David Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness – Crazy, or Crazy Insightful?

(Crazy insightful. I think.)

Mapping human consciousness probably wasn’t Dr David Hawkins’ most humble endeavor.

But the product of his work – the Map of Consciousness, detailing 17 stages of consciousness together with their energy ‘calibration values’ – is devastating in its magnitude. 

Dr Hawkins’ goal in creating the Map of Consciousness was “to overcome the inherent limitation of the human mind, whereby falsity has been misidentified as truth”, his ultimate goal being to assist human evolution.

The work is detailed through his books, Power versus Force and Transcending the Levels of Consciousness: The Stairway to Enlightenment.

Overall, I like David’s map.

I think that some people will find it a helpful self awareness tool. Not totally essential, but great if you are ready to wrap your mind around something interesting.

First, what is consciousness? How is it different to regular awareness?

And just how did David mysteriously arrive at numerical values for each stage?

What is consciousness?

Big question, which I am not really fit to answer but here goes: consciousness is like awareness, but not exactly. We become aware through observing ourselves where consciousness seems to refer to our overall orientation. Unlike awareness, it is a state and it characterizes our actions and behaviour. You could also call it a lens; a filter on reality.

How consciousness got measured

The map of consciousness was developed via kinesiology. That’s muscle testing. 

Dr Hawkins’ research discovered that man’s kinesiologic response to stimulus conveyed a capacity to differentiate not only positive from negative stimuli, but truth from falsity.

The research covers the results of millions of calibrations of statements, thoughts, photos, art, music, influential world leaders in every discipline and in almost every area of human endeavor for over 20 years, effectively establishing an anatomy of consciousness.

Kinesiology testing process

Basically (and apologies in advance to any kinesiology practitioners reading this) what happens during two person muscle testing is this:

  • You (the subject) are told to think first about Ghandi and then about Hitler to assess whether your responses to the goody and baddy are ‘normal’. 
  • Whilst you are thinking about the hero or villain, you resist as your tester presses down quickly with two fingers on your extended wrist. We lose muscle strength when we think of Hitler (though I assume this doesn’t happen if you’re a psychopath.)

In David’s research, after subjects were shown to have normal responses, they were read statements about their level of consciousness. As soon as the arm ‘breaks’, that is when the correct number may be identified.

Now if you are still with me after any of that lot, kudos. You are ready for more.

The map of consciousness – 17 levels

As I mentioned, David’s map offers 17 levels of consciousness. You probably bounce around between 3-4 of the levels.

The states ascend from the pits of hell (which is shame, apparently) to enlightenment. Anger is above desire, for example. Desire is above apathy.

I briefly describe these below. As you read them, reflect on where you sit on the human Richter scale.

Shame (1-20)

Someone at this level feels humiliated, has low self esteem and is paranoid. People vibrating in this level for prolonged periods become serial killers, rapists, and moral extremists.

Guilt (30)

Feelings of blame and remorse dominate here. This level cultivates destruction.

Apathy (50)

A state of despair and helplessness. Someone here is needy and dependent on others for help, such as the homeless, the poor, the aged population. The prevailing view is one of hopelessness.

Grief (75)

Feelings of regret, sadness and loss are abound here. Many people vibrate at this level in times of loss. Grief is a higher level than apathy, because one starts feeling more energy at this level, albeit of sadness and loss.

Fear (100)

Energy at this level is oriented in anxiety. Common situations of fear at play would be fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of challenges, fear of aging, fear of death, fear of loss, fear of strangers.

Desire (125)

At the level of desire, we are pretty energetic. We pursue ambitions, money, etc. etc. Desire also makes us addicted to things. The life view is disappointing, which ensues when one cannot obtain what one desires.

Anger (150)

The emotion at this level is hate. Anger expresses itself as resentment, frustration and revenge.

Pride (175)

People form pride based on possessions and external conditions. It is vulnerable because such conditions can be removed at any point in time. Pride results in denial and arrogance. The life view here is demanding.

Courage (200)

The turning point: this is the separation point between force and real power. At courage one sees the world as exciting and filled with possibilities. It marks the start of active pursuit of growth – where there exists a gap, the person will act to fill it. The life view is feasible – anything is manageable since the person is able to harness power to deal with situations in life. 

Neutrality (250)

The emotion at this level is trust and safety. Here, people are non-judgmental, objective and able to see things as they truly are. They are not attached to possessions, situations, outcomes and can roll with the punches in life. If they are not able to get something, they are equally happy settling for something else.

Willingness (310)

At willingness, the individual is open to do anything and everything – he/she is not bounded by others’ judgments or by limitations. The life-view is hopefulness. At this level you have people who perform extremely well in their careers in corporations, start-ups. The question then comes as to whether they are investing their energy in the best way.

Acceptance (350)

Here, we finally realize that we are the creators and source of our life, as opposed to having relegated some part of it to someone else or a different entity. We are aware of the social constructs present in life, able to discern against (limiting) beliefs, viewpoints and conditioning and able to consciously craft life above and beyond all these social constructs.

Reason (400)

The emotion is understanding and rationality. One seeks out huge amounts of information and analyzes it to infinitesimal detail before reaching conclusions. Reason falls into the trap of over-intellectualization, leading to the process of abstraction or preoccupation with data. The life view is meaningful.

Love (500)

This represents unconditional love – love that is pure, unfaltering, unwavering, not subjected to any external conditions. The life-view is benign. Hawkins claims only 0.4% of the population (1 in every 250 people) ever reaches this level.

Joy (540)

The dominant emotion is serenity and compassion. This is the inner joy that arises from every moment of existence rather than from an external source. The life view is completeness. Near death experiences have the effect of temporarily bumping people into this level.

Peace (600)

The emotion is bliss. At this level, there is no longer any distinction between the observer and the subject. This level is only attained by 1 out of 10 million people.

Enlightenment (700-1000)

The emotion is inexpressible. This is the pinnacle of the evolution of consciousness of mankind. The greatest people of history have attained this level, such as Krisna, Buddha, Jesus, Mother Theresa. 

The stage of integrity

Courage, at 200, is where our biggest shift happens.

Also known as the stage of integrity, 200 is where we start discerning truth from falsehood, essence from ego.

The lower levels are painful. That’s why we are driven in our desire for understanding and inner growth.

As David has said, the US as a whole is currently at 204 (though I admit the irony of writing this on the day that the words ‘President Donald Trump’ are a distinct possibility). 

A quick way of knowing where you’re at

One way to figure out your overriding state is to think about how you perform under pressure or in other words, how you behave when squeezed. 

Do you become paranoid and shut down (fear)? Or do you start yelling at people (anger)? Or do you become defensive (pride)?

Transcending the levels contains advice for how we transcend at each level.

Characteristics of higher versus lower thinking

In Transcending the levels, there are these great lists of one word attachments and aversions at each stage of consciousness. I think these lists are a really useful self-awareness tool.

Below I reproduce the desires and aversions at the level of pride. For the other lists, I recommend reading the book.

Pride – attractions versus aversions

Vain and proud versus Humility
Be more versus Be less
Important versus Nobody
Admired versus Looked down on
Status versus Common/ordinary
Noticed versus Ignored
Special versus Ordinary
Better than versus The same
Superior versus Inferior
Attractive versus Dull
Be right versus Wrong
Opinionated versus Silent
Thrill versus Dull, pedestrian
Insider versus Excluded
Exclusive versus Common
Succeed versus Fail

Hawkins also created charts showing the characteristics of lower and higher thinking. Below is a table showing them. 

Characteristics of lower versus higher mind

Accumulation versus Growth
Acquire versus Savor
Remember versus Reflect
Maintain versus Evolve
Think versus Process
Denotation versus Inference
Time = restriction versus Time = opportunity
Focus on present/past versus Focus on present/future
Ruled by emotions/wants versus Ruled by reason/inspiration
Blames versus Takes responsibility
Careless versus Disciplined
Content (Specifics) versus Content plus field (conditions)
Concrete, literal versus Abstract, imaginative
Limited, time, space versus Unlimited
Personal versus Impersonal
Form versus Significance
Focus on specifics versus Generalities
Exclusive examples versus Categorize class – inclusive
Reactive versus Detached
Passive/aggressive versus Protective
Recall events versus Contextualize significance
Plan versus Create
Definition versus Essence, meaningful
Particularize versus Generalize
Pedestrian versus Transcendent
Motivation versus Inspirational, intention
Morals versus Ethics
Examples versus Principles
Physical and Emotional survival versus Intellectual development
Pleasure and satisfaction versus Fulfillment of potential

Finally, here is a list of prevailing attitudes that are lower and higher mind.

Attitudes of a lower versus higher mind

Impatient versus Tolerant
Demand versus Prefer
Desire versus Value
Upset, tension versus Calm, deliberate
Control versus Let go, surrender
Utilitarian use versus Sees potential
Literal versus Intuitive
Ego-self directed versus Ego, plus other-oriented
Personal & family survival versus Survival of others
Constrictive versus Expansive
Exploit, use up versus  Preserve, enhance
Design versus Art
Competition versus Cooperation
Pretty, attractive versus Aesthetics
Naive, impressionable versus Sophisticated, informed
Guilt versus Regret
Gullible versus Thoughtful
Pessimist versus Optimist
Excess versus Balance
Force versus Power
Smart, clever versus Intelligent
Exploits life versus Serves life
Callous versus Merciful
Insensitive versus Sensitive
Particularize versus Contextualize
Statement versus Hypothesis
Closure versus Open-ended
Terminal versus Germinal
Sympathize versus Empathize
Rate versus Evaluate
Want versus Choose
Avoid versus Face and accept
Childish versus Mature
Attacks versus Avoids
Critical versus Accepting
Condemning versus Forgiving
Skepticism versus Comprehend


In terms of personal growth tools with a spiritual dimension, David Hawkins’ Map of Consciousness hits the spot.

I’d recommend Transcending the levels to anyone that likes to think deeply about life and human nature and power dynamics.