Hopefully it’s not a bad sign that this is the second somewhat negative piece I’m doing this week. I generally like to focus on positive reviews. I’d rather ignore a bad book or teacher and focus on a good one. But I’ve quoted David Hawkins before. I was in the process of reading I – Reality and Subjectivity, and was hoping to give it a good review on these pages. Then I got part-way through the book and hit a brick wall.
Let me give a brief overview on David Hawkins for those unfamiliar with him. Hawkins is a spiritual teacher who went through a profound enlightenment experience and has written eloquently about it. I quoted him in Four Easy Steps to Enlightenment. His spiritual insight is full of profound depth. I first heard about him from Wayne Dyer, who has quoted from and used his work. He also endorses, as part of his teaching, a practice called “applied kinesiology”. This is basically a muscle testing exercise. Some alternative health practitioners are familiar with it. For example, to test a person’s reaction to a particular food, they hold the food in one hand and hold the other arm straight out. A tester then tries to push their arm down. The theory is that if the food is bad for you, its vibration will weaken your energy and your arm can be easily pushed down. If the food is good for you, your arm will remain strong and hard to push down. Interesting theory.
Hawkins takes this a step further. He teaches that any true/false statement can be tested with kinesiology just like a food. There is a universal consciousness which knows the answer to all questions. Your own consciousness is directly connected to this universal consciousness. When you hear (or think of) a TRUE statement, you connect with universal consciousness and your arm stays strong. When you hear or think of a FALSE statement, there is a moment of disconnection or dissonance from universal consciousness and your hand can be pushed down. In this way, you can reliably test the truth of any statement.
Using this method, Hawkins has developed a scale of consciousness, and assigns ranks on this scale to everything from books to teachers to historical figures to works of art. I’ve reproduced the scale elsewhere on my site and I still believe it is a very useful system for showing the relative position of various emotions, philosophies and views on a scale.
Now we come to the problem. I’m reading through David’s book I – Reality and Subjectivity. After some really excellent chapters on developing non-dual consciousness and transcending judgments and opposites, he starts to talk about politics and society. And here things start to get weird. In discussing World War II, he says that Hitler “calibrates” (can be placed on the scale using kinesiology) at 125 (“desire”) Neville Chamberlain slightly higher at 185 (somewhere between “pride” and “courage”), and Winston Churchill at an astonishing 510 (between “love” and “joy”).
No doubt that Churchill had many excellent leadership qualities, and that Chamberlain’s attempt to appease Germany was unfortunate. But Churchill could also be an overbearing bigot. He once said “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” According to some, his racial views were little better than Hitler’s. Chamberlain on the other hand was a high-minded progressive reformer, working to reduce child labor, give workers holidays and make peace with Ireland. His fault was in failing to recognize the extent of HItler’s ambitions.
Hawkins goes on to assign high values to several socially conservative ideas and very low ones to “politically correct” ideas. Good –God, patriotism, tobacco. Bad – welfare, reparations, pacifism, privacy laws, criticizing the president, Then things get more peculiar. Let me quote a section:
The Constitution of the United States calibrates as the highest of any nation and stands at 705…If the word “God” were removed from the Constitution, its calibrated level would drop from 705 (Truth) to 485 (Intelligence and Reason)
Uh… hold on a minute. Surely I’m not the only one who knows that the word “God” doesn’t appear in the Constitution at all. And yet Hawkins claims to have “calibrated” it with and without the word “God” in it?? And as clever as the checks and balances of the Constitution are, does a document that is basically a set of administrative rules really calibrate at the level of Divine Truth? And has he really checked the constitutions of every other country? In the same section, he announces that “The hatred of the United States by others stems solely from envy”, apparently discounting any perceived grievance any country of group may have against the United States as nothing but concealed envy.
All this is so outrageous that I would be tempted to think its some sort of bizarre “test”. If you can get past this chapter without judgment, then you can read the rest of the book. But I’m forced to conclude with Ken Wilber that being highly developed along the lines of spirituality and consciousness doesn’t necessarily mean you are highly developed in all other lines at the same time. For all Hawkins enlightenment, I think he is displaying some massive blind spots, and his “calibration” of the Constitution of the United States destroys ALL credibility in his calibration process.
Hawkins says several times that if people arrive at calibrations different than his, it invariably turns out that either they phrased the question incorrectly, OR that they themselves calibrate at too low a level. At this point, that sounds like a very convenient way of making your theories and methods un-testable and non-falsifiable.
Conclusion? I’m afraid I can’t recommend Hawkins. Whatever use kinesiology may or may not have, it’s obviously that it is useless for testing and calibrating historical figures, political documents, and I suspect anything else.