Gaia is a Bodhisattva

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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


Unpublished manuscripts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.

Gaia, the earth Goddess

The Earth itself is the being of which we are all parts. It is Earth that lies our lives. Our lives are the lives of the Earth.



(written by Thay, Thich Nhat Hanh)

Homage to you Refreshing Earth Bodhisattva

Mother of this world with its many species.

We want to turn to you with respect,

Beautiful green planet in the midst of the sky,

You who have given birth to countless species,

Produced so many wonders of life,

Loved in the ultimate sense of non-discrimination,

Embraced all species not barring a single one,

Loyal and reliable, tolerant and stable,

The mother who bears all species.

Countless bodhisattvas spring up

From your fresh green lap.

Mother you embrace and transform

Sweeping away the hatred of humans,

Creating new life day and night,

Helping the earth to bloom with the flowers of heaven.

You are open to thousands of other galaxies,

Sharing your joy with the trichiliocosm,

By seeing that your true nature is interdependence.

Conserving and protecting so that nothing is lost,

Not being, not nothing, not eternal, not annihilated,

Not the same, not different, not coming, not going.

Your love knows no limits,

Your virtues no shortcomings.

Your nature is the Four Immeasurable Minds

Like the four great oceans they never dry up.

Whenever spring returns you wear a new robe

Of red roses, the green willow, beautiful and fresh.

When summer comes the vegetation displays its bright colours,

Wholesome seeds, sweet fruits are to be found everywhere.

How brilliant are the colours of the autumn forest

Until winter comes and snowflakes fill the sky.

The afternoon tide chants like the roll of thunder

The morning sunrise paints an incomparable picture,

Making visible all the splendours of the universe.

You are the most beautiful flower of the Solar System,

The wisdom that lights up the ten directions,

The mind that is open to all places.

Mother, you are the Paradise of the Present,

Making possible the future for all species.

We come back and take refuge in you,

With nothing to run after, accepting the unfavourable as also favourable,

Seeing that you are always in us and

Seeing ourselves in you for all of time.

May we follow your good example,

And live every moment with true peace and joy.

Homage to the Refreshing Mother Earth Bodhisattva

An excerpt from Toby Johnson's Gay Spirituality:

The Gaia Hypothesis

According to this new paradigm, we are all part of the complex life of planet Earth. The name given to the organism of the planet is that of the Greek Earth Goddess Gaia.

This notion was first suggested by evolutionary biologists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis as a code name for the observation that the Earth demonstrates homeostatic mechanisms. The planet has changed and adjusted its atmosphere to accommodate life. It has produced living organisms that could adapt themselves to the atmosphere and then change the atmosphere to suit them. The simplest example is that when plant life, which inhales carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen, flourished and took over the planet, animal life appeared that inhales oxygen and exhales carbon dioxide. A necessary balance was achieved.

The Gaia Hypothesis says the Earth can be understood as functioning like a single organism. Extrapolated and mythologized this has become the notion that the Earth itself is a living organism. And indeed that we are parts of it.

Ecology and environmentalism, both as the modern scientific discovery of the interplay of species and as a political cause against pollution and destruction of nature, give additional flesh to the hypothesis. The web of life is like the vast and intricate interplay of cells in our own bodies, a process going on automatically without conscious control, always working smoothly for the continuation of life and the growth of intelligence and consciousness.

Perhaps the development of life and intelligence is built into the structure of the universe. Life happens in just the same way beautiful crystals grow in rocks and order forms out of disorder. It takes no special intervention or miracle to make life. The universe itself is alive.

Saying the universe is alive is a little different from saying it is full of living things. But electron microscopy has shown that the world around us swarms with infinitesimal life: everywhere nematodes, mites, amoebas and paramecia, bacteria, molds and viruses. In a single ounce of fertile soil, there has been found to be well over a mile of fungus mycelium and comparable lengths of other roots and more than 20 times as many bacteria as all the men, women and children on Earth. Even our own bodies are colonized all over by microbes, molds and even tiny, tiny insects that look more ferocious than dinosaurs. How can we even begin to imagine the world that might be to us as our world is to them? How can we distinguish what is alive and what is not?

Gaia in spaceThe Holographic Universe

There is a parallel notion that says the universe can be thought of as a great hologram. This recent invention of laser technology provides a model for understanding how everything is interconnected. A hologram is like a photograph, but the gimmick of holography is that instead of storing an image that maps point-to-point (as with a snapshot), this new technology stores a pattern of wave interference that holds more information than a photograph and holds it in a different way. Every point maps with every other point. The entire image is stored everywhere on the surface.

The holographic model for the universe says what we are experiencing in our mind’s eye that looks like a movie of a three dimensional world of separate objects is really a vast pattern of interference waves of energy. Everything is part of everything else. The interpretation of the interference patterns into a world happens in our brains—which, incidentally, also appear to store information in interference patterns, not point-to-point mapping.

The holographic model is another way of expressing in modern terms the notion that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. What we are only just now coming to see is that we are not really isolated egos, fighting with one another and fearing God’s retribution, but are cells of a larger planetary being. We all have a place in the ecology of Earth.

Gaia Is Growing

Individual human beings are organs of Gaia, patterns in the great hologram of planet Earth. At least in metaphor, individual people are to Gaia as the individual neurons in our brains are to us. Furthermore, the life of Gaia parallels the life of an individual human being, growing from infancy through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood to maturity, dealing with the predictable stages of growth and tasks of psychological development.

Gaia is growing, just like a human being. We cannot tell where we are in the life cycle of the planet because we have nothing to compare it to. But we can hypothesize that the planet is near the end of childhood. The body has reached its mature proportions by evolving intelligence and filling the globe. If this is so, it is time for the adult personality to form by becoming self-aware, eschewing superstition, and taking responsibility for the direction of evolution and the outcome of life on Earth.

The consciousness that sees from a higher perspective and in a larger context is fundamentally evolutionary. This is the way we experience being part of the evolving planetary consciousness. We are evolution become conscious.

The next evolutionary jump is happening in consciousness. Perhaps this will result in a profound awakening of the planetary mind into a collective consciousness. In such a collective consciousness, human individuality will not be lost. Instead, the isolation of individuals will be overcome in a general awareness of everybody being part of everybody else.

This connectedness could be a mystical phenomenon, perhaps a sort of telepathy. You might imagine this awareness as a vivid experience of compassion for other people and for the world itself. You might imagine it as a direct perception of how other people see things, the feeling of “walking in their shoes,” perhaps even the intuition of what it is like to see through their eyes. You might imagine it as the immediate sense of the Golden Rule so you feel consciously, like a sixth sense, how what you do to others is really being done to you.

Perhaps this evolution will happen less mystically and more technologically. The Internet and instantaneous worldwide communications are constructing fiber optic networks that will serve as neural pathways for a collective brain for planet Earth. We are now exposed to the lives of people around the globe. We see their pain when disaster strikes. We cannot avoid knowing what is happening. The whole world now responds to the plight of refugees or victims of disasters. A hundred years ago no one would have bothered because no one would have known about them.

The danger is that violence and greed will dominate the further evolution of humankind. That is why a genuine transformation is needed. We cannot go on as we have. The world cannot keep getting more and more crowded. We have to change. To do this the human race must recognize and value the place of non-reproducing people.

Outside And Inside

Perhaps the next step in evolution will happen both outside and inside human beings as consciousness evolves beyond us. Outside, electronic neural pathways will connect us to one another and to a group consciousness. Inside, we shall develop telepathic and empathetic abilities that will help us understand and care for one another. That would be a real change in human nature, but one consistent with the direction evolution has taken so far.

Inevitably, computers will become more and more directly interfaced with human consciousness, “wet-wired” into the cerebrum. Then all human beings will be interconnected like neurons of a global brain.

This will certainly change how human beings experience sex. Already the Internet has created new kinds of meeting and flirtation ritual. It permits long distance mutual masturbation. There is no possibility of genetic or biological transfer over the Web: no pregnancy, no disease. What will sex be like when people can connect brain to brain, pleasure-center to pleasure-center, through the phone lines? Will we be able to masturbate somebody else from inside his or her brain? What will happen to heterosexuality and homosexuality if we can get inside both men’s and women’s bodies? What will it be like to have actual physical sex with another person while being electronically linked to him? And/or to other people?

This is the stuff of science fiction. Yet it is the logical—and probably desirable—extension of computer interfaces: a modem that connects us to a central, common memory bank, that feels like a sixth sense and that gives us access to the wisdom and accumulated information from all the lives that are and have ever been connected to the network.

Maybe, just maybe, if this assembled network turns out to be sensitive to “karmic resonances” in the planetary spirit field, like a radio receiver picking up signals from the ether, all human lives will be accessible, all previous incarnations of the human race “remembered” by the Super-Internet of the future.


It is possible what is called gay men’s sensitivity and the phenomenon of “gaydar,” by which we recognize something about one another at the level of soul, might be a hint at a kind of telepathy or psychic connection, a forerunner of the birth of collective planetary consciousness.

A certain amount of gaydar, of course, is return of mutual interest and flirtation, holding a gaze just a little too long, for instance. A certain amount is recognition of traits most people do not know enough about to be sensitive to: slender wrists or a particular cant of the hips. A certain amount is wishful thinking. And a certain amount of gaydar seems to be almost psychic. There is a parallel phenomenon in New Age mysticism and spiritualism in the ability to “see auras.”

Morphogenetic Fields

The notion of Morphogenetic Fields, proposed by biologist Rupert Sheldrake, says evolution goes on not at the level of individual organisms but at the level of collective “fields.” These fields influence the structure of organisms’ DNA just the way magnetic fields influence the arrangement of iron filings around a magnet. Repetition of certain behaviors alters the fields through “morphic resonance,” so that all organisms that partake in that field are affected.

The notion of resonance addresses the problem in Darwinian evolution that acquired traits cannot be passed on. Conventional theory holds that evolution occurs by natural selection of randomly occurring mutations. What is passed on can only contain what an organism inherited from its parents. None of its experience matters (except whether it lives long enough to reproduce). The theory of morphogenetic fields explains how acquired traits, the results of the forces of natural selection and cooperative adaptation, can influence how mutation proceeds. This makes the whole process more efficient and less dependent on serendipity and coincidence.

The idea of morphogenetic fields, officially called “the theory of formative causation,” has entered pop-consciousness in the notion of the so-called “hundredth-monkey effect.” The partly apocryphal story is told how a tribe of monkeys living on a chain of islands off the coast of Japan learned to wash sweet potatoes which researchers put out for them. At first the monkeys scraped sand from the potatoes to make them more palatable. Then one day one of them carried a potato to the seashore and washed it in the surf. Noticing, a few others began to follow suit. Soon, to the surprise of the researchers, all the monkeys were washing their sweet potatoes. And this was so not only on the island where the practice started, but on all the islands where this species of monkey lived. When “critical mass” was achieved, all the monkeys, even those outside the possibility of direct communication, knew to carry the potatoes to the water. The discovery had affected the morphogenetic field of the monkeys, creating a sudden jump in their development.

Proponents say a demonstration of morphogenetic fields can be found in the high-tech chemical industry. Science is constantly working to form new chemical compounds. But it is often difficult to get a new compound to form. Yet it has been observed that once a compound crystallizes in the desired way, it becomes increasingly easier to get it to do so again. Soon this elusive compound can be mass produced. And this is so around the world. The mechanical explanation for this phenomenon is that seed crystals from the original successful batch get into the environment, carried in the hair and beards of scientists. A more elegant explanation is that the crystallization of the compound establishes a “field” with which the other crystals resonate and fall into place. This same phenomenon might have happened with the formation of the organic compounds that gave rise to life on Earth in the beginning.

Applied to human culture, morphogenetic fields may affect all sorts of functions in human physical development and in consciousness. The continual breaking of athletic records is a simple example. Before Roger Bannister’s accomplishment, running the 4-minute mile was thought impossible. Now it is routine. The apparent ease with which each new generation copes with technology may be a similar example. Children understand computers while their parents still struggle with VCRs. The activity and achievements of some people affect other people.

Perhaps, for instance, when I fasten my seat belt every time I get in the car, I influence the human complex of morphogenetic fields so that using the seat belt becomes more natural for everybody. My personal behavior then affects the whole world. My commitment to using a condom for penetrative sex may make it easier for somebody else to think to do so. My virtue can change the world. My beliefs put out morphic resonances that change other people’s beliefs. It matters what I think.

If the planet has self-adjusting mechanisms, then the appearance of gay people could be a direct response to the crisis of overpopulation. And if we are indeed special productions of Gaia, might not we have a natural vocation to be concerned with ecological issues? Environmentalism and concern for the planet’s well-being, recycling, eating good food, not polluting or wasting energy should come to us naturally as we play out our role in the evolutionary life of Gaia.

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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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