Allah Hu

Sufi Heart



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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edtion from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE

PLAGUE: A NOVEL ABOUT HEALING.

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story

About ordering

Books on Gay Spirituality:


  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

 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

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

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism


"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?


Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant


Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Freedom of Religion

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

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption



 "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

Meditation

Historicity as Myth

Pilgrimage

No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

Gaia is a Bodhisattva


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

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?


The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis


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


The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

About Alien Abduction

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

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 Guy Mannheimer

About Dennis Paddie

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Second March on Washington

 
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 Bougeois


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

 


J
esus said the Kingdom of God does not come by expectation; it will not be here or there, for the Kingdom is spread across the earth and people do not see it. The Kingdom of God is within you. To discover the Kingdom we must change the way we see the world and the flesh. We must change ourselves. That, of course, is precisely what is accomplished by the hero's journey. Of that accomplishment, Campbell says:

The aim is not to see, but to realize that one is, that essence; then one is free to wander as that essence in the world. Furthermore: the world too is of that essence. The essence of oneself and the essence of the world: these two are one. Hence separateness, withdrawal, is no longer necessary. Wherever the hero may wander, whatever he may do, he is ever in the presence of his own essence--for he has the perfected eye to see. (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 386)


The vision of the unity and goodness of the world is born in our own private and collective intention to transform the way we see things, to honor one another's struggle for self-actualization, interpreting it as an adjunct of our own. It calls us to affirm the choice of life-style of everyone, seeing, in each, God's decision to experience the world, even when that style seems as alien to ours as homosexuality or prostitution.

"For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness," wrote Thomas Merton:

The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair. But it does not matter very much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds, and join in the general dance. (New Seeds of Contemplation, page 297)


For several years, I had regularly attended the Monday night meetings of San Francisco's Sufi Community. Worshipping with the Sufis was always uplifting and fun, mainly because the major practice of the worship was dance.

Sufism is the mystical tradition of Islam. Sufi Masters have developed a variety of practices to induce mystical states of consciousness. Jalaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth-century Persian Sufi and founder of the Mevlana Order, developed ritual dance. Because his dances consisted mostly of turning in place or spinning around a central point or pillar, Rumi's mendicant (in Persian, darvish) disciples came to be known in the West as "whirling dervishes."

Islam is a Western monotheistic religion. But because of geography it has always been more exposed than European Christianity to a plurality of religious beliefs. It is not surprising that Sufism responded earlier to the birth of the modern age by developing pluralistic world religion otfshoots. In the mid-nineteenth century in India, Sufi philosopher Hazrat Inayat Khan developed such a synthesis of religious ideas. Inayat Kahn's Sufism was brought to America as The Sufi Order of the West by his son, Pir Vilayat Kahn, and by an American disciple, Sam Lewis.

Obsessed with the mystical quest, Lewis, a San Francisco bohemian, had traveled to Japan to practice Zen and to India to study Sufism. In the early 1960s he returned to the United States an apostle with little idea of how to proceed. One day, while he was meditating in his little apartment on Clementina Street in San Francisco's South of Market district, he received an intuition to go to the Haight-Ashbury.

In those days the Haight was full of hippies playing in the streets, wandering around in LSD-induced trances. Some of them reported that as Sam Lewis walked down the street, he appeared surrounded by brilliant light. The hippies would follow him, like a Pied Piper, to Golden Gate Park, where he taught Sufi chants and later the dance practices that came to him in his meditations. The dances were simple rhythmic repetitive circle dances, like those taught kindergarten children.

Soon Lewis developed a regular following. He moved to a house on Precita Avenue in the Bernal Heights district to make room for a community of students. Though he died in 1971, after only three years of teaching, his Sufi community grew strong and continued to hold meetings to perform the dances in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin County.

Sufism of the West has spread all over the United States. When the hippies left San Francisco as that phase of the counterculture ended, those who'd been affected by Sam Lewis took the dances, under the rubric "Dances of Universal Peace," with them back to their hometowns or country communes. (After my own departure from San Francisco to the Smoky Mountains, I found a thriving community of Sufis outside Asheville, North Carolina, still performing the dances.)

sufi heartThe symbol of the Sufis is a winged heart. Sufism, its Masters say, is not a way of the head but of the heart. The way to fly to God is to open the heart, to be human and to love and offer life in service to God and to others. The primary mystical teaching of Sufism is contained in the Sufi interpretation of the Islamic credo La Ilaha El Allah Hu. What most Moslems interpret as a declaration of monotheism, "There is no God but Allah," the Sufis understand as a revelation of ultimate unity: "There is no reality but God." To remind themselves of the implications of this, Sufis sometimes greet one another Ya Azim: "How wonderfully God manifests to me through you."

At that time, the present head of the San Francisco community was Wali Ali Meyer, a Jewish Mississippian who had followed Lewis to the park one day. Wali Ali usually conducted the Monday night classes. He was no spaced-out guru and didn't look like a flower. He was a big man with a bushy beard and hair pulled back into a ponytail. He told jokes and made light of himself. Sometimes he was cross and grouchy.

One night Wali Ali was leading us in a dance based on the phrase Ya Azim. The chant went: Ya azim, hu, hu, Allah hu, Allah hu, Allah hu, Allah hu, hu, hu, hu, hu, Assalaam aleikhum wa aleikhum assalaam. Allah, of course, means God. Hu is an intensive; it means God himself, God present here. Assalaam aleikhum means "the peace of God be with you." This was a "greeting dance": everyone in the three concentric circles paired with a partner and after each repetition of the chant moved on to a new partner for the next cycle.

Each cycle began with a bow to the partner on the words "Ya Azim." From then on, one was turning most of the time. For what the dervishes and also the Shakers had discovered, and which we'd all known as children and have perhaps rediscovered in the discos, is that spinning around can make one ecstatic. As I was doing that dance, going faster and faster as Wali Ali encouraged the drummer to speed up the rhythm, I realized the meaning of the words I was singing: "God himself, God himself. "

I moved to the next partner, I bowed, "Ya Azim." I saw I was bowing to God. And I realized that not only was the partner God for me, but I was God for my partner. For a moment the world changed. For a moment I saw all things as One--unseparated. The subject-object distinction that is so much a part of my everyday perception disappeared. As I moved on to several more partners I saw that it didn't make any difference whether they were men or women, beautiful or ugly, appealing or repulsive, the dance went on and on.

I remained in that state of vision for the rest of the evening and after I left the hall, I realized that vision extended to everyone, not just fellow dervishes. That dance was a microcosm of the Great Dance that is God's creation of the universe. The electrons spin in dance around their nuclei, the planets about their suns. The galaxies spin with one another. And they're all chanting: "Allah hu, Allah hu, Peace be with you!"


from In Search of God in the Sexual Underworld: A Mystical Journey (Morrow, 1983)

This excerpt from In Search of God continues on the webpage titled Seeing With Different Eyes.

Watch videos of the Dances of Universal Peace




Neil Douglas-Klotz is a scholar of Near-Eastern Religion and language, who's best known for his translation of the words of Jesus back into Aramaic in order to discover the real richness of Jesus's teachings, much of which was lost in the translation into New Testament Greek.

In an interesting--and marvelous--coincidence for Toby Johnson, Neil Douglas-Klotz, who nows lives in Scotland, was, during the 1970s, one of the musicians who stood in the center of the circle with Wali Ali at Monday Night Sufi Dancing in San Francisco. Douglas-Klotz was present during the experience described above. back to narrative

 

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight 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, three 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. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000.

His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003.

 

 

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