Effective Dreaming

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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


Unpublished manuscripts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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"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


Historicity as Myth


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


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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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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:

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

Spirituality cover
Gay Spirituality

Gay Identity and 
the Transformation of
Human Consciousness

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


Getting Life
Getting Life in Perspective

A Fantastical Romance

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

The Fourth Quill is available as an audiobook, narrated by Jimmie Moreland. Click here

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

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.  

Here's a link to the book at amazon.com
The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel

Ursula 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 this 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.  

chakras as disks

Consider that the "lathe of Heaven" is the spinning of the chakras around the sushumna, i.e. the spine.

Read Toby Johnson's article How I Learned about the Chakras

Read the story of "The Four Quills" about how compassion for suffering is like a spinning wheel cutting into consciousness: Suffering as the Greatest Treasure

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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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