Book of the Week

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I: Reality and Subjectivity by David Hawkins

This is the third book in David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force trilogy. His first book in the trilogy is Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior (1994) and the second book is The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden. I have highlighted the first two books in prior weeks and though there is a lot of repetitive material, I highly recommend reading the third book I: Reality and Subjectivity.  Reading this trilogy is not an exercise in accumulating more knowledge, rather it is a practice in advancing one’s level of consciousness. Just the mere experience of reading Hawkins’ work can shift you at an emotional level and raise your consciousness.  I spent the last three months reading this whole trilogy. I would spend on average 30-60 minutes a day just letting his words wash over me. When you sit down with these dense books, it is best to read them slowly and be patient with your comprehension of the material. Insights will come to you that you have never thought before- I guarantee it. It is a spiritual experience. Personally, I see it as a form of meditation and consciousness building.

I am not going to go into great detail about the content of this third book, because the experience of reading it for yourself is going to be transformative for you. I however did want to share a fair amount of passages from the book which I found to meaningful.

Profound Passages

“There was the ability to perceive the reality that underlay personalities and that the origin of emotional sickness lay in people’s belief that they were their personalities” (xx)

“The Presence is silent and conveys a state of peace that is the space which and by which All Is and has its existence and unfolds. It is infinitely gentle and yet like a rock. With it, all fear disappears. Spiritual joy occurs on a quiet level of inexplicable ecstasy. The experience of time stops; there is no apprehension or regret, no pain or anticipation. The source of joy is unending and ever present. With no beginning or ending, there is no loss or grief or desire. Nothing needs to be done as everything is already perfect and complete.” (xxv)

“People wonder ‘How does one reach this state of awareness’, but few follow the steps because they are so simple. First, the desire to reach the state was intense. Then began the discipline to act with constant and universal forgiveness and gentleness, without exception. One has to be compassionate towards everything, including one’s own self and thoughts. Next came a willingness to hold desires in abeyance and surrender personal will at every moment. As each thought, feeling, desire or deed was surrendered to God, the mind became increasingly silent. At first, it released whole stories and paragraphs, then ideas and concepts.  As one lets go of wanting to own these thoughts, they no longer reach such elaboration and begin to fragment while only half formed. Finally it was possible to surrender the energy behind the very process of thinking itself before it even became thought” (xxvi)

“There is also the path to sudden enlightenment, which may occur in a seemingly spontaneous manner or as a result of meditation or some spiritual practice, or merely by being in the presence of an enlightened teacher.  Great leaps in consciousness result from surrendering oneself to God at great depth. This is seen in our society in people who have hit rock bottom. Willfulness/pride surrenders and transformation occurs. From the pits of hell, paradoxically, heaven is close by… Thus many levels of consciousness can be transcended. These are often preceded by long periods of inner agony.” (19)

“People hate me” stems from one’s own inner hatreds. ‘People don’t care about me’ stems from one’s narcissistic absorption with one’s happiness and gain instead of that of others. “I don’t get enough love” stems from not giving love to others. “People are rude to me” stems from lack of cordiality to others. “People are jealous of me” arises from inner jealousy of others. Thus, if we take responsibility for being the author of our world, we come close to its source where we can correct it. By being loving toward others, we discover that we are surrounded by love and lovingness. When we unreservedly support life without expecting gain, life supports us in return. When we abandon gain as motive, life responds with unexpected generosity. When we perceive in this way, the miraculous begins to appear in the life of ever spiritual aspirant. Harmony manifests as the unexpected discovery, the fortuitous coincidence and the lucky break, and finally the realization occurs that these are the ripples coming back to oneself from the seat of consciousness” (22) 

“In reality, nothing thoughts say about oneself or others have any reality. All statements are fallacious and represent programming and positionalities. There are also positive statements about one’s worth, merit, or value that are equally based on fiction. The true self is invisible and has no characteristics by which it can be judged.” (25)

 

“Goal fulfillment is self-rewarding if the goal of the aspirant is one of direction. Then a life dedicated to God is endlessly self fulfilling, whereas, in contrast, a life devoted to gain is full of pitfalls and suffering” (26)

“It is necessary to examine the nature of an attachment.  It is based on a belief and a desire. The belief is that a mental content will bring happiness and solve problems; therefore, the attachment is to the implied promise that it is the thinking itself that is the road to happiness (success, wealth, love, etc). To let go of the thinking therefore seems frightening because it is also seen as the main tool of survival; plus, it is ‘me’. As ‘me’, it is viewed as unique, personal and precious, and it constitutes the main data base of identification of ‘who I am’. The fear of the loss of self- identity brings up resistance. As we get closer to the discovery of the source of the ego’s tenacity, we make the amazing critical discovery that we are enamored with our self.  Even if thoughts are loaded with pain and failure and have been a disaster and source of suffering, we still cling to them because they are who I am, resulting in love/hate relationship with them. To ensure its survival, the self also learned how to juice satisfaction and energy from the negative emotional states. It thrives on injustice, martyrdom, failure and guilt. The ego secretly loves and clings to the position of victimhood and extracts a distorted pleasure and grim justification from pain and suffering. This can be seen in many cases as an addiction and a lifestyle. All along we have been in love with our thoughts and we cherish them. We defend them and make excuses for them. We are jealous of our beliefs. We prize them and alternately despise and punish ourselves with guilt and self hatred. Altogether, it is infatuation. The self-image gets glamorized because it is the stage upon which the drama of our life parades. To let go of love brings up fear of loss. To the self, all love objects are seen as a source of happiness. The next core problem is letting go of emotional love- not because of the love itself, but because of the attachment to that which is loved. We think that the loss of a love object brings grief, but actually, the grief is about the loss of the attachment itself, which is due to viewing the object of love as the source of happiness. Grief is due to the illusion that one has lost a source of happiness, and that the source of happiness is ‘out there’. If one looks at the feeling of happiness, it becomes clear that it is actually located within, although the trigger may appear to come from outside oneself; the sensation, however, is totally an inner feeling of pleasure. The source of happiness is therefore actually within and is released under favorable circumstances when the mind experiences a desired outcome. By inner examination, one will discover that the event merely triggers an inner innate capacity. With the discovery that the source of happiness is actually within one’s inner self and therefore cannot be lost, there is a reduction of fear. Viewed from reality, thoughts are actually an ‘out there’. Although it may sound amazing, they can totally be dispensed with because they interfere with the achievement of true happiness” (40-41)

Some Axiomatic Positionalities of the Ego

Phenomena are either good or bad, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair.

The ‘bad’ deserve to be punished and the ‘good’ rewarded.

Things happen by accident or else they are the fault of somebody else.

The mind is capable of comprehending and recognizing truth from falsehood.

The world causes and deternines one’s experiences.

Life is unfair because the innocent suffer while the wicked go unpunished.

People can be different than they are.

It is critical and necessary to be right.

It is critical and necessary to win.

Wrongs must be righted.

Righteousness must prevail.

Perceptions represent reality (45)

“Surrender is a constant process of not resisting or clinging to the moment but instead, continuously turning it over to God. The attention is thus focused on the process of letting go and not on the content of ‘what’ is being surrendered.” (48)

“The Source of joy of spiritual endeavor stems from the work itself and is not dependent on outcomes or the achievement of goals.The replacement of resentment with peaceful acceptance is its own reward. There is a progressive alteration in one’s view of self and others. When this happens, one’s life story can then be re-contextualized from a more compassionate understanding” (53).

 

“The ‘politically correct’ activists seem to precipitate an endless series of social conflicts and strife. What is the core of the problem?  They are elitist and calibrate at 180, the level of pride and vanity of egotism.  The error is again one of ignoring context. Although supposedly egalitarian, they paradoxically adopt superior attitudes and pose as high moral ground. They attempt to gain power and control over others by romanticized idealism.” (62)

 “What is the best attitude to view society? One of compassionate benevolence. The average person’s psyche is overwhelmed by layers of programmed belief systems of which they are unaware. Out of naivete and the belief in the principle of causality, the supposed causes and their solutions are sough ‘out there'” (81)

“It is actually more exciting because one learns to live on the crest of the current moment instead of on the back of the wave, which is the past, or on the front of the wave, which is the future. There is greater freedom from living on the exciting knife edge of the moment than being a prisoner of the past or having expectations of the future. If the goal of life is to the very best one can do at each unfolding moment of existence, then, through spiritual work, one has already escaped the primary cause of suffering. In the stop frame of the radical present, there is no life story to react to or edit.” (94)

“Compassion and forgiveness do not mean approval” (113)

“We that trying to overcome the ego without really understanding it brings up guilt, self-condemnation and other negative feelings, which is one of the main reasons why many people are reluctant to become involved in spiritual work. Because of this, people are afraid to be honest with themselves and tend to project the downside of the ego onto others or even onto God” (113)

“Humility and surrender at great depth, as well as prayer, can shorten the process. The seeming duration of time is because one is looking for a result. Even when the ego’s energies have been disconnected, its momentum seems to need to run out. For instance, when a giant ship, such as a great tanker, stops its engine, it often continues for several miles farther before it finally comes to stop.” (120)

“What characteristics facilitate comprehension and transformation? Dedication, devotion, faith, prayer, surrender and inspiration. When the barriers are relinquished, Truth reveals itself spontaneously” (135)

“What does the Self feel like? It is central, solid, profound, still, immutable, nonlocal, diffuse, all encompassing, peaceful, tranquil, comfortable, secure, emotionless, joy, infinite lovingness, protection, closeness, safety, complete fulfillment and ultrafamiliar” (138)

“How does one then live in the world? One participates but is not involved in or attached to it. One can observe without being judgmental. Detachment would require withdrawal from the world, whereas nonattachment allows participation as there is no stake in outcomes. The game is entertaining, but which side ‘wins’ is of no importance.” (146)

“By analogy, fear arises from perception, and its concomitant is a release of adrenaline. Discovering where adrenaline arises from in the body does not explain fear because adrenaline is merely a consequence and a concomitant, not the cause, which has already occurred in the consciousness field of perception. It would be naive to assume that to discover where joy is experienced by the brain is the cause of that joy. The brain and its physiology exist within the world of form, and spiritual states originate within the nonlinear reality of nonform.” (148)

“True spiritual authority is rooted in Truth and thus has no need or desire to be authoritarian.  It has no argument nor does it have a desire or a need for acceptance.  It would be a misuse of spiritual power to try to use it to control the minds of people. Authoritarianism is intrinsically insecure and therefore has to insist on agreement with its belief system; it is the antithesis of freedom” (160)

“To successfully transcend the seeming opposites, it is only necessary to see that what appear to be two different or opposing concepts are actually just gradations of possibilities that change quality as they progress along a single base line of perception” (169)

“How did a good God create a world that includes evil?’ The answer, of course, is that He did not. The seeming opposites exist in the mind of man as perceptions and positionalities.” (173)

 “Detachment from positionalities, and especially the positionalities occasioned by labeling, leads to serenity, freedom and security. Greater serenity arises from relating to the context of life, rather than to the content which is primarily a game board of interacting egos. The broader style of relating to life leads to greater compassion and emancipation from being at the effect of the world” (179).

“The human psyche becomes attached to qualifying and rating everything on arbitrary social scales of desirability, appeal or value. Whole lives can become devoted to pursuing some mystique in which subtle distinctions become inflated and sought after for their social symbolism. This can lead to an endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth and symbols of endless seeking of status, possessions, wealth, and symbols of distinctions, as well as the need to be right about everything” (187).

“To undo the endless sequences of wanting and craving, it is useful to dissemble them by doing an exercise called “and then what?” I want (a better job, more money, better car, college degree or whatever), followed by the question, “and then what?” It will be found that the answer is always the final belief that “and then I will be happy”. (190)

“There is a great joy in the realization that one does not actually need anything at all to be happy, not even external stimuli, such as television, music, conversation, or the presence of other people or activities” (191)

“The common element  of most fears is that they are based on the illusion that happiness is dependent on externals and therefore vulnerable.  To overcome the illusion of vulnerability brings great relief and the correction of being run by fear so that life becomes benign and filled with satisfaction and an easy-going, confident attitude instead of constant guardedness.  Cessation of fear is the result of learning that the source of happiness and joy is from within. It stems from recognizing that its source of joy is one’s own existence, which is continuous and not dependent on externals.  This results from surrendering expectations and demands on one’s self, the world and others. The thought ‘I can only be happy if I win or get what I want’ is a guarantee of worry, anxiety and unhappiness” (200)

“Thus, poverty is not basically a financial condition but is instead a concomitant and consequence of a specific level of consciousness that cannot be cured by financial assistance. More often, financial aid worsens the poverty as it gives a stimulus to the already excessive birth rate which then brings even further poverty” (206)

“Healthy self interest includes concern for the welfare of others, whereas selfishness disregards others. Self-interest is not destructive to others and is therefore integrous and increases self-esteem. Egotism is separatist and seeks gain at a cost to others, leading to a loss of inner self-esteem. It is therefore vulnerable, non-integrous, and an illusory self-inflation that leads to loss of self-respect” (234)

“The attachment to love is really the trap and the barrier to enlightenment. In Reality, love is freedom, but attachment to love is a limitation” (281)

“This illustrates the phenomenon of entrainment which was described in Power vs. Force. Clinically, this phenomenon is well-known in twelve-step recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in which the aspirant is advised to “just keep going to meetings and you will get it by osmosis.” Exposure to the group’s aura (at 540) results in the miracle of recovery. It takes a very powerful energy field to overcome the very strong entrapment of addiction. As long as the sober person stays within the protection of the field, sobriety continues, but relapse occurs if they leave unless their own calibrated level of consciousness has advanced to the necessary level of 540.” (306)

“The ego’s addiction and survival are based on the secret pleasure of negativity, which cannot be abandoned until it is first recognized, identified and owned without shame or guilt” (311).

“The ego’s focus is narrow and constricted by intention, which is therefore selective. It constantly seeks ‘problems’. To the ego, everything can be seen as a problem. As a consequence, the ego’s evaluation of situations is often prone to very serious error and miscalculation” (318)

“The ego is potentially deadly and would rather see you dead than admit it is wrong” (319)

“While the world may have the expectation that the life of a spiritually committed person should be holy and tranquil, quite often the opposite may occur. The karma is activated and brought up into awareness. Major changes may occur in the aspirant’s life and relationships. For some years, life may appear to be tumultuous as profound inner changes take place. These may involve lifestyle, vocation, relationships, and possessions, all of which may rapidly come and go. Change in geographic location is common. Friends and family in the world may think the devotee has gone mad, left reality and gone overboard” (337)

“Enlightenment means that the former personal identity and all that had been believe about it have been erased, removed, transcended, dissolved and displaced. The particular has been replaced by universal, qualities have been replaced by essence, the linear has been replaced by the nonlinear, and the discrete has been replaced by the unlimited” (346)

“Man thinks, but thinking is a two edged sword. The bird flies about, enjoying its life and does not need to study ornithology or even know that it is a bird.  It doesn’t need to understand or know anything because it just is.

“Any approach will reveal that attachments are the core problem to be overcome through relinquishment. The problem is not money, or sex or pleasure but the attachment to them, plus the illusion that the source of happiness is external, which brings up fear of loss.” (349)

“Attachment is a very peculiar quality of the ego. It can be totally undone in all its pervasive and multitudinous forms of clinging by simply letting go of one’s faith in it or belief in its value as a reality. This one giant step is a confrontation to being unaware of one’s attachments. The attachment to ‘self’ or ‘me’ or ‘I’ is a basic trap. The mind is attached to the very process of attachment itself as a survival tool.” (350-351)

“Humor is a means of detachment or re-contextualizing the events of life.  It is a way of being light hearted and wearing the world like a loose garment.  It leads to compassion for the totality of human life and reveals the option that one can play at life without getting involved in it as though it were an exhausting life-and-death struggle. Humor is inclusive of life and is a level of compassion. Indifference, in contrast, is exclusive of life. Humor allows for participation; indifference leads to nonparticipation.  Humor enjoys while indifference yields flatness and ennui” (354-355)

“One has to discern the difference between ‘rights’ and ‘privileges’. All so-called rights are merely privileges that are granted by societal agreement. To understand that concept spells the difference between gratitude and arrogance.  The illusion of rights is an ego inflation which can lead to a narcissistic positionality of entitlement, with its hostile, demanding, unappreciative, and paranoid attitudes. One cannot acquire rights by oneself; they are an earned gift from free society.” (377)

 “The way to truth is via radical honesty” (383)

“The rebirth of the eog/self/I occurs again every morning upon awakening. With observation, one can see that awareness returns at first as merely the return of conscious awareness. As the identifications slowly reappear, one becomes aware of location, but the awakening mind doesn’t even know what day it is. Then it slowly again identifies with the world, place, time and name and all the past identifications return from memory.” (385-386)

“It is useful to pretend that one has no memory” (386)

“Nonattachment does not mean passivity or nonaction; thus, one can take a stance in the world to defend innocence as a commitment to the integrity of truth.  As we saw prior to World War II, the passivity and naivety of Neville Chamberlin invited Nazi aggression to pursue the rabbit. In mountain country, everyone knows that to run from the mountain lion invites its attack. If life is sacred, then to defend life is aligned with the will of God, and it is not intrinsically an act of aggression” (396)

“The inner ‘high’ of righteous indignation, being right or hating enemies turns out to be disappointing in hollow illusions of victory.  The mature spiritual aspirant is one who has explored the ego’s options and false promises of happiness.  The ego’s final song, after examination, is represented by a famous singer’s poignant song, “Is This All There Is?” (397)

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BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden, by David Hawkins

Last week I highlighted David Hawkins’ most popular book- Power vs. Force, this week we will look at the second book of the Power vs. Force trilogy entitled The Eye of I: From Which Nothing is Hidden.  While Power vs. Force is a great appetizer on the subject of human consciousness, this book is definitely the entrée. It goes into much greater depth about the nature of duality and how our ego misperceives the world and is the cause of our suffering. I recommend this book for anyone who wants more peace, love and compassion in their life. I do think it is probably best to read this trilogy in order because they do build on each other. 

The aspect I love most about Hawkins’ writing is how it shifts the reader at an emotional level while they are reading. Similar to meditation or a martial art- how you get in that flow or zen-like state of love, peace and joy- the same thing occurs when you read Hawkins. I found this elevation in consciousness to be particularly profound in this book of his. This is not a book to be read in a weekend. I believe one will get the most out of reading this book if they take one chapter a day and spend about 3 weeks to a month with this book.  Thus, one’s consciousness will be elevated throughout the 3-4 weeks of reading it. I also found it particularly helpful to read a chapter of this book, then immediately spend 30 minutes to an hour in quiet meditation. This book is meditative in nature, so adding a formal meditative practice along with this book adds another element to it. 

When I started my journey into the personal development years ago, I didn’t intend to get into books on spirituality and consciousness. Yet, in hindsight I now understand why my journey has led me to reading books by authors like David Hawkins, Eckhart Tolle and David Singer. These books all address the ego. The ego is the part of ourselves as humans which is responsible for our suffering. By gaining a greater understanding of what our ego is and how it works, we can learn to cultivate a friendlier relationship with it and reduce and eliminate much of the suffering that plagues our lives. After reading numerous books on the ego, I believe The Eye of the I and the third book in the trilogy (I: Reality & Subjectivity) to be the two best books in regards to explaining the ego. 

And as always, here are the passages that I highlighted during my reading of the book. These really spoke to me and are a great daily reminder for me.

 

“One becomes enamored of this precious ‘self’, which then becomes an obsession and the subjective focus of languaging and thought. The self becomes glamorized as the hero of one’s life story and drama. This requires that the self be defended and that its survival become all important. This includes the necessity to be right at any cost.”

“The value of memory also becomes diminished by the realization that only does the mind misperceive in the present, but it routinely does so in the past, and what one is remembering is really the record of past illusions. All past actions were based on the illusion of what one thought one was at the time.”

“The relinquishment of the ego self as one’s central focus involves letting go of all these layers of attachments and vanities, and one eventually comes face to face with the ego’s primary function of control to ensure continuance and survival. Therefore the ego clings to all its faculties because their basic purpose, to ensure its survival, is the reason behind its obsession with gain, winning, learning, alliances, and accumulation of possessions, data and skills. The ego has endless schemes for enhancing survival- some gross, some obvious, others subtle and hidden”

“The only simple task to be accomplished is to let go of the identification with the ego as one’s real self!”

“Sometimes the ego misidentifies itself more specifically as the personality. It thinks, “I am such-and-such a person.” And it says, “Well, that’s who I am”. From this illusion arises the fear that one will lose one’s personality if the ego is relinquished. This is feared as the death of ‘who I am’.”

“The modern trend toward ‘political correctness’ is a great source of conflict, strife and suffering.  It is based on the imaginary ‘rights’. In reality there are no such things as rights. These are all social imaginings. Nothing in the universe has any rights. The whole area of ‘rights’ leads to a ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude, victim, illusions of causality and revenge. All this displaces personal responsibility for one’s own experience of life.”

“The problem with the ego is not that it is wrong; it is just that it is limited and distorted. To conceive of the ego as an enemy is to become polarized, bringing forth conflict, guilt, anger and shame. Positionalities support the ego. By enlarging context, opposites are transcended and problems are dissolved. Humility removes the ego’s underpinnings of judgmentalism, positionality and moralizing.”

“in a system of considerable complexity, there is a very precise point where even a small amount of energy applied brings about a major change. A giant clockworks has a vulnerable point at which even a slight pressure stops the whole works. A giant locomotive can be halted in you know exactly where to place your finger.  The great clockwork of human society likewise has points where major change can occur as a result of a slight amount of pressure.”

“Love is misunderstood to be an emotion; actually, it is a state of awareness, a way of being in the world, a way of seeing oneself and others.  Love for God or nature or even one’s pets opens the door to spiritual inspiration. The desire to make others happy overrides selfishness. The more we give love, the greater our capacity to do so. It is a good beginning practice to merely mentally wish others well in the course of the day. Love blossoms into lovingness which becomes progressively more intense, nonselective and joyful. There comes a time one ‘falls in love’ with everything and everyone they meet. This tendency to be intensely loving has to be curtailed because love, curiously enough, frightens many people. Many people cannot look fully into another person’s eyes for more than a brief second, if at all. 

“Our society is one of excesses; it swings like a pendulum too far in one direction and then too far in the opposite because it gets caught in the duality of either/or and this and that. Maturity results in a middle way that allows for both ends of the spectrum of human behavior.” 

“Pride is at the core of the ego beyond all else. Pride in the form of the vanity of thought, mentation, concepts and opinions are all the basis of ignorance. The antidote is radical humility, which undoes the domination of perception. Ask for the truth to be revealed instead of assuming that you already know it.”

“One can enjoy beautiful music without the ego’s claiming authorship for the origination of the music itself. If one claims authorship for music, then many anxieties and feelings arise which have to do with belief systems about perfection, approval, desirability and acceptance.”

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Power vs. Force by David Hawkins

I first got hooked on David Hawkins’ work a couple years ago when I read his book Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender (which is one of my favorite books and something I look forward reading again this year at some point). Power vs. Force is a seminal text for understanding the nature of human consciousness. I must say that it is best if you have read your fair share of self help and spiritual books before trying to dig into this one.  I remember trying to read Power vs. Force about a decade ago when I was just beginning my journey into the personal development world. It was completely over my head and I think I put it down after the first 15 or 20 pages.  If you are new to reading self help or spiritual books, I highly recommend you start with Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul or any of Eckhart Tolle’s work. Reading these should help to prime the pump so that you can really get the most out of Hawkins’ work. 

 I believe the findings in the book to be a revolutionary way of understanding human consciousness. By understanding these different levels of consciousness, you can begin to shift your own way of being and where you stand in the world. Listed below is Hawkins’ scale that he provides in the book:

 Level of Consciousness Scale

 Enlightenment 700-1000

 Peace 600

 Joy 540 (also unconditional love)

 Love 500

 Reason 400

 Acceptance 350

 Willingness 310

 Neutrality 250

 Courage 200

 Below 200

(Below the critical level of integrity):

 Pride 175

 Anger 150

 Desire 125

 Fear 100

 Grief 75

 Apathy 50

 Guilt 30

 Hawkins himself has said that just by reading this book, it raises the ‘level of consciousness’ of each reader by roughly 10-15 points, which is huge considering most human beings only advance by 5 points in their entire lifetime.  You might be asking yourself “why in the world I would want to raise my level of consciousness?” Imagine the greatest emotions you’ve experienced in your life- love, joy, peace, etc- and think about how it would feel to be living in those emotions 95-100% of your time on earth. What would that do for your life? What could you accomplish? What would your relationships look like? Who would you become? This is precisely the benefit to raising your level of consciousness. He also provides great references where people like Mother Teresa, Einstein and Ghandhi fall in terms of their level of consciousness. If you want more peace, joy and love in your life, I believe consciousness work is the way to get there. It is a process and patience and persistence is paramount.  What Power vs. Force really did for me is it challenged my paradigm and belief system about how the world works.  Anyone who wants a higher quality of life should spend time with this book- really grappling with what Hawkins is presenting to us.

 It should also be noted that Power vs. Force is the first of a trilogy. The second book in the trilogy is The Eye of I: From Which Nothing is Hidden and the third book is I: Reality and Subjectivity. I will be writing more about these books in the future, though I must say that Hawkins writes the next one better than the last. Though Power vs. Force is undoubtedly the most popular of the three, each book is progressively more profound than the previous one.  

 Here are some notable quotes from the book that I found to be very helpful distinctions and key points:

 “the body can discern, to the finest degree, the difference between that which is supportive of life and that which is not.” 

 “Living things all react to what is life-supportive and what is not; this is the fundamental mechanism of survival. Inherent in all life forms is the capacity to detect change and react correctively—thus, trees become smaller at higher elevations as the oxygen in the atmosphere becomes scarcer. Human protoplasm is far more sensitive than that of a tree.” 

 “By taking responsibility for the consequences of his own perceptions, the observer can transcend the role of victim to an understanding that ‘nothing out there has power over you.'”

 “Relatively few people are genuinely committed to peace as a realistic goal, for in their private lives, most people prefer being ‘right’ at whatever cost to their relationships or themselves.”

 “At the lower levels of consciousness, propositions are accepted as true even when they’re illogical, unfounded, and express tenets neither intellectually provable nor practically demonstrable.”

 “Facts are accumulated with great effort, but truth reveals itself effortlessly.”

BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

Oliver Burkeman’s book is a phenomenal account of Stoicism, Buddhism and displays an overall contrarian philosophy that is highly practical for leading a happy life amidst an ever changing and uncertain world.  It is very well written and provides highly relevant and effective strategies and stories for anyone who wants to improve their life.  Though this isn’t the most popular self help book on the market, I believe it to be a great starting point for someone who is just getting their feet wet in personal development.  It is written for the lay person, so the concepts and strategies he includes are clearly and succinctly presented.  I even recommend this book to more advanced readers,as he does an excellent job integrating several different philosophies and presenting a highly practical approach to living life.  The essence of the book can be understood by the ironic fact that the happiest people are not those who experience the most positive outcomes, but rather those who are most comfortable living amongst uncertainty, ambiguity, frustration and suffering.

Memorable Passages:

“The effort to try to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes us miserable.  And it is our constant effort to eliminate the negative- insecurity, uncertainty, failure or sadness- that is what causes us to feel so insecure, anxious, uncertain or unhappy. A negative path to happiness involves learning to enjoy uncertainty, embracing insecurity, stopping trying to think positively, becoming familiar with failure, even learning to value death” (7-8)

 

“The law of reversed effort, or the backwards law: the notion that in all sorts of contexts, all this trying to make everything right is a big part of what’s wrong. . . the harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed” (9)

 

“For Stoics, the ideal state of mind was tranquility, not the excitable cheer that positive thinkers usually seem to mean when they use the word happiness. And tranquility was to be achieved not by strenuously chasing after enjoyable experiences, but by cultivating a kind of calm indifference towards one’s circumstances” (29)

 

“Psychologists have long agreed that one of the greatest enemies of human happiness is ‘hedonic adaptation’- the predictable and frustrating way in which any new source of pleasure we obtain, whether it is as minor as a new piece of electronic gadgetry or as major as a marriage, swiftly gets relegated to the backdrop of our lives. We grow accustomed to it, and so it ceases to deliver so much joy.  It follows then, that regularly reminding yourself that you might lose any of the things you currently enjoy- indeed, that you will definitely lose them all, in the end, when death catches up to you- would reverse the adaptation effect. Thinking about the possibility of losing something you value shifts it from the backdrop of your life back to the center stage, where it can deliver pleasure once more. Whenever you grow attached to something, writes Epictetus, do not act as though it were one of those things that cannot be taken away, but as though it were something like a jar or a crystal goblet… if you kiss your child, your brother, your friend… remind yourself that you love a mortal, something not your own; it has been given to you as a present, not inseparably nor forever, but like a fig, or a bunch of grapes, at a fixed season of the year” (33)  

 

“Reassurance is a double edged sword.  In the short term, it can be wonderful, but like all forms of optimism, it requires constant maintenance: if you offer reassurance to a friend who is in the grip of anxiety, you’ll often find that a few days later he’ll be back for more. Worse, reassurance can actually exacerbate anxiety: when you reassure your friend that the worst-case scenario he fears probably won’t occur, you inadvertently reinforce his belief that it would be catastrophic if it did.  You are tightening the coil of his anxiety, not loosening it.” (34)

 

“Never have I trusted fortune, Seneca writes, even when she seemed to be at peace.  All her generous bounties- money, office, influence- I deposited where she could ask for them back without disturbing me. Those things lie beyond the individual’s control; if you invest your happiness in them, you’re setting yourself up for a rude shock. The only things we can truly control, are our judgments- what we believe- about our circumstances.” (40)

 

“If you accept the universe is uncontrollable, you’re going to be a lot less anxious” (49)

 

“The very thing in which you’re in flight- well, it’s the fleeing that brings on the problem.  For Freud, our whole psychology is organized around this avoidance. The unconscious is the repository of everything we’re avoiding” (56)

 

“Faced with the anxiety of not knowing what the future holds, we invest even more fiercely in our preferred vision of that future- not because it will help us achieve it, but because it helps us rid us of feelings of uncertainty in the present. Uncertainty prompts us to idealize our future.” (86)

 

“Formulating a vision of the future requires by definition, that you isolate some aspect or aspects of your life, or your organization, or your society, and focus on those at the expense of others.  But problems arise thanks to the law of unintended consequences, sometimes expressed using the phrase ‘you can never change only one thing’.  In any even slightly complex system, it’s extremely hard to predict how altering one variable will affect the others.  When we try to pick out any thing by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe”. (93)

 

“The most valuable skill of a successful entrepreneur isn’t vision or passion or a steadfast insistence on destroying every barrier between yourself and some prize you’re obsessed with.  Rather it’s the ability to adopt an unconventional approach to learning: an improvisational flexibility not merely about which route to take towards some predetermined objective, but also a willingness to change the destination itself.  This is a flexibility that might be squelched by rigid focus on any one goal” (98-99).

 

“Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers” – Erich Fromm (99)

 

“We tend to assume that having high self esteem is a good thing, but some psychologists have long suspected that there might be something wrong with the whole notion- because it rests on the assumption of a unitary, easily identifiable self. Setting out to give your ‘self’ one positive rating may in fact be deeply perilous. The problem lies in the fact that you’re getting into the self-rating game at all; implicitly, you’re assuming that you are a single self that can be given a universal grade. When you rate your self highly, you actually create the possibility of rating your self poorly; you are reinforcing the notion that your self is something that can be good or bad in the first place. You have strengths and weaknesses, you behave in good and bad ways. Smothering all these nuances with a blanket notion of self esteem is a recipe for misery” (117)

 

“If you react to news stories about air terrorism by taking the car when you’d otherwise have taken a plane, or if you spend time and energy protecting your home from attackers that you could have spent on improving your diet, you’ll be letting your biases guide you toward a greater feeling of security at the expense of your real safety” (132)

 

“Seeing a tv report of a terrorist attack on foreign soil, you might abandon plans for an overseas holiday, in order to hang on to your feeling of safety- when in truth, spending too much time sitting on the sofa watching tv might pose a far greater threat to your survival” (133)

 

“What we are really doing when we attempt to achieve fixity in the midst of change, Watts argues, is trying to separate ourselves from all the change, trying to enforce a distinction between ourselves and the rest of the world. To seek security is to try to remove yourself from change, and thus from the thing that defines life. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Which brings us to the crux of the matter: it is because we want to feel secure that we build up the fortifications of ego, in order to defend ourselves, but it is those very fortifications that create the feeling of insecurity: ‘To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I”, but is just this feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid” (147)

 

“Next time you flunk an exam or mishandle a social situation, consider that it is happening only because you’re pushing the limits of your present abilities- and therefore, over the long run, improving them” (175)

 

“The psychotherapist Irving Yalom, in his book Staring at the Sun, points out that many of us live with the dim fear that on our deathbeds we’ll come to regret how we spent our lives. Remembering our mortality moves us closer to the deathbed mindset from which a judgment might be made- thus enabling us to spend our lives in ways that we’re much less likely to come to regret” (192)

 

“All external expectations, fear of embarrassment and failure- these things fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important” (193)

 

“Imagine you are 80 years old and then complete the sentence, “I wish I’d spent more time on … and “I’d wish I spent less time on …” (203)

 

“Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, of combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent Unknown Quantity may take hold” -Aldous Huxley (208)

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving” – Lao Tzu (212).