Marshall Davis on Christian and Taoist Non-Duality

I haven’t been a Christian since I was a teenager. I grew up in a non-denominational protestant family, but my parents were hippies and, when I was young, organized religion was not a big part of our lives. I left Christianity behind because I just didn’t believe in the core tenets of mainstream Christianity, and I continue to consider myself an agnostic, and am an atheist regarding the conception of God as an anthropomorphic, omnipotent being who stands outside of the natural world, intervenes occassionally, and judges us, etc. I don’t believe that that God exists.

I just finished the book Experiencing God Directly by Marshall Davis, and it’s easily the best thing I’ve ever read on Christianity. It’s a view of Christianity that can be described as non-dual, a term that will be familiar to people who have studied Taoism, Advaita Vedanta, or Plotinus.

I won’t attempt to summarize it right now, but it’s a very good read. It’s concise and well-written and wise. He is a pastor of 40 years but has very unconventional views, in contrast with a lot of Christianity in the US (where he lives). His view is similar to Richard Rohr’s view — e.g. as described in Universal Christ — but I think Davis’s book is even better. Both Davis and Rohr make a convincing case, I think, that this non-dual view is what Jesus, Paul, and the early church actually meant. Christianity has been largely misinterpreted through the centuries, though there has always been a thread of thinkers and mystics who maintained the non-dual interpretation (even if the term non-dual would’ve been alien to them). That this non-dual view is compatible with Taoism is evidenced by some of Davis’s other books, such as The Tao of Christ, where he was rewritten the Tao te Ching with a Christian vocabulary. He also writes about how he values atheists and mostly agrees with them.

The Kindle book is only a few dollars. If you like listening to things, Davis also has a podcast where he reads a few of his books. So you can get a free audiobook version of it here (with some chapters abridged, I believe):

Introduction

Chapters 1-2 (Jesus as a Proclaimer of Nonduality)

Chapter 3 (Self-Inquiry)

Chapter 4 (God-Inquiry)

Chapter 5 (The Power of Negative Thinking)

Chapter 6 (The Wayless Way)

Epilogue (The Story of Me)



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