Friday, January 15, 2016
Review- 'Discovery of the Presence of God' (Devotional Nonduality)- Dr. David Hawkins.
Having just finished "Discovery of the Presence of God" (Devotional Nonduality), by Dr. David Hawkins, I felt I had to write down a few points on why I liked some of the material, and yet overall found the DH "path" to be a dead-end.
It was the third book by David Hawkins that I read (the other being a voluminous text "The Eye of the I"), and also having gone through "Letting Go".
Things I like about DH's writings:
- his precise language in getting down concepts related to spirituality, mysticism, and nonduality
- the overall structure he lays out with regards to the ego/personal self, the witness, observer, etc. and the need to transcend the personal self, in favour of allowing the Self/no-self/etc. to become apparent
- the emphasis on 'sacrificing' or giving up the 'juice' or payoff of being the 'experiencer' in place of being the witness of the experience (which works well with the traditional yoga paths- karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga)
- most of the practices he comments on (e.g. self-inquiry, single-pointed meditation etc.) have well documented and well-known effectiveness
- there is a definite laying out of DH own opinions and 'map of consciousness' as he sees it, no beating around the bush or ambiguity, as some other writers often do (e.g. "Well all paths lead to the top", "All paths are good" type magical thinking).
However, the above is unfortunately negated by the following points:
- the emphasis throughout on using DH's arbitrary, weird and wonderful system of "Conscousness Calibration" or using Kinesiology muscle testing to verify the 'Truth and Consciousness level' of teachings, teachers, people, places, (and anything) on a scale of 0-1000.
- the above "map" is seems to be mostly fictional, and is blatantly incorrect (see below) in places, but is portrayed as being completely scientific, absolutely true, verifiable, repeatable etc.
- occasional incorrect entries in the texts, showing either DH own unfamiliarity with certain teachings, which lead one to question how these teachings/concepts could have been properly 'calibrated' when the "founder" didn't quite understand what the teachings were:
(Random examples: (1) Jnana yoga (ie. the yoga of "knowledge" or inquiry) is mistaken as "Jhana yoga" in the text (ie. yoga practices using concentrative meditation to achieve absorption states); (2) Sikhism is incorrectly labelled as a subset of "Hinduism"; (3) certain systems such as "Tibetan Buddhism" are given a rating and classed as one uniform religion/teaching. In fact, some teachings such as Tibetan Buddhism, contain several very different schools of thought, from traditionalist Mahayana Buddhist groups, to nondual non-traditional yogic paths like Dzogchen; etc.)
- the weirdness of some scores defies logic and explanation. (Random examples: Completely dualistic/political personages such as Pope John Paul II get 570, along with Jospeh Ratzinger.. however, some nondual teachers such as Poonjaji get 520 (lower), and a highly realized Tibetan yogi (Dilgo Kyenste Rinpoche) gets 575. Christian mystic Joel Goldsmith gets 480, while protestant writer Martin Luther gets 580. Mother Theresa gets 710, on the same level as the flower of Advaita Vedanta, Sri Adi Shankaracharya. "Saint Patrick" of whom little is known gets 590, and trumps Jean Klein, Rudolph Steiner, the Dalai Lama, Socrates and Rumi. You get the picture.
- Scriptures are also strangely rated/calibrated: A high grade text such as A Course in Miracles gets 600, while dualistic and confusing texts such as Koran (700) and the New Testament (790) rate much higher (despite having caused vast amounts of global suffering on behalf of followers). The "Nicene Crede" itself gets a huge 895, while the complete works of the Kashmiri Shaivism sage Abhinavagupta rates at 655.. again you get the picture.
The exercises and spiritual practices that DH introduces, while short and concise, are really nothing new, and simply taken from other schools, teachers etc. (e.g. self-inquiry from Ramana Maharshi and Zen, concentration meditation from Raja yoga and Patanjali and Buddhism, witnessing from numerous sources, Letting go / releasing seems to be pretty much the same as the Sedona Method which appeared a few decades earlier, and which was taken from elsewhere also)- hence there's really no new material in DH works that I can point to.. apart from the above erroneous 'Map of Consciousness'.
Returning to the summary though, I really did like DH exploration of the ego/self, witness, and the idea of giving up and surrendering 'the experiencer' in favour of 'the observer'. His psychology background supports this. I also liked his style of writing, which lends itself to group work or being read out aloud. I didn't like his choice of calibrations, and the emphasis on his 'maps' being objective and scientific (which they are clearly not), and that one has to wade through thousands of words (over various volumes and lectures) in order to pick out a few effective practices, or worse, get side-tracked into playing with muscle testing in order to 'tell the truth' of things- which should be completely apparent anyhow for those who end up walking further down a legit spiritual path to liberation.
There's more than enough online though, for anyone to do more research on David Hawkins.. the good and the bad.
Interesting reading, but take it with salt, and use sparingly.