069. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

Michael HallA clinical psychologist in private practice in Binghamton, NY, Michael studied and practiced Zen Buddhism for many years beginning in 1978. An initial experience of non-dual awareness emerged in 1982. Like virtually all first glimpses, this experiential awareness was fleeting. Still the appetite for an enduring awakening had taken hold, as well as an absolute faith in the spiritual truths reported by Shakyamuni Buddha and the Zen teachers of ancient China and Japan. Years of frequent silent meditation retreats allowed this awareness to deepen and expand, yet there was still searching for true liberation. The continuous experiential Knowing that this is it emerged many years later after an apparent surrendering of the desire to become anything at all. With this much deeper and more pervasive understanding, there arose simultaneously a reconnection with his childhood roots in the Christian tradition. Michael now shares this knowledge of Self with a growing number of students. The teaching is consistent with the truths taught by awakened teachers of all religious traditions. He teaches awakening and the integration of non-dual awareness into daily life. Over 30 years of full-time psychological practice has provided a unique perspective on the roots of suffering and the end of it. He draws on the writing and teaching of contemporary and historical awakened teachers, joining the common threads in Christian, Buddhist, Advaita, and Non-Dual traditions to share a message of the possibility and promise of personal transformation and liberation from egoic illusion.

Email:       WayBeyondPsychotherapy@gmail.com
Websites:  WayBeyondPsychotherapy.comawakentotruth.com
Blog:          AwakenToTruth.BlogSpot.com

Interview recorded 5/22/2011

Audio and video below and as a Podcast.

39 thoughts on “069. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

  1. Well, there’s only one way to find out if Jeff had anything to do with that cartoon: you can ask him directly when you interview him. Have any plans to do so? Expressed an interest to him yet?

    And since you mentioned his name, do you resonate with him when he said:

    “‘One day I will be enlightened like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj!’ often translates as ‘one day I won’t feel sadness, pain, anger, or fear anymore’…. which basically means ‘I’m running away from sadness, pain, anger and fear right NOW.’ The question “what are you seeking?” is identical with the question “what are you running away from NOW? What don’t you want to feel NOW? What don’t you want to experience NOW?” Forget Ramana and Nisargadatta (underlined by me, if I could). What is appearing where YOU are, NOW?”

  2. Responding to Peter:

    “Well, there’s only one way to find out if Jeff had anything to do with that cartoon: you can ask him directly when you interview him.”

    I don’t know if he made it or not but he uploaded it to his YouTube channel. It also depicts a conversation he had with his mother, which he often recounts to illustrate how foolish he feels he was during his “advaitaspeak” phase.

    “Have any plans to do so? Expressed an interest to him yet?”

    Yes. We’re waiting until he gets a better internet connection.

    “And since you mentioned his name, do you resonate with him when he said:

    “‘One day I will be enlightened like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj!’ often translates as ‘one day I won’t feel sadness, pain, anger, or fear anymore’…. which basically means ‘I’m running away from sadness, pain, anger and fear right NOW.’ The question “what are you seeking?” is identical with the question “what are you running away from NOW? What don’t you want to feel NOW? What don’t you want to experience NOW?” Forget Ramana and Nisargadatta (underlined by me, if I could). What is appearing where YOU are, NOW?”

    Yes, I resonate with that, but it doesn’t negate the reality of progressive development. I still contend that a little dabbling in advaita does not usually if ever result in the same clarity as these respected teachers had. That can take a lifetime to develop.

  3. Another excellent interview, thanks Rick and Michael. The genetic change Michael mentions may be something similar to epigenetics or changes in gene expression. The underlying DNA sequence remains the same (we stay human) but the expression changes. Rick, I like your example of phase transition applied to spirituality. Resistance generates heat and can block a change altogether.

  4. Right on Dana. My sentiments exactly. I don’t feel like I’m seeking anymore, yet I feel that there are infinite possibilities yet to discover. Paradoxical.

  5. From my (meant referentially, not possessively) intermittent practice of Anapana Sati, I have noted that the sense of a separate self is often the by-product of the act of owning the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that appear (and easily dis-appear, absent the act of ownership).

    When a thought appears and we do not lay claim to it as mine, the sense of separation is minimal.

    Conversely, and when we claim ownership of it, the sense of a separate self follows suit.

    Separation, my limited and ever-changing experience has revealed, is just the natural consequence of how we relate with the thoughts that appear and dis-appear.

  6. The idea/construct/notion that no one is doing the claiming/watching is still just an idea/construct/notion.

    That concept has everything in common with the concept that someone is doing the claiming and watching.

    You may opt for, and proclaim, the content of one idea over another one. But they’re both kindred spirits in essence.

    I’m not advocating one idea over another one here.

    I am advocating, however, the experience of noting how we respond to the ideas that appear and dis-appear before us… give us a sense of separation
    when we claim them as our own.

    Including the idea that no one is doing the claiming and the watching.

  7. If all you did was ask a question, then where did this come from?

    “It’s a thought that claims ownership of another thought…or feeling…or sensation…or action.”

  8. That would be more accurate.

    You created an opinion, followed by a question.

    Thanks for seeing what was there in its entirety.

  9. It’s not a question that particularly interests me, st the moment. But then again, most questions don’t. Questions just indulge and strengthen the sense of a separate self. Nothing wrong with that, mind you. It’s just something else to be aware of.

    It is the essence of Awareness to be aware. Nothing else.

    The reason why I have a high degree of respect for Anapana Sati is… you are simply being aware… of everything and anything that appears and dis-appears. In whatever form, and all forms.

    Which is, after all, the stuff of Awareness, to use a vernacular. Being aware(ness), I mean.

  10. I owe you, chuckee, for surfacing Wei Wu Wei’s name. He’s one of my very favorites.

    To complement the quote that you included, maybe this other quote of his will illuminate yours:

    “What is non-objective relation?

    Wherever there are others there is a self,
    Wherever there are no others there can be no self,
    Wherever there is no self there are no others,
    Because in the absence of self I am all others.

    That is non-objective relation. “

  11. On second thought, chuckee, you are also partially to blame. I was ready to hit the sack, until you mentioned WWW’s name. Which prompted me to reread a book of his, and now sleep must take a back seat for a while.

    You rascal.

    I did, however, find a quote of his that succinctly reflects the mile marker of my current perceptual location. Thanks for being a beneficial rascal to boot.

    “Having found no self that is not other,
    The seeker must find that there is no other that is not self,
    So that in the absence of both other and self,
    There may be known the perfect peace,
    Of the presence of absolute absence.”

  12. “the separate self is really just the culturally conditioned self — i.e. there is no sense of separation, but that conditioning makes it so” – Batgap’s pussycat

    I strongly agree that conditioning is a key component of the sense of separation. And it begins in early childhood.

    Part of that conditioning involves the planting of the seeds of guilt and shame too. Which partly explains why my eyes were glued to John Bradshaw, at one time.

  13. Your insights occasionally amaze me, sl. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t happen too often, though. If I were in constant amazement, I’d probably develop an attachment to it. :)

    “As soon as a parent, or others present, utters something like: “What a pretty little girl” or “What a big strong boy,” the die of a separate self has begun to be cast.”

    Indeed. What is happening here is… the child receives a grown-up’s opinion as fact about himself or herself.

    The unquestioned transmutation of opinion into fact can be very handicapping.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

  14. a poem by Tom Berrett… enjoy…

    What’s In The Temple?

    In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, but ready to spring.
    It begs me to open the door so it can walk about.
    The poets speak in obscure terms pointing madly at the unsayable.
    The sages say nothing, but walk ahead patting their thigh calling for us to follow.
    The monk sits pen in hand poised to explain the cloud of unknowing.
    The seeker seeks, just around the corner from the truth.
    If she stands still it will catch up with her.
    Pause with us here a while.
    Put your ear to the wall of your heart.
    Listen for the whisper of knowing there.
    Love will touch you if you are very still.

    If I say the word God, people run away.
    They’ve been frightened–sat on ‘till the spirit cried “uncle.”
    Now they play hide and seek with somebody they can’t name.
    They know he’s out there looking for them, and they want to be found,
    But there is all this stuff in the way.

    I can’t talk about God and make any sense,
    And I can’t not talk about God and make any sense.
    So we talk about the weather, and we are talking about God.

    I miss the old temples where you could hang out with God.
    Still, we have pet pounds where you can feel love draped in warm fur,
    And sense the whole tragedy of life and death.
    You see there the consequences of carelessness,
    And you feel there the yapping urgency of life that wants to be lived.
    The only things lacking are the frankincense and myrrh.

    We don’t build many temples anymore.
    Maybe we learned that the sacred can’t be contained.
    Or maybe it can’t be sustained inside a building.
    Buildings crumble.
    It’s the spirit that lives on.

    If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
    What would you worship there?
    What would you bring to sacrifice?
    What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?

    Go there now.

    ~Tom Barrett

  15. Spell-check versus old fashioned proof reading, eh?

    Is this a poetic way to bring out the distinction between depending on a guru and direct experience, snowleopard?

    Once a poet, always a poet.

  16. Such a great interview, I never knew Bruce Willis was so insightful. This site is wonderful.

  17. This talk really perked up my ears when the topic turned thoughts on conditioning. I agree that everything in life conditions a person to a degree whether it be yoga in the park or dancing in the dark, I would call this “innocent conditioning”. I am concerned however in that we live in a time where people are being “intentionally conditioned” at such a young age that we might get hooked so strong on bullshit that we can’t hear the truth even if it slapped us in the face. I just worry that most people would rather watch entertainment tonight than wake up “from the dark night of the soul”. Also thanks to being more mindful I have realized it easy to ego trip on social issues. I have a link to a very eye opening look at methods of conditioning used by media ya da ya da. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/starsuckers/
    peace

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