World Saviors

What saving the world really means



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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Unpublished manuscripts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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  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


Advice to Future Gay Historians


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


Queer men, myths and Reincarnation


Was I (or you) at Stonewall?


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



Toby's Experience of Zen



What is Enlightenment?



What is reincarnation?


What happens at Death?


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



A Funny Story: The Rug Salesmen of Istanbul



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



Drawing a Long Straw: Ketamine at the Mann Ranch


Alan Watts & Multiple Solipsism



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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


The Monastic Schedule: a whimsy


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


Sex with God


Merging Religion and Sex


Revolution Through Consciousness Change: GSV 2019


God as Metaphor


More Metaphors for God


A non-personal metaphor God


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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?


A Different Take on Leathersex


Seeing Pornography Differently

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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


Wallwalkers & Gatekeepers


Jesus and Avalokiteshvara


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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


My first Peace March


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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


In Search of Lost Lives by Michael Goddart


Queer Magic by Tomas Prower


God in Your Body by Jay Michaelson


Science Whispering Spirit by Gary Preuss


Friends of Dorothy by Dee Michel


New by Whitley Strieber


Developing Supersensible Perception by Shelli Renee Joye

Sage Sapien by Johnson Chong


Tarot of the Future by Arthur Rosengarten


Brothers Across Time by Brad Boney


Impresario of Castro Street by Marc Huestis


Deathless by Andrew Ramer


The Pagan Heart of the West, Vol 1 by Randy P. Conner


Practical Tantra by William Schindler


The Flip by Jeffrey J. Kripal


A New World by Whitley Strieber


Bernhard & LightWing by Damien Rowse


The Mountains of Paris by David Oates


Trust Truth by Trudie Barreras


How to be an Excellent Human Being by Bill Meacham


The Deviant's War by Eric Cervini


What Is the Grass by Mark Doty


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.


The reality of evil and human suffering


The religious myths of the World Saviors are more abstract and the themes more subtle than the hero legends of fighting
dragons and monsters (like Grendel in Beowulf). The “monster” World Saviors confront is the reality of evil and human suffering.

In the religions of the Bible, evil and suffering are explained as punishment for the offense the first man and woman committed against Yahweh-God. Human beings had been placed by a loving God in a Garden of Paradise where everything was given to them. But because they disobeyed God’s command not to discover (“eat of”) the distinction between good and evil, they were cast out of the Garden and condemned to suffer. A World Savior was needed to appease God’s anger.

In Christian mythology, Jesus Christ was that Savior whose bloody sacrifice on the cross was sufficient appeasement. But actually Jesus’s message was that the cause of evil and suffering was not God’s anger at Adam and Eve or his continuing anger at violations of his rules of cleanliness and ritual purity. The cause was human beings’ failure to recognize their oneness with each other and to follow the Golden Rule and love one another. His death was a demonstration of such love, not a ritual sacrifice in appeasement of divine wrath.

Jesus As Everyman


The story of Jesus is about Everyman. In the Christian world, Jesus is the image of the Self in every man and woman. His is the story of the good person who sees through the rules and conventions of his society to the real meaning beneath. Jesus realized that the point of belief in God was not to obey rules and taboos about ritual cleanliness and ownership of property, it was to help people be kind and loving to one another.

Jesus urged people to let compassion, not obedience to the Law, determine how they would treat one another. When he revealed his beliefs, some people rejoiced, others objected. He was set upon by the powers of Church and State, Temple and Emperor, and killed as a heretic and a troublemaker. But because of his goodness and his willingness to accept life as it comes—“not my will, but thine”—he passed through death and returned bearing the boon of liberation for everybody.

Each of us goes through something of that cycle as we mature from childhood. As generous, well-meaning innocents, we announce to the world our discovery of what life is all about and our intention to change the world for the better. We are immediately beset by the powers of Church and State. We have to behave ourselves the way other people expect us to. We have to learn what they say is right, we have to learn who to mistrust and fear. We have to work, we have to pay taxes.

We have a choice between becoming a hero—like Jesus—or giving in to the demands of the world. We can choose to be good and compassionate or become cynical and resigned to being driven by cultural and economic forces. We can follow our bliss or work for The Man.

The Buddha's Ferryboats

 
Besides Buddha, there is another world savior in Buddhism. Connected with him is the Buddhists’ affirmation of the phenomenal world. The mythological, non-historical character of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appeared during the time of a reformation in Buddhism as the religion shifted from a purely monastic practice to a popular religion.

Early Buddhism taught that escape from suffering and disappointment could be achieved by living a life of simplicity, moderation and discipline, in the search for “nirvana,” the extinction of desire and escape from the cycle of reincarnation. This escape was limited to males living as monks. The best that women (even Buddhist nuns) and lay people could hope for was that, by dint of the good karma they incurred by giving alms to monks, they would be reincarnated in a future life as a monk. Then they would be able to avail themselves of the Buddha’s wisdom about achieving enlightenment through their own meditation practice. This “way of the elders” (Theravada Buddhism) came to be called “the little ferryboat” (Hinayana) because only a few could cross over into nirvana.

The popular religion, called Mahayana, “the big ferryboat,” developed around the same time as Jesus’s reform of Judaism. There are questions in the study of comparative religion about which might have influenced which, or whether the two reformations appeared simultaneously because of a change in the collective unconscious. Just as Jesus taught that love is the one commandment superseding all the elaborate rules of ritual cleanliness that comprised the Pharisaic Judaism of his day, so the Mahayanists taught that compassion for others is the saving attitude that leads to enlightenment, not solitary meditation on philosophical abstractions.

The Lord Looking Down In Pity

The Mahayana myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is pure metaphor. There is no suggestion that Avalokiteshvara was a historical figure. The story was devised by the Mahayana sages to dramatize the message of compassion.

The story goes that this fellow had worked his way through countless incarnations to become a bodhisattva, a stage of development just before becoming a buddha. In what promised to be his final incarnation, he was the beautiful, kind, gentle, and androgynous Avalokiteshvara, whose name means “The Lord Looking Down in Pity.”

In a culture that revered age, and out of a mythology that imagined him to the countless lifetimes old, Avalokiteshvara is usually portrayed as a youth. Perhaps this was to suggest vitality and a certain sexiness. Openness to experience, innocence, good will and vivacity—all are conveyed in the image of being young at heart.

As Avalokiteshvara entered his final meditation and was about to achieve his goal of lifetimes beyond number, he heard a groan go up from all around him. He came out of his meditation and asked, “What’s this about? I was about to achieve nirvana. Why the groan?”

All of nature answered in a single voice, “O Avalokiteshvara, we are happy for you that you are about to enter nirvana, but we are sad for ourselves. Life is hard and full of suffering. What’s kept us going was the thought of you. You are so kind and lovely. You’ve been a source of strength and inspiration for us. Now you are about to leave us, and so we groan.”

Rapt with compassion, the saint responded, “Well, then I won’t leave you, but shall renounce my own nirvana until all sentient beings are likewise enlightened.” Indeed, he went on to say, “It would be better for one to suffer than for all. Therefore I vow to take upon myself all the karma and all the suffering of all sentient beings. I shall remain in the cycles of reincarnation until the end of time bestowing grace and mercy for the good of all.”

Avalokiteshvara is one of the most worshipped gods on Earth. All the prayer flags and prayer wheels throughout the Buddhist world vibrate with his mantra: Om mani padme hum, “The jewel is in the lotus.” Yet the name of Avalokiteshvara is little known in America. One artistic representation of him, however, is strikingly familiar. In the form of the Goddess of Compassion, Kuan Yin, the “Madonna of the Orient,” his statue is available in virtually every garden store around the country. Chinese artists, unfamiliar with the Hindu notion of androgynous, bisexual gods, mistook his effeminate appearance and reproduced him as a female goddess.

As Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva is usually standing, clearly a woman, sometimes holding a water bottle. As Avalokiteshvara, he is usually sitting in a relaxed pose. Not in the disciplined lotus posture of the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara sits with his right knee up and his left leg folded under him or hanging over a wall. His right hand rests languidly on his knee. Often broad-shouldered and slim-waisted, he is usually shown bare-chested or, Indian-style, wearing a sarong with a scarf thrown over his shoulders, and he has flowers in his hair. Sometimes he wears women’s beads so that he is dressed (like the Native American berdache medicine men) in sexually ambiguous attire. He always looks to be in peaceful reverie, as though sitting in a garden enjoying the quiet of the afternoon, among the lotus blossoms.

The Lord Who Is Seen Within

In institutionalized Buddhism, this story of Avalokiteshvara’s ongoing reincarnation is interpreted as explaining the mystical identity of certain religious leaders. The myth is understood to mean that somewhere in the world the Bodhisattva is incarnating to do good works. And that “somewhere” is usually as leader of the particular sect. The Dalai Lama, for instance, is believed to be a direct incarnation of this Bodhisattva, and elaborate tests are performed to determine the lineage of a prospective Dalai Lama to make sure it is the incarnation of Avalokiteshvara who is given the office.

According to another interpretation of the myth, however, when Avalokiteshvara made his great vow, all other sentient beings were at that moment ushered into nirvana, leaving Avalokiteshvara alone behind to live out their karma for them. This androgynous being then is the only being who is incarnating.

Though we all think ourselves to be different, separate individuals—all fighting, struggling, conquering, or succumbing to the demands of our unique karmas—we are each and all really simultaneous incarnations of that one being, Avalokiteshvara. We live out the vow, entering all the doors of incarnation, and discover that nirvana is not the renunciation of the world, but the loving, compassionate embrace of all possible human experience. The name Avalokiteshvara can also be interpreted: “The Lord Who is Seen Within.”

This Buddhist myth from the 1st or 2nd Century is not about homosexuality and gay identity as we know them in the 20th and 21st Century. But the character in the myth reminds us of what today are thought of as gay traits. Avalokiteshvara’s sensitivity and generosity, his lovableness and sweetness, his blend of masculinity and femininity, his attractiveness and vitality and pluckiness reflect qualities that shine forth from many gay men. The appearance of such traits justifies and honors our speaking about “gay men’s spirituality” in the first place.

The Bodhisattva Vows, the wording slightly changed for this context, are: “However countless sentient beings, I vow to save them. However inexhaustible the resistance, I vow to relinquish it. However many the doors of incarnation, I vow to enter them all. However incomparable the highest perspective, I vow to attain it.”

Jesus As Bodhisattva

Avalokiteshvara’s mantra, “The jewel is in the lotus,” means that enlightenment and salvation are found in the here-and-now, in physical reality. The lotus is a water-lily that floats on the surface of ponds, symbolizing the beauty of spiritual unfolding. The plant itself, the roots and stalk, are under the water. They grow up from the mud and muck at the bottom of the pond. The meaning of the image is that spiritual beauty is rooted in the reality of fleshly existence and the round of birth and death. This is the same meaning as “The Word has become flesh” or “Jesus is Lord.”

Jesus was a world savior by his willingly dying in expiation for the sins of the world. He was the perfect human sacrifice and ultimate scapegoat for the sin Adam committed against Yahweh-God. The Mahayana character, Avalokiteshvara, was a world savior by his delaying his own entry into nirvana out of compassion for all sentient beings.

Within the mythic worldview of each, it seems Avalokiteshvara’s saving act was more effective than Jesus’s. The Christian savior’s self-sacrifice to appease his Father’s anger did not change anything. People are still hating. People are still suffering. The Gates of Heaven have been opened by Jesus’s saving acts, but each individual still has to face trial before an exacting judge. There is no guarantee of getting through the gate.

According to Buddhist myth, however, when Avalokiteshvara took upon himself the suffering of the world, all the sentient beings did indeed enter nirvana and no one is suffering anymore, just Avalokiteshvara. Every sentient being went through the gate.

Jesus’s saving act makes more sense in the Buddhist conceit than in the Hebrew. In the Gnostic-like, mystical images of the Gospel of Saint John, Jesus declares: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5) He prays, “That they all may be One, as you, Father, in me and I in you. That they all may be One in us.” (John 17:21) Jesus makes more sense as savior not as the pleasing sacrifice to appease the Father-God’s wrath, but as the “Christ-energy” in everybody.

In his resurrection into a glorified body, he transcended death and individuality. He became one with all his disciples, signified by the sacramental partaking of his flesh as food. In the story of the encounter on the Emmaus road (Luke 24: 13-35), two of the disciples recognize Jesus’s mystical presence in a stranger they met along the way when they share a meal with him. It is said that the way to follow Christian ethics is to see Jesus in every person we meet.

In the metaphors discussed above as the new paradigm, we could say the vibes from Jesus’s death resonated out through the whole complex of morphogenetic fields, etheric holograms and archetypes of the collective unconscious that make up the mind of Earth. Clearly that is so. His life and death changed human consciousness as much as any other event in human history.

Ripples In The Spirit Field

To address the question of the simultaneous origins of Christianity and Mahayana, perhaps it was from the karmic resonances of Jesus that the pure metaphor of Avalokiteshvara arose in the meditations of the Mahayana sages who devised the story of Bodhisattva. Though perhaps this resonance started even before Jesus or the Mahayana sages.

Modern chaos theory gives us the image of the butterfly in Australia whose flapping wings start the ripple in the air that becomes a hurricane in the South Atlantic. Perhaps it was the life and solitary meditation and deep sensitivity to suffering of some Two-Spirited shaman somewhere in the world that first started this ripple in the spirit field that ended up resonating round the world as the message of love and compassion.

Whatever the original source, this ripple, reinforced by the Christian and the Mahayana myths, still resonates in our lives today. Most gay men still live like Jesus: unmarried, without children, striving for beauty, looking for love and friendship, building community, and speaking truth. Occasionally we even get crucified. But we always rise again.

One of the ways homosexuality differs from race is that bigots and dictators can succeed in annihilating a race by killing all the members of that race. But even if they manage to kill off all the homosexuals in the world, in the next generation there will be just as many as there were before. This surely is resurrection from the dead.




rainbow line

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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