be seen to be full of miracles.

Go to first page of this article

This article has 4 parts. This is the last part
Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2: The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3: Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4: A Course in Miracles

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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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