David R. Hawkins (1927-2012), MD., Phd., is described in a bio to one of his books thus:
a widely known authority within the fields of consciousness research and spirituality, has written and taught from the unique perspective of an experienced clinician, scientist, and mystic. He has been knighted and honored world wide with titles such as “Foremost Teacher of Enlightenment” and Bodhisativa.” His background is detailed in Who’s Who in the World. Dr. Hawkins has lectured widely at universities and institutions, and to spiritual groups, from Westminster Abbey to Catholic, Protestant, and Buddhist monasteries. His life was devoted to the spiritual evolution of mankind.
Hawkins describes a profound mystical experience he had when he was a young boy, about the age of 12, in the introduction to his book I: Reality and Subjectivity.
In 1939, as a paperboy with a seventeen-mile bicycle route in rural Wisconsin, I was caught on a dark winter’s night miles from home in a twenty-below-zero blizzard. The bicycle fell over on the ice and the fierce wind ripped the newspapers out of the handlebar basket, blowing them across the ice-covered, snowy field. There were tears of frustration and exhaustion and my clothes were frozen stiff. To get out of the wind, I broke through the icy crust of a high snow bank, dug out a space, and crawled into it. Soon the shivering stopped and there was a delicious warmth and then a state of peace beyond all description. This was accompanied by a suffusion of light and a presence of infinite love that had no beginning and no end and was undifferentiated from my own essence. The physical body and surroundings faded as awareness was fused with this all-present, illuminated state. The mind grew silent; all thought stopped. An Infinite Presence was all that was or could be, beyond all time or description.
After that timelessness, there was suddenly an awareness of someone shaking my knee; then my father’s anxious face appeared. There was great reluctance to return to the body and all that that entailed, but because of my father’s love and anguish, the Spirit nurtured and reactivated the body. There was compassion for his fear of death although, at the same time, the concept of death seemed absurd.
This subjective experience was not discussed with anyone because there was no context available from which it could be described. It was not common to hear of spiritual experiences other than those reported in the lives of the saints. But after this experience, the accepted reality of the world began to seem only provisional. Traditional religious teachings lost significance. Compared to the Light of Divinity that had illuminated all existence, the God of traditional religion shone dully indeed; thus, spirituality replaced religion.-David R. Hawkins, I: Reality and Subjectivity
Some similarities to Joseph Smith’s First Vision experience, and mystical experiences generally, seem to be:
- He was a young
- In a state of mental and physical distress, being frustrated and exhausted by present circumstances
- He was caught in darkness
- Thought he was dying
- He experienced warmth, as if by a fire
- Experienced a peace that filled him
- The experience was described as beyond all description, or indescribable
- A sensation of Light enveloped him, and seemed to illuminate all things
- He experienced a divine Presence
- He felt an infinite Love fill him
- He felt this presence as One with his own self
- He seemed to be caught away from his body
- His mind was taken away from the natural objects that surrounded him
- He was taken into a heavenly state of mental awareness
- The Presence had his full attention
- Seeing his “father” appear (in Joseph’s case it was the “Father,” although later his father encouraged him in his spiritual exploration)
- Finding himself again
- His body lacked strength for a time
- The Spirit filled him
- He seemed to have realized a conquering of death, i.e. “eternal life”
- A reluctance to tell others of the experience
- Traditional religious teachings were recognized to be wrong, meaningless, or dull