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

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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


Finding 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Unpublished manuscripts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

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.

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, in print and in digital format for kindle
Click title
Finding Your Own True Myth

Here's a link to An ePub is available there.

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

Finding Your Own True Myth: What I Learned from Joseph Campbell—The Myth of the Great Secret III is a “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 and third editions 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.

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."

Read other people's myths

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, 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 youth 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.


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
at the Pacifica Graduate Center Campbell/Gimbutas Archives (as the library has been reproduced with every book where Joe had had it in his Manhattan apartment on Waverly Place).


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 bodhisattva

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

Monty's bottle of sand

The bottle incrusted with sea sand, and smelling faintly of spearmint, that Monty (the Buddha) gave me


Reviews of Finding Your Own True Myth

Will Roscoe wrote:

A deep dive into the power and relevance of myth

Finding Your Own True Myth is a deep dive into the power and relevance of myth. The author draws from Eastern religion, philosophy and psychotherapy, and the many lessons of a long and rich life, inspired by his great mentor, Joseph Campbell.  — Will Roscoe, author of Queer Spirits: A Gay Men’s Myth Book and Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same-Sex Love.

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.

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 [Lucien Gregoire] 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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