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




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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Unpublished manuscripts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


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.


See Reviews                  View art objects mentioned in the book


 Finding Your Own Myth: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell

It's The Myth of the Great Secret III


Available from amazon.com, in print and in digital format for kindle
Click title
Finding Your Own True Myth

Here's a link to Smashwords.com. An ePub is available there.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/769325
Finding-your-own-true-myth
From Joseph Campbell, the renowned comparative religions and mythology scholar, Toby Johnson derived his central insight that there is a “new myth” arising in human consciousness. This is the understanding of the nature of myth itself, a “meta-myth,” the “myth of myth,” according to which our lives are always giving us clues to the secret of our true and deepest nature, and our salvation comes from following our own unique clues.


One of the clues that many cultures share is the tradition of the “wise old man,” the elder who serves as guide, teacher, and companion, helping others on the path to enlightenment. When Toby Johnson, a young Catholic seminarian, left the monastery on his own unconventional spiritual journey, he had the good fortune to find such a teacher in the person of Joseph Campbell. Johnson says in the introduction: Joe demonstrated how to gently leave behind the nave religiousness of youth and find wonder, meaning, and bliss in a new post-mythic, but re-mythologized, spiritual consciousness.

Johnson's spiritual/philosophical autobiography, Finding Your Own True Myth—The Myth of the Great Secret III, is both a loving memorial to Campbell and an original extension of his work. Johnson, later a psychotherapist, religions scholar, novelist, and gay spirituality writer, offers insight into the vital role that myth—and insight into myth—play in the modern world and inspiration for anyone seeking coherence and meaning. A wealth of personal anecdotes and teaching stories are woven throughout the text to provide practical applications for these lessons and concrete examples of their power to change lives.



The Myth of the Great Secret is a jewel of a book. I have read it with deep fascination, enchanted not only by the graceful style…but also by the skill of your presentation… And I think the way you have put together all that we have been learning from each other in all those meetings and encounters, all up and down the state of California, is really wonderful. The book is the definitive chronicle of our ‘Queste del Saint Graal’…”        

—Joseph Campbell


"The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell" is a sort of “spiritual autobiography” of Johnson's life as a young Catholic boy joining Catholic religious life after high school and going off to the monastery—which was actually just college most of the time, but living in a religious community and going through a daily series of religious practices. During that time, he discovered the field of Comparative Religions and, specifically, Joseph Campbell. From learning about Buddhism and other religions, Johnson came to a new, modern understanding of what religion is really about. He argues that this is what everybody’s going through now in some way as religiousness adjusts to the modern, scientific world. The field of comparative religions teaches one to think about religion from over and above, outside any particular set of doctrines. Such thinking produces a kind of “meta-myth,” an explanation for oneself of how all these various myths fit together.

The term in the title “The Myth of the Great Secret” refers to this “meta-myth” or “myth about myth.” Everybody feels like there’s something we need or ought to know to make our lives better and more meaningful and satisfying. Religion has tended to answer that need with its stories about higher reality. That “something” that inspires us is a secret, a Great Secret that pushes us to assume higher and higher perspectives to make sense of everything.

After Johnson left religious life in the pivotal year 1970, he moved to San Francisco and continued his studies of comparative religion at the California Institute of Asian Studies (now the California Institute of Integral Studies). The next year he attended a weekend seminar that Joseph Campbell taught at The Mann Ranch Seminars, a retreat center out in the country north of San Francisco. He got a job at that retreat center and spent some 5 summers there. The Mann Ranch Seminars was loosely modeled on Esalen Institute down in Big Sur. Through the Mann Ranch Johnson made friends with Campbell and corresponded with him for some ten years. Johnson was part of the crew that assisted at Campbell's appearances in the Bay Area through most of the decade.

Joseph Campbell read the first edition of this book and wrote a nice letter about it:  "I think the way you have put together all that we have all been learning from each other in those meetings and encounters, up and down the state of California, is really wonderful. The book is the definitive chronicle of our ‘Queste del Saint Graal’ of the seventies.” This letter is included in the second edition of this book.

Campbell used the expression “The New Myth” to mean whatever is coming in the future that will replace our current religions, the way they replaced the religions before them. Toby Johnson argues that “the new myth” IS the realization of the nature of myth.

Joseph Campbell thought the image of “Earthrise” — the Earth rising above the lunar horizon — symbolized the modern ability to look back upon oneself from outside. The astronauts seeing earth from the moon are like humanity seeing itself from over and above. That’s the modern perspective.

Earthrise
One of the stories from the Mann Ranch tells of a talk Campbell scholar Daniel Noel gave out on top of the highest point in the California Coastal Range above Mendocino in which he contrasted the mythological image of the Sun shooting an arrow through the Full Moon at the moment of sunset/moonrise with the scientific and powerful reality that humankind has walked on the Moon and watched the Earth from afar.





Johnson does talk about himself as a gay man and gay mental health activist in the book, but this is not a “gay book” the way most of his others are. It’s about the recognition that myths and religious doctrines are symbols about the nature of consciousness. Waking up to that reality frees us from the rigidity of old time religion, while allowing us to believe in a “greater reality” that gives clues to itself—i.e., clues to the secret—through the events of our lives. For gay and lesbian people this is a very helpful way to understand religion. It allows us to reject the stuff that doesn’t fit. Johnson only half-jokingly fancies himself “Joseph Campbell’s apostle to the gay community."

This idea is what’s behind the internet term “Spiritual, not religious.” And the notion of the “secret” resonates with what people mean when they say they are “agnostic,” i.e., that they don't know. Another expression of this idea was coined by California Institute Founder Frederic Spiegelberg in the phrase: “The Religion of No Religion."

Interwoven into Johnson's autobiography is material about Campbell, modern physics, the history of Buddhism, Meister Eckhart and medieval Catholic mysticism, Carl Jung and the phenomenon of synchronicity, the Gaia Hypothesis, and, especially, the story of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. This last is the Buddhist myth about a world savior who saves the world by taking on everybody’s future reincarnations for them—so we are all really Avalokiteshvara reincarnating in fulfillment of his vow to be everybody. And religion and myth have been the clues Avalokiteshvara is giving himself about who he really is and what's actually going on with human existence.

Avalokiteshvara
Avalokiteshvara, by the way, is a fairly familiar-looking Buddhist statue. In male form he is Avalokiteshvara. In female form she is Kuan Yin. The original Northern Indian image was of him as an androgynous male in the form of a bare chested boy sitting in a relaxed lotus position, wearing women’s clothes or jewelry.

It is said there are Three Wonders of the Bodhisattva. The first is that “he” sees that there is no difference between samsara and nirvana, between time and eternity—This is It, right now. The second is that “he” is both male and female. And the Third Wonder is that the first two wonders are the same.

Within the course of the book, there are two symbols used for the central idea of the “Great Secret.” They are the Tibetan icon of the double dorje or vajra (lightning bolt), and the image of the inner nature of the Self as a tiger.

vajra

Lightning is an icon for Enlightenment as a sudden bolt of insight. Ancient Tibetans believed diamonds were formed by lightning striking the earth and congealing. The symbol for the lightning bolt is that dumbbell shaped figure (there are two of them crossing each other in the “double dorje”). The prongs come from the sceptres of the old-gods who hurled lightning bolts—like the Greek god Neptune with this trident.
Tibetan tiger scarf



The tiger image refers to Campbell’s story that perhaps we all have to pretend we’re goats because we’ll be killed (like Jesus and Hallaj) if we acknowledge what and who we “really are” — which is tigers. So the tiger is a symbol of the deepest Self—which has “power.”







The central story of Toby Johnson's book is about Campbell giving a lecture on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Johnson was operating the slide projector. Campbell had intentionally left one of the slots in the carousel empty, so when he got to the stage of “The Clear Light”—what the Buddhists say is the way straight to nirvana at death—and Johnson clicked the slide and there was no slide, just bright white light, he immediately clicked to the next slide. And then Campbell explained that is what everybody does at the moment of death. Because we aren’t expecting it, when the Clear Light appears, we reject it and move on—which in Buddhism means falling back into reincarnation. Symbolically it means we are surprised at the Truth because it isn’t what we were expecting.

And that is because it is a secret!



Here's the original 1st edition cover, published by William Morrow & Co. in 1980. The image was chosen by Toby Johnson's editor Jim Landis from a sample of "cross-like" icons Johnson prepared for Landis.

Myth of the Great Secret 1980


Here's the revised edition cover, published by Celestial Arts, in 1992.


Revised edition



Here's a photo of the first edition which was in hardcover only in Joseph Campbell's library (as it has been reproduced with every book where he had it) at the Pacifica Graduate Center Campbell/Gimbutas Archives.

MofGS-in-Joe-Campbells-library


The original edition of this book contained a chapter called "The Dream of the Ipse Solus," the self alone, which discussed Ursula LeGuin's novel The Lathe of Heaven and Werner Erhard's est Training. A portion of that chapter appears here at ipsesolus.html



In Finding Your Own True Myth, I mentioned several works of art that I said are posted to my website. They appear in different articles, but here they are altogether:

Christ Invests Himself

Christ Invests Himself Organically with the Very Majesty of His Universe

 by Michael Dvortcsak

from the article on this website: Jesus and the Resurrection

Saint Peregrine by Nicholas Markell

St Peregrine Icon by Nicholas Markell

Avalokiteshvara dressed like Saint Peregrine from the article Pilgrimage



Chenraizee as Our Lady of Guadalupe

Chenraizee (Avalokiteshvara in Tibetan) as Our Lady of Guadalupe
by Ralfka Gonzales




Kip's statue of Avalokiteshvara


Avalokiteshvara sculpture by Kip Dollar

Here's a wonderful description of the Bodhisattva by Joseph Campbell




the dorje and bell

The worn dorje and bell on Toby's altar


———



Reviews of Finding Your Own True Myth

Dennis Merritt wrote:

Johnson interweaves his impressive knowledge of religions and their myths ...

Johnson interweaves his impressive knowledge of religions and their myths with stories of his own journey through life in teaching how we can each create our own myths, the myth we choose to define ourselves, the myths we use to map our journey finding our own bliss.

 For those interested in comparative religion, what the spiritual quest means today, this is a great read. Inspired by the author's connection with Joseph Campbell who studied and understood the common themes in the myths of all the major and minor religions of the World. (How important was Joseph Campbell? Remember the 'myth's of the original Star Wars? Luke? Trying to learn the 'force', Yoda the spiritual teacher, the old masters, and Darth Vader representing the dark forces... That all came out of their consultation with Joseph Campbell. Those were great movies. Been supplanted by a lot of CGI graphic wizardry in the later movies.) Follow your Bliss. (Joseph Campbell as well.)

Toby Johnson is extremely well read, and intertwines a history of religious thought with his own life's journey expanding on Campbell's ideas to how we can each create the myths that shape our lives, can reach for the Bliss Joseph Campbell described.

Toby Johnson writes:

Dennis Merritt is author of the wonderful and mind-blowing book Reflection. This book has come through my life twice (1992 & 2017) and each time it's been an affirmation and reminder of the Great Secret theme in my life. Dennis Merritt is like the guy in the "Interlude" chapter who leans across the table and says: "Let me tell you a secret…"


Jerry L. Wheeler wrote a very nice review in Out in Print:

Unlike some other atheists, I certainly have nothing against spirituality. Anything that helps you examine your own life and your relationship to those around you and the world in general is a positive thing. Self-reflection is a wonderful tool and one that is in all too rare use these days. In his time as seminarian, monk, author, lecturer, psychotherapist, Toby Johnson’s experiences and insights rival those of his mentor, Joseph Campbell, and many of them are laid out in this third edition of what may become Johnson’s Leaves of Grass, The Myth of the Great Secret.

This edition focuses on Johnson’s relationship with and assimilation of the teachings of myth-master Joseph Campbell, providing well-chosen anecdotes as well as teaching stories to illustrate his points. Johnson also includes a great deal of personal history pertinent to his own path, but he never intimates his journey must be your own. One of the points he stresses is that the spiritual search is an extremely individual one, and what works for some may not for others. His example provides both a model and a point of departure for those on their own mythic hunt.

If all of this sounds frightfully boring, it’s not. Johnson uses his novelist’s skills to infuse a bit of life into what could have been a very dry read and also uses his own history as a gay man to make his philosophical points salient to other gay men. This common ground proves indispensable in making the material accessible. And although Johnson always comes back to Joseph Campbell, he uses Campbell’s myth-making to include Eastern religious modalities, occultism, and even parapsychology, ranging far and wide among these subjects to bring us a gestalt of the lessons he has learned.

Finding Your Own True Myth, then, is more of an instruction booklet than dogma, presenting possibilities and potentialities that the reader can choose from. It provides a light by which you can walk your own path, and in these days of homogenized, ready-made belief systems, that’s an invaluable service.

JW                                  
2018 Jerry L. Wheeler



Rollan McCleary wrote:


The book helps the reader to better understand a whole period of time and range of cultures

Toby Johnson has been and remains an important figure in the expression of the gay spirituality which has been spreading since the seventies in America into the wider world. From being a former seminarian, a Servite friar and would-be physicist he would become a gay activist, journalist, novelist, editor, therapist and you name it. So it is therefore of real interest to know more about TJ’s background and his colourful views in the way this well written book allows and also to know more about the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell. This writer-guru of the “follow your bliss” mantra, greatly influenced Johnson at a crucial stage and Johnson had the privilege of personally knowing him as opposed to Thomas Merton and Barnabas Ahern without whom perhaps he might not have been so open to Campbell. The book helps the reader to better understand a whole period of time and range of ideas, some of which they might dissent from even while under the umbrella of the same gay spirituality they would agree in seeking to realize and affirm.

Gay spirituality it seems to me goes in basically two directions. It can be an inquiry into, explanation and expression of one’s personal and cultural individuality as a gay person, or, on the basis that gayness can avoid the Yin/Yang dualities heterosexuality imposes, “acceptance” seeks to include everyone and everything on a quasi-buddhist basis within an evolutionary plan to which gay consciousness will contribute something, even much. TJ is very much of the latter “mystical” as opposed to “philosophical/theological” persuasion, and is even its chief spokesperson today. A problem with this latter path for me as a gay theologian who believes in an objective not metaphorical gay aura and whom long residence in Asia can’t permit me to be idealistic about Asian faiths, is that any Buddhist no-self doctrine has no real room for the individualism that being gay is about and the high self awareness needed to manage oneself in society. I even believe that “the story of ourselves”, gay or otherwise, that Campbell believed we make up as we go along and the “synchronicities” that TJ sets so much store by for guidance, are in fact largely given in advance by the celestial pattern at birth. Thus Campbell’s hero’s journey, less universal than he assumed, had a lot to do with his being born under very self-aware and combative Aries.

In following Campbell, TJ takes myth a long and radical Jungian way to the point good and evil become purely relative, there’s no eternity there’s only “now”, there’s no God unless we’re God ourselves, there’s only Life (which is a grand opera which hurts) and all religions are true as metaphors only. The latter point leads to something we do need to know if only because, again, we might wish to dissent from or make variation upon it, even while affirming TJ’s gay spirituality with its insights for life and culture more generally. Influenced by hints from Campbell, TJ believes the next myth, the myth of myths, the secret myth that’s evolving, a form of consciousness in itself that gays can contribute to or spearhead, is the identity of all religions. Because it’s sometimes too easy to be drawn into generalizations and lured by symbols, it seems to me it’s important to be clear that this idea beyond all the various insights of TJ’s writings across the years, is the core vision now being presented and this marks a direction many could never follow. Which the author wouldn’t object to because he is all for freedom and openness. Toby Johnson is a fascinating, and thought provoking character, a perennial hippie of the mind. His book which updates, including autobiographically, a work issued years ago, is an excellent insight into, and for many would be a fine introduction to, his life and work.



Richard Alther Wrote:

Johnson is the contemporary visionary in the spirit of Joseph Campbell

Toby Johnson is both a scholar and seductive truth-seeker of the highest order. What a wonderful accomplishment is this book that seamlessly weaves earthbound matters of bettering one's life (and, more importantly, the lives of all others) with accessible, lyrical prose to help the reader stretch beyond the mundane imprisonment of the ego. Whether expanding upon religious faith is one's concern, or exploring spiritual alternatives altogether, Johnson beautifully inspires us to embark on that journey. The book is invaluable alone for interpreting the extraordinary life and thoughts and legacy of Joseph Campbell.


Salvatore Sapienza wrote:

"The real subject of every myth is YOU."

"The myths of the world's different religions are all metaphors for the experience of being alive. We experience being God by living fully right now," writes Toby Johnson in "Finding Your Own True Myth." Though the book serves as Johnson's spiritual autobiography (from his calling as a religious brother in the Catholic Church to his embrace of interfaith mysticism to his success as an award-winning writer and editor of gay spirituality), "Finding Your Own True Myth" ultimately serves as a guidebook, pointing the way for the reader to explore his/her own spiritual journey and to discover the "myth of great secret," one of the aims of the spiritual life. As indicated in the subtitle, Johnson intersperses the book with stories of his friendship with Joseph Campbell, the great 20th Century American mythologist, who taught him that "the real subject of every myth is you." Johnson's spiritual autobiography is an interesting mix of academia, personal anecdotes and storytelling. I came away not only inspired by Johnson's and Campbell's wisdom, but also encouraged to explore my own "hero's journey" and to discover my own true myth.



Tony Frost wrote:

What is this all about?
 
It’s about why young people describe themselves on Internet profiles as ‘spiritual, non-religious.’ 
 
Insofar as the synonym of ‘spiritual’ is ‘religious,’ just what are these people talking about?
 
Toby Johnson tells us what they are talking about.
 
“A new myth is developing all around us… It is the understanding of the mythic dimension of consciousness. It’s how you make sense of the clash between religion and science… In each person, if one has the eyes to see, resides divinity.”
 
The existence of the ‘indestructible soul’ cannot be challenged as long as one does not know what it is. Billions of people bank their eternity on the existence of something religion leaves undefined. Each one with their own vision. Each one with their own spirituality.  Each one with their own myth.
 
‘Finding Your Own True Myth’ is much more than just another book. Glimpse your own indestructible soul.







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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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