My Sexual Orientation By Robert Rabbin
Maya Marcel-Keyes, the daughter of conservative Republican Alan Keyes, has announced she is a “liberal queer.” I don’t know why, but for some reason people in the public glare invariably are held to account for their sexual orientation, if not for the details of their sexual activities. I want to extend my support and affection to Ms. Marcel-Keyes for her candor, especially when her father, last year’s Illinois Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, said during an interview that homosexuality was “selfish hedonism” and that Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter was a sinner. Ms. Marcel-Keyes will always be welcome in my home. I have a fondness for sinners.
This news has encouraged me to likewise announce my sexual orientation. I am not really in the public glare, though I confess to having intimations of that most of my life. I am, as the saying goes, a legend in my own mind. I am sure that it is only a matter of time before CNN runs a story about my sexual orientation. I might as well make it easy for any reporter doing a background check on me.
I am a “hetero-mystivist,” and I am not ashamed to say so. Some people, including Mr. Keyes, might need some help with this term. The “hetero” is pretty straightforward (no pun intended). I am a man, and I like women. I would like to insert here (again, no pun intended) that I have friends who are gay, and friends who are lesbians. I even know a few bisexuals. If memory serves, I may have inadvertently dated one, but only for three years.
Now comes the tricky part, the “mystivist” part. Okay, so that’s not really about sex. But it is an important part of my coming out, and I do want CNN to get it straight (damn, why do I keep doing that?). Keeping in mind I am the founder of Radical Sages, an evolution of spiritual action, I will say a mystivist is someone who, in contrast to being a “selfish hedonist,” is a “selfless altruist.”
The word mystivist comes from the word “mystivism,” which I just made up and which I hereby offer to the English language, and in translation to all other languages. Strictly speaking, mystivism is the spiritual style and substance of a mystivist, who is the glowing golden offspring of happy parents named “spiritual” and “activist.” I might point out such a glowing golden child can come forth from hetero, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender human beings—even from conservative Republican ones.
I must digress for a moment, but in the service of further illuminating mystivism.
It is important to say that I am a lifelong mystic, a person who is intensely interested in “the worthful aspects of reality—its values, meaning, and purpose...” to borrow Huston Smith’s phrase. Mysticism is concerned with the nature of mind, self, and reality; with issues of identity and transconceptual truth; it refers to an individual’s struggle to attain a clear vision of reality and the transformation of consciousness that accompanies such a vision.
I have spent the better part of four decades pursuing such a vision and such a transformation of consciousness. Along the way, I frequently lost track of the world around me. I sometimes believed it wasn’t that real or important, thinking only the elevated world of spirit was important and real. (I have, fortunately, outgrown those notions.)
Like Mr. Keyes, I have a core community, though mine is not of the conservative Republican kind. It is a community of people who are united by a shared experience of transcendent principles: wisdom and love, peace and freedom, respect and kindness. These principles represent the ethical essence and core values of all religions and spiritual traditions. They are universally regarded as the highest expression of our common humanity.
In my community, many people think this world is not real, or not important, which leads them to sit in the bleachers and to watch the game of life through binoculars. They think politics is beneath them, and beneath the elevated plane of spiritual attainment. Some, of course, do not. Those who do not believe this notion have created another community, which is referred to by various names: spiritual activism, engaged spirituality, engaged Buddhism, and so on. I myself have often used the term “spiritual activism.”
Here’s the main part of my “coming out” announcement: engaged spirituality is redundant. Authentic spirituality implies embodiment, which implies expression, which implies relationship, which implies involvement, which implies responsibility, which implies choice—all of which implies politics, in this meaning of the word: the inter-relationships among people in a society.
Now, back to my main point, which I want to make to my community of mystics, who number around 40 million people in this country alone. (Don’t ask me how I know: the research methodology is secret.)
Please live fully in this world. After all, it is in this world where we can look into the eyes of children, see exotic animals, breathe fresh air, walk in forests, and touch each other with love and care and tenderness. This world is our own self, our own body, our own heart. The moment we awaken, even just a bit, and realize we are exquisite pieces of this puzzle of creation, the moment we experience love in our hearts, the moment we experience beauty, the moment we experience the inner surge of passionate life force—this is the precise moment we must make this world our true home. This is the precise moment in which we must speak out and act out the infinite ways of loving.
I don’t want to be an alarmist, but have you not noticed our world is in turmoil? Have you not noticed that we, as a world civilization, are flirting with self-created catastrophes? Can you not feel distress and disease in this world-as-our-own-body?
“We can only save ourselves when all humanity recognizes that every problem on earth is our own personal problem and our own personal responsibility,” says Sulak Sivaraksa, founder of the International Network of Engaged Buddhism.
I think he is a mystivist.
In conclusion, I would like to respectfully offer a final word to Mr. Keyes: I went to the dictionary to find out what “selfish hedonism” really means, and I didn’t find anything in there about homosexuality.
Robert Rabbin is a San Francisco-based writer and speaker. He is the author of numerous books and articles, and the founder of Radical Sages, an online hub of global spiritual activism. For more information, please visit www.radicalsages.com. ©Robert Rabbin/All Rights Reserved/2005