Fran Grace and “Lord” David R. Hawkins

Fran Grace is the current editor of Dr. Hawkins’ books. Dr. Grace is a professor of religious studies at the University of Redlands. Grace appears to be an admirably dedicated and sincere spiritual aspirant with much to offer the world, as well as a highly regarded professor and esteemed colleague, and has done rather compelling work. For example, she has helped to integrate contemplative and meditative techniques into university instruction, and  has even been featured on one of our favorite programs ever, C-SPAN’s Booknotes, to discuss her biography of “Saloon SmasherCarry A. Nation. Yet, Dr. Grace’s devotion to Dr. Hawkins in particular has apparently and unfortunately resulted in some less-compelling work. As with her beloved teacher, she seems to have resorted to relying on less-than-integrous (a commonly used Hawkins term denoting integrity) means of legitimizing and promoting his work. These include editing plagiarized work and supporting scientific misconduct, publishing in a predatory journal, permitting fraudulent book endorsements, anonymous demonization of a book by a former Hawkins student, and promoting as a spiritual master akin to Christ or the Buddha an author with a degree-mill doctorate, pseudo-chivalric knighthood, and who used a pseudoscience (muscle testing for truth) to distinguish absolute truths from falsehood, among additional considerations.

Grace had a chapter published in Perceiving the Divine through the Human Body: Mystical Sensuality.  This article attributed the Map of Consciousness to David Hawkins, when in fact it was plagiarized from his former teacher Lester Levenson, who in turn seems to have taken it from L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology. Grace appears to have been unaware of this at the time of her writing, although related information was a simple internet search away; and some additional concerning details regarding Hawkins were even discovered by Wikipedians, who most recently deleted his page due to lack of notability (before this time, Hawkins threatened a lawsuit if Wikipedia did not delete his page). Catherine Tomas, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford, whose “research focuses on the epistemic value of mystical testimony as well as the subjectivity of the mystic as testifier,” wrote a review of this book. While finding the book “worth reading” overall, of Grace’s article she wrote:

The article demoralizes the reader through its lack of critical engagement with the material it looks to valorize. The result is neither a convincing mystical testimony nor an academic chapter; rather, the article reads like an evangelical hagiography supported by pseudo-science.

At least the article was published in a proper academic book; though, how it got past the editors is a bit of a mystery. However, Dr. Grace has also apparently followed in the path of her mentor, Dr. Hawkins, who relied on a number of dubious claims to distinction in legitimizing and promoting his work. For example, he received a knighthood in a pseudo-chivalric or self-styled order, the Sovereign Order of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (stating that he was knighted by the “Danish Crown,” which has been disputed by Danish officials), and a doctorate from Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited correspondence school that was shut down by court order due to having “virtually no academic standards.” Thus he is referred to as “Sir David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.,” his medical degree (Medical College of Wisconsin, 1953) being respectable (he was a psychiatrist), in addition to being called “Lord” by “His” devotees. Although Dr. Hawkins undoubtedly offered many truths, provided substantial (if alloyed with a type of dogmatic theology) mystical insight, and helped to improve a number of people’s lives (as self-reported by them), this does not seem to negate reasons for concern, just as such reasons do not necessarily vitiate positive experiences (and there have been negative reports as well).

Grace has published a paper on Hawkins (“Beyond Reason: The Certitude of the Mystics from Al-Hallaj to David R. Hawkins” [September 2011]), whether knowingly or unknowingly, in a “predatory” journal, the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science. As with Hawkins’ Ph.D., knighthood, and some other credentials (a full examination of which has been undertaken, the results of which may be published at a later date) the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science appears respectable until one looks closer. This and similar journals “present themselves as standard academic journals but seek to maximise their income from article fees by publishing all submissions with little or no scrutiny.”

This is reminiscent of Hawkins’ doctorate from CPU, where, for instance, a “Ph.D. dissertation written in Spanish was approved by four faculty who cannot speak the language,” as well as his knighthood from an order considered to be “so unreal…that no one in his right mind would be taken in by it” (Hawkins seems to have paid $1,400 for the honor after seeing an advertisement in an “expensive glossy magazine” designed to “arouse susceptible Americans”). Oxford fellow Stephen Blamey, for example, was listed as a member of the journal’s editorial board; however, Blamey stated, “I’d never even heard of the journal.” Furthermore, according to Jeffrey Beall, “I am overwhelmed by the amount of plagiarism I see in predatory publishers’ journals [generally]. They are also blurring the line between science and pseudo-science.”

Dr. Grace is currently working on several book projects related to Dr. Hawkins. We will have to wait and see the quality of her forthcoming work, but if the above examples are any indication, it seems we regrettably may expect further “evangelical hagiography supported by pseudo-science.”

In the meantime, Grace seems to share the sentiment of many of her fellow Hawkins students that strategic advisor, coach, author, and longtime Hawkins adherent, colleague, and biographer, Scott Jeffrey — for daring to think for himself based on evidence and in apostatic and non-hagiographic terms regarding his former teacherisLUCIFERIC.”

[Update: Shortly after this article was posted, an review written by “Anon” was suddenly deleted. Anon, apparently without offering a single kind word regarding him, asserted that she truly believes Mr. Jeffrey is luciferic based on Hawkins’ teachings, which purportedly indicates that he distorted the truth (or, more precisely, the context in which the truth was stated). This is a common new religious movement tactic of criticizing in black-and-white extremes anyone with a varying perspective or who brings to light factual information at odds with the official hagiography. Although the lengthy review was online for more than two years (we still have a copy, from which we may quote in the future), it is nevertheless worth noting that it seems to have been written not long after the unfortunate passing of Dr. David R. Hawkins, with which the biography’s release happened to coincide… Incidentally, this is all the more curious because a correspondent had an email exchange with Grace in late 2013, expressing concern for Jeffrey and his seeming to feel betrayed by Hawkins, and she responded that she had not read Jeffrey’s work — although Hawkins and his teachings had benefited thousands of people — and suggested that, if one is worried about Jeffrey, surrender him into the care of God, as Hawkins always advised people do for others. Note that the deleted review was for Doctor of Truth — a generally innocuous biography that most readers do not find threatening (a timeline of the drama surrounding its release may be found here) — not Power vs. Truth (which probably she genuinely hadn’t read at that time), a critical work which at this writing is no longer being published, possibly due to the seeming cyberbullying and extreme criticism Jeffrey received for conscientiously speaking out about his former teacher and group. Thankfully, according to Anon, in Hawkins’ particular energy-level theology, being Luciferic — while decidedly still evil (though more difficult to discern) — is not nearly so bad as being Satanic!]

[Update II: Upon closer examination of parts of the deleted review by Anon, we have found that she labeled Jeffrey’s book, not himself, as having prideful/luciferic energy. Nevertheless, Dr. Hawkins has stated that the energy level of a book is indicative of that of the author. Thus, Jeffrey himself would have been “luciferic,” while reviews by others contain more clear examples of ad hominem statements, just as Hawkins’ book at level 999.8 out of 1,000 suggests that he was essentially the new Christ, Buddha or Krishna. And Anon did state that the biography constituted a “disgusting betrayal,” which again seems to cast Jeffrey and Hawkins in the respective roles of Judas and Christ. It is our contention that neither deserves such a  polarized characterization. Anon noted, “I know who and what Dr. Hawkins is and the truth of his work is without question.” It seems to us that this may represent a type of fundamentalist certainty or blind faith, rather than mystical certitude, which — we agree with Dr. Grace and her fine research on historical mystics — is real. Thank you.]

Grace reportedly indirectly referenced Jeffrey’s biography of Hawkins, Doctor of Truth, as a moment of “greatest betrayal” for Hawkins. (However, according to A Course in Miracles, which was strongly recommended by Dr. Hawkins, even the worst of betrayals is illusory.)

While anyone may believe whatever she or he would like, this does not seem to make it appropriate for a professional to use her position of authority to promote her controversial beliefs to her students and in so-called predatory journals, conceal any apparent wrongdoing such as academic dishonesty or scientific misconduct on the part of Hawkins, and seemingly band together with fellow believers to apparently anonymously cyberbully into silence any few dissenting and principled voices. Although a professor ought not to tolerate academic dishonesty in an undergraduate, or bullying of a minority voice in her courses, Grace has to date apparently not acknowledged that she follows and promotes a plagiarist with a “diploma mill” Ph.D. and pseudo-chivalric knighthood, a pseudoscientific (by established standards) muscle test for unquestionable “absolute truths,” fraudulent endorsements (including for the 2012 edition of Power vs. Force, which Grace edited), and who appears to have profited from his work in the millions of dollars (this evidently is perceived by believers as authentic success), among other considerations. Rather, she believes Dr. Hawkins to be a perfect master, seemingly something akin to Christ or the Buddha, which his teachings support. While offering a course, professors provide a safe environment in which to explore and civilly express ideas. But in regard to her spiritual teacher, she appears to not only make no effort to stop her group members (she is friends with Mrs. Susan Hawkins of Veritas Publishing, and likely has at least some level of authority or influence — for example, a prompt of hers has circulated among Hawkins students, suggesting a position of authority within the movement and an ability to communicate directly to Hawkins students) but apparently herself has engaged in seeming anonymous cyberbullying — the review of “Anon” was the first of several to label Jeffrey or his work as luciferic, for example (note that there may be additional information related to this that has yet to come to light). (We are writing anonymously, clearly, but hopefully presenting information while not engaging in ad hominem attacks is not seen as bullying. People evidently identify with their beliefs, such that it may feel like a personal attack when their beliefs are questioned, even if that is not the intention.)

Jeffrey was called by Hawkins students not only luciferic for expressing his well-researched views and direct personal experiences, but also a spiritual snake and a Judas, was told to “get a life,” and threatened by some nebulous idea of “karma” (as if there is only negative and not positive karma for those who tell their truth and offer facts with the hope of helping others, and no possible negative karma for condemning those who do so), among many more presumably hurtful statements. (For some extant comments, please see here. Note that we do not know Mr. Jeffrey, nor have we ever met him, nor do we speak for him. These are our own opinions.) This is not appropriate behavior for undergraduates, teenagers, or children, least of all for a professional at an American university with a doctorate from one of our finest institutions, Princeton, and for ostensibly spiritual students. To be sure, Jeffrey’s work received undue criticism largely because of timing (near the time of Hawkins’ passing in late 2012) and perhaps delivery; but his ideas are frequently sound, it seems to us. To the extent that people love one person, appears to be related to the extent to which they dislike or hate detractors of their beloved; and not just in religion and spirituality but also in politics, sports, popular culture and so on. In fact, ironically, this is one of the cute and folksy teachings of Hawkins’: Just because one loves chocolate ice cream does not mean one needs to hate vanilla ice cream. It seems to be something in humanity rather than any  particular individual’s personal problem. Nonetheless, there may be something of a more fanatical element in some new religious movements, possibly as if it were a matter of life and death: perhaps seemingly as if the world might fall apart if everyone does not see our leader as perfect. Loyalty is a beautiful virtue; yet, it may go too far in some instances.

Jonathan Reams, another academic, offered an informal colloquium at Gonzaga University around 2003 that introduced to interested students some of Dr. Hawkins’ work. However, Dr. Reams stated in 2006:

I have not been as interested in following Dr. Hawkins’ work over the past three years or so, since my experience and view of where he has gone with it and how he is operating do not carry the same quality as before. This may simply be due to the evolution of his presentation to a broader audience, and the more personality-oriented following he seems to have developed.

Similarly, David Gersten, M.D. — a psychiatrist, holistic physician, composer, and author of the book Are You Getting Enlightened Or Losing Your Mind?initially endorsed Dr. Hawkins’ work. He received much criticism for doing so, however, both published and in private correspondence. It was not until Dr. Gersten heard that devotees of Dr. Hawkins consider Hawkins to be the Lord, an Avatar, or even the Second Coming of Christ, that he understood why. While still appreciating aspects of Power vs. Force, in correspondence with Gersten in late 2013 (which has yet to be be published elsewhere), Gersten had much to say. Following is a sample:

When I read [Hawkins’] books, one thing that was clear to me is that he has a strong attachment to Christianity (no problem there!) but no deep understanding of Eastern religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, and no idea what the term “avatar” really means. But the thing that first really caught my attention came from a patient who had attended a seminar of his. There was a question and answer period where people would come on stage and ask a question. One woman (I don’t recall the question) asked a pretty simple, neutral question and apparently Hawkins became furious with her (in front of a large crowd), including the comment, “How dare you come on stage and waste my time with such a ridiculous question?” That kind of information tells me a huge amount about a person. That’s either an incredibly bad day…or a man who is not very evolved. I vaguely recall him saying that [I: Reality and Subjectivity] calibrated [with Hawkins Applied Kinesiology] at 998 [i.e., 999.8 out of 1000 on the Map of Consciousness]. Yes, that is an absurd comment, which does reveal a lot about the man…I didn’t realize the degree of controversy.

We wholeheartedly thank Dr. Gersten for sharing his perspective. Alas, this was not an isolated incident. While we understand that Hawkins was typically a friendly, humorous, and even loving, if gruff, individual — especially toward his students, if not his detractors or people who questioned his methods (e.g. Dr. Robert Todd Carroll of The Skeptic’s Dictionary) — we have heard additional similar stories. For instance, Hawkins is also said to have reduced a woman to tears in front of a large audience. Hawkins may have been influenced by the apparently abrasive style of his favorite television pundit, “bellwether of integrity” Bill O’Reilly of Fox News.

Our best wishes go out to Dr. Grace and her students at the University of Redlands, whom she has been introducing to the Map of Consciousness of David Hawkins (i.e., the plagiarized work of Hubbard, apparently through Levenson — Hawkins’ former spiritual teacher — if not directly), in addition to introducing Dr. Hawkins’ work to the community at large. (Grace also strongly endorses — as the book with which to introduce Hawkins’ teachings  to new readers — Hawkins’ Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, which she edited and which further plagiarizes Levenson’s work. That’s the Power of Love–the type of love that idealizes a teacher regardless of available evidence, and condemns his perceived enemies.) May you all be well, and perhaps Dr. Grace’s colleagues at the University of Redlands may help to ensure that her undergraduates do not also become devotees of Hawkins, who is openly referred to by his followers as the “Lord.” (For example, “This site is dedicated to Lord Dr. David R, Hawkins.”)

Bear in mind the extraordinary nature of this claim. While such titles are not uncommon in several Eastern religions (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, and especially Hinduism), in the West we have had popes, priests, monks, nuns, mystics, prophets, Church Fathers, bishops, cardinals, saints, and so forth — but only one Lord (God or Jesus). Is this a justified title for Hawkins? If so, why? Based on what exactly? Might we at least consider before leaping?

Hawkins taught that “the mind has no capacity to tell truth from falsehood,” and “All opinion is vanity.” Hawkins students have even considered Hawkins Applied Kinesiologypseudoscientific muscle testing for truth, used as a purported direct pipeline to God — as a possible justification for “immoral or even illegal activities because their muscle testing would tell them to do so,” including “killing somebody” (whether this meant murder, euthanasia, or something else, was not clarified). This according to Jakob Merchant, a longtime Hawkins student who thanks “My spiritual teacher & Lord, Dr. David R. Hawkins” on his website, and who was quoted by Dr. Grace in her “new foreword” to Power vs. Force (2012) as a person who has had success raising his children influenced by Dr. Hawkins’ teachings.

We do not judge Dr. Grace. People have emotional, psychological, social and other requirements aside from the merely rational or logical (Grace has written of such matters, though we do not wish to make this personal). However, while her beliefs are tolerated — though with critical consideration — her harsh criticism of dissenting, conscientious voices, publishing in a predatory journal, apparent allowance (if not approval) of fraudulent endorsements, and support and concealment of Dr. Hawkins’ academic dishonesty or scientific misconduct, are not tolerated.

We only hope that this will turn out to be merely a temporary blip on an otherwise unblemished and, indeed, notable academic career of a loving, compassionate, and rational person, Dr. Fran Grace.

A song by fellow luciferic spiritual snake judas jealous name-seeking superior self-righteous pompous BIG ego profithungry lame garbage selfimportant obsessive crazy prideful shallow intellectual swine!

[Compare The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics by Elaine Pagels]