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
Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen
War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar
The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal
Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal
The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre
Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak
A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey
Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes
The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes
Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson
Keys to Spiritual Being:
Energy Meditation & Synchronization Exercises
By Adrian Ravarour, Ph.D.
iUniverse, Inc, 2007
108 pages, Trade paperback, $12.95
Available from amazon.com
Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
In a Foreword, noted scientist, artist, parapsychologist Dr. Jose Arguelles proposes that “…what we refer to as the body is actually a biopsychic organism that feeds on various kinds of impressions and transmutes them into different states of energy. In fact, we both (1) receive energy—electromagnetic vibrations and, at a more subtle level, solar and cosmic frequencies—and we (2) emit energy, biopsychic energy, the energy our organism produces, having transformed the electromagnetic and solar-cosmic frequencies it is constantly receiving.”
Adrian Ravarour was a dancer, choreographer and, more importantly, a spiritual seeker in San Francisco from the 1960s. He developed a dance form he called Energy Flow Dance. Ravarour was part of the rise of gay consciousness in that city during those heady days of the birth of the New Age. Though this term has been ridiculed and coopted by merchandising and popularizing, the so-called "New Age" really did usher into modern culture a whole awareness of psychic energies and larger patterns of which human beings are indivdual manifestations. The description of the body that Arguelles proposes is radically different from the traditional Christian model of body and soul and from the biological/scientific model of humans beings as intelligent animals consisting simply of a fleshly body with a nervous system that responds to sensory stimulus. From the practices, writing and teaching and theorizing of spiritual seekers and meditators like Adrian Ravarour, and of course the perhaps more famous Jose Arguelles, "New Age" insights into the nature of energy have become a staple in post-religious spiritualities.
I personally find the idea that human beings receive and emit energy--hopefully improved by the process--explains a great swath of unexplained, fringe, paranormal phenomena from reincarnation, past life memories and karma to auras, telepathy, clairvoyance, spiritual healing and even things like UFOs, alien abduction and apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What "spirituality" means is becoming conscious of this greater flow we're always living within like fish in water, but, like the fish, we're seldom aware of this all-pervasive psychic environment though it is acting on us all the time. To become aware of it, one must focus and practice perceiving it.
That is what Keys to Spiritual Being is about: how to focus and become aware of energy patterns and then, even more audacious, to use this awareness to synchronize vibrations with lovers and partners to increase intimacy and enhance relationship.
Ravarour's exercises are relatively simple, and he's very good about describing what one should be expecting and looking for, for instance, that as you open and relax the field of vision you might notice colors washing out in peripheral sight and a white silver light appearing to envelope everything. The first set of exercises bring attention to the energy field between the hands. The center of the palm is a sensor and subtly feels warmth, electricity or repelling force as you consciously move your hands together and apart. The next set of exercises are performed gazing into a mirror and developing what Ravarour calls "eye tunnels," the tight focused beam of eye reflecting back into eye. The instruction I mentioned above about peripheral vision is in this practice.
I particularly like the reference to peripheral vision; it's long been a part of my own mythical/magical vision of the world. Years ago when I was in college, outside my dorm window, in the distance there was an aircraft beacon, like a lighthouse, that rotated a beam of light into the night sky. I noticed that if I wasn't looking directly at it I could sometimes see the faint reflection of the beam in the clouds, but if I tried to look closely, the light in the distant clouds would disappear. This is because the rods in the periphery of the retina are more sensitive, though only see in black and white, than the rods in the center of the retina that see color but require more light to register. This is called the Purkinje Effect after the Czech anatomist who discovered it. While it's just a consequence of cell function, even back then in college I took it to have mystical, metaphorical meaning: Some things you can only perceive by not looking at them directly; some ideas you can only understand by not thinking about them, i.e., you have to let your intuition reveal them indirectly, a little like the faint light that the Purkinje cells can see that the attentive center of the eye just can't. I think the truth of Adrian Ravarour's energy perception is like the Purkinje Effect: our normal, waking, rational consciousness doesn't perceive the subtle biopsychic energy field we're surrounded by. We have to intentionally being our attention to it—intention and attention.
The second half of the book concerns synchronizing energy with another person and includes an excellent explanation of the chakras of Indian Tantric myth along with guidance in aligning chakra energy flow between two people.
Adrian Ravarour is present in the book not only as the author and instructor of the techniques, but also as the model in photographs showing him doing the practice. He's barechested or nude, a tall, thin, nicely-muscled, long curly-haired, pretty hippie with deep, loving eyes—an ideal type in those days. (You can see such a photo on the cover.) That he showed his body so openly was a little daring in the late 60s/early 70s. And it was part of the New Age revolution that we should honor our bodies and find our spirituality and our goodness by embracing our human embodiment and finding our psychic energy therein instead of denying the body and seeking spirit in an ethereal, disembodied heaven far from our real and embodied world.
The book is pretty to look at just because of the photos, and the photos are alluring and evocative enough to pull the reader into participating. Of course, I'm intentionally projecting myself into Adrian in the photos, but I can say I can feel his body energy coming through to me as I study the book.
My partner, Kip, and I are students of T'ai Chi, the gentle, slow version of Chinese martial arts that is intended to teach balance, core strength, and muscle awareness. Since I've been reading Keys to Spiritual Being, I been more attentive than ever to energy flow in our practice of the T'ai Chi form. It's added a whole level of awareness to the practice.
I think it is our responsibility as well-intentioned and good and moral human beings to transform the energy that we receive from the past and from the world around us so that we emit happier, healthier, more loving and compassionate patterns than we received. This is how we save the world
To order from amazon.com
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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