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Click on each thumbnail to watch individual reports.
Click on the CC symbol in the player for closed captions.
Click on the links to read the written reports posted in our Community Center forum:
Carlee Paddock (Easley, South Carolina), Bill Corcoran (Cleveland, Ohio), Nancy Margalit (Garmish-Partenkirshen, Germany), Tyson (Melbourne, Australia), Patricia Crane (Muncie, Indiana), Deon Ashton (United Kingdom), Helen Waterhouse (Carbunup River, Australia), Caspar Seip (Oslo, Norway), Paul (Toronto, Canada), David Bortman (Ashland, Oregon), Thomas Küng (Lucerne, Switzerland).
Ansley (Atlanta, Georgia), Jan Stoll (Düsseldorf, Germany), Y. (New York, New York), Travis Eneix (San Francisco, California), Peter Duggan (Perth, Australia), Patti Foy (Jemez, New Mexico), David Bailey (Chesterfiled, Missouri), Mike (Flagstaff, Arizona), Tim (San Francisco Bay Area, California), David Parrish (Media, Pennsylvania), Lida (Los Angeles, California).
Lera Chacon (Boca Raton, Florida), John (Eureka Springs, Arkansas), Julia (Montreal, Canada), Brian Allen (Dallas, Texas), Mark Speert (Atlanta, Georgia), Santharaj (Bangalore, India), Andre Best (Phoenix, Arizona), Derek Robinson (Toronto, Canada), Veetkam Gin (Easley, South Carolina).
In my life I tried therapy, meditation, inquiry, etc. Progress was made but the feeling of neediness remained. It felt like a house built on sand. Trust and stability were lacking in spite of all my efforts. Looking at myself (I still don't know whether I did it right) immediately felt like being at home or reconnecting with "something" that, without my being aware of it, had always been there. It's true, the separation from life vanishes, as someone has pointed out. The hope, to finally be helped or saved, needed to be and could be given up. I stopped looking for support from outside, instead it's always me with myself. Inner strength, stability, stamina are growing, inspite of the discomforts of the process. It is uncomfortable but not different or worse from what I've known. I can take it and I want to know. I don't avoid or run or ignore. What I notice in all this is that I begin to see myself with greater clarity; myself as this person, this character with all its shortcomings, which I had hated all my life. Already that is liberating. I'm curious what will be coming next. And, although I'm rather sloppy and tend to forget, the training of putting attention on the breath, entering and leaving the body, is helpful. Switching from thinking to the nose is, if I'm attentive and willing to do so, immediate. And it connects inside and outside which seems significant, although I cannot yet say why.
Forum - June 15, 2014
Carla and John are the first who discovered a simple method that can be applied by every human. If you apply this method you will be free from all psychological misery and you will be able to realise your full potential. This is all anybody could want from life. And it is free. I understand that what I write above is hard to believe. So try yourself. It is simple and cannot do any harm. If you followed so far, you will understand why it comes natural to donate.
Review on Greatnonprofits.org - July 5, 2014
The first time I looked at myself I just thought it was nothing and moved on without a second thought. It took me 2 years to return to the looking, mostly because somehow I found myself doing it automatically from time to time. I took up the looking for about 3 or 4 months on a regular, daily basis. The only thing I noticed, at first, was that there was a certain disconfort that I had had for my entire life, like a hidden pain that had changed my entire perspective. And that was gone suddenly. One day it was there, the next, I couldn't find it anymore. After that, I went through an intense process of change that continues even today, after more than 4 years, although it's not nearly that intense anymore.
The changes that happened to me had 2 distinct characteristics; most of them happened long before I was able to aknowledge them and once they happened, they felt like they had always been there.The point that I'm trying to make here is that changes may happen under our conscious radar. For me, I only realize something changed when I'm in situations where my limits are somehow tested. That's when I see my personality is completely changed for the better. Stick to the looking as much as it seems the case to do so. There comes a day when looking at yourself happens only rarely, only if needed.
Concerning the relationship with others, I can tell you that it is not easy, in my experience. looking at yourself erases all the bariers against life, and that means being open to others, more so than before. For me, if I am in the company of people who are suffering, I cannot stop that from reaching me. I don't want to either, but there is no protection anywere, no wall that I can conjure. Fortunately, the same thing happens if I am in good surroundings. The silence of a church or the beauty of nature touch me to the deepest level, just like the pain of others does.
When you meet people like that, open and vulnerable, it changes them, it touches them. And it's not easy, but you get stronger in time, provided you offer yourself the rest, beauty and peace you need when you need them.
My impression is that, by default, all of us, we are meant to embrace the world and one another, to find solutions and face problems, not to hide, close or wither in denial.
Bucarest, Romania - May 30, 2014
Slightly over a month ago, I passed the three-year anniversary of joining the forums. After what seemed like a clear insight, I, like many others, went through a period of what is called "recovery." I felt frustrated, and, having begun this journey when in pain, what felt like significant pain, it was hard to have patience when I heard that all will be well, eventually. Of course, I believed that I would be the one who failed at this, plus, having been through the spiritual treadmill, where nothing else had resulted in the "enlightenment" I'd sought, I felt cynical and wondered if I was once more wasting my time.
When I came upon the looking, I'd already just about given up on any spiritual practices and/or paths, but, as with other things in my life, presumed the fault lay within me. I was too flawed, not committed enough, deserving enough, to have been handed the keys to the queendom. And, buried within this was a mostly subconscious wish that somehow, in some way, I would negotiate all the promises made in Advaita and all the other spiritual paths I'd pursued and wind up in bliss, if only I managed to hang in there a bit longer. That I hadn't was my fault and a source of sorrow and shame.
Even until most recently, I've had periods where I felt on track with this process of looking, only to plunge into confusion again, and, I can say it is only in the last day or so that I've come into an understanding that had not arrived until now.
Some thoughts that came to me this evening that defined the looking from any previous pursuits, included: Since beginning the looking, I haven't really looked at anything else to resolve or ameliorate my condition. That is not true of myself in the past, when I would find a "new" possible spiritual approach, do it for a while, then start "seeking" once more. If nothing else, John made clear to me that there was no purpose to look further to "cure" my disease, and that not the bliss states, nor any other transcendent state, would be the answer to what I thought was a problem. There was no point in looking (well, at any place other than me).
And I could see how the spiritual exercises, the directions, were an attempt to fix something—that wasn't broken. Each of them had an implicit message that something had to be done, that this thing would fix my problem, and that the result would be a new and improved me. I had stopped looking for this fix and had stopped believing in it, and the good news was that the inferiority complex I had from my lack of success, spiritually and otherwise (because, surely everyone else was succeeding), had gone. It was such a saving of time, no longer having to devote myself to practices, juggling of belief systems and trying to figure out which one would lead me best to nirvana, buying into cultures of guru worship in all their various forms, and not having to feel a failure for having failed at achieving what I thought they would give me.
The most recent development has happened during a time when I am traveling, and I feel that I want to test it out when I return home to see if it remains, but what it feels like is this: I had been, when I was able, following John's instruction of shifting attention away from what I would call neurotic and usually painful thoughts. I'd been doing it for a while, and, as I guess I got the knack, I nearly didn't need to examine the thought itself, it was the energy and the emotional pain, actually felt as physical pain, that told me when I was sliding into another one of these what were obviously rather useless thought patterns, and sometimes when I noticed this elide into refocusing onto my breath or into "here," I'd check it out, and, for sure, it would be a thought I had no need to entertain, and thus, rather than as a discipline, it has begun to happen as a natural occurrence, I could say.
The other thing I could say about noticing this is that this movement tends to bring me quickly into the present, and I am realizing that this is a natural place to live, except for excursions into the past or future that are helpful and not neurosis based. And then I realized that, of course, that would be a natural development in a life that wasn't living from a context of fear, it would, for the most part, float at ease in the present moment.This is beginning to give me what I think John is talking about when he says there is a reason for the success of the looking and that each of us will eventually see what it is. (Please amend if I'm not quoting you correctly, John.)
It is such an energy saver to not have to carry a whole structure of "beliefs" in one's head, to not have to engage in endless practices that will result in a better, improved, me, that ultimately falls away under duress. During my recent travels I've experienced aggravation, less than pristine emotional responses to being around other people (relatives, for example), physical extremes from lugging around luggage, but there was a core me that knew none of this affected or really had me at stake.
Waiting for "enlightenment" to clean up the mess of my life for me is now like waiting for Godot. My life, here and now, is what I have wanted. Not only is my life not "perfect," I no longer have "perfect" as a criterion for my life being what it needs to be; it is sufficient to know that I am not at stake here, nor am I to blame. Life keeps showing up, and, in the moment, I meet it with as much grace, aptitude, as I have, in this moment, and see a way for it to go forward, as best I can. This gives my life what I feel is an increasing intelligence, or rather, it gives me an increasing intelligence to navigate my life.
I will be returning home Thursday, and I'm somewhat eager to see what that will bring. There were moments, at the beginning of this month-long excursion when I sincerely questioned why on earth I had done this (it had been four years since I'd seen relatives), and even now, toward the end I questioned my sanity in doing it for this long a time. However, it has definitely given me the opportunity to practice this endeavor under what I'd consider adverse circumstances and to see that not one of them caused me to be at stake.
I am writing this because this feels like the first moment, after more than three years, that I feel I have more than a toehold on what the looking promises to bring; I don't think I'm done, and yet have a sense of a more intelligent interaction with my life circumstances, even if through more experience of the "not at stake" aspect of life and through practicing moving my attention from what does not serve me. It is a moment of more certainty over the direction of this endeavor, and I hesitantly, yet happily, note it as possibly my tipping point.
I go forward in curiosity, and gratitude for my deepening understanding (I think) of what John and Carla are attempting to communicate to what felt like a very obtuse version of myself. Thank you, John and Carla.
As a footnote, if there are any people following Just One Look who live in the SF-Bay Area, who would like to connect with me, please send me a message. It would be a pleasure.
Postscript: I've now been back home four days. I had a deep emotional tumble on my second day home that really scared me and made me think, perhaps, it had all been a dream (of progress, if you will). In the past, under such circumstances, I've "reached out" to someone or other for emotional support. This time, with the thought of "radical self reliance" in mind, I did not. I stayed with myself, riding through all that was arising, with no thought of "improving" or otherwise getting rescued. I tried focusing on breath, but that didn't work too well. I gave myself permission to do nothing, even though that didn't feel very comfortable, because I could think of nothing to do. This lasted till the next day, and my fear, as always in circumstances such as these, was that I'd landed in an endless hole that I would not come out of. The next day, I continued "doing nothing," until a moment when I thought of going for a walk, and took a shower preceding this. It was beautiful outside, and I immediately let go of my miasma and was in present moment once more.
The thing I had not done, as I would have done before, was to analyze my thoughts and feelings and formulate conclusions. Even when I couldn't return to my breath and felt really bad, I did not try to solve it through thinking—I felt it would be going down a tunnel that really didn't need exploring and that there was no solution to be derived through such an exercise. I think because I didn't try to come to a logical reason for why I felt as I did, I was able to let go sooner. I also feel that the radical self-reliance I practiced was a step forward, as someone mentioned in a post here recently, from going to someone else for bolstering up or a solution. The issue that had provoked my immediate emotional downfall was related to feeling estranged and alone in the world, and, strangely, after not looking to a solution from someone else, I now feel more connected to others. This is a rather lengthy check in, and John, if you feel it would be better to cut it off at the pass (perhaps before this postscript), please feel free to do so.
I don't understand exactly how/why this process worked, but today, I think I'm feeling as clear if not clearer than I ever have in the past or for a very long time. This is really new for me who has fought alienation, loneliness and depression most of my life. I think, especially for older people, who, consciously or not, see little of their life remaining, the idea of not knowing how long this process will take is a little daunting. For myself, I will say, these past three years, when I knew there was something to what John was communicating, but not when I'd see a result, this has been more than worth it. In deep gratitude to John and Carla, and with love, Marlowe.
California, USA - May 12, 2014
[...] There is a big difference between intellectual understanding and deep 'knowing'. The work 'grok' from the book Stranger in a Strange Land comes to mind. To understand something intuitively to the core. I think what brings me back to this community is that the experiences people are sharing feel authentic and very similar to my own. We're not talking about spiritual ideas or ideals here; we're actually taking it upon ourselves to try what John and Carla are suggesting and reporting back our authentic experiences. There's a pioneering spirit here and a lot of courageous people who have realized they are their own salvation. Not God or enlightenment or some Guru or a perfect romantic partner (that was my form of seeking). I arrived here out of desperation and probably intuition and John and Carla pointed me in the right direction. Now that the most intense aspects of the fear have dissipated, I'm continuing to work on strengthening my attention. I have found that anything movement based works for me. Walking and counting my breath or doing Taiji. I also started taking Alexander technique lessons which is based on the premise of inhibition and redirection of attention. And sometimes when I'm really having a hard time, like someone else reported, I've found that doing nothing is the best response.
Discussion forum - May 20, 2014
It has been 7 years since I first contacted you and you replied with your simple yet powerful message. I am happy to report that the ensuing time has seen a gradual but undeniable reversal (for lack of a better word) of identification with my story to being me. I write to you this time because of a moment that was so simple that it blew me away. While driving to work I was feeling the joy of simply being here when my mind jumped up as if to say "don't loose this!" when at the same time the "knowledge" appeared that it can't be lost cause "I" have always been here! To experience this rather than just understand it intellectually from watching your talk was so freeing. I seem to be a tough nut to crack, being more more of the gradual type, but cracking so I am. For even the relative reduction in suffering that I have experienced I am so enormously grateful. Thank you so very much for being here with me.
Canada - April 26, 2014
I thought you would be interested in this. It is a narrative that Vera wrote to the poetry site Poetry Soup. I have spread your names a lot on this site through various ballades I have written, and will do until I run out of talent. Thank you for everything you have done for my family. Peter.
Hi everybody, my name is Vera, as some of you already know, and I am the wife of Peter Duggan. I came on this site to cheer Peter on, and also to read some poetry which I do enjoy at times. I have made a few friends on this site and correspond with some, and a few of them have asked me to write something. Now I have never done anything like this before, but I decided to humor these friends any way.
I could not really think of anything to write about, but then I thought of a subject dear to both myself and Peter; the transformation that he has gone through in the last five years. This might be of interest, and indeed some help to others who are having problems within their relationships with others.
When he came back to Australia, this was when it all went pear shaped. Peter started to change; he become very aggressive and psychologically cruel to myself and our three children and was like a keg of dynamite just waiting to explode. He would argue about everything and anything, and got involved in many very nasty fights. No one could tolerate him for very long, and myself and the children often felt like we were walking on eggshells whenever he was around. He turned to alcohol, and cannabis, and he was always off his head on any one of those drugs. Having said all this, Peter was never physically aggressive to me or the children.
Anyhow, this all came to a climax when he suddenly walked out on us all and decided he wanted to live like a bum. Said he wanted his freedom. This was the last time I saw him for a year, when, because I loved him so very much, I asked him to come back to us again. He came back, but nothing really changed. In fact, I told him he would never change, and I honestly thought our marriage was beyond repair. He had done so much counselling, read every book on self-help, and tried religion (all the major ones), but nothing really helped.
Then one day, about five years ago, Peter was perusing through the net, desperate to find someone to help him get rid of this evil that lurked within him. He came across a man named John Sherman, who claimed that he could help people with this simple little action that he gave Peter to do. In his desperation, Peter put his whole life into this simple act.
He never strayed from this path, and after a month or two things started dropping away. Each day he seemed to get more and more happy, so happy in fact that he seemed to bubble with happiness. His anger started to drop away gradually until it diminished completely. He still loves to argue, but he never has to be right all the time and treats it all as a game. How anyone can change so dramatically is completely beyond me, but the miracle happened; the evidence is before me.
If I ever won the lottery, I would donate half of it to the Shermans and the RiverGanga Foundation, and would be totally happy to do this. But the only thing that we can do is spread the Shermans' work any chance we can get. We both owe them so much.
Anyhow, this is my first write, and I hope that many people might gain something from it. Peter and I are now the happiest couple that ever walked the face of the Earth. I thank all of you that chose to read this. Whether I'll ever make a second attempt one never knows. But I surely enjoyed writing this.
Peter and Vera Duggan
Perth, Australia - April 17, 2014.
I can "testify" that things get easier. I'm also about 2 and a half years into this process, and had terrible peaks of suffering. Now it seems to be weakening. My confidence that this act really changes things, permanently, is growing. I used to suffer intensely before coming to this, and it continued after the looking. I wasn't sure whether it was the recovery or just the same old suffering continuing, but now it seems that things have changed. It's become more apparent in the last few months. That's quite thrilling at times, and also it's kind of very natural and not a big deal. It seems like a paradox at first but it makes perfect sense.
What comes to doubts, I can say that I certainly had those, and they're not entirely gone even now. But as I had nothing else left, I sort of attached my hopes to this act while at the same time having cynical and skeptical thoughts about it. I felt there was no further harm done by choosing to consciously indulge in wishful thinking and entertain a belief in this act and work and John's reassurances. I felt it was my last straw, anyway. I felt free to play with belief and faith. I feel it might have helped.
The feeling that there's something wrong at any given situation or moment is kind of still there, but weaker than it used to be. I don't quite feel at home, yet. I still feel very cut off from people and lonely (my main and worst issue, perhaps. Didn't seem to go first, though, if it ever will...), but not as often and as intensely as before. I'm not as anxious to make something out of my life anymore.
I also wondered about why there was not more going on here at the forums. I missed just the reassurance of chatting with people who were going through this same thing. The feeling of connection. But I guess this is not a chat room. I felt ready to spend all of my time here discussing this. It felt so important.
I don't have any very urgent questions anymore but I'm curious about many things about the looking and especially the view on things that emerges as a result. I can get a glimpse at it in John's responses to questions in the retreat videos and sometimes it blows my mind. The really surprising statements such as "nothing happens" at death, and about oneness, that it's already all of our experience anyway, so not a big deal. And you can now see clearly why those things become big issues. We want larger than life stuff, because we really want out of this life. We make everything larger than life because this life, life size, is the last thing we feel we want. It makes sense now. I don't know whether it's a result of a new view emerging on my part, or because I've immersed myself in what John says about things, as kind of new belief system (been there, done that, before).
I feel too that it would be absolutely marvelous if there was some systematic survey or statistics gathered about people who've engaged in this act. I was really happy to read the paper on the therapeutic viewpoint of this work that was published and made available at the website.
Helsinki, Finland - April 13, 2014
Thank you all, you are kind, and your support is much appreciated. It is getting better: erratic, maladaptive behaviour continues to fall off. As everybody says who is more advanced in the process. And, the worst stuff appears to drop off first, as also mentioned by John, which gives me confidence.
Just One Look Forum - April 1, 2014
The looking brought with it a lot of heartache. But in the end I can attest that it works. Most of the misery is created by expectations. There are too many contradictory suggestions out there on what to do and too many outlandish promises. The looking does not create anything other than what is really needed. Here's what I know from personal experience:
All events in my life are reported by my mind. In my mind, the source of my discomfort is the habitual movement of attention away from myself. Then, the solution to the discomfort is to move attention back to myself. It becomes clear that my attention has always only moved away due to habit. The looking helps break the habit by teaching conscious control of my attention, thus freeing it up. As the end result, the mind is at home with itself without needless movement away from itself, which means that I am too.
The mind is afraid being with itself due to unexamined conditioning (what you call 'fear of life'). So it prefers the reflex of moving attention away from itself. Of course, in the beginning it is very uncomfortable when the mind has to oppose habit and face its biggest fear. Over time, the repeated looking removes the fear because the mind is unable to remain afraid of its own self. And my mind is my life.
Ultimately attention must be moved back consciously no matter why I think I should do it. It is also evident now that the movement of attention can be communicated without reference to any special thoughts or theories, because it is an organic physical sensation like the movement of one's limbs. Other practices emphasize the thoughts that accompany the act of trying to free oneself from discomfort, while missing the main point. This easily communicable suggestion to move attention back separates the looking from all else, and it works. It gave me not what I thought I wanted, but what I actually needed.
Good luck. Please don't give up. Helps to become self-reliant and use your personal judgement at every step. Much less misery when it is understood that the objective is to move attention.
Just One Look Forum - March 28, 2014
I have not reached a point where I feel things are turning a corner or anything like that, but there has been a steady refreshing of my psychology and a clearing of suffering. The confusion and suffering of the recovery period seems worth it and even necessary from this vantage point, 2.5 years out.
I am experiencing stressful events in my life that would have been, prior to the looking, highly distressing and would have led to negative actions that would have furthered my suffering considerably. One of these stressors is caring for my mother in hospice. I simply do the next thing to be done and don't become engulfed in a wave of grief or depression. Grief is there, tiredness, etc.. But it doesn't swallow me up like it used to. It's actually refreshing to be in the midst of the realness of life and tolerating it in a natural manner, even though it is quite difficult.
No fear, no blame, just things as they are happening as they do.
Just One Look Forum - March 28, 2014
Here's the story of John Sherman
He was born there, New Jersey
In the year of forty two
A wild, wild man was he
Con man, thief and activist
He was chased by the FBI
He was on their top ten list
One day they caught this guy.
They placed him, when they caught him
In a high security jail
They considered him to be
A very dangerous male
He escaped their prison, twice did he
When they caught up with him
They kept him jailed for eighteen years
And made his life so grim.
One day the Buddhists came to visit
And then this man was hooked
His manner changed he grew real calm
As at himself he looked
He delved down to his deepest depths
And experienced a thing
That gave him peace, and harmony
And made his whole world sing.
Just like everything in life
His peace it did not last
His mind went kind of crazy then
And his misery was vast
And so he turned to Ramana
A saint from India
As he asked the question 'Am I here'?
Something within did stir.
His world became a heaven then
He'd learned the truth at last
He conquered all his fear of life
And the sweetness it was vast
When they let him out of Jail
He married his sweet wife
And he and Carla ran a site
To help folk through their strife.
They run a site called 'Just one look'
Where they teach many folk
How to rid their lives of fear
And though he's always broke
He and his wife do carry on
Trying to help folk, in their plight
As they too look within their depths
And find themselves that light
They have worked with many folk
And lot do claim success
As they ask the question 'Am I here'
And many can attest
That they now live all free of fear
And as his work goes on
So many will agree with them
When all their fears are gone.
I speak from my own story
When I tell this thing to you
If you do suffer misery
Then here's the thing to do
Get in touch with John, and Carla
And let them take you to
A space where fear does not exist
It works I'm telling you.
Perth, Australia - February 13, 2014
It's been a while since I posted on the forums, but the most recent grassroots podcast inspired me to share my experiences. Although I have not been active on the forums, I have continued to check in regularly to read the posts and listen to podcasts. In times of distress and confusion usually a post would show up that helped me gain some clarity around my experiences. Most recently, Niklas's 2013 blogpost has been helpful in that his experiences seem to mirror many of my own and I appreciate his ability to communicate his process in a very clear way.
I've been engaged in the act of looking since 2011. The more intense part of the 'recovery' process has seemed to pass, but as Niklas pointed out, the recovery is never over. I recently have been experiencing quite a bit of confusion around what direction to take in my life. The default pattern for me is to think that if I was doing this 'right' I would be immune to confusion and if I just contacted a deeper part of myself the truth would shine through and everything would be crystal clear. I can see that this belief is just leftovers of the fear and spiritual conditioning. It's a fear of failure and my experience is that learning comes from being engaged with my life, trying things out, taking risks, and learning from my mistakes. I also have come to see that there is no deep place in myself to contact because on investigation I don't sense a difference or separation between an inner self and an outer self. It's all just me. My life is unfolding and I am becoming more intuitive and skillful in my navigation even during confusing and troubled times. To get a more objective viewpoint I asked my two best friends if they've seen changes in me the past few years. They both said I seemed much more comfortable with being myself and I don't get stuck in my personal dramas nearly as often as I used to. This past year has been tumultuous to say the least but I feel that I've been able to roll through it with a bit more gracefulness than in the past.
I guess what keeps me coming back to these forums over and over again is the distress I see and feel in this world. I don't want to discount the acts of kindness and beauty, but from my observation many humans seem pretty neurotic, anxious, and miserable and this saddens me. As much as I sometimes want to run to the desert far away from humanity and live a simple, peaceful existence the reality is that is not how my life is unfolding. I recognize that we are all in this together, and that part of my process is sharing my experiences and this act with others.
I've shared the act of looking with most of my friends and family. A few have tried it, most have shown no interest (which may have to do with my lack of skill around communicating it). It seems to me that the human drama is compelling and addictive and personally I had to come to the end of my rope before I tried this. I hope other people are smarter than I am and don't wait until the desperation gets so intense before they try something so simple. I feel fear and resistance around trying to communicate my experiences to a larger audience. That I haven't gained enough insight or I'm not skillful enough to help other people. But the fact is that the act of looking speaks for itself. I just have to get people to try it. Simple as that.
Thank you everyone for your contributions. I have been paying attention.
Just One Look Forum - January 24, 2014.
When I was a child I was not happy because I had very strict parents who robbed me of all my freedom. I was a very freedom-loving boy and I felt so totally restricted in a family that never could and never would understand me. There was a lot of psychological cruelty handed out to me by my father and a hell of a lot of bullying I was subjected to by the other kids. I came from a very rough part of London called Peckham, and I was an extremely sensitive young lad.
When I grew up, I married a beautiful Australian girl named Vera, who is still my beloved wife after fifty years. We emigrated to Australia, and after about three months, I decided to join the army, and I volunteered to go to Vietnam, so I could pay back the kindness that the Australians had shown me by receiving me in their beautiful country.
I served in Vietnam for about nine and a half months, then they decided to ship me back to Australia because of injuries and illness. When I came back, my troubles all started, and I developed PTSD, even though I had not really been in much danger during my days of war. I was filled with a terrible anxiety, and was absolutely terrified of both life and death. I had these periods of deep, deep dread that completely ruled my life. I was angry most of the time, and I detested everybody I ever met, with a vengeance so hard to understand.
This got worse and worse as the years proceeded, and I tried everything to control it, from counseling to reading every kind of self-help books, and I read every religion, and all the stuff by so many different spiritual teachers, until I had a bookcase brim-filled with all the books I had read. I tried every kind of meditation, plus yoga, tai chi, and many other things. However, nothing worked. They helped a bit but not enough to stop the ugly terror I felt.
Then, one day, I came across a man named John Sherman on the net, who has helped so many people, and thousands of people now practice what he advocates with much success.
John told me that all I had to do was close my eyes and look at the me-ness of me, it was as simple as that. At first I laughed at him, with his simplistic approach to gaining back one's sanity. But I was desperate; I had walked out on my wife for a year and given everything I had away. My anger was getting worse and worse, and when I finally came back to my family, I really wasn't worth being with. My wife tolerated me because she loved me so totally, but I could tell that I was leading her into psychological, physical illness.
So I gave John's method a try. I meditated every day using my me-ness as a meditation point. I don't mean my thoughts or sensations, emotions or such. I mean the 'me', the part of me that actually runs the show. The 'me' that always seems hidden but is always there in the background. I noticed some changes in me very quickly, but then the progress became slower, but very steady. Now I have been doing this for nearly five years, and the difference in me is phenomenal. I am so happy now, that I could almost scream with joy. I have no more anxiety, and the dread that once debilitated me is totally gone.
My neurotic fear of death has faded. And although I don't want to die, when it comes, I will be totally ready for it. My life is so beautiful these days and everything seems so beautiful, and crystal clear. These days I walk on feather feet, and I am so grateful to John and his wife Carla for what they gave to me. I really want to share this with anyone who cares to listen.
You would not believe how beautiful my life is these days. Thank you for reading, all you who reached the end of this story. I hope it helps you as it most certainly helped me...
Perth, Australia - December 23, 2013
I like what you wrote about yearning and hope. I want to wish you both a sweet "return to the light" during this Winter Solstice time.
I also want you guys to know that I appreciate what you do. I haven't been $$ supportive this year... it's for all reasons you would expect... but I hold you in mind as a true connection to what I also consider to be the overriding conviction of our deepest yearnings.
Please forgive me if I speak naively, but there is something that I felt I wanted to write to you a couple months ago, but haven't had the time until now: I appreciate how you have tried to keep everything free and downplay the undeniable need for money that keeps it all going. But I also see that at a certain point, we all need to honor the pipeline with some of the ol' crude fuel. I'm sensitive to an almost underlying pain and apologetic-ness that you feel you have to assume to ask for money. The "path" that you reveal does attract more of the idiosyncratic "been there, done that, tried everything, now I'm at the end of the line, and John is there with me" types who are less outgoing, and more apt to sit in the back of the hall, with quiet, and massively subtle instincts about the Looking. These types have a highly calibrated meter for someone trying to get money out of their pocket, like "all the others". It makes this aspect of your job monumentally more difficult, and I don't envy it.
In Los Angeles there's a lovely gathering called Agape, which I'm sure you know about, and they seem to have found an elegant way of pushing right through the awkwardness of asking for money... the reciprocal giving back to those who are dedicated to feeding our hearts. The proper flowing of this river leaves no question about the giving at both ends. The risk is that John Sherman is now lumped in with every other "spiritual" teacher asking for money. But my feeling is that if the tone for appeals to giving was a natural, affirmative, positive one, that perhaps we would also forget the awkwardness, and see the plain and simple process. Deciding not to feed the awkwardness. I realize that I may be expressing a route that you explored long ago, having minimal to no results, but it just occurred to me to put this idea your way.
Lewis gave me the white Look at Yourself wrist band a few years ago, and it hasn't been off of my wrist since. Although I haven't seen you in ages, or done little more regarding "Just One Look" than read the Emails, you helped plant a seed that is unfolding in an infiniteness that can not be described. It has left the moorings of specific teachings and ways of describing it all, and become, or rather, reverted to, the living, percolating being-ness that we all share. As Rumi said, "it's not like we thought it would be", and thank God for that. With every incredible mystical projection and vision... exploding solitary moments, reading, looking, searching, stumbling, reaching, still, thank God for that. But I'm still forever grateful for the way that you have found to express all of this.
With much love, and the best wishes for 2014, writing to you from a small hamlet in Southwest France called Racaniere, pagan as can be, France (Bonjour, Carlal!!)... 1km from St Synphorien.
France - December 26, 2013
One result of this process that I have noticed more and more recently is that I now have one life. What I mean by that is that when I hear many people speak, and write about their life and experiences, they seem to refer to two different lives: one inner life and one outer life. And I can remember that I used to do that too. And to think that you have to combine those two lives can be a real struggle. "Am I doing what I think is right? Should I do something else? My life situation does not match my deepest thoughts and feelings. I want to find my destined purpose in my life that makes my inner and outer lives become one. And my inner life is very private and complicated and hard to share with others." I am certain that the experience of having two lives that must be combined to give them meaning is the experience of all kinds of people. Not just spiritual seekers or contemplative personalities. I see this struggle everywhere I look.
For me this struggle is over. I have one body, one mind and one life. And I must say that this feels great and I can almost not remember that it ever was otherwise. I honestly don't know what inner life means anymore. I don't experience having anything special inside myself. And when I write about this I can notice that there is something that used to be here and is not here anymore (probably the context of fear). It feels like something really complicated, heavy and bottomless has left me. Now I feel me being here, interacting with my life. This almost sounds stupid but that is what I feel.
And this new experience just confirms to me what I have seen for some time now and what John has said all along. Namely that the feeling of me has healed my mind and that that in turn has resulted "only" in ordinary sanity. What I have wanted all along is plain, ordinary sanity and that is what I have gotten. My mind is more and more interested in sanity, or maybe more and more uninterested in insanity. When I, for example, talk to my friends about these matters, I almost feel simpleminded. I never follow along into what I see to be not worth attending to. It is not that I only want to speak of the act of inward looking and what I believe that act is capable of. I love to look into almost everything. But if I feel that the "drive" behind what is said is coming from the context of fear, I never give in to it. And that is not a struggle for me, I am just not interested. I will not serve fear anymore.
One look at you leads to one sane mind and one sane life.
Denmark - November 30, 2013
This act of looking inward works—and it's been extraordinary in my life. What's beautiful about it is that it doesn't require a spiritual overlay. No need for guru worship, altered states, counting chakras, sacred books & places, and all the rest of it... This perspective is available in other places but John is one of the people who puts it out most clearly, most simply. Others do the same thing but without his immediacy and lack of pretensions. In my situation, turning to a simple awareness that I am has led to serenity, more joy, and overall, a sense that all is well. There's little drama in my life, and while to some that may sound dreadfully dull, I'm quite content with the lack of razzle dazzle! Best of luck to you.
United States - November 15, 2013
I started out with Ramana
A long, long time ago
Then soon I came Krishnamurti
Oh how I loved him so
Then Osho, he did show is face
The great man that he was
Then Eckhart touched the soul of me
I loved all them because...
They had some wondrous things to say
That I heard from deep within
They spoke of truth so very deep
And so I did begin
To meditate and bare my soul
I was not good at this
But I did have some magic moments
All filled with so much bliss.
Then one day surfing on the net
I found this king of men
He told me just one act to do
That really was a gem
He told me 'look at you' my friend
That's all one has to do
Now this was four short years ago
And I can swear to you…
This act 'John Sherman' gave to me
It really did the trick
My life is calm and peaceful now
And harmony does stick
With me all the blessed time
He gave me transformation
And now I want to spread his name
To every single nation.
Australia - October 26, 2013
Hi everyone, It's been a while since I posted here [in the forum]. Life has been busy recently, but I wanted to share what's been happening with me of late. It's three years and three months into the looking for me and I have to say that over the past six months to a year I've noticed a profound change. Many of the "psychological mechanisms" that have made my life quite miserable in the past seem to have fallen away or are in the process of falling away. Many of the things that I felt would never change have indeed loosened their grip and made the process of living intelligently much easier.
As someone who spent the first three years of this ride terrified that I hadn't done it right, that I hadn't "seen", who felt that every time John said that "you can't do this wrong" that those words just didn't apply to me… I now realize that those thoughts are just part of the defensive structure created by the fear and the truth is that this process just takes time. I have wanted to speed it up, wanted assurances that it was working (the thought that I was just letting time pass in misery while not DOING anything to make my life better just made me crazy), wanted to compare my recovery to other people's to see if I was "behind". Again, those feelings have eased and if anyone reading this now can relate to this craziness, I say to you—just hang on, take a deep breath and trust that things will get better.
Life is still life, and it seems that to make some grand pronouncement about how much better things are now is somehow missing the point. Yes, a lot of the neurotic mechanisms that have made me crazy in the past have eased of late, I'm still aware of many of them… and the most honest thing I can say about the process of "recovery" is that there's just an ever-so-slight shifting of perspective that doesn't change the life itself but rather the urgency and desperation with which I viewed it.
I cannot stress enough how much John's recent commentary about the importance of moving your attention to the breath when the mind starts to get crazy has helped me. Besides the act of looking, I think it is the single most insightful thing he says. In the Open House Meeting broadcast of July 17th, he has a particularly helpful conversation with Don about the fact that there is nothing to be done about the craziness of the mind. It's not personal, it's purely mechanical, and moving one's attention away from crazy-making thoughts is the only sensible thing to do. I highly recommend listening to it if you're struggling.
So, in short, as someone who has haunted these forums looking for some report from anyone saying that this works —I can now say I can see it working in my own life. I have no doubt that my understanding and experience of life will continue to grow and evolve and I look forward to seeing it unfold.
Hope this helps somebody. Thanks for being part of the community — I'm glad that we are all here. Take care.
United States - September 25, 2013.
Dear John and Carla, I am the wife of one of your listeners and I am writing this small letter to thank you so much what you have done for my husband. His name is Peter and he is from Perth, Western Australia and he tries to keep in touch with you very often. Before Peter found you he was so unsure of himself, used to get quite angry as he has PTSD, very domineering etc. in fact he was a very hard man to live with and my children and I put up with him like that for years. Now it is a complete turn around, since he has been looking with you he is a changed man, lovely to live with, takes everything in his stride, absolutely wonderful, our lives are so much better thanks to you. He is now getting or trying to get other people involved. He has a cousin who has Parkinson's and she is doing so well so far, as she lives in the UK and her emails seem much more happier than they were when we started writing to each other. So I would honestly like to say a big, big thank you John, you have done wonders. Keep up the good work as it actually works. Once again thank you so much and both of you have a wonderful life.
Australia - April 13, 2013.
When I came back from Vietnam
I was afraid of everything
I really don't know why this was
Cause, no danger did it bring
To me, my stay in that country
But the poisons that they used
Convinces me that they stuffed my mind
Those powers, our heads abused.
That fear in me was so intense
My mind was filled with dread
I was afraid of being alive
I was afraid of being dead
Sometime I'd freeze so totally
Like I was paralyzed.
I went to so much counseling
So many tears I cried.
And then one day I searched the net
And I found this little site
The site they call it 'just one look'
And they did do me right
It took four years, but now I'm sane
I have no fear at all
And I have no anxiety
I'm no more a crazy fool.
Australia - September 4, 2013
Hello John, I have been doing the Looking off and on for many months now, and there has been an obvious change, There is a simple sense that something that was previously there is just gone and that aspects of it are still present but are flaring up and dissolving over time. That underlining elusive anxiety and fear you speak of... It is like somehow the rug underneath my feet has been pulled out, and I am face to face with life, and in reality there is nothing to fear and no division between me and life.. Still however old patterns are very strong and prevalent, the intenseity in which I feel things are overwhelming, old pain is coming up constantly. However there is always a sense and an opportunity to see that these passing feelings do not define me, and that it is possible to feel them and let them move through without getting caught up in them. I am having a very rough time on one hand, and the the other hand there is a paradoxical calm, and peace, and a growing sense of wellness. Something is happening inside that I can't describe.
Facebook - August 8, 2013
I would not trade this, I am so grateful John that you stood in front of your bookcase , and said in 8 minutes what my guru could not say in twenty five years !!! Cos my friend saw it, and told me of it. 3 months later I went to his and asked him could I see it. I watched it twice, I remember saying to him 'It's like a silent detonation going off somewhere.'... and I tried, with every thing I've got, I tried, still do... I reckon that video 'look at yourself' was perfection... just take the word 'vichara' off the end and its stripped of anything related to something else... Yes I am sick of people saying you sound like someone else, seriously , I'd tell em to F*&k off... If you want to leave bullshit tired old bootless endless spiritual blah out, Do it!!! Thank you Carla & John. Thank you.
United Kingdom - August 4, 2013
Brilliant, this is what I have been searching for 30 years.
Nigeria - July 20, 2013
It took me 3 years of listening to John's talks to get a vague 'understanding' of the context of fear that polluted my life, the need to understand fear has been slowly fading away since last year, although things are still pretty crazy sometimes in my personal existence and the rest of the world continues to be a total Mad house. The power of my internal reactions over what's happening in the outside world doesn't grab my attention so much as it used to. There are no words to describe why or how this is happening.
Denmark - July 19, 2013
John, I wrote you from Rio de Janeiro back in 2008, and actually you read my letter on the worldwide meeting you held, which in fact by the time didn't help me since I was in a big turmoil and thus kind of blind. Now I write you 4 years later to say that I am amazed as each day begins, and all those mind troubles and problems have absolutely vanished. I am practicing zen meditation in a local zendo, and everything has changed. As you said on the podcast, 'it might take time' and it really did take, but now the search is over and I am here to thank you. Blessings.
Brazil - July 11, 2013
Wow - what a relief - cut out all the culturally corrupted spiritual teachings & religious delusions. So simple - so direct - so clear... something is already shifting... what it is I can't say, but I feel it... feels like something real solid in the midst of "myself"... Finally the simplicity of it makes absolute sense.
South Africa - July 7, 2013
Hi John & Carla, Love your new conversations and the simple/clean directions, thank you. Thank you for the real conversation about our situation on this planet. Yes, I want to be a part of the Just One Lok project. The last year I was completely made aware of the betrayal of our own government and that most of our food has/is being destroyed by GMO's (on Hawaii recently they discovered corn injected with agent orange, by Doe chemical, during a meeting forced by the Hawaiian people). Yes, I'm already going through your YouTube videos and the "Just One Look", and I'm sharing them on facebook. Thank you for ALL!
California - July 7, 2013
I just meet you through the website and feel thankful for coming to know about you. I have done on my own this one look few years ago while walking on the beach and since then I come more often to it, more easily. This me, this I am, is so far the only thing I know by myself and for sure. Distractions from it come and go, but as you say, once we try it we cannot but come back to it more and more. I live in Mexico now, my native country, lived in Argentina recently, and I have basically lived a nomadic life for the last 40 years. I lived about two years in beautiful Ojai, 20 years ago. One of the most beautiful places ever been. I will subscribe to your newsletter and will continue explore your inspiring site. Keep in touch! Love.
Mexico - July 2, 2013
(...) Which is why I natter on about John Sherman. I think he has discovered the simple thing that is accessible to everyone (he has moved away from spiritual language and talks about his technique in psychological terms). A child could do the looking. It takes almost no time or effort, nor even belief investment (you can go on believing non-dualism, Hinduism, fundamentalist christianity, etc.---the effects will be the same). There is no cost and he claims that one successful attempt is all you need to unravel the fear of life. Sound too good to be true? It does, but I have experienced the effects over time that are undeniable.
Many of the "reports" on his community forum, such as this one: http://www.riverganga.org/Community/Boa ... er-4-years, sound like "enlightenement", yet there is consistent experiencing of these outcomes by many who experience the effects of looking. The consistent commonalities are: it is not what they expected, fear and anxiety are gone, the experience of life is more intense (filters are off), there is a richness and beauty to life, both good aspects and bad, there is a strong sense of compassion and intensified feeling of others' suffering as boundaries are dropped (often causing people to withdraw a bit from society), and they lose interest in "concepts" and conceptual thinking and the need for understanding... life simply becomes more experiential and direct.
I have experienced some of this in the last year and a half and the process continues to deepen. I strongly urge you to take a few seconds of your meditation practice to "look at yourself" in the way Sherman describes... Can't hurt and it may be "enlightening"!
online forum - June 6, 2013
Dear John, Everything is different now as compared to the time when I started looking at myself. Thank you. God bless you.
Serbia - January 23, 2013
Hi John and Carla, I have tried the "simple act" of looking and it enables me to make a direct and concrete contact with myself without being entangled with those high-flying abstract terms and always having a lingering doubt. Now I can say with certainty that I have made the contact with the source I have been searching for in the past 7 years. I don't know whether it is the "act" itself that has done the trick or it is the "act" that is the last straw after accumulated effort in the past. But that is "beside the point" as John would say. Thanks.
United States - January 12, 2013
Having been a student of the mind and predominantly eastern philosophy for just the last 5 years I stumbled upon your website. Your concept of looking is actually consistent with the Buddhist principle of pure awareness (consciousness unadulterated by endless thoughts and emotions or in your words "me"). Always available to us no matter what is going on around us. The skill of course is mindfulness and the ability to engage in it. I like the way you have taken this all important concept and removed it from any religious or spiritual context. By doing so, you appear to have simplified things a great deal. I look forward to reading your ebook and best of luck with your endeavors.
Australia - November 10, 2011