God Has Given Us Every Good Thing by Roy Eugene Davis
CSA Press, Box 7, Lake Rabun Rd., Lakemont, GA 30552, 1986, 224 pgs., $7.95.
One of life's pleasures is reading a book so compelling and well- written that you cannot put it down. Roy Eugene Davis' spiritual autobiography God Has Given Us Every Good Thing is such a book.
Starting with an exceptionally cogent foreword on the purpose of human life, Davis leads the reader into his own inner quest for self-realization. Brought up on a farm in Leavittsburg, Ohio, and raised in the United Brethren Church, Davis recounts how his personal relationship with God led him to Eastern philosophy. During his teens, after a serious bout with rheumatic fever, Davis came into contact with the now-classic Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. The book entirely changed Davis' life.
Barely 18 years old, Davis left home and embarked on a cross- country pilgrimage to Los Angeles in order to become a personal disciple of the famous Indian yogi. Davis joined the Self- Realization Fellowship in 1949 and was a monk for almost four years. His inspiring account of his life with Yogananda serves as the heart of his narrative.
Davis left the monastic order of SRF at the age of 22 when he felt that he needed to more active in the world. But true to his inner calling, he began a career as a "free-lance" minister, lecturing throughout the country on a variety of topics. Finally, in 1973, he became the leader of the Center for Spiritual Awareness in Lakemont, Ga., which still remains his ministerial base.
Of particular interest in Davis' autobiography are his encounters with a number of spiritual gurus and leaders, including Swami Muktananda, Satya Sai Baba, Swami Rama, Joel Goldsmith and Dr. Masaharu Taniguchi. Although I disagree with some of his evaluations of these teachers (particularly his generous praise of Father Divine), Davis' appraisements show an endearing humility.
Davis' book is important for historical reasons. Since he has been involved in the metaphysical scene for nearly 40 years, Davis has seen the changes that have taken place in what he terms the "New Era" community. For instance, Davis knew Da Free John when he was still Franklin Jones, a young disciple of Swami Muktananda. He was on friendly terms with Indra Devi, Lowell Fillmore and the founder of the Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes.
Yet, despite the useful information Davis provides on these leaders and their movements, I suspect that he is holding back. Davis could help both scholars and seekers if he would let his guard down and tell us some of the "shadow" history of the New Age.
The mark of a great book is that it leaves you wanting more. Thus,
my only major criticism of Davis' autobiography is that it should
have been longer. We can only hope that Davis will write a sequel.
--David Christopher Lane