Table of Contents
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
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the "Statement of Spirituality"
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
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
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
During the fascination with "Eastern religions" in the 60s and early 70s, our generation got exposed to reincarnation myths, especially the naive sort of reincarnation that was described in Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical variation on Hindu Vedanta and that got popularized by Timothy Leary with the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the myths of the "bardo."
In the naive understanding, reincarnation offers solace in the face of death by assuring that you will come back in another life. Just wait. It'll be OK.
Orthodox Buddhism has a much grimmer notion of reincarnation. For Buddhism imagines the universe as infinitely long in both directions. So, for them, human souls have been reincarnating for billions and billions of years, a Cantor set of previous lifetimes all besot with suffering and longing to get off the wheel. So the Buddhist aim is nirvana, which means extinction and an end of the cycle of reincarnation. Of course, this notion of an infinitely old universe has been disproved.
I think the way you would experience reincarnation as solace and reprieve from death is by remembering your LAST lifetime now. Reincarnation of your soul isn't going to be any good for you in the NEXT lifetime; it's only solace in THIS lifetime.
So one of the things the Buddha is supposed to have experienced during the 21 days after he was enlightened under the Bodhi Tree was the recollection of his past lives.
I think what the myth of "recollection of one's past lives" means is the realization that you now are the leading edge of all the accumulation of human experience. We are the present culmination of all previous lives human beings have lived. And so when I think back about people who've lived before--relatives, mentors, figures of history, etc.--I can understand that that was "me" in an earlier life.
I am one with the Mind of All Humankind.
Personal survival in an afterlife isn't very relevant to spirituality.
In fact, the belief in heaven and hell has allowed Christians to put off social justice and solution to problems into a time after death, and kept people dependent on the priestly caste for exoneration from Hell.
I say we only experience change. Experiencing creates time. At the level of human brain, experience IS a change in the polarity of the surface of a neuron. At the level of the cosmos, change is gravity. The universe IS the propagation of activity across the surface of spacetime, and the lines along which change happens most smoothly warps space, and the "force" that shapes the universe of matter is gravity. Gravity and change are indivisible and both are a result of experiencing.
What is having the experience of the universe?
In a twist on the Abbot and Costello routine, maybe the answer to that question is "What." I mean, it is asking the question "what?" which causes experience to happen. The cosmos develops life and consciousness in order to ask the question "What?" and asking the question is what causes the universe to develop life and consciousness.
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
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated
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
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