Top critical review
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Well researched, but selective and narrow
on July 13, 2013
This is a well researched book that brings to light the essential non-dual teachings of Christ. The author covers the key aspects of Christ messages and does not hesitate to tackle the difficult verses of Christ .e.g Christ coming to bring a sword (Matthew 10.34). Unusual aspects are also brought out e.g. God working with the pagan Balaam.
Walker rejects the fundamentalist view of the Bible, pointing out that books have been lost, or dropped from editions. The inconsistencies between a peaceful God, who prohibits killing and some verses that enjoin the Israelites to slaughter entire nations are highlighted. He lists in good humour at least ten verses in the Old Testament that would offend modern values if taken literally.
The main thrust is God's love and this is reviewed in the perenially difficult problem of suffering in the world.
A fundamentalist notion is that salvation is only thru Christ. Here Walker examines the arguments very well and comes up with superb refutations. This book is good for those who encounter Bible thumpers.
Some problems I had with the book are:
1) Too many quotations from Ammachi, an Indian Holy Mother. Pages 37-40 are taken directly from her works. I would have preferred the author to have shared his own experiences on non dualism, to give the book something of a first hand touch. The point is that unless backed up by personal experience, non dualist Christianity is no better than any other form.
2) Reincarnation: Not well argued. The Bible veils the idea of reincarnation. Here Walker forgets that the highest teaching of Non Dualism also rejects reincarnation (what is reincarnating ? The ego does not exist) Christianity refused to emphasize reincarnation as when one is reborn, the mental slate is almost always wiped entirely clean. So to say to someone, you will have another chance in another life is to do them a huge disservice. Christianity prefers to get salvation in this life. Put simply, if as the author asserts, the ego is a delusion, then so is reincarnation.
3) The background at the time of Christ is not sufficiently covered. Jesus was likely an Essene. This group had their own version of the Torah, rejected animal sacrifices and did not believe in violence. It is only later that the Pharisees who later became Rabbinical Jews rejected animal sacrifies. The other Jews hoped for a conqueror that would expel the Romans. It is somewhat easier to see how other Jews could have been complicit in his death, given the tensions between the Pharisees, Essenes and Sadducees. Also Jesus expelling the money changers in the temple, who were selling animals for sacrifice, makes more sense in this light.
4) The comment that Paul did not go to Asia because India had its own complete spirituality is subject to misinterpretations, and omits facts. Firstly St Thomas and Christian teachings did go to India, and secondly the author misses what makes India great spiritually: a spirit of enquiry and an openness to other revelations.
All in all, a well researched book, although not covering all aspects. Ethan Walker makes the case that Christ' teaching was non dualistic. But I feel that while this is true, it was inclusive non dualism, rather than the rather rigid exclusive dualism he pushes for.
That is why Christ healed as well: he did not say your ego is not real, therefore your pain is a delusion. Christ brought the perception of God's love to those who were bound by the ego and dualism. In short, God can be found in dualism as well as a Being whose love one can feel.
I feel that Ethan Walker tries too hard to fit Christianity into a Vedantic viewpoint, his arguments are valid but somewhat selective .e.g the parable of the talents does not fit into his non-dualistm, and so is not discussed at all.
I feel that the teachings of Christ are best read from a wider selection of authors, obviously including the gospels, so as get the flavour of his teachings and so recommend the following to supplement Mr Walker's book:
1) 'Inner Christianity' by Richard Smoley, which covers the Eucharist and also key figures in Christian history e.g. John of the Cross. Walker's book does not cover these aspects.
2) Meister Eckhart's works, which shows Christianity in 4 aspects, of which non dualism is only one aspect.
3) David Asia Israel on Christ from the Mandean scriptures. Controversial
4) Peace Pilgrim: Her comment that people are shocked when people reject Christianity, but even more shocked by someone who practices it. Here is someone who did give away everything and belonged to no denomination. Absolutely first hand and non theoretical.
5) Jesus, son Of Man: Khalil Gibran: Jesus thru the eyes of a poet. Highly original