Interview with David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.

Written by on August 13, 2005 in Interviews, Spirituality

Some authors speak of the human condition so profoundly, they become iconic. Such is the case with David R. Hawkins, MD, PhD. The core premise of his groundbreaking Power vs. Force is that truth is subjective, and relative to one’s level of consciousness. He employs a protocol using kinesiology to map consciousness on a logarithmic scale that calibrates, really, the whole of the human condition over time. The Eye of the I and I: Reality and Subjectivity continue the discussion, and his eagerly awaited Truth vs. Falsehood is due for release in June 2005.

Hawkins’ own journey of transformation is astonishing. He left a successful psychiatric practice in New York at age 38 after contracting a seemingly terminal illness. “If there is a God, I ask him to help me now,” he prayed. He fell unconscious; when he awoke, “the person I had been no longer existed. There was…just an Infinite Presence.” Hawkins spent seven years in seclusion, meditating and studying, then reintegrated into society and began teaching others.

Hillier:You speak about the power of surrendering to God, about spiritual development being based on “allowing” not “trying.” Is meditation the best tool for reaching this place of surrender?

Hawkins: Far more rewarding is “contemplation.” Meditation tends to be separated from life–like going to church on Sunday, whereas contemplation is a way of being in the world that involves paying attention to the field rather than the content of the field.

So it’s about mindfulness?
Yes, it’s doing what you’re doing because that’s what you’re doing, and not for some gain. With contemplation, you turn your life into a prayer. You ask God to reveal to you what you need to understand. Contemplation brings more rapid advancement than meditation.

Being on a dedicated spiritual path is not all love and light–we hazard ourselves along the way, meeting with unpleasant obstacles and traumas.
That’s because you’re bringing up the negative karma. A spiritual life can be quite tumultuous because you’re pulling up what you were blanketing, ignoring and denying. At a certain level, it is all love and light. You only get into real trouble if you start seriously searching for enlightenment.

It’s only temporary trouble, though.

Temporary can be quite a long time! What’s practical for the average person is not to seek enlightenment, but to reach a level called “unconditional love”–to become loving and forgiving at all times, under all circumstances, towards everyone, including yourself. It’s a doable goal in this world. The world is extremely negative, and to reach unconditional love is rare: only 0.4% of the population reaches it.

Can we jump levels of consciousness within a lifetime?
The statistical average is to move five points in a lifetime. However, spiritually committed people can jump hundreds of points.

Can we make great leaps in moments of our existence?
I’ve had people jump 150 points during a lecture because they suddenly get something and, wow, it just goes. People who hit bottom do this commonly. Twelve-step groups are full of miracles, people who lived horrible lives, vicious towards everybody, selfish, and suddenly become saintly.

Do they stay there? Or do we more likely experience periods of heightened states then return to our “normal, lower” state?

It ebbs and flows. When you’re above your karma — when you bring to the surface what’s holding you back from progressing and you’re able to transcend these things — you feel beatific until the next thing comes up, then you feel like you’ve crashed. You haven’t really crashed. It’s just that you’re not above your karma anymore. You’ve brought up the next layer to be worked on. This means you’re making progress.

When a person is in denial, they may feel happy because nobody is pointing out to them how they’re ruining the lives of everyone around them [laughter]. So you come out of denial, go through the pain of facing what you’re facing, work out the guilt about it and forgive yourself–then life gets beautiful again…until the next thing comes up. This is characteristic of the whole spiritual pathway.

It’s most frequently non-linear?
This is normal, yes. It seems quite chaotic, you know. It’s more like the stock market–up and down. Yes, there are people who get into a happy state and stay there–at least for this lifetime. This is what you’d call a coasting lifetime. You’re satisfied with how you are and where you are. You might say it’s a spiritual rest period. We need periods of recuperation.

How rare is that split second before illumination, “the final moment,” as you call it?
One in 10 million people hit this level. Very often at that point, you stop functioning in the world, or you leave the world altogether.

So that level is impractical?

It seems that way to be the observer. Spiritually, it’s more than practical. From the world’s viewpoint you become useless, but spiritually you are powerfully effective. The higher the level of consciousness, the more powerfully you affect the collective unconscious. An unconditionally loving individual has a profound impact overall, you see. You look at this person and he’s not doing anything, but what you don’t know is that without him, the world would probably collapse [laughter]!

We can’t “will” enlightenment to happen. If it’s not under the control of the will, is it related to personal karma?
Yes. The mental and spiritual composite, consciousness-wise, of the average human being is quite complex. It’s made of up of thousands of decisions, agreements, options that have been taken, it’s really quite complex to unravel, otherwise, enlightenment would be common.

You talk in I: Reality and Subjectivity about the importance of spiritual teachers to “catalyze the transformation of information into subjective awareness.”
That’s what they do. That’s their function.

How does one find an appropriate teacher?
The classic saying is “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” People don’t need a teacher all the time. In fact, having an advanced teacher isn’t really useful early in the game. There are great periods of spiritual work that is all internal. I would advise people to read books by advanced teachers. As we evolve spiritually, various teachers appear to us at various times. You find a teacher and a teaching that you’re comfortable with. If you outgrow it, then you’ll be attracted to something else.

We run the risk of meeting someone who is not integrity-based. Any advice?
That’s why consciousness calibration is useful. There’s a huge mass of integrous teaching out there. You can calibrate this information yourself, or find someone who is skilled at kinesiology.

One advantage of working with the teacher is having help with reframing experiences–what you call “re-contextualization.”
This is very often the answer to a spiritual dilemma. The minute you reframe an experience, it changes color altogether. That’s the purpose of spiritual teaching, reading and studying–you come across a different understanding of something. As we become spiritually sophisticated, we begin to differentiate real from illusion. For example, at a certain period in your life, you’re sure money will make you happy. Then you become financially successful and your wife walks out with someone else–while you were busy getting successful, she got bored, you see? And you’re miserable! Reframing enables you to have compassion for yourself and others because you see that you did what you thought was right at the time.

You mention chakra breathing as something basic we can do to increase our awareness level.
Not only the exercise, but the intention behind it, tends to precipitate advancement of spiritual consciousness. Your intent to reach a higher level of understanding is in itself powerful. When you take time to [do these exercises], you’re saying to God, “I’m trying to get to you, help me.” You align with God.

You say “nothing is in the process of becoming; it already has its own identity, complete and perfect.” Should we forget this notion of “becoming”?

Becoming is the process whereby potentiality becomes actuality when the conditions are appropriate. One condition that comes up is intention. Potentiality doesn’t become an actuality until you add the ingredient of intention. The minute you add intention, that potentiality blossoms forth as an actuality. All it was waiting for is your okay.

Your definition of change is refreshing: “the emergence of potentiality out of its essence into manifestation.” Most people don’t want change.
It’s really the unfolding of evolution, including one’s personal evolution. People like familiarity. They’re afraid of change and that’s alright for a period of time. Once you have self-confidence, however, you realize that you can handle whatever comes up. You begin to welcome change.

Let’s talk about “witnessing”–a phenomenon that allows us to look at things from a neutral perspective and move through situations more gracefully.
Witnessing is a higher state of consciousness in which no personal self is involved–it just observes life without any comment or resistance. It’s like having a personal camera and the camera is taking a picture of everything as it happens. The camera’s not involved and doesn’t feel stressed. When you’re involved, you feel stressed. If you let go of trying to change things, you reach a state where witnessing begins to happen spontaneously. The extreme opposite would be people who, for example, want to kill themselves or leave the country because Bush got reelected. From the standpoint of witnessing, that’s comical. In other words, you’re so self-indulgent that when things don’t go your way, you take all your marbles and go home. That’s kindergarten level. Talk about egocentricity [laughter]!

Any insights about where we’re heading into the future?

We calibrated the consciousness level on the planet from the beginning of life, on through the archeological ages, the onset of civilization and evolution of humans. We clearly see that the evolution of consciousness on the planet is now speeding up. It was flat for practically billions of years then suddenly began to rise. Now it’s rising at a very rapid rate.

The collective intention of mankind. We’ve crossed over 200 collectively and now we’re really moving from force into power. You see, the new paradigm of success is not money, as in the last century. Anybody can make money. To double your income, all you have to do is get a second job. The new sign of success is integrity. That’s why Martha Stewart went to prison. She didn’t have the humility to say “I made a mistake, forgive me.” When I think of her, I pray that she realizes that people of integrity are far more successful than the big, ugly boss. Now the real question is: Can you stand up under examination of your life?

So that which is not integrity-based is coming to light more quickly?
Yes, and it’s bringing up all the disturbances in the world. What we’re really feeling is the acceleration of the world consciousness level of mankind. As the level rises, it pulls up that which is not integrous and causes tumult. It’s a continuous process.

Even though things level out at times?
Only in one area. It shows up in another. For instance, Lyndon Johnson was committed to civil rights in the 60s. That brought up race riots, very tumultuous. When you move ahead in consciousness, you don’t bring about peace, necessarily. Jesus Christ said, “I did not come to bring peace, but the sword of truth.” That sword can be quite challenging. It takes courage to be spiritually committed.

If we’re increasingly working on our inner divinity, and our experience of God is subjective, what is the fate of organized religion?
Aspects of religion can intensify that subjective experience–like devotion and commitment, service to others, appreciation of beauty, and remembering the words of the great masters. Also, the collective intent of being part of a congregation is high. We calibrated Europe’s great cathedrals–they’re extremely high. It’s the intention, plus the beauty, plus generations of people praying in them. They’re inspirational. Religion serves as inspiration, too. There are times for it and other times when it’s not necessary.

AUTHOR BIO: Gina Mazza Hillier is a nationally published journalist, freelance editor, and author of a book on health intuition, “The Highest and The Best.” She serves as chief inspirational officer for Epiphany Works, LLC, an inspired event planning company based in Pittsburgh, PA. Contact Gina at or visit

Dr. David R. Hawkins’ books are available at

About Tony Cecala

Tony is a business strategist. He publishes the Holistic Networker and produces the Wellness Expo. In his spare time he reads about technology and the mind.

About the Author

About the Author: Tony is a business strategist. He publishes the Holistic Networker and produces the Wellness Expo. In his spare time he reads about technology and the mind. .


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  1. I Thought I Knew What Unconditional Love Was… | You Are Truly Loved | April 5, 2009
  1. Frances says:

    Are you saying that God is within us all and that if we just listen to our inner being we would be more apt to lead a life of integrity, kindness and unconditional love for all seeing how we are all connected and in this together. I believe it would easier to find spirituality by going inside versus always looking outside of ourselves.

  2. Chris says:

    Tony, your readers interested in the works of Dr. David Hawkins and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, are welcome at the Hawkins Study Group, Saratoga, CA and, if they are very interested, they can sign up at this other page: Hawkins Study Group, Saratoga, CA