I had no idea what the fear of life meant to me until it finally disappeared and I realized just how fresh and open life could be. By 'Looking At Me ' I discovered that I am always here always the same regardless of circumstance. Recently this has given me the inner fortitude to face a very real reason to live in fear, that of being a Jew whose relatives went through the holocaust. This process opened a deep well of compassion and reinvigorated my creativity. I am forever grateful to John and Carla for persisting in bringing this wonderful method to all who are willing to try it.
Australia - November 24, 2016
It's been several years since I was in touch with you. So far I've been posting all my reports on the forum because you've encouraged people to do so in the past since others might find something helpful in what other individuals have experienced. Today I really want to send a personal email to just the two of you to thank you for everything you've done and continue to do. People have said this to you over and over, but I really can't think of a new or better way to say it: things really do play out just like you say they will. I am by no means "finished," but I am starting to feel less of a need to be "finished" anyway. I still experience (very frequently!) what I see to be signs of the disease, but they are becoming less and less of a big deal, and I am even starting to gain some level of skill in managing my self-destructive thought patterns/behaviors. I feel on the one hand like I still have a long way to go, but also have a growing sense that everything is already ok. I can't tell you how huge the self-directed attention exercise has been for me. I'm convinced that the looking is what gives me the ability to receive the benefit of that exercise, but before I did the exercise I was really overwhelmed by misery and honestly saw little difference compared to before I did the looking. For me, the looking may have unlocked the door, but self-directed attention is what enabled me to step through the door, walk out into the world, and start feeling like it's ok to participate in life. (...) Thank you so much for your patience and dedication in bringing this to the rest of us. I really can't thank you enough.
USA - August 28, 2016
I give this nonprofit five stars because it has exceeded my expectations by miles. After hearing River Ganga's message I have become at home and satisfied with myself and my life in a way I never expected to be possible.
There is no longer an urgent need to fix anything or to get anything different from what I already have - be it material things, relationships or even my own psychology. Life is not a chore anymore! To say that the relief is immense is an understatement.
Before I tried their method called Just One Look I was always searching for a way to make myself feel safe and comfortable. I didn't see it at the time but I thought that if I only got what I wished for everything would be alright and I could live happily ever after. I put great stock in those ideas. But every time I got close to, or even realized those wishes, I was already busy thinking something else would do it, not even capable to fully enjoy my own achievements. It went on and on.
This works like nothing else. And I tell it from my heart that it works for everyone who tries it.
Please support this work with what you can, and don't forget try it and see for yourself if there's anything worthwhile here! It doesn't take long and you will not regret it, I promise.
Sweden - July 27, 2016
Great pure, simple, from the heart, help and advice for the world! Thanks John and Carla!
USA - Jul 28, 2016
This is a great nonprofit that gives away valuable and potentially life-changing knowledge to the world, at zero cost. I discovered River Ganga Foundation almost a decade ago and have been continually impressed by their great work since then.
USA - July 28, 2016
Sherman's work is great. It enables people to make the first step toward different and fullfilled living. And amazingly they do it for free. Help them to carry the spark into the darkness!
GreatNonProfits.org - July 28, 2016
I realized that when I first encountered it in 2007, I used to conflate John's work with that of other teachers whose lives had been transformed through some realization, awakening, or enlightenment experience. Recently I came across John's "Buddha at the Gas Pump" interview, one in a series that brings the experiences of such teachers into focus on YouTube. My curious mind caused me to look at some of the other interviews (a couple hundred in all). One after another, I saw that the experiences of these other teachers contained absolutely nothing that would help me. Their experiences are absolutely unique and idiosyncratic to them, and trying to change my own life by learning about their lives would be tantamount to watching an interview with Prince or some other unusual celebrity and trying to become like them... absolutely ridiculous and irrelevant! One thing about John's message that differs entirely from all of these is the account of losing the "enlightenment experience" and then facing life as it is. Now that's something that I can absolutely relate to. Ironic that someone who "lost enlightenment" could help me so much more than someone who had "gained it."
USA - May 9, 2016
I had seen John Sherman almost 20 years ago on video interview with Gangaji, but I was in no way ready to begin the journey, and really did not become fully ready until the death of my wife of 25 years turned my life upside down, and forced me to become more honest with myself, in a way that now seems endless from my present point of view.
I had tried many approaches to self-healing and Self-Realization, but either did myself more harm, or felt hopelessly blocked and stuck. During a state of despair alternating with avoidance, I stumbled on the site justonelook.org. In the few months since I have been applying the practice, my outlook has begun to shift toward hope and the real possibility of recovery. My negative thought patterns do not have the grip on my attention to the degree they did, and I can see slow but steady progress toward what I think John would call "sanity".
I am grateful that both John and Carla are so accessible and giving, and that in spite of old self-defeating habits of mind, I can always find renewed understanding and encouragement on their site. Remorse and grief will no doubt continue to arise, but they will not overwhelm me as before. It's never too late for a 2nd chance.
USA - May 26, 2016
Led by founders John and Carla Sherman, the River Ganga Foundation makes available to everyone, free of charge, a simple, direct, and powerful approach to dealing with human fear and suffering. Through their website, discussion forums, and webinars, they have created a highly supportive community through which anyone can learn this approach, ask questions, and engage with others who are doing the same. Despite the fact that thousands of people actively participate in this community, I have found John and Carla to be incredibly responsive and accessible. As a long time spiritual and intellectual "seeker", I have to say that this work is unlike any other I have encountered, and is nothing short of revolutionary.
USA - May 22, 2016
Basically all negative emotional patterns are gone. The anxiety and depression syndromes that infiltrated my whole life are gone. I still get anxious and depressed, to be sure, but these instances don't last long. My preoccupation with salvation, enlightenment, and spiritual perfection is mostly gone. I am still somewhat a bystander to this process, peeking in the windows of spiritual forums to see what others are doing, but less and less inclined to engage myself in these discussions, even to try to explain the effects and simplicity of the looking (fear seems a powerful force in keeping us away from the thing which would mean it's end. At all costs!). The endless spiritual fantasies about liberation and oneness are simply no longer necessary or even desirable. I find myself bemused that I was ever so deeply caught up in these endless discussions about spiritual liberation, salvation, non-duality, ego, reincarnation, consciousness, etc.
Guilt and shame, which drove many of my actions and feelings all my life is greatly diminished and almost gone. I have had to learn and rely on other motivational forces....creativity, truth, quality, meaning, etc. Many of the perseverative, idiosyncratic habits and thought patterns which were fueled by guilt and shame simply dropped away. The avoidance of and attempts to ameliorate guilt and shame are no longer necessary. Beer gets undrunken in the fridge, junk food sits, neglected, in the cupboards.
Tasks, work, problem solving have all become easier, more efficient and enjoyable. I simply go to work and do what needs to be done without much fuss and much less procrastination. I have struggled with ADHD and executive functioning difficulties most of my life, made worse by anxiety; focus, working memory, memory, and planning. These issues have been greatly reduced and ameliorated. I can sit down to a task and get lost in it without becoming distracted. These instances of 'flow' have increased enormously. In the past, immersion in a task or process to the point of 'timelessness' only happened when it was something I enjoyed....building with my hands, movies, etc. Now I get caught in flow while driving, doing chores, at work, and other routine things. The internal complaining and desire to be elsewhere during times of boredom or even painful experiences is greatly reduced. I can dial into the present moment with precision and artful direction of attention.
My body was another lifelong obsession. I am no longer obsessed with my looks, my health, or my ailments. I have found it satisfying to take care of my body and health rather than be obsessed with perfect health and fears of illness. I find pleasure in exercise, qigong, cooking and eating (and growing) whole foods. Rather than thinking of these things as salvation, they are simply fulfilling activities in and of themselves which promote positive energy and enjoyment. I can now eat 'bad' food occasionally without fear and guilt and not binge on them as before. My energy levels and stamina for life are higher than ever.
I am not perfect by any stretch. It's been interesting to be honest with myself and allow the truth of my faults and imperfections to come through......something I once avoided at all costs. I always considered myself a 'nice guy'. In fact, this persona was critical to the idealized self I had created. I had to have people like me and went to great lengths to obtain the approval of others. I tend to be socially introverted with a great love for people. It always bothered me that I wasn't more extroverted and socially available as I was often stricken with social anxiety. I found, once the social anxiety went away, that I can tolerate a room full of strangers, but it's simply not my preference. I'm learning to parse my social energies without beating myself up about not being social enough. I still occasionally awake to nightmares, as my dreams seem to be a channel of the fear I'm not experiencing while awake.
I never believed I would experience life in this way, or even imagined life could be experienced in this way. My recovery was rather wretched and afterward there was an emptiness, a vacuum, left by the absence of fear. I had relied on fear all my life; an awful baseline from which to measure every paltry nuance and twitch. Without it, there wasn't much meaning. The psychologist, Martin Seligman, stated that he noticed that when his patients recovered from depression and anxiety they weren't necessarily happy.....the absence of pain wasn't fulfillment and happiness. This too was my rather numb experience for a year or so after the recovery. With the aftermath of the looking, I found that meaning, aka life, filled the void eventually and reliably. It took awhile to get here and I look forward to an ever evolving relationship with this human life as it expands outward. If I can get here with all my doubts, fits and starts, and exquisite neurosis, so can humanity.
Just One Look Forums. April 25, 2016
Dear John, dear Carla, Everything you promised has come true: Fearfulness is departing - it will never come back. Fear is the only problem. Attention is the only power we have. It's not magic. All I ever wanted is my life as it is. There's no end to this. The looking brings sanity to anyone who tries it. Only you can understand my gratitude. Hope to meet you both soon! Much love and stay well my friends,
Sweden, April 12, 2016
The River Ganga Foundation is making John Sherman's work for humanity possible. John has developed a deeply unique and profound understanding of why we humans end up creating such a heavy mess out of this wonderfull world that we live on. The understanding he is working to convey to us all is ahead of the paradigms that underlie all the misery that we have been creating up to this day. Based on this understanding he has introduced a simple medicine that will change the foundation for our self-destructive behavior. This medicine, which is a specific and concrete act, is simple, free and available right where you are. And in my own experience, it works. It is of the greatest importance to all of humanity that John Sherman's message is brought out for everyone to hear.
Norway, March 26, 2016
My life has been gradually changing for the better after the looking. This thing is real and, as it turns out, actually the only thing that puts an end to our endless need to fix something in our lives. The anxiety and PTSD symptoms I've had almost for a decade seem to be dropping away by themselves. So, what else is there to say but try it for yourself if you feel that there's more to life!
GreatNonProfits website - March 18, 2016
Hello John and Carla. Infinitely thank you. Now I don't know much what to say. I've been thinking to contact you for a while, to describe the fundamental changes that have been slowly taking place for about 4-5 years, when I discovered your book Look at Yourself. Just thank you. My life has actually taken the tracks that I've dreamed of. I don't know exactly what it is, what will be, but it is certainly happening. A major reason I wanted to contact you is that I've had a lot of difficulties from the [ recovery ] process. I understand it and am better and better in coping with it. It's actually just this, that I needed to fold down these feelings into words, I'm feeling already better. I know that you understand this process and it would strengthen me to realize that I'm not alone with the process. It's hard to grasp especially for my parents who are closest to me, but that is getting better too. I'm finding words and ways to explain to them. I'm blessed with many many friends who are going through the same process, so I'm not really alone.
Finland - March 8, 2016
When I wrote [ in my report ] that ‘’LIFE IS BECOMING AN ADVENTURE, NOT A BURDEN WITH ME ‘HAVING TO SEE TO IT’, AND WORRY ABOUT IT’’, believe it or not, I had not realised that this was the case prior to writing it! It came like a shock! This reminds me of John saying to some people: "You know that you have changed, deeply changed' and that the people are doubtful about it, think their lives is still the same old garbage they hear in their heads but come to think of it and they say 'Yah... your're right!'." It looks like the mental processing is still on autopilot: it keeps repeating the same old song which doesn't reflect at all my actual living experience. Sort of a discrepancy between the mental comments and what "really" happens. This was a revelation last night to discover what I'm just saying. A revelation also that this kind of autopilot was not present at the moment I wrote those comments, which means that I am not stuck with this processing seeming to repeat forever the same old crap, giving the impression that another one is living in my head. And so boring... so predictable. It keeps coming back, but I keep looking at myself, or putting my attention on breathing, and it becomes easier each time I do it.
Canada - March 2, 2016
Since I finally recognized that I was without the fear of life my life has utterly change from hesitation and discomfort to joyfully and simply living. And this has come from the simple act of LOOKING AT ME that John describes. John and Carla live to share this understanding which is so remarkably successful for everyone who tries it. I have listened to John speak since he began his work and the most remarkable thing is that he has shared his evolving understanding with us as it happened. He and Carla live just on what ever we can spare to keep this work going. It is abundantly clear that reaching as many people as possible is the motive for continuing this work. I heartily recommend this work to everyone.
Guide Star - February 23, 2016
Humble, caring, and transparent people. I am a bit sad that this insight has not spread out to the whole world yet, but hopeful that it will.
Ireland - February 23, 2016
I support a number of nonprofits but this one is my favorite. It is very obvious John and Carla are not in this to line their own pockets - just the opposite. They live on a shoestring in order to bring us all a simple technique to improve our lives and end much of the suffering and fear that deeply underlies the human condition. They tirelessly work to repeatedly and patiently teach their powerful but very simple, focused practice. Thank you John and Carla!
Guide Star - February 23, 2016
John and Carla are doing something for humanity that no one has ever done before: simply re-connect with ourselves, at the beginning with ups and downs, but nevertheless becoming easier and freer from this rampant anxiety that drives us in neurosis or should I say, in stupidities, as John so aptly say. I'm becoming functional at work like I never did before, without so much effort as before and even having fun. This is no small feat: have fun to go to work, being 62 year's old. And even considering taking no retreat or at least stop dreaming to the day that I will at last retire and relax... No need, no need: life goes on and gives me a kick, and I don't worry any more about the future, or very seldom. Life is becoming an adventure, not a burden with me 'having to see to it' and worry about it. No more of this. And it is only since June 2015 that I really start to look at myself, and I can already testify that it works. Besides, I always wanted to 'get back to myself' but not knowing what this meant. Anyway, I keep giving a small donation each month to John and Carla, hoping this will help to keep them afloat and continue their extraordinary work!
Canada - February 23, 2016
Remarkably since I inquired about a retreat, the desire to see John and Carla out of a need for further clarification and to somehow speed up my recovery has subsided. In its place is evidence that the looking is working for me. Fear, shame, guilt and loneliness are notably absent when there's little doubt they would have shown up before. I will do my best to make it to your retreat next April in order to give thanks to you both for discovering the root cause and solution to such a primal and pervasive problem and for taking the time and effort to share this message worldwide.
Very gratefully yours,
USA - October 10, 2015
Another year has passed, and it's time to get in touch again. Instead of writing about us however I would like to share with you an experiment that I am carrying out with myself for over a year now.
As some of you may know, it's a long time now that I've been searching for truth and reedom. I had been fortunate in meeting good teachers and people on my way and to find deeper understanding. Yet, aspects of my inner condition, in spite of much that got resolved or simply vanished, remained unsatisfactory.
A little more than a year ago through internet I got in touch with John Sherman's "Just One Look" which convinced me immediately. It sees our fear of life as the basis out of which all our individual experiences develop and that means that the fear of life coins our life experiences. Therefore we do everything to protect ourselves from life and its imponderability while at the same time we long for nothing more than life with everything that it may have in store for us.
For myself I can only say that this is true. The fear of mastering my life has been present in me since very early childhood. Fear has always been my most "loyal" companion. Many life decisions were made out of fear.
John Sherman himself lost his fear of life and then has found out what it was that freed him of his fearfulness. He calls it "look at yourself", which means, look at that "me" that in the background of each of us, though hardly perceptible, is always present and doesn't change during a lifetime. This look at oneself, he says, in time snuffs out the fear of life so that gradually our neurotic mental and emotional structures dissolve and vanish.
Since he is convinced that our fearfulness of life is the cause of all our crazy actions and behavioral patterns which endanger ourselves and the world to the point of self‑destruction, he, his wife Carla and by now many others aim at making accessible to as many people as possible this simple act of looking at oneself. The hope is to contribute to the healing of ourselves and the planet. I too have decided to support this effort, also because it is, without any requirements such as trainings, previous courses, teachers, travels, and money, open to everybody. Everyone who wants can take part, independently of his/her economic situation.
Still I define this project for myself as an experiment with myself because I cannot say yet with absolute certainty that it works. But I note many changes in me that quite surprisingly happen without effort. For example, finally I let myself in peace, just as I am. Lifelong feelings of obligation and musts, comparisons, judgments of myself and others slowly diminish. I'm always less interested in my own story and babble, less interested in social conventions and requirements. Instead, I'm very interested in the world, in people, especially children and young ones, life in all its forms. There are moments of gratitude for being in all this with this, my own, consciousness.
Thus my gift to you this year is the homepage www.justonelook.org Maybe some of you got curious and want to see for yourselves, or/and decide to try the act of looking at yourself, or/and pass on the information to others.
A saying of Mandela that I ran across these days fits well with "just one look". He says, "If we are freed of our own fear our life automatically frees the others." That is my wish for all of us: that our life and that of others may be free of fear and that the madness in the world may stop.
All best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year go to you wherever you may be in this moment.
Italy - December 2013
This body touched myself, as you said, and with great thanks to your slow and persistent determination to communicate the move properly. I don't really know what to say - but yeah - I'm sweet. I can't find a difference between my body and the world any longer, and I am always there, behind and within the experience. I left a testimonial ages ago. I really don't feel like I'm 'done'—but as John said—that wasn't the point. The point was that now I just know who I am and I am myself... Everything else is the same, just more pleasurable... And I wanted to say, because I have thought about you saying it, the thing about the learning. I just love learning things more now - there's a natural fascination with life and learning things. I mention it because I have noticed it and it's kind of nice and simple. Right.. Thought I'd publish this here because I believe you helped point me in the right direction, me, and my writing this here may be of some benefit for you and Carla to share through your website for others who are attracted to you. Good luck man.
Australia - September 30, 2014
I found John Sherman's name while reading commentaries on another person's YouTube video. I checked out John's videos to learn a bit more about him, and I gave it a whirl. I never expected it to work so well. Right from the beginning, I noticed less agitation upon thinking, and less anger and resentment when things didn't go my way. I don't do the looking a lot, because it worked the first time. I wanted it to work, so I guess I was pretty motivated to look for myself. My husband noticed the difference right away, but wasn't convinced it was permanent. It's been awhile now, and it's staying, so he decided to try it. So far so good. What I like is that we laugh more. We see our silly problems, and work on solutions, but there's very little skin in the game. So if something doesn't work, we can just move on, no shaming, no guilting, no suffering. Don't get me wrong, things still bother me, but I don't suffer over them or build them up out of proportion. I wish I had had this method years ago, before spending a fortune in therapy, plus the expense of making bad décisions based on emotional reactions, but you can't change the past. My present is pretty good.
USA - September 23, 2014
I am totally convinced of your message being both right and working.
I totally agree how difficult it is to try to look at emptiness and try to create images and beliefs of the infinate awareness and try to believe or recall that I am that. I know I am that, but since it is not enough to know intellectually, I was left with mere frustration. Also with fear, not only for living this life, but fear for such a great and magnificent beingness that is there but seems to flee all your attempts to reach it and especially all your attempts to be effortless about it and still wanting to get more to touch with that, your real self.
What a genious way you introduce. I get to look at myself a lot now. Previously, I mean before I learnt about you, I had some so called experiences. Some of them made me want to keep them or return to them (love and softness), others were so powerful (everything stopping and life running like a film, or just the sense of a lot of "power") that I was afraid even to remember them.
Now I don't fear. I see myself most of the time. I am just calm and curious about every moment. I am relieved of many things, many stupid and destructive feelings. They either dont come any more or they appear weaker, me seeing them, a bit dreamlike and being able to choose to leave those thoughts. I am also a bit confused. What am I up to?
I am very very grateful.
Thank you so much. My deep respect and appreciation.
Finland - July 14, 2014
The spiritual realm seems to have been in the hands of/hijacked by a small bunch of what seems to me to be relatively wealthy people for quite a while, or so that seems, from what I watch and listen to. But your message is for the proletariat, for people who can't afford to go on retreat or visit India. It's for everyone, because of its simplicity. Basically, my experience of listening to these people is that there has always been a nagging suspicion that they are kind of in it for the money. Anyway, it's just a feeling I get when I watch them. Initially I'm positive, but then I look at the little circus around them and feel disappointed cause, as you say, they basically just keep talking but offer nothing PRACTICAL! Anyway, I'm confident that the word is getting around very quickly now. Word of mouth works very quickly, when there is something NEW to talk about.
Spain - September 4, 2014
I discovered within just a few months with John Sherman what I had been yearning for my entire life--and I had spent years searching for it elsewhere. John's work freed me from any context for my life except myself, my own true knowledge of "me." I am attracted to spiritual practices but now see that what John offers is independent of any religion or spiritual practice, yet is inclusive of all. He has worked hard to keep his language free from terminology that excludes anyone, including spirit-speak, and talks directly to the matter at hand: shifting your focus to a palpable sense of what you call "me" and soon, any other delusions we may have of who we think we are vanishes, never to return. It is the ultimate intimacy and love, to fall into yourself and discover all that you already are and have always been. Life becomes a daily adventure of how to live a more skillful human life, with joy and contentment.
Sedona, Arizona - June 26, 2014
After decades of searching the meaning of life, my life and reading dozens of books if not hundreds, attending seminars, watching videos, going for psychotherapy etc. to get some satisfactory kind of answer, stop mental anguish and enjoy the ride, I finally found John and Carla Sherman who are devoting their lives through the RiverGanga Foundation to help us all in getting rid of the fear of life by this very simple act of looking.
I am now enjoying my life more and more in spite of difficulties that keep arising, as before, but they certainly don't have the same impact. True peace is at hand and I will always be thankful to John and Carla who are truly supportive in our endeavour. They more than certainly deserve your support.
Greatnonprofits.org - July 1, 2014
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.
California, USA - 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 [...] 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
Dear John and Carla,
The looking at me has been quite trip. A year and a half of looking at myself every single minute of every single day. And most nights I would wake in the middle of a nightmare and would find myself looking for hours before going back to bed. When I had first saw John it was on the internet. I was surfing reports on electro convulsive shock treatment and its harmful effects for the physical body. After completing a series of unsuccessful shock treatments, I found myself disabled for the first time, mentally and physically. We had spent our last money on it because me and my wife figured it was my last desperate attempt at some sort of sanity. We were wrong and I was trapped in this miserable disgusting frustrating life with no way out.
John's suggestion hit me because I was in such bad shape, my mind unable to concentrate and body bedridden. But I knew could do what he was asking. I bet myself that what he was saying was true. That it was an action that was a skilled one and also the easiest. I knew I could do it and I knew I was crazy enough and desperate enough to try with all my heart. I was going to make sure I did it the best that I could. At my house, our computer is set up in front of 3 6-foot bay windows that open and a balcony with clear glass sliding doors.
This is where I was sitting when I called John on the phone and spoke to Carla and John for the first time. It was in March of 2010. While on the phone with John, he was telling me to look inward and try to look at myself. I did it over and over while speaking to him and told him that couldn't be it, that it was too easy. He told me that because of what I had done for a living that it was probably easier for me to do than most. This depressed me more, now knowing that it was an action I do hundreds and hundreds of times every day. After I hung up the phone I sat for 8 hours moving my attention inwards.
When I turned 40 years old I first started really feeling depressed. It wouldn't go away and I started seeking help for a myriad of psycho problems. I left Las Vegas in 2003 with my mind confused, depressed and anxious. I tried every possible thing I could think of which led me to to the dangerous decision to get ECT treatments. The doctors told me it could actually screw my mind up enough to the point where I would never be able to play high limit poker again. I didn't care, I felt so bad. It didn't matter anymore.
A month earlier I was walking outside with my wife and my dog when I collapsed on the ground unable to breathe. She rushed me to the hospital and I stayed there for a week. I was diagnosed with bad COPD and put on 24-hour oxygen. I kept smoking anyway because it was one of the few distractions from the miserable life that I had.
After I hung up from the first phone call to John and Carla, I started looking at myself and never stopped for a year. I would sit in front of my computer either looking at John's videos or listening to podcasts. I would sit there and join John and the RiverGanga group on every possible Open House, Worldwide Online Meetings, and four 5-Day Online Intensives.
Right away the looking caused me to feel better. Except for a two week bout of terror in the beginning it has been great. Now I could actually do something that made me feel better every minute of every day.
After 3 months, I could see half the room and many of the trees in front of me. I noticed how much better I was feeling and the sunlight felt great. I would sit and just let the light come into my focus of attention, which was me. I would sit with my eyes open as much as possible trying to turn my attention inwards. I would try and turn attention inward while I also would always remember to feel what it was like. I loved this. I quit smoking cigarettes like it was easy. I just didn't want on. I had gone back to my lung doctor 2 months later and he said that I had a complete recovery and that he had never seen anything like it.
Other unbelievable things started happening for me. My mind started clearing up and my vision did also. My mind correlated directly with the physical states that I experienced everyday. Some days where my eyes got wider and more light was taken in I would experience progress in my physical condition. I experienced states of clarity, oneness, bliss and others only to have John and Carla always there to keep me on track and tell me they don't mean anything and to keep looking.
It actually hurt me to turn my attention in with my eyes open and this was in my dark room. I had to start in the dark because I could barely open them in the living room with the sun coming in.
Now every single day is one of sunshine for me. I would never be able to confuse myself again about what or who I am. It has become so ingrained in me that whatever I attend to is me. I am also positive that every other thing I don't attend to is me. In other words, it has become obvious to me that my mind is the only one that there is and everything whatsoever is in it. It's all in me and it is simple and clear. We are all different because we are all born with our own unique personalities. I see that to be a very good thing. If you really believe that we are born with our own personality and that we really have no say over it, it would be ridiculous to have any resentment towards one's behaviour. Even our own has to be accepted on that account. We all always are doing the best we can. I know I know that.
I run five miles every morning and work out with weights every other day. I have never felt better. My memory is also better than ever. Years of drugs and abuse don't seem to have damaged anything. I can now recall early memories with crystal clearness and know I have always felt this way. Actually anything I seem to do has my unique presence. I feel sharper than ever in my mind. I can figure probabilities faster and more correctly than I did when in my twenties.
My mind and body have been restored to sanity by looking. All neurotic defense mechanisms have been burned out leaving a healthy attention able to attend to the good things in life. But now I know that they are all good. What a bonus. Now compassion is there always because that has always been my nature. No matter how bad off I was, I had usually always been a nice guy. So now I seem to be nice and thoughtful because that's how I always am when I don't think my life is in danger.
So I love life. There is no resistance. It turns out it's all good and the best part is that it's really all me. The same me I felt when I was a kid. It seems to be exactly the same. Me with a twist and the twist is that I am the container of it all. And I always know it.
I can't express my love and gratitude enough to John and Carla Sherman, who have with compassion, patience and generosity helped me get my mental and physical health back, but mainly showed me that I could get the straight dope about myself. I am the luckiest person in the world to have met you guys,
PS. Besides telling my wife this story, and she has seen the miraculous change up close and personal, I have told one friend. He thought I was telling a great story but still didn't get what I was saying to him. It couldn't get any simpler. My eyes and perception were dark and closed and now they are wide open, bright, clear without any neurotic confusion and frustration. Nothing sticks, nothing.
USA - October 27, 2011