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Essential Gay Mystics Hardcover – January 1, 1998
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Books about homosexuality and religion have traditionally attempted to reconcile "sin" with a modern understanding of sexuality. Andrew Harvey's The Essential Gay Mystics, however, is predicated on the assumption that sin and sex don't need to be reconciled and that gay sexuality is innately spiritual. Excerpting passages from 60 gay and lesbian writers--covering 20 centuries and at least a dozen traditions including classical Greek, Native American, Sufic, and Christian-- Harvey explores a variety of religious and sexual experiences. His extensive research, empathetic perspective, and compelling grasp of spirituality make this book not only unique, but also vital to an understanding of contemporary theology and religion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Nowadays there are so many anthologies dealing with gay and lesbian topics that it is almost impossible to find an unfilled niche. But writer, poet, and teacher Harvey (Journey in Ladakh, LJ 6/15/83) has discovered a rich vein in this collection of spiritually tinged texts. The key insight informing his selections here is that the Source of all Godhead is both masculine and feminine and exists in a unity that includes both. The homosexual can be thought to mirror this unity and viewed as enigmatic fertility and power in a special way. Appropriately and wisely, the selections are geographically diverse and come from many different religious traditions. In some instances, the writers are not strictly speaking believers at all. Among historical texts, the reader finds that the selections are all open gay and lesbian readings, though they have not traditionally been given such interpretations. Recommended for both academic and public religion collections.?David S. Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In 1992, he met Dom Bede Griffiths in his ashram in southern India near where Andrew Harvey had been born. It was this meeting that helped him synthesize the whole of his mystical explorations and reconcile Eastern with Western mystical paths. Andrew Harvey has taught at Oxford University, Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the University of Creation Spirituality as well as at various spiritual centers throughout the United States, and maintains a spiritual direction practice in New York City. He today lives in Nevada with his husband Erick.
Generally, Western culture separates sexuality from spirituality in very much the same way that it separates the sacred from the events and processes of everyday life. It may therefore come as something of a shock to the average reader that there exists such a category of beings as `gay mystics' identified synchronously by both their sexuality and their pursuit of the sacred.
Nonetheless, it has long been accepted that gay persons of both genders have always figured prominently and in significant numbers among the artistic and cultural (and spiritual) elites of societies around the world. While most cultures have never officially recognized or sanctioned gay sexual activities (though exceptions exist), many have at least quietly tolerated the presence of gay persons given the out-sized contributions of such individuals to their societies. As in other realms of human endeavor, this has been reflected in the religious and spiritual realm.
From ancient Greek society to today's varied cultures around the world, there are commonalities of spirit and sensibility that can be traced as common threads. This text, part of the 'Essentials' series, examines various mystical and spiritual writings by gay persons across time; however, not all the authors represented in this text are gay. Some (such as Shakespeare) might have been bisexual, or heterosexual, but still seem to be able to tap into that voice which seems most representative of and represented in the gay community.
TEGM brings together a broad selection of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered writers whose works illuminate and elaborate the mystical path. Some assume the form of ardent love lyrics and psalms to male and female beauty. This anthology includes texts from the Greeks and Romans; the Native American "berdache"' tradition; the ancient Far Eastern and Persian Sufi traditions of Hafiz; and the writings of the Japanese sage Kobo Daishi (Kukei) and poet Basho, as well as excerpted works from the Renaissance to the 20th century including writings by Michelangelo, Whitman, Wilde, Rossetti, Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, and Audre Lord, among others.
With selections from 60 gay and lesbian writers - covering 20 centuries and over a dozen traditions - TEGM explores a variety of religious and sexual experiences. Harvey's painstakingly thorough research, "emic" perspective, and incisive knowledge of spirituality and command of its language make this book unique and vital to an understanding of contemporary religion, spirituality and psychology. I have also found TEGM to be a valuable sourcebook of inspirational readings for liturgies of interest and usefulness both to gay people as well as their wider community.
between Dionysus (sometimes called Bacchus) and Apollo. In his greatest film, Kazantzakis also carried this conflict into the life of Jesus called The Last Temptation of Christ. Those who did not understand this theme picketed the movie houses at the time of its release. Look at Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. You may remember that Sean Connery won a British Academy award for best actor in this story of 14th century monks in an Italian abbey where someone is committing many murders. Both of these stories have homosexual incidents in them. Yet, somehow, I could understand that; after all, these were sequestered men living alone without women, similar to military or prison life and homosexual tensions are unbearable for some.
The evolution of psychological theories since Freud, Jung, and Adler has moved to an "integral approach," linking body, mind and soul in balance as a holistic unit. In the past, spiritual and other psychologists have treated body, mind and soul as if they were separate entities, whereas, in order to reach the wholeness of spirit, the oneness of the universe, and we must include our bodies and minds. The desires of the flesh, the ideas of the mind, and the luminosities of the soul--all are perfect expressions of the radiant Spirit that alone inhabits the universe. Physical exercise, vitamins, if necessary, sufficient sleep, a time for relaxation, and a healthy sexual life for the body; good reading and challenging creative ideas for the mind; and the joy of the here and now for the soul as observer.
The word "mysticism" means a direct intuition or experience of God, what Abraham Maslow called a "peak experience." This will frequently happen to almost everyone who is taken breathless at a sunset, a soaring mountain, or just waking up one day feeling exhilarated for no reason at all. A mystic is a person who has had such a direct experience, not merely from accepted religious beliefs but from first-hand personal knowledge. There is no intermediary of priest, rabbi, or shaman. In addition, mysticism
need not be religious or theistic, but can express itself in art,
literature, music or poetry.
The other word, "gay," is slightly more difficult to define because it is understood in such a narrow and usually limited construct. Gay usually refers to a middle-class homosexual male living in the West in the late 20th century. "Lesbian" comes from the name of the island of Lesbos where Sappho, the poet, wrote her inspiring works. Cultural and historical evidence shows that not only has same-sex desire always existed and been known to exist, but that in many cultures those who followed this path were seen as connected to the sacred. To give only one example, the berdache, the cross-dressing shaman of various American Indian tribes, holds an esteemed and fundamental place in the life of a tribe.
The book, Gay Mystics, is set forth on the hypothesis that sin and sex do not need to be approved and that gay sexuality is as innately spiritual as heterosexuality. In the East, Tantra considers all seemingly lesser occasions (errors, stumbling blocks, sin) not as distractions from the Spirit, but celebrations of Spirit's exuberant, wild, overflowing, ever-present creativity. For there is only God, only Spirit, only Goddess, only Tao. More simply, every single thing and event in this universe, high or low, sacred or profane, has the same feeling or taste, the taste of the Divine.
Excerpting passages from 60 gay and lesbian writers--covering 20 centuries and at least a dozen traditions including classical Greek, Native American, Sufi, and Christian, Andrew Harvey explores a variety of religious and sexual experiences. He includes texts from Sappho, Plato, Vergil, Basho, Attar, Hafiz, Michaelangelo, Emily Dickinson, Jean Cocteau, Audre Lorde, and many others. His extensive research, empathetic perspective, and compelling grasp of spirituality make this book not only unique, but also vital to an understanding of contemporary theology,
religion and psychology.
Ken Wilber, psychologist, has said "Andrew Harvey has pulled together some of the most passionate and touching works in all of mystical literature, and as it happens, the authors are all gay. But the words speak for themselves: that is, the Divine directly speaks through the words in this volume, words that flowed through gay hearts and gay minds and gay love, but words which speak
profoundly, eloquently, gorgeously, to the same Divine in all of us. A mystic is not one who sees God as an object, but one who is immersed in God as an atmosphere, and the works collected here are a radiant testament to that all-encompassing condition. Harvey has given us a cornucopia of mystical wisdom, tender as tears and gentle as fog, but also passionately ablaze with the relentless fire of the very Divine."
At age twenty-one Andrew Harvey attended Oxford, and received England's highest academic honor, becoming the youngest Fellow of All Soul's College in its history. He is now a visiting professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He lives with his husband, writer and photographer Eryk Hanut, in Nevada.
A prolific writer, Harvey is the author of over ten books, including Journey to Ladakh. He collaborated with Sogyal Rinpoche on the best-selling Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Harvey is the subject of a 1993 BBC documentary, The Making of a Mystic.