Effective Dreaming



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Also on this website:


Toby Johnson's books:

Toby's books are available as ebooks from smashwords.com, the Apple iBookstore, etc.


Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III


Gay Spirituality

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


Gay Perspective


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


Secret Matter


SECRET MATTER, a sci-fi novel with wonderful "aliens" with an Afterword by Mark Jordan


Getting Life

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:  A Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods


The Fourth Quill

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




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



charmed lives
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers


Myth of the Great Secret


THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell



In Search of God


IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD: A Mystical Journey



Unpublished manuscripts


About ordering


Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series


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  Toby has done five podcasts with Harry Faddis for The Quest of Life

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  Articles and Excerpts:

Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness


Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"


About Liberty Books, the Lesbian/Gay Bookstore for Austin, 1986-1996


The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate


A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality


Why gay people should NOT Marry


The Scriptural Basis for Same Sex Marriage


Toby and Kip Get Married


Wedding Cake Liberation


Gay Marriage in Texas


What's ironic



Shame on the American People


The "highest form of love"


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Gay Consciousness


Why homosexuality is a sin


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


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


The Gay Succession


Wouldn’t You Like to Be Uranian?


The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter


Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium


Easton Mountain Retreat Center


Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism


The Mysticism of Andrew Harvey


The upsidedown book on MSNBC


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Enlightenment


"It's Always About You"



The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara


Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara


You're Not A Wave



Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging



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



What Anatman means



Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal



The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika



Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva



John Boswell was Immanuel Kant



Cutting edge realization



The Myth of the Wanderer



Change: Source of Suffering & of Bliss



World Navel



What the Vows Really Mean



Manifesting from the Subtle Realms



The Three-layer Cake & the Multiverse


The est Training and Personal Intention



Effective Dreaming in Ursula LeGuin's The Lathe of Heaven


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Gay Spirituality


Curious Bodies


What Toby Johnson Believes


The Joseph Campbell Connection


The Mann Ranch (& Rich Gabrielson)


Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy


The Two Loves


The Nature of Religion


What's true about Religion


Being Gay is a Blessing


Drawing Long Straws


Freedom of Religion


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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


Having a Church to Leave


Harold Cole on Beauty


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Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption


Not lashed to the prayer-post


Monastic or Chaste Homosexuality


Is It Time to Grow Up? Confronting the Aging Process


Notes on Licking  (July, 1984)


Redeem Orlando


Gay Consciousness changing the world by Shokti LoveStar


Alexander Renault interviews Toby Johnson



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Mystical Vision


"The Evolution of Gay Identity"


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


Avalokiteshvara at the Baths


 Eckhart's Eye


Let Me Tell You a Secret


Religious Articulations of the Secret


The Collective Unconscious


Driving as Spiritual Practice


Meditation


Historicity as Myth


Pilgrimage


No Stealing


Next Step in Evolution


The New Myth


The Moulting of the Holy Ghost


Gaia is a Bodhisattva


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The Hero's Journey


The Hero's Journey as archetype -- GSV 2016


The  Gay Hero Journey (shortened)


You're On Your Own


Superheroes


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Seeing Differently


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


Facing the Edge: AIDS as an occasion for spiritual wisdom


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


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The Vision


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside


A  Most Remarkable Synchronicity in Riverside


The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


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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


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The Secret of the Clear Light


Understanding the Clear Light


Mobius Strip


Finding Your Tiger Face


How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated


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Joseph Campbell, the Hero's Journey, and the modern Gay Hero-- a five part presentation on YouTube


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About Alien Abduction


In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke


Karellen was a homosexual


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


Intersections with the movie When We Rise


More about Gay Mental Health


Psych Tech Training


Toby at the California Institute


The Rainbow Flag


Ideas for gay mythic stories


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People


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 Mark Thompson


About Sterling Houston


About Michael Stevens


The Alamo Business Council


Our friend Tom Nash


Second March on Washington


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


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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


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


Keys to Spiritual Being: Energy Meditation and Synchronization Exercises by Adrian Ravarour


In Walt We Trust by John Marsh


Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary


A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary


Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott


Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou


Internal Landscapes by John Ollom


Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks


Yes by Brad Boney


Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler


Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal


Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson


Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette


The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson


The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire


"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught


Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology



The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons


Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert


The Revotutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker


Out There by Perry Brass


The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh


The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan


It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja


ReCreations, edited by Catherine Lake


Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard


Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey by Fenton Johnson


Dating the Greek Gods
by Brad Gooch


Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan


The Substance of God by Perry Brass


The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols


10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort


Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe


The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke


The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann


Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall


Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

An Interview with Ron Long


Queering Creole Spiritual Traditons by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner


Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard


Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak


Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan


Rising Up by Joe Perez


Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez


That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco


Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman


Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang


MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether


Double Cross by David Ranan


The Transcended Christian by Daniel Helminiak


Jesus in Love by Kittredge Cherry


In the Eye of the Storm by Gene Robinson


The Starry Dynamo by Sven Davisson


Life in Paradox by Fr Paul Murray


Spirituality for Our Global Community by Daniel Helminiak


Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society by Robert A. Minor


Coming Out: Irish Gay Experiences by Glen O'Brien


Queering Christ by Robert Goss


Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage


The Flesh of the Word by Richard A Rosato


Catland by David Garrett Izzo


Tantra for Gay Men by Bruce Anderson


Yoga & the Path of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main


Simple Grace by Malcolm Boyd


Seventy Times Seven by Salvatore Sapienza


What Does "Queer" Mean Anyway? by Chris Bartlett


Critique of Patriarchal Reasoning by Arthur Evans


Gift of the Soul by Dale Colclasure & David Jensen


Legend of the Raibow Warriors by Steven McFadden


The Liar's Prayer by Gregory Flood


Lovely are the Messengers by Daniel Plasman


The Human Core of Spirituality by Daniel Helminiak


3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke


Religion and the Human Sciences by Daniel Helminiak


Only the Good Parts by Daniel Curzon


Four Short Reviews of Books with a Message


Life Interrupted by Michael Parise


Confessions of a Murdered Pope by Lucien Gregoire


The Stargazer's Embassy by Eleanor Lerman


Conscious Living, Conscious Aging by Ron Pevny


Footprints Through the Desert by Joshua Kauffman


True Religion by J.L. Weinberg


The Mediterranean Universe by John Newmeyer


Everything is God by Jay Michaelson


Reflection by Dennis Merritt


Everywhere Home by Fenton Johnson


Hard Lesson by James Gaston


God vs Gay? by Jay Michaelson


The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path by Jay Michaelson


Roxie & Fred by Richard Alther


Not the Son He Expected by Tim Clausen


The 9 Realities of Stardust by Bruce P. Grether


The Afterlife Revolution by Anne & Whitley Strieber


AIDS Shaman: Queer Spirit Awakening by Shokti Lovestar


Facing the Truth of Your Life by Merle Yost


The Super Natural by Whitley Strieber & Jeffrey J Kripal


Secret Body by Jeffrey J Kripal


In Hitler's House by Jonathan Lane


Walking on Glory by Edward Swift


The Paradox of Porn by Don Shewey


Is Heaven for Real? by Lucien Gregoire


Enigma by Lloyd Meeker


Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson




Toby Johnson's Books on Gay Men's Spiritualities:




Gay
Perspective cover
Gay Perspective

Things Our [Homo]sexuality
Tells Us about the
Nature of God and
the Universe


Gay Perspective audiobook
Gay Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Matthew Whitfield. Click here







Gay
Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness



gay-spirituality-audiobook
Gay Spirituality   is now available as an audiobook, beautifully narrated by John Sipple. Click here








charmed lives
Charmed Lives: Gay Spirit in Storytelling

edited by
Toby Johnson
& Steve Berman







secret matter
Secret Matter

Lammy Award Winner for Gay Science Fiction

updated







Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance





Getting
Life in Perspective audiobook
Getting Life in Perspective is available as an audiobook narrated by Alex Beckham. Click here 






The Fourth Quill

The Fourth Quill

originally published as PLAGUE




johnson-the-fourth-quill-audiobook
The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here






Two
Two Spirits: A Story of Life with the Navajo

with Walter L. Williams




Two Spirits
audiobookTwo Spirits  is available as an audiobook  narrated by Arthur Raymond. Click here






Finding Your Own True Myth - The Myth of the Great Secret III
Finding Your Own True Myth:
What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Great Secret III








In
Search of God in the Sexual Underworld
In Search of God  in the Sexual Underworld










The Myth of the Great Secret II

The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell.

This was the second edition of this book.




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Toby Johnson's titles are available in other ebook formats from Smashwords.



A Meditation on Effective Dreaming, Personal Intention, Universal Cooperation, and Solipsism

This essay appeared originally in The Myth of the Great Secret, first edition.

The Lathe of Heaven
Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Lathe of Heaven tells the story of George Orr, who discovers that each morning when he wakes some usually rather random aspect of his previous night’s dream has become incorporated into general reality, though he alone recognizes the change. Should George dream, for instance, that he takes from President Kennedy’s hand the umbrella he has been carrying, saying, “You won’t be needing this anymore, Mr. President,” he might wake to find that the weather in his native Portland, Oregon, is warm and sunny. Only he recalls that for years the greenhouse effect caused by air pollution has resulted in heavy overcast and a constant dreary rainfall.

For a while he tries to suppress his dreaming with medication, because he fears he is losing his mind. After getting into difficulties with the authorities for his overuse of prescription drugs, he is forced into therapy with a psychiatrist, Dr. William Haber. The psychiatrist, having learned of the problem, experiments with hypnotic suggestion and quickly discovers that he can gain conscious control over George’s ability and can also experience the changes. At first he proposes to use the power to correct the world’s major problems.

The difficulty with the power—reminiscent of the fable of “the monkey’s paw” or the 1967 Peter Cook and Dudley Moore film Bedazzled—is that of course one can never be exactly certain what solution the dream consciousness will provide, consistent with the suggestion. Dr. Haber tells George to dream that racial prejudice is overcome, expecting that this will mean that people will appreciate and value one another’s distinctive features. George wakes to find that everyone’s skin has turned to a uniform shade of gray.  

The psychiatrist—a type of the “mad scientist,” a Frankenstein (which Theodore Roszak has called the truly modern mythological figure) overcome by the capabilities of his technology—is not satisfied with using George as the instrument for changing the future (and the past, since the new world created is always consistent with its own history). He wants the power himself. He attempts to isolate the effective EEG pattern in George’s brain, so that when he wants to make an alteration, he can feed it back into his own brain. As he gets closer and closer to success, the prospect of the power intoxicates him and he begins using George to put him in positions of greater and greater esteem and political and social power.  

One of the unexpected results of an attempt to program world peace has been the arrival of extraterrestrial visitors, who, after going through a phase of warlike invasion that unites earth against them, end up as simple merchants, operating “junk shops.” One of these great turtle-like creatures who has taken a liking to George reveals to him the secret of “effective dreaming,” something intrinsic to the aliens’ experience of the universe. That secret, he tells him, is contained in an idiom in the aliens’ native language, Er’ perrehnne, which he urges George to invoke before falling asleep. The alien responds to George’s request for translation by producing, from among the items in his junk shop, a then-antique copy of a 45 rpm recording by the Beatles, “With a Little Help from My Friends.”

The secret—known by these beings that live within the dreamtime, a fact signified by their operating junk shops, where old memories are gathered together and made available—is, of course, that the power of intentionality must be used in cooperation with all other sentient beings. 

The power is dangerous when it is used for individual gain or when it is used unconsciously—as it is, the story suggests, by ordinary people; then the results come back into reality muddled and confused. Individual men and women, with no awareness of themselves as part of a great whole, using their power unconsciously, for self-serving ends, have brought about the wars, poverty, and suffering that mar human history. The power, as expected, destroys the psychiatrist and introduces chaos into the world, until George is able to reach Haber and, through the mastery he has attained by invoking the mantra Er’ perrehnne, stop Haber’s world-destroying dream.  

Le Guin describes her protagonist, George Orr, in words that echo the classical description of a bodhisattva:

He never spoke with any bitterness at all, no matter how terrible the things he said. Are there really people without resentment, without hate…? People who never go cross-grained to the universe? Who recognize evil, and resist evil, and yet are utterly unaffected by it?

Of course there are. Countless, the living and the dead. Those who have returned in pure compassion to the wheel, those who follow the way that cannot be followed without knowing they follow it, the sharecropper’s wife in Alabama and the lama in Tibet and the entomologist in Peru and the mill worker in Odessa and the greengrocer in London and the goatherd in Nigeria and the old, old man sharpening a stick by a dry streambed somewhere in Australia, and all the others. There is not one of us who has not known them. There are enough of them, enough to keep us going. Perhaps.  

The point of this myth of “effective dreaming” is that conscious use of the power of intentionality can produce a utopian world, but only when it is directed by motives of compassion and cooperation. Unconscious use results in dilution of the power (the state of the present world); and self-serving use, uninformed with wisdom and virtue, results in chaos, suffering, and a dystopian nightmare.  

The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel

U
rsula Le Guin’s tale of effective dreaming warned against the deliberate use of intentionality to create changes in one’s destiny. For the ego that would muster its powers to make such a deliberate effort is blinded by its own limited perspective. Compassion
not intention, is the key. Compassion is
the virtue of taking on another point of view, of “passing over” into the experience of another. The image of "passing over" comes from
John S. Dunne’s
The Way of All the Earth.  For through compassion the blindness of ego begins to be overcome.  

Research with biofeedback techniques has shown that a person can gain a degree of control over so-called autonomic functions of the body, such as blood pressure and pulse, blood supply distribution, gastric acidity, brain activity, and pH factors of mucous secretions. Even hormone production and immunological response seem to be “controllable.” What has proven to be the key to such autonomic mastery is the practice of “passive awareness,” relaxed attention that observes processes changing without trying to change them. Willful effort tends to bring about exactly what was unwanted. This was what the was meant by the aphorism that what you resist persists. "You can't push the river," as the Zen saying goes. Perhaps what is true of the autonomic functions of the body is true of the “autonomic functions” of the mind. 

After all, our perceptions—if not actual sensations—and certainly our ideas and opinions, seem “involuntary,” as if they were functions of the brain and nervous system. Even the thought of exercising volition seems to happen involuntarily: It is impossible to decide to think about something one is not already thinking about at least enough to make the decision. Perhaps passive awareness is what would allow us access to the world-creating intentionality—effective dreaming—without plunging us into the chaos of our own confused desires and ulterior motivations.  

Passive awareness is, after all, what compassion means: seeing and recognizing others’ experience and, changing nothing, holding it as though it were our own. And passive awareness is what was admonished by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita: renouncing the fruits of action.  

Perhaps if we each pay close attention to our lives and to the lives of those around us, without trying hard and pushing up against each other to change things, “self regulatory” processes in consciousness—not unlike the self-regulatory processes in our bodies—can heal the problems around us.

Perhaps the secret to changing destiny and overcoming karma is not intention, but attention. It does not require esoteric mystical principles to explain this. Everything we do, from catching a ball to driving a car to writing a book, is done most easily when we pay attention to what we’re doing. This, of course, is the point of discovering patterns in our lives. It causes us to pay attention to movements in our lives beyond the day-to-day passing of time, and to experience time as the gradual molding of our consciousness by the “self-regulatory processes” that are manifested in and as the myths we inherit.  

The title of Le Guin’s book comes from a quotation from Chuang-Tse:

“Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven. They do not learn by learning. They do not work it by working. They do not reason it by using reason. To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.”

A lathe, of course, is a device on which wood is carved, on which rough edges are smoothed and delicate designs created. The lathe of heaven is time. Those who pay attention and move through their lives will find that their interaction with other beings smoothes the rough edges of personality and creates patterns of grace and beauty in their lives. Those who cannot cooperate with their experience, who resist life as it comes to them, will be destroyed. And the blade with which both the fine carving and the destruction are accomplished is the experience of emptiness, attention, and compassion.  

To bend to the lathe, to cooperate with life, is to discover oneself in the center of experience as the raw material being worked on the lathe, as the focus for which all happens, and as the cause of all phenomena. As Meister Eckhart said, “In bursting forth [into emptiness], I discover that God and I are One. Now I am what I was and I neither add to nor subtract from anything, for I am the Unmoved Mover, that moves all things.” All events, including the experience of self, that occur to such a central focus can be understood as happening for that focus, in order to reveal itself to itself, to bring the central consciousness to full enlightenment.  

Such thinking, interpreted pedestrianly, seems solipsistic, megalomaniacal, and egocentric. But taken radically, literally, it is none of these. For then even the “ego” of the central focus is seen to be but an illusion, a touch of the lathe.  

The notion is hardly solipsist in any of the usual senses, for it denies the real existence of an ipse that is solus, a self that is alone.  

The problem is not solipsism but the superficiality of most understandings of the idea. The problem with what is called narcissism is actually the failure of the so-called narcissists to take seriously the implications of their narcissism.

For if one sees oneself as the only being that is in any way real (and that way is only analogous), then one must assume responsibility for the whole world of one’s experience and there is no room left for pettiness or egotism. The true solipsist sees that his or her own happiness is only limited by egotism, for the ego creates barriers that, when we try to protect them, limit and curtail our experience of life. The ego, living in a world of other egos, all trying desperately to save face and defend themselves against possible assault is a horror.  

The problem with superficial solipsism is that it might allow my ego to cling to the notion that it is real. But truly radical solipsism leaves nothing for an ego to cling to. It reveals that I am God and that that doesn’t mean anything. For being God is being empty. And so I am most like God, as Eckhart also said, when I am empty and least concerned with myself.  

When in such a solipsism I rise above my ego and all the world seems a part of me, I see that I am not cut off from the others. All of you are aspects of me, as I am an aspect of each of you. And all of us together comprise the Self which each of us “really” is. From that perspective, which is timeless and spaceless, the Buddha is an aspect of me—that aspect which has seen beyond desire into the emptiness. Jesus is an aspect of me—that aspect which renounced divinity to become human and in so doing was restored to divinity, taking the human with him. Avalokiteshvara is an aspect of me—that aspect which identifies itself with the central Self as it manifests in each and every sentient being.

From that perspective, Krishna, too, and Mohammed, Nagarjuna, Meister Eckhart, and Saint John of the Cross —all are aspects of me, all of them influencing my life, shaping my thoughts, guiding my path. And just as all the saints are aspects of me, so are all the great sinners: Caligula, Judas, Hitler, Stalin. And so are the characters of fiction and fantasy that influence me sometimes as much as the characters of history: Odysseus, Arthur Pendragon, Hamlet, Herman Melville’s Ishmael, Arthur C. Clarke’s Alvin and Karellen, C. S. Lewis’s Ransom, even Superman and the Incredible Hulk.  

Indeed, for all the uniqueness, each person is, as well, part of the whole, no island apart. For each is constituted by the interactions with all others whereby they jointly construct the universe and whereby they are constructed.  

In the prologue of Demian, Hermann Hesse observes that

Demian by Hermann HesseEvery man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again… Each represents a gamble on the part of nature in the creation of the human. We all share the same origin, our mothers; all of us come in at the same door. But each of us—experiments of the depths—strives towards his own destiny. We can understand one another; but each of us is able to interpret himself to himself alone.   Demian



I have my own story. It is special, just as all the others are special. Yet I am also more than that story. I am more than just my limited perspective. The task that faces each and every one of us is to live somehow both as each and as every one: to know that he or she is confined to this space and time and to live it well, and at the same time to know that he or she is composed of every person who has ever lived.  

I, Edwin, Toby, Peregrine, will never be a Lamed Vovnik dying at Auschwitz, one of the thirty-six Just Men for whose sake God keeps the world in being. I will never be a Zenman, sitting hour after hour for a lifetime of meditation.  I will never be a Cleopatra, Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, or modern day Alcibiades, sought after by men and women for my youth and beauty. And yet I am also all of them.  There is nothing that is human from which I stand apart.  


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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of nine 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, four 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 and editor of a collection of "myths" of gay men's consciousness. 

Johnson's book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.

His  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They remain in print.

FINDING YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell: The Myth of the Great Secret III tells the story of Johnson's learning the real nature of religion and myth and discovering the spiritual qualities of gay male consciousness.

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