I bought a copy of David Hawkins' "Power vs. Force" at the recommendation of a good friend and fellow spiritual seeker who has been quoting Hawkins at me for a couple of years. I am certainly glad to have read this book, and will add that I found it intriguing enough to order the two subsequent books in Hawkins' trilogy. At the same time, I have rather mixed feelings about what I read-- which is reflected in this review.
Whereas I tend to keep an open mind, I have considerable skepticism of any teacher, mystic or expert who claims to have "THE answer." Although he'd like us to think he has the "definitive answer," what Dr. Hawkins has-- and offers readers-- is a PERSPECTIVE, much the same as most other Teachers. And whereas it may be an intriguing and possibly life-altering perspective for some, it is none-the-less still just that: a perspective. Since the majority of the reviews written so far seem to be offering largely *opinions* I'll start by trying to explain what this book is actually ABOUT.
This is mostly a spiritual book, masquerading under a facade of questionable science. Loosely speaking, Hawkins pokes at the fringes of Nonduality, vaguely drawing on traditions of Teachers ranging from Sri Ramana Maharshi to Eckhart Tolle. Yet, at the heart of Hawkins' theories about life, and "How Things Work" is the "science" of Applied Kinesiology (AK). AK is not exactly new, having first gained some attention in the 1960s. It is basically a kind of "muscle testing" which posits that we simply "know" whether something is truth or not-truth, regardless of intellect, training, experience or anything else. Thus if something is "bad," "untrue" or "evil," our muscles will be "weak" in its presence. Conversely, if something is "good," "truthful" or "benevolent," we will be "strong" in its presence.
The basic process of this muscle testing *appears* straightforward enough. The test involves two people-- one who holds out his/her arm to the side, parallel to the ground, and one who asks a simple yes/no question about an object, person or idea. Depending on how the object "calibrates" the person holding their arm out will either test "strong" or "weak." What is NOT straightforward are the particular conditions and limitations Hawkins claims must be met to make muscle testing viable and accurate. And herein lies one of my (and many other reviewers') hesitation with the concept: There's a distinct tone of "We have this fabulous and 100% accurate method, but almost nobody is qualified to execute it, and it's almost impossible to create the environment in which it is completely accurate."
It's tempting to dismiss AK as "complete quackery" since there is very little scientific evidence to support it. At the same time, there may be more to it than meets the eye-- a "version" of it has been used by several large "canned music" providers to select music that makes people "test weak" to be played as background music in retail environments; the implication being that you'll be "weak" with your wallet. For my money, it amounts to "Strange Theory" which Hawkins presents in a highly "scientific-sounding" style, perhaps in the hope that readers will be convinced that "if it SOUNDS like science, it must BE science."
According to Hawkins we, as humans, live at vastly different "levels" of consciousness. All these levels, along with the "truth level" of ANY true/false style inquiry, can be tested for truth and numerically "calibrated" through muscle testing, on a logarithmic scale of 1-1000. According to Hawkins, any person, concept, thought or object that calibrates at 200 (The level of Integrity) or above is positive ("power"); anything below 200 is negative ("force"). So far, so good. Hawkins' "map of the levels of human consciousness" is highly consistent with most spiritual teachings, running the range from Shame (lowest) to Enlightenment (highest). Hawkins' descriptions of the levels are accurate; his coverage personal growth, positive energy and similar concepts are spiritually sound.
The book is a "mixed bag" that is both fascinating and may certainly be eye-opening, if not enlightening, to many people-- while some individuals (especially those of a scientific bent) will probably find it distressing that the work presented appears to be based on some "dicey math" and some philosophical "leaps of faith" that don't necessarily hold water in double-blind tests in a controlled environment. To which I feel compelled to reiterate that-- HOWever it may be presented, and WHATever he may want us to believe-- Hawkins' work is really more "spiritual" than "scientific." My point? The spirituality is predominantly sound; the science is.... dubious.
On the first read, this book annoyed me-- possibly because I had expected to be "wow'ed" to a greater degree than I was. However, once I got comfortable with the idea that I was being offered another "puzzle piece" on my spiritual journey (as opposed to "the Truth"), I found it a reasonably enjoyable and interesting read. I was disturbed by a number of (mostly trivial) contradictions that brought into question how the material in the book could ostensibly calibrate at 800+ (level of enlightenment). For example, Hawkins states that it is unlikely that a person's level of consciousness will rise enough to calibrate more than a few points higher in their lifetime-- yet the mere process of "being exposed" to the material in the book can raise consciousness by 30 calibration points. Huh? Likewise, I take issue with Hawkins' persistent undertone that unless you're highly intelligent, well educated (and basically from the "priviliged classes") you have very little hope of reaching enlightenment. Whereas I can recognize this thinking as a reflection of Hawkins' own neo-conservative life philosophy (which is entirely HIS business, I don't care), its INCLUSION here detracts from the integrity of the work. However, if you can overlook such nitpicks, there are some very sound spiritual and self-development principles presented throughout the book-- largely following path of Non-duality.
Final thoughts: Recommended (7 out of 10 possible bookmarks), with some reservations. Some interesting premises, but probably not for the "lightweight" spiritual seeker-- better suited to the intermediate to advanced student. Gets a bit repetitive and subtly self-congratulatory at times; Hawkins could probably have said everything needed in 100 fewer pages. DON'T buy it for the "science," buy it for the spiritual angle.
Thanks for reading!