Jesus and the Resurrection

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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Unpublished manuscripts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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  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.

TECHNIQUES OF THE WORLD SAVIORS: Jesus and the Resurrection
by Toby Johnson

from The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell (Celestial Arts, 1990)

This article has 4 parts. This is the third part
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

Jesus--a world savior like the Buddha or the Bodhisattva and a battler with the world and its suffering like Brer Rabbit and Prince Five-weapons--discovered that the way to overcome the world and the flesh was to embrace it; the way to overcome death was to die. Jesus was nailed to a cross. The cross, extending in the four directions of the compass, represented the physical world. Jesus suffered five wounds by which his senses were crucified on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of that tree, when eaten by Adam, resulted in the vision of the polarities which trapped him and all his offspring in the world of suffering. Crucifixion on that tree resulted for Jesus in the vision beyond the polarities.

labyrinth with corssThe story of the confirmation to Thomas the Apostle, who said he would not believe in Jesus' return until he had placed his own hands in Jesus' wounds, is the only indication in Scripture that Jesus had been nailed to his cross. Elsewhere it is simply reported he was crucified. As almost every depiction of the scene shows of the two thieves, victims of crucifixion were ordinarily tied by the arms to a horizontal beam and left to die, usually of asphixiation when the weight of the hanging body caused the muscles in the chest and diaphragm to go into spasm.

But Jesus is said to have suffered five wounds: in the hands and feet, caused by nails with which he was affixed to the cross, and in the heart, caused by a spear with which he was stabbed by the Roman Centurion, who seems to have been a believer, to make certain he was dead (and, incidentally, to drain the blood from his body as required in the preparation of the Passover lamb). The crucifixion was cut short and the men killed because it was necessary to dispose of their bodies. The feast of Passover was beginning and Jews would be forbidden to prepare graves.

The five wounds were significant of the opening of the senses by which the vision of the Kingdom could be regained. Five "wounds" appear similarly on the body of Tara, the goddess of compassion, born of a tear of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. She bears openings in her hands and feet and in her forehead; from within Tara's wounds eyes look out to see the mystically transformed world.

On the cross, Jesus said, at least partially in the ritual language of Hebrew, words that have perplexed many Christians: Eli, eli, lema sabacthani. And (according to the two Gospels that record this story) he then gave up his spirit to God. These are the opening words of the Twenty-second Psalm, a prayer that is part of a cycle of texts that refer to the "suffering servant," the just man who, though innocent, takes upon himself the sins of the people, becoming the scapegoat to suffer for them, once for all. Jesus' intonation of the words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" was not a sign of his despair. It was very truly his recitation of what in a different context we know as the Bodhisattva's vow.

By the merit of his act he became more than just a man trapped in space and time. He became, as he prayed in the priestly prayer in the Saint John Gospel, one with all humanity. And he was crowned, with a crown of thorns and briars, King of the Universe, Savior of the World.

To Dismas, the good thief, Jesus declared: "This day you are with me in Paradise." The word in Scripture is Paradise, not heaven; it was the word for the Garden in Genesis. Jesus seems to have been declaring not that Dismas would enter some ethereal afterlife, but that, because he had recognized he was responsible for his own acts and deserved crucifixion and, unlike the other thief, did not taunt Jesus to free him, Dismas' cross had also become the tree of life and to him also was restored the vision of the Garden.

Jesus in agonyJesus' words to Dismas that the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own acts restored one to Paradise, and Jesus' own willingness to go beyond that to accept responsibility for the acts of the whole world, reveal an essential meaning of the myth of the crucifixion. The Christian message, similar to yet differently inflected from the Buddhist, is at least on one level that, while the suffering of the world may not be escaped, it can be transcended. In the Gnostic Acts of John, leading the Apostles in a kind of mystic dance, Jesus instructed them: "Learn how to suffer and you shall be able not to suffer." And that is accomplished by taking responsibility for the world in all its manifestations, by embracing it in oneself and in others as the means by which the senses can be opened, by accepting things just as they are without resistance, by practicing compassion not condemnation. This is more consistent with Jesus' practical admonitions to forgive sinners and love even one's enemies than with the later tendency of Christians to judge righteously as sinful certain lifestyles and to persecute those who did not adhere to a rigid standard of orthodoxy.

Jesus, unlike many of his followers, saw what Brer Rabbit saw: different people live in different universes and one person's briar patch is another's home; one person's hell is another's heaven; and to be one with the Ultimate, to be one with God, one has to embrace all the heavens and all the hells equally. And so from his perspective as the Christ--the ultimate Self--he was willing to fling himself into the briars. For the road of adventure, the road back to the Garden, leads right into the middle of the briar patch. The briars of Brer Rabbit's escape and the briars of Jesus' crown are one and the same: the occasion to change the way we look at the world.


"In a twinkle we shall all be changed," said Saint Paul.

Not in a twinkle, but in the agony of three hours on the cross and the emptiness of three days in the tomb, Jesus Christ was changed from man to god. His body was transformed, the myth tells, from a body of flesh, which, trapped in individuality by the perspective of the senses, could suffer and die, to a body of light and glory, which, freed from the limitations of perspective, could pass through walls and cover distance in an instant.

The Resurrection is considered the central mystery of Christianity. In it are clues for how to live in the world and in the flesh. That is what the mystery is about. Too frequently, however, the Resurrection is presented not about life in the flesh, but about some sort of disembodied afterlife.

Just as the bodhisattva, in one version of the vow, offers himself as "the food and drink in the famine of the ages' end," so Jesus said his physical body would be meat and his blood drink for his followers so they could enter his Kingdom. He offered himelf as the lamb of the Passover sacrifice. The blood of this lamb, smeared on the doorposts, alerted the Angel of Death to pass over the homes of the chosen people; its flesh fed them during their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. And of his body that would be sacrificed, Jesus said, "If you destroy this temple, I shall build it up again in three days."

The disciples perhaps took his metaphor of reconstruction too literally--an error they made often. They consistently misunderstood his message, expecting in the Kingdom not mystical vision but political accession. And so it was that on the third day after Jesus' death, when they went to the place where his remains had been laid, to their dismay they found only an empty tomb, not a reconstituted Jesus. It must have seemed to them that their Lord had failed to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed or resurrect the victim who had been ritually sacrificed for the new Passover.

But then one by one they began to experience strange events. At unexpected times they felt Jesus' presence. In the gardener on Joseph Arimathea's land, Mary recognized him. In a stranger two of the disciples met on the way to the little town of Emmaus outside Jerusalem, when they sat down to eat together, they experienced him. In a shadowy figure cooking breakfast over a fire by the edge of the sea, to which as sailors they'd returned after Jesus' death, they recognized him. In the upper room in which they'd hidden in fear, the Apostles saw him in a mystical body.

John Dominic Crossan, a Biblical theologian under whom I studied as a Servite in Chicago, argued that the notable differences between the narratives in the four Gospels suggest that the simple physical resuscitation of Jesus was not the real sense of the Resurrection intended by the Evangelists. If, as so many have maintained afterwards, the historicity of such a resuscitation were the central fact of Christianity upon which all else rises or falls, Crossan argued, the accounts should agree in their report of the historical events. After all, the essence of historicity is consistency among witnesses' accounts. But the accounts are not consistent: the Evangelists treated the Resurrection just as they did other events in Jesus' life--not as historical facts--but as symbolic carriers of spiritual and mystical meaning. What the Gospels do agree on is that on the third day the tomb was empty and soon afterwards the disciples experienced mystical phenomena that are variously depicted as apparitions of Jesus, their ability to work wonders, and the descent of the Holy Spirit.

What actually happened to Jesus' body remains a mystery. Perhaps the corpse was reanimated, as most Christians believe. Perhaps it was stolen, as suggested in the Matthew Gospel, by entrepreneurs, hoping it might still possess some healing power or at least bring a small fee from pilgrims. Perhaps it simply disappeared.*

* The bodies of yogis have occasionally bcen reported to dissolve into light or flame at their deaths. Scientific analysis of the mysterious shroud of Turin suggested that the image of the body was formed by some form of scorching radiation. The shroud was believed to have been the burial cloth of Jesus and the radiation would have occurred at the time his body was transformed to light. Further analysis, however, has questioned this explanation because the fibers of the shroud do not appear to date back to Jesus’ time. Still, there is no viable explanation of how the image was formed. The shroud of Turin is a curiosity of religious history. Could it be that what formed the image was the belief of all those who came to see it and worship at its shrine? Which is to ask, I suppose, can hoaxes become “real” if they’re believed long enough? The scientific answer, of course, is “no.” The mystical answer, on the other hand, seems to be “of course.” That’s where all the myths come from, after all.

Or perhaps the disciples literally consumed the body of Jesus. After all, at the Last Supper Jesus had taken bread and blessed it and given it to his disciples, showing them "This is my body" and instructing them "take and eat." And he had taken a cup of wine and blessed it and given it to them, showing them also "This is the cup of my blood, take and drink." Thus he would be physically present in the disciples' own bodies.

What the Resurrection seems to indicate is that Christ has remained mystically, yet also physically, present. This is, of course, what is meant by the sacrament of the Eucharist. For two millennia the Roman Church has insisted that the eucharistic bread and wine are not merely symbols but are in fact, transsubstantially, the body and blood of Jesus. The revulsion we feel when we consider the cannibalism inherent in this image or in Jesus' rather straightforward instructions at the Last Supper only reveals how little we appreciate sacramentality or understand the meaning of the historicity of the Incarnation. For the historicity of Christianity is itself mythological. The myth of historicity means that spiritual reality is embodied in time and in the flesh. The historical events do not need to have "actually" happened for the notion of their historicity to be meaningful.


In the ancient Roman liturgy of the Easter Vigil, grains of incense were enfixed with stylized wax nails into the five cardinal points of a cross inscribed on the Paschal Candle. The candle represented Christ as the "light of the world." The grains of incense represented the sweetness of the wounds by which the world was transformed. To the right and left of the cross were inscribed the numerals for the current year; above and below, the Greek letters alpha and omega: the cross, which is the acceptance of things just as they are, is formed by the intersection of the temporal and the eternal.

With consciously sexual symbolism recognized by the Church, the priest who prepared the Paschal Candle then plunged it three times, each time deeper, into a pool of water. As he did this, he prayed that the Spirit descend into the water--which, representing the material world transformed, would be used throughout the coming year for baptism--making it fruitful for regeneration so that those who partook of its sacrament would be "born again new children in true innocence."

This ceremony manifests the tradition that Jesus' death fecundated a new earth. This image, in turn, manifests the even older tradition of the slaughtered king or corn god, who sacrificed himself at the end of his reign in order to bring life to the soil upon which his people depended for food.

Some years ago I wandered into the chapel of the Catholic ministry at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Behind the altar hung a huge mural of the crucifixion in stark black and white, like a photo collage. I was stunned by it. The corpus was surrounded by chromosomal and genetic structures on one side and interplanetary and galactic images on the other. Jesus' body was formed of vascular and striated muscle tissue. It stood before and grew into a cross that was a stylization of the female reproductive organs. The arms of the cross were like fallopian tubes. Within an ovarian form on the left crossarm, a skeletal fetus reached out its hand to insert its fingers into the print of the nail in the savior's palm. Above Jesus' face, bowed in life-bestowing death, the spectral hands of the Father blessing his Son formed the head of the phallus by which the Christ was fructifying the material organic world. The painting, by Michael Dvortcsak, was titled in Teilhardian fashion: Christ Invests Himself Organically with the Very Majesty of His Universe.

Christ Invests Himself Organically

The sacrifice of the incarnated Self accepting biological and mortal manifestation engenders new life in foetal humankind who reach out, like twin brother Thomas to test the validity of the Resurrection. (In Gnostic Christianity, such as that presented in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, the image of the twin signified mystical identity with Jesus the Christ. The confirmation to Thomas signified the Apostle's realization that Jesus was flesh, and not a ghost, in Thomas' own body.) The blessed belief even of those who have not yet seen, but who have believed, transforms the nature of organic existence. Christ died not to enter into a new life by which he could escape the world, but to give us new life by which to experience that world, in the very flesh in which the Christ Self remains forever incarnate.


lotus blossom

In promising to "master the immeasurable dharmas," the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara identified himself with all beings. In realizing the radical oneness of all consciousness, he became the one being incarnated in all, the one able to perceive the world from all possible perspectives, the one "divine spark," as Eckhart called it, and the Holy Ghost, as mainstream Christians call it, by which the Godhead is present in every being. Hence Avalokitesvara became savior of the world because he is the only being in the world and he has saved himself, and everyone else, by his realization that none are saved till all are saved, and by his choice to save himself by saving all of us--the ultimate act of enlightened, radical self-interest.

Joseph Campbell wrote of the Bodhisattva:

"Peace is at the heart of all because Avalokitesvara- Kwannon, the mighty Bodhisattva, Boundless Love, includes, regards, and dwells within (without exception) every sentient being. The perfection of the delicate wings of an insect, broken in the passage of time, he regards--and he himself is both their perfection and their disintegration. The perennial agony of man, self-torturing, deluded, tangled in the net of his own tenuous delirium, frustrated, yet having within himself, undiscovered, absolutely unutilized, the secret of release: this too he regards--and is. Serene above man, the angels; below man, the demons and unhappy dead: these all are drawn to the Bodhisattva by the rays of his jewel hands, and they are he, as he is they. The bounded, shackled centers of consciousness, myriadfold, on every plane of existence (not only in this present universe, limited by the Milky Way, but beyond, into the reaches of space), galaxy beyond galaxy, world beyond world of universes, coming into being out of the timeless pool of the void, bursting into life, and like a bubble therewith vanishing: time and time again: lives by the multitude: all suffering: each bounded in the tenuous, tight circle of itself--lashing, killing, hating, and desiring peace beyond victory: these are all the children, the mad figures of the transitory yet inexhaustible, long world dream of the All-Regarding, whose essence is the essence of Emptiness: "The Lord Looking Down in Pity."

But the name means also: "The Lord Who is Seen Within." We are all reflexes of the image of the Bodhisattva. The sufferer within us is that divine being. We and that protecting father are one. This is the redeeming insight. And so it must be known that, though this ignorant, limited, self-defending, suffering body may regard itself as threatened by some other--the enemy--that one too is the God. . . we live not in this physique only, but in all bodies, all physiques of the world, as the Bodhisattva." (Hero, pp 160-62)


That is why all Mahayanists ritually recite the vows. For the vows are clues to one's own truest identity and to the ultimate redeeming insight.

Jesus' mystical vision had shown him that his individuality too was evanescent. He had seen that in the destruction of his body, sacrificed and devoured, surrendering form back into emptiness--as ego consciousness surrenders to unconsciousness--he would be transformed: he would dissolve back into the collective. In being subsumed he would become one with his followers, incorporated into them, seeing through their eyes, hearing with their ears, touching them with their hands--free of individual perspective.

In entering death, proclaiming the bodhisattva-savior's vow to suffer for us all, Jesus is reborn in each person. He has become one with the consciousness that perceives all experience and founds all existence. Each of us is Jesus reborn--not so much, of course, in our bodies of matter (born of mother) which exist in different places in space and time from the body of Jesus--but in our pure awareness (born of virgin) of life simply as it is in the present moment. In Christ (that is, in the pure awareness that is the consciousness in each of us) we all rise from the dead, for we are reborn in children over and over again, not necessarily as reincarnating individuals but as the life itself that causes our children to grow into adults and then to die to make space for more children and more life.

The myth of the Resurrection gives physical reality to Jesus' spiritual discovery of life beyond death--not simply of continuous living, but of an abundant, transpersonal vitality beyond space and time. The Resurrection reveals how rooted is the temporal in the eternal, the individual in the collective, and the physical in the spiritual.

The myth of the resurrection of the body (Jesus' in history and ours at the Second Coming) signifies that life keeps coming back in the flesh. To see that is to see that death need not be feared, that embodied life is good, that we are all manifestations of the same life. To see that is to be born again of the water (of the ocean out of which life first grew and of the amniotic water of our birth) and of the spirit (which is the breath respiring through all of us, and which, as William James saw, is modulated into consciousness in each of us). It is to see that we are all risen from the dead because of God's act of creation of space and time.

In time the creative will is our experience of tense. For the future into which we are being born is always being created in time out of the past from which we have been reborn. Indeed, being reborn means seeing that we are that creative will knowing itself and choosing out of infinite compassion and interest to be all beings.

In space that will is seen as light. For all life grows up from the earth driven by the power pouring down from the sun. In his resurrection Jesus became light, one with the sun. Thus the bread and the wine really are the body and blood of Jesus because the wheat growing out of rich soil, nourished by the deterioration of organic matter in the dark humus, is the embodiment of the light, and the wine, pressed from the grapes, invigorated by the propagation of yeasts in the rich red juices, is the blood of the sun.

The point of sacrament is to give physical reality to spiritual truth. Jesus' conquest of death is his presence in the flesh of his followers. And the point of transforming our vision is to find in the flesh, with all its sexual immediacy, the sacrament of our experience of God. True innocence, Christ invested organically, a new way to see the world, vision transformed, the fecundation of a new heaven and a new earth--this is what the spiritual teachings promise. Such vision will, in fact, transform the world of history.

Joseph Campbell frequently quoted a line from the Thomas Gospel: In answer to the disciples' question: When will the kingdom come? Jesus said: The kingdom will not come by expectation. The kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it. "In other words," Joe said, "bring it about in your hearts. And that is precisely the sense of Nirvanic realization. This is it. All you have to do is see it." (Open Life, p. 57.)

That is what the Second Coming refers to: when our sights have all changed we will see that Christ comes again because, of course, he's never left. Like Avalokitesvara he has remained in our bodies as us.

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This article has 4 parts. This is the third part
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


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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