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.

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

  1. 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.

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

    Who is the one that watches them appear and disappear?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.”

  5. That would be more accurate.

    You created an opinion, followed by a question.

    Thanks for seeing what was there in its entirety.

  6. The thought “my thought” claims that thought.

    The thought “my anger” claims that feeling.

    The thought “my aching back” claims that sensation.

    The thought “I did that” claims that action.

    But a thought doesn’t watch other thoughts appear and disappear.

    My question was, who does?

  7. 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.

  8. I think you just answered the question…in as good a way as words can.

    Good night.

  9. Nice dialog all. I dug your comments Steve, and Peter I really like how you direct back to inquiry or just noticing what is always ….
    In many ways all the words seem a distraction from what is always revealing itself to itself. It can’t be said or articulated in any way. And yet sometimes…….

    I like the expression ‘being’. But not like an object, like a bean or something that experiences, but be ing. A verb.
    Be ing is all that’s ever happening, and now is the only moment. Everything, every expression is be ing what ever it is. It’s all one thing. May be ton’s of apparent objects, but really there is only one ongoing arising. The cosmic event, if you will.
    The experience in this physiology seems to be love. Everything is included. With a smile…
    The ‘smile of the beyond’.
    Would you agree?

    An honor to be in the presence of such a group.
    says a salty red dog, who by the by, purrs and doesn’t chase sticks. He also has a huge respect for cats that are bigger than he……

    As far as all the apparent conflicting notions in regards to this biz. What do you think of this?;
    “Objective contradictions can never be resolved objectively, for no two concepts can ever be
    simultaneous,since they are extended in time. Not in a million kalpas can they be united, and no psychic or spiritual gymnastics, intuitions or anything else can ever reconcile them as phenomena. Intuition can only reveal the obvious, which is that in non-objectivity no
    contradiction remains.”
    -wei wu wei

  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. Well you know what Mr Gray might say to that.
    ‘There has never been a man who has read a book, but vast numbers of books have been read by men.’

    Happy reading Peter. I was up till 5 am last night. Tonight I was turning in early. But who am I do have such notions let alone carry them out?
    It is my sincere desire to put on some music, get on the floor and do some asanas, breath and die……
    Mockingbird wish me luck.

    “What do you have to do?

    Pack your bags,
    Go to the station without them,
    Catch the train,
    And leave your self behind.”

    Where’s the ‘sleep’ command?

    Good night doc.

  13. Just got off the floor.

    I am just that?

    “No you are neither that nor this. One just is, and doesn’t
    know it. Everything just is, and doesn’t know it. Such is what one finds when one wakes up. Asked the Awakened!”
    -www

  14. You’ve got to love dueling non-dualities (there’s an oxymoron for ya) … every ‘one’ seems to end up either dead or floored!

    Speaking of dreams, one revealed to me last night that the separate self is really just the culturally conditioned self — i.e. there is no sense of separation, but that conditioning makes it so.

    So, initially at least, the non-dual realization would simply be seeing through the ‘dream’ of one’s conditioning — the lifting of the proverbial veil — revealing the unconditioned Self that was of course always there. And since the conditioning is very difficult, stubborn, and almost impossible to shake completely (perhaps even genetically programmed to some extent), the apparent separate self carries on regardless, doing its thing, while the original Self starts naturally ‘living’ or be-ing, no longer buying into the program, so to speak, free to explore its unconditional, limitless, creative potential … hence liberation.

    And so the separate self vs. no-self dilemma would be explained. Post-realization, one is paradoxically and simultaneously both, without contradiction. The so-called problem only arises when one identifies or forms an attachment with one, to the exclusion of the other — which of course is just more separation.

    end of story … for now.

  15. “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.

  16. I found that Bradshaw clip strangely compelling … funny, touching, sad (This sounds like a film review) — I can see why you may have been glued to it at one point, and how it could speak the conditioning of guilt and shame.

    Quote: “And it begins in early childhood.”

    In fact, from day one. 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. From then on it’s just more degrees of separation, until the job is done and one has been sold the bill of goods.

  17. 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.

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