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Toby Johnson's books:
YOUR OWN TRUE MYTH: What I Learned
from Joseph Campbell: The
GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness
GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe
LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE:
Fantastical Gay Romance set in two different time periods
THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: GaySpirit in Storytelling, a collaboration with Steve Berman and some 30 other writers
THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell
IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD: A Mystical Journey
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Articles and Excerpts:
Review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness
Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"
EnlightenmentYou'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
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
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
I’ve been reading Jim Marion’s The Death of the Mythic God. I have been moved and occasionally “inspired” by his presentation of a modern, post-mythic mystical interpretation of the meaning of God and religion. Central to his discussion is the notion that we individualized human beings are all incarnations of “God” and that what “God” means is the universal consciousness that underlies all experience and gives rise to the world of appearances. Marion offers an evolutionary, staged theory of human development—both of the species (i.e. the planet/Gaia) and of the individual—using the models of Ken Wilber, based in the traditional esoteric wisdom of the five levels of energy vibration; Arthur Koestler, coining the word holon to refer to the “Janus-faced” hierarchy in which all things are made of wholes which, in turn, are parts of other wholes at the next level up; and Christopher Cowan and Don Beck, using a color-coding system to elucidate the subtle distinctions between levels of consciousness.
To link to this book at amazon.com, click on the title: The Death of the Mythic God: The Rise of Evolutionary Spirituality
Those traditional esoteric vibrational levels are: physical, etheric, astral, subtle, and causal; beyond these is the nondual Source itself which is mythologized as God. All of us are vibrating on these levels, including that of Source, but are seldom aware of it. Spiritual development consists, in part, of bringing these vibrations (and concomitant “powers” and abilities) into consciousness so that we participate in the whole universe-creating process knowingly and intentionally, instead of unconsciously and as “victims of circumstance.” Just holding this model in mind, perhaps in meditation, as Marion’s writing evokes, brings a sense of joy and wholeness. (The book is a spiritual experience in itself.)
In describing the subtle level of creativity, Marion, who is a Roman Catholic who now complements the spirituality of his upbringing with the insights of Religious Science and Science of Mind, explains the technique of manifesting what one needs. Here’s the explanation of the self-fulfilling prophecy at the level of karma I referred to earlier in questioning how the vow of poverty transforms itself into abundance and freedom from want.
In praying for something [like rain], what we are actually doing is declaring to God (the sole power underlying the laws of the universe) that we lack whatever it is we want. We are saying, in effect, I lack rain. God hears and accepts that affirmation of lack by us, the cocreators of the universe, and makes the lack come true. No rain comes. No healings come. No money comes. We have created lack versus abundance.
Instead . . . we must visualize what we want and “see” it coming into our lives. No doubts. Feel the rain, feel the healing, feel the green dollar bills in our hands and overflowing our pockets. Then, as Jesus taught us, we thank God ahead of time for making what we want come to pass, for, as Jesus said, God already knows our needs. God was merely waiting for us to take our own power as cocreators and create out abundance using the proper method of manifestational prayer. (p. 133)
This is the familiar account of how Science of Mind and affirmation practice explains the cocreating process and touts the possibility of manifesting what one needs.
I also happened to come across a TV docu-tisement selling a training in wealth development by Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki. His book is subtitled: “Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!” The idea is that wealth is at least as dependant on psychological set and expectation as on money-making techniques. Kiyosaki offers a lesson about thinking-rich that is a secularized version of the Science of Mind practice of manifestation from the subtle realms. The first principle is to think of yourself as rich instead of as poor, that is, to expect and believe in abundance instead scarcity, to act as if you’re as rich as you want to be.
This is a notion I encountered back in California in the 70s in Werner Erhard’s life-changing est. From those days, I remember watching fellow est-graduates get themselves in debt and running their entrepreneurial enterprises into the ground by trying to act as if they were successful when, in fact, they’d just miscalculated demand for their services and blown their budget. I learned to be skeptical of that kind of na´ve prosperity thinking.
You wonder why the “God” Marion is describing above is so simple-minded that He (or It) can’t distinguish between lack and need. When I pray for rain, God—or my own deepest unconscious—ought to be able to understand that I am affirming my need for water and sustenance, not my lack.
To be fair, est also taught the even subtler lesson behind prosperity thinking which is to choose things as they are. Then you’re participating in “God’s” act of creating, because the way things are is obviously exactly the way God’s creating them. And since you’re “God” in your own universe, what’s happening to you is exactly what God wants. “Be happy,” said Werner as a consequence of that realization.
The central teaching of est was the ancient Hermetic principle, expressed with cutesy modern klang association: What you resist persists, what you become conscious of disappears. The secret to prosperity thinking is to stop resisting (in Marion’s example, the lack of rain) and choose things as they are, then they’ll change automatically, i.e. they’ll “disappear” in order to be replaced with something else. What that something else will be is influenced, on the subtle level, by your intentions in choosing to stop resisting.
The secret power of not resisting is like the driving instruction to “steer in the direction of the skid.” Turning the wheels in the direction the car is moving allows them to gain traction so you can then steer out of the skid. And you’ll go in the direction you’re looking. Learning to ride a bicycle exemplifies this principle. The fledgling bicyclist who looks intensely and fearfully toward an object he’s afraid of hitting and then down at the handle bars trying to figure out with great effort how to turn them will invariably and seemingly uncontrollably careen right into the dreaded—and resisted—object. The expert bicyclist keeps her eyes on the road and effortlessly sails by all the objects alongside her path. You go (and unconsciously, automatically steer) in the direction you’re looking. That’s the secret of intentionality and creative visualization. That’s how you establish self-fulfilling prophecies, the details of which you don’t even have to know. “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t even know they were going to be,” said visionary mythologist (my teacher and “wise old man”) Joseph Campbell.
Kiyosaki and Science of Mind are right that psychological set and expectation are the way to establish self-fulfilling prophecies. But spending money as if you were the rich man you want to be can be just an exercise in resistance. What I describe earlier as religious poverty can be an exercise in relinquishing resistance. It refocuses the whole issue away from want and need and desire toward the goal of doing loving service for others without caring about things like money and wealth.
Marion goes on to write:
The entire universe already exists within us. When we manifest, we are simply God expressing divine creativity. We manifest for the same reason that God manifests, namely, for the sheer pleasure and enjoyment and creativity of it, not because we “need” anything. (p. 134)
That is, moving up a level to “causal consciousness,” we see that we are not separate individualized beings, competing with one another for resources and riches. We are universal consciousness manifesting love for life and consciousness itself, “God” bootstrapping Himself into being—as the universe—out of love. And that God exists immediately in the consciousness of each of us.
In the wonderful and mind-boggling book The Self-Aware Universe, subtitled: "How Consciousness creates the material world," physicist Amit Goswami presents these same ideas in the context of contemporary quantum theory. He argues that the only way to resolve the various paradoxes of this new and experimentally-convincing, if “counter-intuitive” model of the universe is to understand that consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the material universe, but that the material universe is a creation of consciousness. He calls this model “monistic idealism.”
Goswami points out the problem with individuals thinking they can control the future by their intentions and quantum choices: everybody else is making choices too. The reason the world is in chaos is because all these choices are self-serving and conflicting. Drivers coming from different directions can’t all make the traffic lights green for themselves; one direction has to accept the red light.
To explain this creative dynamic Beat-Zen philosopher Alan Watts offered the paradoxical expression “multiple solipsism”: we’re all creators of our own experience but we’re all operating within the context of each other’s creativity. We have to cooperate. And we can cooperate by seeing beyond the individuality of each solipsistic self.
The realization that comes with moving into what Jim Marion calls causal consciousness is that we’re all in this together, we have to cooperate with one another in how we create the universe so that it’s full of pleasure, enjoyment, and creativity for everybody, because we’re all really the same One Being. That is to say, we must align our intentions. That’s what it means to say “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Notice that familiar phrase has two different meanings. The one we usually hear is love your neighbor as much as yourself. That’s exoteric Christianity.
The esoteric meaning—and the much richer one—is to love your neighbor because he or she is yourself. Your neighbor is just you manifesting from a different perspective with a different history. We’re all the same Being. There is only One consciousness which is the whole universe and it exists, as a Janus-faced holon, in each and all of us sentient beings.
To link to this book at amazon.com, click on the title: Janus: A summing up
Jim Marion identifies the Source level—God—as non-dual. Non-duality is, at least as I understand it, at the very heart of gay spirituality and, indeed, gay consciousness itself. Because we challenge male and female archetypes and stereotypes, being able to be both dominant and submissive, insertor and insertee in sex, and blur gender role identities, being both (and neither) husband and housekeeper, desirer and desired, handsome and pretty at the same time, we live in world of experience in which the dualities are overcome and discounted as unimportant. Transcending the polarization of male and female, we also, at least potentially, can transcend the polarization of good and evil, human and divine, self and other, God and self.
In part also because being aware of being gay necessarily entails introspection and self-awareness, gay consciousness naturally pushes us toward discovering our individualized consciousness as a manifestation of Source-consciousness. And we’re apt to appreciate the paradoxicality in finding mystical oneness with God through the realization and practice of a sexuality that religion has traditionally held to be the most heinous of all sins.
Non-dual also is the distinction between self and other. We’re all incarnations of the same One Consciousness. Thus we can—and even should—align with one another to intend the prosperity of all. We’re not (as so many dualist, straight men seem to perceive) in competition with one another.
This harmony of self and other (all men and all women are potentially lovers and comrades of one another) and self and God is the message of the gay spirituality movement. This “good news” would save the world.
So money and prosperity flows as all of us involved align together to intend it to flow. That’s no surprise. That’s exactly what we’d expect: it’s as obvious as it is esoteric. Money comes to you because the people around you want to give you money in reward for what you are creating. If you’re a plumber, it’s your ending the leak or repiping the old house that your customers want to give you money for doing. Your plumbing is your participation in “God’s” creating and maintaining the universe.
We’re all One Being. As you’re reading these words displayed on your computer screen, you are creating this movement, you are creating this article, you are creating this experience. This is your own work in the world. This is how you save the world. This is how gay men align with one another to share the wisdom of our always individual, but always united, spiritual quests.
Money, it turns out, from the spiritual perspective, is love.
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.
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of
Human Consciousness won a Lambda Literary Award in 2000.
PERSPECTIVE: Things Our [Homo]sexuality Tells Us about the Nature
of God and the Universe was nominated for a Lammy in 2003. They
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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