I attend yoga every Sunday morning that I can because Paul Millage bookends the yoga asanas with kirtan and afterwards many of us sit in circle and explore the spiritual aspects of yoga and our lives. In this morning’s circle, a young woman with tears in her eyes asked us to pray for the people in Israel and Palestine.
When we broke the circle, she and I talked about her request. She is an American Israeli with family in the war zone and she was feeling helpless. She wanted to be able to do something useful. Her anguish touched me, but there was something about her request that niggled at me. As we talked, I realized that I too want to do something about all the craziness in our world today, but there is absolutely no outward-directed action I could take that would have much impact on the situation. If the Director General of the UN and our United States Secretary of State both run headlong into the walls of mutual hatred and distrust, my chances of bringing peace to the Middle East are rather slim. But there is something that I can do… that this woman can do and that we can all do. And it is both simple and very difficult. We can work on becoming more conscious.
I believe that my consciousness (or unconsciousness) has an impact on those around me. As I become more conscious of my own inner processes and work to find inner peace, those around me pick up on that. My wife sees it. My children see it. My friends see it. Consciousness has an impact on my world.
I could see the impact of this idea on the young Israeli woman. She started to understand that simply by working on making herself a better person she is having an impact on the world. It may be only a small impact at first, but who knows who will be touched by her in the years to come.
So what is consciousness and why does it matter? There are many answers to this question, but Doctor David Hawkins is a well known psychiatrist who has studied consciousness for many decades and has developed a map of consciousness that appeals to my inner engineer. From his work he has been able to calibrate consciousness and give it a number. He has developed a logarithmic scale from 0..1,000 with the “break even” point at 200. People (or populations) below 200, on the bottom of the scale live in a world of shame, guilt, fear, anger, apathy and hatred. Above 200, people start living lives of acceptance, reason, love, joy and peacefulness. Here is a talk that explains his map of consciousness.
Whether you believe in Doctor Hawkins’ map of consciousness, it’s hard to argue with the premise that acceptance, reason and love are better places to hang out than anger and hatred. So the idea is simple. Work on becoming more peaceful and you can help make the world a better place.
Something niggled at me about David Hawkins, so I did some research and learned enough to connect some intuitive dots. My inner engineer loves models that can quantify aspects of reality, so I am instinctively drawn to his Map of Consciousness. But I am also enough of an analytic thinker to suspect his methods and claims of absolute objectivity. I have no facts here, just hunches. Opinions. And I don’t believe him.
Many times in my life I have been drawn in by charismatic people who talked a convincing game. The last was Henry Beeland here in Bellingham who cost me a lot, but also taught me to recognize pure bullshit when I smell it. Unfortunately and sadly, around Hawkins my BS sniffer is on high alert. I say sadly because a dear friend of mine who is very close to Hawkins believes in him deeply.
I love the idea of a map of consciousness, but reality isn’t as simple as a map.