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20 Levels of Human Consciousness

Description of Each Level of Consciousness

As you read this, think about the level that you resonate most with now:

1) Shame (1-20): Someone at this level feels humiliated, has low self-esteem, and is paranoid. Common feelings by someone at this level include feeling like he/she has “lost face,” wishing that he/she is invisible, and feeling worthless. Some individuals react by becoming overly rigid or neurotic perfectionists. Vibrating at this level for prolonged periods leads to elimination (of self and others), such as suicide, turning into serial killers, rapists, or moral extremists who apply self-righteous judgment onto others. A person’s life view at this state is misery.

2) Guilt (30): Feelings of blame and remorse hover in this level. These feelings are used to consciously or subconsciously manipulate conformance to certain forms of thinking and behaviors. This level is dominant in governments who are high-handed and uses heavy public punishment; in societies with a blame culture; and in religious institutions with a preoccupation with “sin” and “salvation.” This level cultivates destruction. Hawkins cites the life view as evil, though I disagree and feel that condemnation is more adept. A person at the level of guilt is not necessarily evil nor does he/she see the world as evil, but rather focuses a lot on condemning self and others.

3) Apathy (50): A state of helplessness, despair, and despondency. Someone here is needy and dependent on others for help, such as the homeless and poor. Because this level feels “heavy” and is seen as a burden, many people usually avoid those vibrating at these levels. For example, in some countries we see how the poor and less fortunate are segmented away from the mainstream society. We also frequently see situations where the aged is abandoned by their own kin because they are seen as liability. This level is associated with abdication, which means to give up one’s power to others. The life view here is hopelessness.

4) Grief (75): Feelings of regret, sadness and loss are abundant here. Many people vibrate at this level in times of loss — of loved ones, relationships, possessions, jobs, and wealth. The outcome is mourning, feeling remorse, regret, and being hung up over what has happened. Someone grieving feels despondent and bleak about the world and life around him/her. The life view is tragic. Grief is a higher level than apathy, because one starts feeling more energy at this level, albeit energies of sadness and loss.

5) Fear (100): The energy at this level in anxiety. Common kinds of fear at play would be the fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of uncertainty, fear of challenges, fear of aging, fear of death, fear of loss, and fear of strangers. This emotion is often played on by marketers and politicians to achieve their agendas. Fear leads to paranoia and can turn into an obsession. At this level, one views everything uncertain as fearful and thus undergoes a state of withdrawal. Thus, fear prevents personal growth from taking place. Someone at this level sees the world as frightening.

6) Desire (125): At the level of desire, the emotion of craving becomes dominant. We have people pursuing money and status as end goals for a better life, lonely singles longing to be in romantic relationships believing that it will complete themselves, marketers conditioning ‘wants’ in people via enticing advertisements and promises of happiness with the consumption of goods, and fashion industry playing on people’s desires to be more attractive and wanted, just to name a few.

Addictions are outputs of desire, such as the desire for food, video games, fun, sex, shopping, and money and power. One becomes looped into enslavement at this level, because desire is a never-ending emotion. The life view is disappointing, which happens when one cannot obtain what one desires. Desire is a higher level than fear because the desire for something propels someone into action rather than withdraw into a corner.

7) Anger (150): The emotion at this level is hate. Anger expresses itself as resentment, frustration, even revenge. Common manifestations of anger in our society today can be seen in people’s irritable behavior, toxic conversations on the internet, arguments between family members, and at the worst end of the spectrum, murder and war.

Because anger is a highly charged feeling, someone who channels this energy constructively will move up to the next level and create positive change — such as via activism (of animal rights, human rights, environmental causes, etc.). Such uses of anger has resulted in the liberation and great movements in society. On the other hand, people who use anger destructively such as to shame, hate, and harm others, creates more destruction. The process one undergoes is aggression. The life view here is antagonistic, where one is hostile, unfriendly, and acts in opposition against others.

8) Pride (175): Hawkins cite scorn as the dominant feeling of pride, though I disagree. I feel dignity is a more representative emotion for this level. Scorn comes a result of this dignity, though it may be too subtle for people to recognize. In our current society, pride is a level that is encouraged and seen as positive — for example, pride of being part of a group, institution, company, nation, religion, and race.

But this leads to a duality, which acts as an invisible force to separate people. For example, nations exist because people identify themselves more with a geographical location rather than a common, universal identity. Religions exist because people attach themselves to their beliefs of god and values, which separate them from the “others.” On a personal level, people develop pride based on their possessions and career achievements, and this is dangerous because such conditions can be removed at any point in time. Pride results in denial and arrogance. At pride, one undergoes inflation (of ego) rather than see things objectively. The life view here is demanding.

9) Courage (200): Affirmation is the key emotion here. This is the separation point between Power and Force, where one starts to create change by using constructive uses of power rather than destructive force. This is the first waking point when one starts to wake from his/her sleepwalker status. At the lower levels before this, the world is seen as hopeless, tragic, frightening, demanding, and antagonistic; people below 200 see themselves as victims, at the mercy of life, and subjected to the forces of the external world.

At the level of courage, one sees the world as exciting and filled with possibilities. One undergoes empowerment here. This marks the start of an active pursuit of growth. When one sees a gap in their knowledge and abilities, they will act to fill it. For example, learning new job skills, embarking on further education, pursuing personal growth. The life view is feasible – anything is manageable since the person is willing to act to deal with uncomfortable situations in life. People in levels of >200 recognize that their happiness lies in their hands.

10) Neutrality (250): The emotions at this level are 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, results, and can roll with the punches in life. If they are not able to get something, they are equally happy settling for something else.

This is NOT the same as apathy – the power of neutrality comes from a positive place, where one recognizes his/her power, ability, and worth, and does not feel the need to prove anything to anyone. On the other hand, apathy comes from feeling forsaken, resulting in nonchalance and jadedness toward the external world. The process is one of release (of everything). The life view is satisfactory, where anything goes. These people are easy to get along; however, they are difficult to engage toward causes and visions because they are detached toward everything.

11) Willingness (310): Optimism runs high here. At Willingness, the individual is open to do anything and everything – he/she is not bounded by others’ judgments or limitations. For example, he/she is willing to take on menial jobs if he/she cannot get jobs elsewhere. The difference between Willingness and the levels below it is that at Willingness, one is passionate about doing things well rather than just doing things. Someone at Willingness can readily bounce back from setbacks, is easily moldable, and is genuinely open to everyone. Success follows them easily.

The process one undergoes here is of intention (to do anything). The life view is hopefulness. At this level you have people who perform extremely well in their careers in corporations, startups; however, as they develop great skills, the question comes to whether they are investing their energy in the best way.

12) Acceptance (350): This marks the second waking point for an individual, where he/she is fully awake from his/her sleepwalker status. Here, one realizes that he/she is THE creator and source of his/her life, as opposed to having relegated part of his/her power to someone else or a different entity. He/she (1) is aware of the social constructs present in one’s life, whether family, society, nation, religion, or work, (2) is able to discern against (limiting) beliefs, viewpoints, and social conditioning, and (3) can consciously craft his/her life above and beyond these social constructs.

The behavior at this level is acceptance vs. rejection, seeking for resolution vs. judging whether something is right or wrong, having a long-term vs. short-term view, engaging in life harmoniously based on its terms vs. resisting it, and striving for excellence and growth. Forgiveness is the dominant emotion. The process one undergoes is transcendence (above what one faces in life). The life view here is harmonious.

13) Reason (400): The emotion is understanding and rationality. One seeks out huge amounts of information and analyzes them to infinitesimal detail before reaching a conclusion. This is where the noble prize winners, leaders of science and medicine, and great thinkers of history are at. However, someone at the level of Reason falls into the trap of over-intellectualization in concepts and theories. When theories clash and each argument is sound on its own, we reach a blockade, leading to the inability to resolve discrepancies. This leads to the process of abstraction or preoccupation with data. The life view is meaningful.

14) Love (500): This represents unconditional love – love that is pure, unfaltering, unwavering, not subjected to any external condition. It is not the same love commonly portrayed in mass media, which is rooted in lust, desire, pride, control, addiction, attraction, jealousy, and possessiveness. While the media often establishes love and hate as opposites, hate is actually rooted in pride (desire for control/possessiveness), not actual love.

Reverence is the main emotion in this level of (unconditional) love. At this level, duality becomes an illusion; the feeling is one of entirety that rises above separation. Unconditional love is inclusive of everyone and expands beyond self. While reason deals with data, love deals with entirety, thus giving rise to the capacity for instantaneous understanding. This aspect is often linked with intuition. The process one undergoes is revelation. The life view is benign: there is no separation, fear or negativity. According to Hawkins, only 0.4% of the population (1 in every 250 people) ever reaches this level.

15) 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. This is the level where saints, advanced spiritual students and healers dwell. At this level, one is characterized by enormous patience and an unwavering positive attitude in the face of harsh adversities. The world is seen as one of perfection and beauty. Individuals are motivated to dedicate themselves to the benefit of life rather than for specific individuals. Here, transfiguration occurs, where there is an inner serenity and emanating of radiance and compassion for others. The life view is completeness (of the world). Near-death experiences have the effect of temporarily bumping people into this level.

16) Enlightenment - Peace (600): This is Moksha Level 1 (Cosmic Consciousness) where the individual has completely detached from identifying with the physical body and conscious thinking mind and witnesses the activities of the body and mind from Higher Consciousness, 24 hours a day, including during sleep. This is Liberation, Enlightenment, freedom from the cycles of birth and death, the Goal of human existence has been reached. The emotion is bliss. At this level, there is no longer any distinction between the observer and the subject. People here become spiritual teachers and great geniuses in their field to effect great contribution for mankind; they transcend formal religious structures and replace it with pure spirituality which is where religions originate. Perception becomes one of slow motion, suspended in time and space. Everything is perceived as interconnected by an infinite presence. The process one undergoes is illumination. The life view is perfect. Hawkins claims that this level is only attained by 1 out of 10 million people.

Common experiences:

During meditation I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the mantra and thoughts as separate from me, as if I am the driver of my car and my mind and body is my vehicle. There is a clear dichotomy of mind - active thinking mind and silent witnessing mind.

Outside of meditation, during the day when my body is awake and active, I can hear Krishna's flute and feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the activities of the mind and body as separate from me, as if I am the driver of my car and my mind and body is my vehicle. There is a clear dichotomy of mind - active thinking mind and silent witnessing mind.

Outside of meditation, during the night or whenever my body is asleep and still, I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the sleeping of my body. I watch my body go to sleep and throughout the night I am aware of the approximate time and can hear sounds in the environment while my body remains asleep.

17) Enlightenment (700): This is Moksha Level 2 (God Consciousness) The emotion here and beyond in the other levels of Moksha is ineffable, in other words – inexpressible. This is the second stage of the pinnacle of the evolution of consciousness by mankind. The greatest people in history have attained this level and higher, such as Krishna, Buddha, and Jesus. Here, the body becomes recognized as a tool to project consciousness. One’s existence becomes all-encompassing and transcends time and space. The process is described as pure consciousness. The life view here is simply ‘Is‘. As we achieve our highest potential and live our best life, we should strive for the highest possible level of enlightenment. Common experiences at this level:

During the night or whenever my body is asleep and still, I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the sleeping of my body. I identify with my prana body as it floats above my physical body during part of each sleep cycle and I can look down and see my sleeping physical body.

During the night or whenever my body is asleep and still, I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the sleeping of my body. I identify with my prana body and I can leave my physical body at will and move about in the room where my physical body is asleep and even go out outside of the room and walk or float or fly around the area and see the physical world.

During the night or whenever my body is asleep and still, I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the sleeping of my body. I identify with my prana body and I can leave my physical body at will and travel to any place in the Astral realm, including any location on earth, or to any planet or to any higher level in the Astral realm that is well beyond perceptions of the physical world.

During the night or whenever my body is asleep and still, I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the sleeping of my body. When the physical mind has dreams, I witness these dreams, these are Lucid Dreams. I watch the dreams as if they are movies in the mind and I am separate from them. I can change a dream by just desiring to do so. I can create entirely new dreams by thinking about what I want to see and do in the dream.

During the night or whenever my body is asleep and still, I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the sleeping of my body. When the physical mind has dreams, I witness these dreams, these are Lucid Dreams. I watch the dreams as if they are movies in the mind and I am separate from them. I can sit and meditate in a lucid dream and experience a very deep transcending and expansion of consciousness. I can request to see the intelligence behind the dream and then find myself with my Celestial Family. I interact with these Celestial Beings and know it is very real.

During meditation or samyama I can feel the silence within and I identify this silence as my true self and witness the process of thinking the mantra or sutra. I see wave forms in my awareness. There are colors and vibratory patterns. I am aware of physical time and my timing of the sutras, every 15 seconds, is precise. I do not get lost or forget which sutra is next or what the meaning of the sutra is.

18) Enlightenment (800): This is Moksha Level 3 (Unity Consciousness). The experience at this level is:

At all times, both in meditation and out of meditation and during the sleep of my body, I am always aware of my Self. I feel surrounded by unbounded silence and have no fear, no anxiety, no sadness, no negativity at all is possible. I only feel love and acceptance for all. I see all beings as a part of me, as if we are all one being on a grand adventure of life. I even feel a kinship with the animals, plants and insects and feel love and acceptance for each one as necessary and important to life. All around there is only peace and equanimity and I do not experience extremes of emotion. 24-hour Bliss.

19) Enlightenment (900): This is Moksha Level 4 (Brahman Consciousness). The realization of “aham brahmasmi” – I am the Creator, I am the Dreamer of this colossal dream called the Universe. There is only one Being in the Universe, and I am that Being. The experience at this level is:

At all times, both in meditation and out of meditation and during the sleep of my body, I am always aware of my Self as the entire universe. This is my universe and I am the Creator. I am aware of all levels of my consciousness and all the beings I have created. These beings are dream creatures in my Dream of the Universe and I am also one of these dream creatures. I can take the perspective of any of my dream creatures at will and see my Universe from their perspective. This gives me great compassion and empathy for these beings and my human life is dedicated in the service of my fellow beings. I have no attachment to physical food to maintain the body, instead I derive all of my energy from the Prana field.

20) Enlightenment (1000): This is Moksha Level 5 (Krishna Consciousness). The experience of this level is:

At all times, both in meditation and out of meditation and during the sleep of my body, I am aware of my life as an Eternal Companion of Krishna in Goloka. My life in this universe is but one of many many lives that I have projected in innumerable universes for the pleasure of Krishna. My life is totally in His service.

About the Figures

1. They are logarithmic, not arithmetic

What this means is that when you see a figure, say 200, it means 10 to the power of 200 (10^200) and not the absolute number 200. Thus, 200 on the scale does not mean twice the magnitude of 100. 200 is 10^200 (meaning 200 zeroes), while 100 is 10^100 (meaning 100 zeroes). That is a lot of zeroes and a huge difference.

2. A small increment by a few points represents a huge increase in magnitude

Because of that, a small increment equals a huge shift. For example, let’s look at 100 and 105. Even though it’s just +5 pt, in logarithmic terms, a +5 pt increase from 100 to 105 means an increase by 10^5 or 100,000 times! This means even if you are at the level of Guilt or Apathy, just raising your consciousness by +5 pt will result in enormous shifts in your well-being and life.

About the levels of consciousness

1. The level of consciousness which you are currently at is a weighted average of the different consciousness levels you operate in

A person usually vibrates at a default consciousness level and shifts to a couple of levels lower and higher depending on the situation. Every thought, feeling, and action you have in every situation is rooted in a particular consciousness level. All of these can be summed up and averaged to identify your current default level. It is rare that someone will maintain an exact same consciousness level at any one period of time. Even within the same day, you may adopt a certain consciousness level in one situation and a totally different consciousness level in a different situation. For example, you may be at the level of Courage, but you get bumped into Fear when you start reading the news with just the most random and propaganda-filled stories.

A big influence on your consciousness is the stimulus in your life. This includes the situations you are in, the people you spend time with, and your environment. In times of pressure, one’s consciousness level usually gets bumped down a few levels. Depending on how the person recovers from the pressure, his or her default consciousness level may be elevated to a higher level after the encounter.

2. One can move across different levels of consciousness

Your consciousness level now does not determine your consciousness in the future. It is open to change and is not static. Each person has the choice to move across different levels, depending on how he/she (chooses to) evolve in his/her growth.

3. Distinction of levels of Power vs. levels of Force *

Hawkins segmented the consciousness into two main categories: one based in force (<200) and one based in power (>200). People in levels of Force vibrate in fear-based emotions. They inclined to exert control over others or themselves (oppression, force, coercion, manipulation, violence) to achieve their desired outcome. For example, crime, war, governmental passing restrictive policies imposing on individual rights, abuse, or even authoritative leadership and parenting styles.

People in levels of Power vibrate in love-based emotions. They are in tune with themselves, aligned with the present moment and the universe, and respect fundamental human rights. They use positive leadership and actions to bring about desired results.

4. Each level can be beneficial/detrimental to you depending on the level you are at

For example, the level of Fear (100) may look quite undesirable if you are at Desire (125). However, if you are at the level of Guilt (30), being around people at Fear (100) is actually beneficial as it can help elevate you to a higher level. It is generally more effective for you to be around people vibrating at higher consciousness levels that are closer to your level (vs. a huge distance ahead), since it is easier for you to connect and bridge the gap. When the energy gap is too large, you may feel detached and alienated instead.

On the same note, when you elevate yourself to a higher level, it becomes obvious that the lower levels are more limiting. For example, if you are at the level of Pride, you will see how the levels of Shame / Guilt / Apathy / Grief / Fear / Desire / Anger hold people down. If you are at the level of Acceptance, you will realize how being at the levels of Pride / Courage / Neutrality / Willingness restrain others.

5. At Courage and Acceptance, one experiences a marked leap in the experience of the world

An increase in consciousness at any level changes your experience significantly. However, there are two particular levels where one experiences a marked leap vs. the other levels.

  • The first is Courage, which separates the levels of Force (<200) from the levels of Power (>200). This is the first waking point from being a sleepwalker.
  • The second is Acceptance (>350), where one recognizes it is he and he himself who is the conscious creator of everything in his life. This is the point where one completely awakes from sleepwalking.
  • The third is Love (>500) where unconditional love begins to flow to all around the individual
  • The fourth is Joy (>600) where the dawning of Moksha occurs and one is finally and forever freed from the cycles of birth and death.

Where Does Our World Stand Today?

When Hawkins wrote the book in 1995, he calibrated the collective consciousness of our world to be at Courage (calibrated 207). As humanity’s consciousnesses has increased at only about +5 pts every century, 207 is very likely still the figure today.

However, this does not mean that the majority of our world is at the level of courage – in fact, 85% of the world calibrates below courage (200). The lower levels of the masses is balanced out by a few individuals near the top (remember the number is logarithmic, not arithmetic), thus giving us a overall calibrated figure of 207. Just having a few highly conscious leaders walk the earth is capable of raising the overall consciousness of the world – for example, Jesus, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, and so on. Before this, the world’s collective consciousness has been at 190 for many centuries.

This demonstrates the power of the Maharishi Effect, where a small collective consciousness that is at a level above the normal will influence and balance the lower levels.

Why is the figure so low? If we look at around at what we see in the world, the answer becomes obvious:

1. Over 80% of humanity is living at less than $10/day, under extreme poverty

This includes third-world countries, war, and disaster-stricken areas. Many people here are trapped in a state of Apathy (50).

2. Religious teachings and institutions have drastically lowered in consciousness over the years, as they become embroiled with the personal agendas of various men, and leaders

The original teachings of Jesus, Buddha and Krishna calibrated at 1,000. Today, the teachings of Buddhism have dropped over the centuries to an average of 900+; Hinduism at 850; Christianity at 750 or even 500 depending on the denomination; and militant Islam fundamentalism at 130 (Desire). In order to keep members within the religion, many religious leaders turn to Guilt (30) and Fear (100) based teachings to indoctrinate their members.

3. In first-world nations, our society is deeply entrenched in states of Fear (100), Desire (125), and Pride (175)

Fear includes fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of loss, and fear of uncertainty.

Desire includes the insatiable quest for material possessions (wealth and goods), status, power, love, and belongingness. Look at developed nations and look at the central theme in these countries — endless shopping malls, advertising (playing on people’s fears), and the constant push to buy more and more.

Pride takes root in dualistic views such as elitism, competition, nationalism, racial pride, factions, religion, as well as attachment to status/wealth/goods.

These are all dominant levels in our society today.

4. Our mass media continually perpetuates levels of Pride, Desire, Fear, or even lower

Refer to the below on the calibrated consciousness of several popular shows. Try examining your favorite shows across the levels of consciousness and see where they are likely to lie.

  • Passion of Christ: 190 (Pride)
  • Godzilla: 180 (Pride)
  • The Godfather: 155 (Anger)
  • The Matrix: 150 (Anger)
  • American Beauty: 140 (Anger)
  • Terminator: 125 (Desire)
  • The Shining: 55 (Apathy)
  • Silence of the lambs: 45 (Apathy)

On this note, stop to think about the shows that you tend to watch — the things you are gravitated to will give you a clue on your current state of consciousness. Similarly, by choosing to watch higher-consciousness shows, it’ll help raise your consciousness.

What Level of Consciousness Are You At?

What level of consciousness are you at? What is the level your thoughts and consciousness tend to fall under?

Remember that every thought, belief, feeling and action you have comes from your level of consciousness. When you shift your consciousness level, you will also change your world view and mentality.

*Adapted from Power vs Force By David R Hawkins, MD, PhD

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