Our new ebook contains 125 reports from people all over the world who have used the Just One Look Method to eliminate the foundation of fear that is at the bottom of the mind for most of us, and are experiencing life in a brand new, previously unsuspected way.
You will learn how they happened upon Just One Look and how they initially reacted to it. Some of the writers describe how at first they dismissed Just One Look as too simple to be true, others tell us how they could see right away the uniqueness of the method. They tell us how they started seeing the first results appear in their own minds, how their recovery unfolded, and what life is like on the other side of the tunnel. They speak about the difficulties they went through during the recovery, and how they used the Self-Directed Attention practice to develop self-reliance and learn how to control their own minds.
Lookers Tell Their Stories is being offered as part of a fundraiser campaign. The money from sales will go entirely to support our website, our forums, our podcast, our blog, and our webinars, which are offered free of charge to everyone.
A.I. (Mexico) August 27, 2017: I was involved with alcohol for many years and attended many AA meetings. I got the best results when supported by friends. After doing the act of Looking however this interest or need for alcohol simply fell away. I don't know exactly what happened and it wasn't really necessary that I know. The Looking along with the Self-Directed Attention exercise did the trick. I strongly suggest doing the latter, the Self-Directed Attention. It will help to alleviate some of the difficulty during the recovery process i.e. any mental anguish, anxiety over leaving alcohol, etc.
B.A. (USA) August 5, 2017: In the period of 2010-2012, I was very active in this work. I knew for certain that I had done the looking and was headlong into recovery. I was a regular contributor to the forums, and even made a trip to Ojai to attend a meeting and to meet John and Carla in person. In early 2013, I changed jobs and moved into one of the most challenging times in my career. In 2015, we lost both of our dogs in the short period of four months, and two very close associates of mine had near fatal accidents.
What I have come to discover is that I was new into recovery and the shock of these events sent me running to what was more comfortable for me... the satsang world complete with the music, pictures, malas, guru-worship and, of course, dumping the responsibility of my life on to someone else. This was my way of escaping from these very difficult things and running away from life.
This wasn't a bad time. Great experiences were had. But, the great experiences came and went...just like the big personal traumas that sent me running into the satsang world came and went. Over the past couple of years, I found myself moving deeper and deeper into a satsang community, where, to be certain, lots of excitement is there to be had, and big, blissful experiences are the order of the day. The people there seem to live from one retreat to the next, from one encounter with "the master" to the next. Some, making it their life's goal to live on the land that he occupies at the moment. The machine around this teacher is top notch and they keep the community involved, engaged and running to the next event. It is easy to get caught up in the spectacle. The group energy is also very profound. It is easy, in the midst of the pomp and circumstance to miss the fact that aside from a rock concert type elation, no real change is happening.
The seeing of this dawned on me a couple of months ago. In my disillusionment, I checked back in with Justonelook.org and started reading the material that has happened during my absence. I watched the new videos and listened to all the new podcasts.
Self-reliance and personal responsibility were what I was missing. Over a period of a few weeks, my interest in the satsang community and in the worship of the satsang teacher began to fall away. Although some nostalgia for this very charismatic and loving man still arises at times, what I am experiencing now so far outweighs anything that happened there.
I reconnected with John and Carla on the very first "Talk with John" meeting on Wednesday, July 5th. I have attended every Wednesday since. The meetings in this informal setting are really great. I feel that I have picked right up where I left off in 2013, but with a deeper perspective. I have started at step one of the process and I am practicing the Self-Directed Attention exercise a few times a day. This has been enormously helpful in dealing with the barrage of thoughts and emotions that are kicking into gear now.
Here is what I am finding as a result of my return to the JOL work:
These are just a few things that are happening. The recovery isn't over, but these things are the result of self reliance, not the result of the "grace of the master". I hope some people may be able to relate to this and are possibly helped by it. I am happy to be back and I look forward to reading your insights and sharing more of my own. Thank you.
L.R. (USA) June 5, 2017: I've known John and Carla for many years. I can't remember how many years ago I sat with them in a little group in Ojai. It was in the very early days of Just One Look before it was called Just One Look. But that was all John told us to do. Something radically changed inside of me back then. I don't think I realized it at the time. It began with this simple, sweet, joyful experience of just being me. The me I have always been. It was so simple, I didn't talk about or even share it much. I don't know what inspired me to go on Facebook at 2:00 am this morning and go to the Just One Look site. Perhaps it was missing John and Carla. After reading just a short time, I realized I have been experiencing the simple joy of being me all these years and not even thinking about it. So my dear friends, I urge you to check out Just One Look. I promise you, you will not regret it.
A.S. (USA) April 26, 2017: What John is speaking about is what I've found that those few people who have been able to effect what would be considered "miraculous" healings throughout history have also emphasized as a major key to healing itself. But I've never seen them present what I experienced as an effective tool for doing so. I do believe it's like John is talking about, that a lot of times these insights certain people have had about all of this have been confined by spiritual/religious belief paradigms of the time which clouded the clarity of practices of gaining insight into one's true nature.
J.T. (USA) April 26, 2017: I have a report to make. I could have made it years ago, and I probably did in one form or another. Ten years or so have gone by since I first heard you speak. At that time I knew the seed for something big had been planted. I knew how my mind could change for the better. You promised the end of misery and suffering if I eroded the foundation upon which they arose. By looking within—not for answers but simple, straightforward looking—I would cure my mind of the unseen proclivity to fear, which drives my reactions to circumstances. You suggested I wouldn't know when misery and suffering were gone, to be replaced by ease and peace and joy. When I asked what proof you had, you said it would be in the pudding.
It is with extreme gratitude that I acknowledge the cooking has been accomplished, the pudding proof-positive that your method works. The space of being here has supplanted torment. Sure I feel overwhelmed at times or experience dread arising for this or that reason, but such are rare, old acquaintances, nothing to be concerned about. Words or concepts like "escape" or "need" or "should" have pretty much gone out of my vocabulary. I am transparent to life, not victimized by it. Circumstances are inherently neutral, I realize, and I would not have come to that realization had I not seen for myself what you have been so consistently teaching. With practice and determination, I feel I am the master of my own domain. The circumstances of my life have nothing to do with me. Thank you many times over. In my estimation, you are one of the greatest teachers—certainly for me the most helpful.
G.S. & E.A. (Greece) - March 27, 2017: John's approach to life is a unique (and really the only) way to see for yourself the truth and break the spell of "life". This is what happened in my case and my wife's too. John showed us, in the simplest and most natural way, how to look at ourselves and indeed through the deceiving surface of our personas. After a confusing period into the void, the personas, the persones, me and my wife are still here, joyful, playful, totally human and totally free. Our human nature is not a prison anymore; it's a toy, a miracle, a board on which we surf onto the waves of the unknown!
John and Carla are devoted to get people free and through River Ganga they share with all of us their teaching and friendship. Thank you both.
E.M. (Greece) March 27, 2017: The simple teaching given by John Sherman turns a light unto what you really are in a very direct manner. Whether it's an end of something or the beginning of something else, this is really worth giving a try, the consequence being far greater from what you could possibly imagine!
J.C. (New Zealand) March 27, 2017: It was through John and Carla's work that I was able, finally, to find the key to a door I'd been banging on for a lifetime. Their clear and direct proposition is easy to digest, and makes all the difference. I will always be grateful for what John and Carla offer, and for their tireless striving to bring this simple and powerful message to the world so that as many people as possible may watch fear and suffering drop away from their lives.
T.S. (USA) March 27, 2017: I have followed John and Carla's work for more than 15 years. During this time, they have been relentless in offering themselves to announce to all what brings peace and happiness to anyone. Just one look, just turn the attention inwardly, and the result is an almost magical transformation to what sages have taught for millennia. Suffer no more, the kingdom is truly within. All thanks to them for their devotion to what is true.
H.B. (Austria) March 26, 2017: In this world, where fear and anxiety seem to be active at every level—from the relationship to oneself, as well as to the world, John and Carla have worked tirelessly, often at the edge of going broke (really), to bring their simple but profound message to as many people as possible. Personally, after searching for peace and happiness for many decades, they showed me a door to finding the peace and happiness I already am. The slow change from seeking to finding, and the gratitude for finding this door cannot be expressed in words. If any work deserves support, this is it!!!!
N.G. (USA) March 26, 2017: John and Carla operate from the heart with a genuine goal to help mankind. The simple act of looking helps people to decide where to focus their attention; thus clearing their mind from the usual clutter of modern times. Great pure, simple, from the heart help and advice for the world! Thanks John and Carla!
R.W. (Denmark) March 26, 2017: The River Ganga Foundation provides a unique service toward helping create a better world. I live in Denmark and follow the River Ganga Foundation for many years. The advice and guidance one can find here is life-saving for anyone who finds themselves at the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go.
K.L. (USA) March 26, 2017: I once read that the root cause of all human suffering, misery, aggression, hatred and self-betrayal is a false belief about what I am. The only solution for this problem is the truth. This was an early statement in the young days of Just One Look. The message has been refined and sharpened over the years to focus on the solution. This invitation to look needs to be made available to everyone. If you are reading this, then there is looking, it's very possible that what's looking is what you are looking for, but you need to look for yourself.
A.W. (USA) March 26, 2017: 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.
B.A. (USA) March 26, 2017: Since watching John's videos and reading the basic philosophy behind his work my life has changed dramatically. What on the surface may seem inconsequential, I found that doing the suggested inner work opened up a way for me to become more myself—if that makes any sense. I love this work. It is so basic. So logical. And I recommend it to everyone.
B.N. (India) March 26, 2017: Life altering. This is a website that transformed my life. The people behind it are the most selfless, genuine, and generous people. They have worked so hard to keep this work afloat and freely available to all. They deserve all the help they can get, because the looking could change the world! As a mental health professional myself, I highly recommend that everyone do the looking.
H.I. (Finland) March 26, 2017: The work of John and Carla should be heard by everyone, as it really is the only solution to the misery of folks worldwide. If it worked for me, it works for everyone!
N.H. (Denmark) March 16, 2017: The River Ganga Foundation's main work is to spread a method related to mental health called The Just One Look Method. That method destroyed for me a kind of general mental misery that I wasn't aware that I had until it was gone. And I saw that that mental misery had been the cause of much of my life's suffering. A suffering that I presumed was a natural part of being alive as a human being. I eventually also came to see that this general mental misery was the main cause of much of other people's suffering and craziness too.
The process of mental recovery finally resulted in the insight that the suffering in the world is actually nothing but the suffering in the minds of many. The Just One Look Method supported by The River Ganga Foundation goes to the root of the human problem and heals it for good. My donations go to support that no new suffering is created, rather than trying to fix everything that our collective craziness has created. And I see it as a privilege to be able to be helpful in this way. To see the true nature of human suffering and also get the chance to do something about it that actually works.
O.S. (USA) March 12, 2017: While the method provided by Carla and John does not only sound simple, but it also turns out to be very easy to understand and put into practise, it is powerful and profound. In most "modern" spiritual practices we find emphasis on so-called self-inquiry. But many people are confused on how to do it. Here is the method provided by the River Ganga Foundation, one of the most powerful tools to be found. Easy to understand and easy to be done, one is instantly put in the place of becoming aware of one's self.
Of course, the mind dismisses it in the same split-second, because there is nothing there. To be precise, there is no-thing there, which is simply not graspable by the mind. Whether done only once or more often, coming into direct contact with one's self does have an impact. When and how it then leads to liberation seems to be highly individual, but that is due to the body-mind having to adopt slowly to the new frequency of being.
R.A. (Sweden) February 16, 2017: I first heard about Carla and John's simple method Just One Look about two years ago, and I am now completely certain that it works. Before looking, I was always focusing on negative thoughts and how difficult and depressing everything is. Now I more or less automatically focus on what's decent and beautiful in life instead. And it really makes all the difference! Outwards I am more happy and constructive, and inwards there is more meaning and joy to everything —even the bad parts. It's like Carla and John gave me a key to my own life and I am forever grateful for their work. Everything they do is free of charge and anyone can try this for themselves. Truly a wonderful non-profit!
P.A. (Italy) February 13, 2017: I've been helping The River Ganga Foundation out for about a couple of years with social media advertising, while also getting timely support from John and Carla as I navigated through the toughest spells of my post-look recovery period, which, fingers crossed, seems to be behind me now. Their method really works (I've been off antidepressants for a year now, with increased effectiveness in making important life decisions), and we really need to spread their message fast!
A.I. (Mexico) January 21, 2017: I started doing the looking about two and a half years ago. I remember a day when I felt something happen to the whole structure upon which my psychological life had been built. It seemed to vanish. I was left just lying on my bed laughing. It was like a burden had been lifted, the whole burden of one’s personal story, though it can only be described looking back as there was no idea that anything had happened at all. I seem to be contradicting myself here but it's all very difficult to express. Since then I feel my life rebuilding itself in some way without the old ground of anxiety which had always been a sort of background noise to life.
John describes this recovery best and I cannot but confirm what he says. I know that my life is free of the constant vigilance I kept against what might touch me in a deep way. I feel grateful for my life including the past I had which in many ways was very rich though I am free of any nostalgia for the past. I would say that life is richer but then it always has been rich. There was never nor is there now any moment that was not full and satisfying. Once that fear was gone life began to expand and become more inclusive. I was heavily into self-help feeling that I was wrong somehow, needing to fix myself. It all became very tiresome and this self-involvement led me down some rather destructive roads. I can safely say the quest for a better me is over. I do not seek to idealize myself or others and this makes it easier to get along with people. And there are the ways life has changed which are really beyond words.
I have also left alcohol and sleeping pills behind for good. I remember doctors saying I would never kick the pill habit. All I can say is that the need just fell away. It’s been two years since I last had a drink and no desire to start again has returned. I would also wholeheartedly agree with John that life is still to be lived, that it goes on. but is now to be lived fully and without the reserve or doubt that plagued me for so long. I look forward to life instead of feeling I have to protect myself from it or avoid it. I still practice the self-directed attention exercise which I found very helpful in the early stages of this process. I would strongly encourage people to give this very simple act a try. Even if you feel you didn’t or can’t succeed, you will see results. I know this from experience. Thank you John and Carla for all you have done to bring this simple act to our attention.J.G. (United Kingdom) December 5, 2016: Looking inwards has definitely made a huge impact on the way I see the world now. It's been a while since I've posted in the Just One Look Forum, mainly because I have been living without the incessant urge to drop in on the forums to try and get some validation for the way I'm supposed to feel. Maybe some of you will relate to this? I used to come to the forums daily, sometimes twice a day, desperately wanting someone else to tell me everything is going to be fine. But now I suppose I've realised everything is and always has been perfectly fine. Those old clouds just take some time to blow away.
So for those who are new to this, I can safely say that the looking worked for me, so I don't see why it shouldn't work for you. It's been just over four years since I first started desperately trying to look for what John was pointing to. It really isn't hard to do it, it might seem that way, but all you need is the intent to look at yourself and rid yourself of the fear.
I remember when I first posted in the forum and everyone that replied to me congratulated me on finding out the looking at such a young age. I was twenty-four at the time. So I want to do the same for anyone who is looking here for answers. It has really worked for me! I don't want to describe all the changes but I can safely say that there really doesn't seem to be any problems in my life. I don't worry about the future, and the hugely dysfunctional social angst that was always with me seems to have gone as well.
H.W. (Australia) November 24, 2016: 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.
R.A. (Sweden) October 2, 1016: Just One Look really works. All you need to do is to make one honest attempt at getting a taste of what it feels like to be you, one time. But you can save yourself a lot of trouble by committing to the self-directed attention practice. Forget the alarm clock. Just do it as much as you can. Every day, all the time you are not occupied with some task. There really is no reason not to. It is tough in the beginning but it gets easier. Be determined to take back control. Don't give in to thoughts telling you otherwise. I just can't recommend it enough.
The benefits we can get from it are plenitude. For example: I have gotten better at all things I set out to do. I learn new things much quicker. I am more attentive and loving with people. I find more creative solutions to problems. I have become really skilled in may new things without putting a large amount of effort, like I have become an excellent cook, if I may say so myself. After all, it is myself I am feeding, so I think I may. And a lot more. So that's great. Kind of just getting better at life generally.
But above all, and I am so thankful for this, I have gained the ability to detect for myself when a thought, assumption, or inclination are based in fear rather than sanity, and I have gained the ability to actually not spend any energy on thoughts that seem useless and destructive. This is what finally gave me my life back. There is still fear residing in my mind but, thanks to self-directed attention, I actually have a say in how to go about it all.
I have people around me that are recovering who have no determination to work with attention. And they are fine, really. I mean, it's pretty tough, and there is confusion, but ultimately they are fine too. But boy, are they missing out!
Y.H. (USA) August 28, 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 would. 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 okay 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.
I feel compelled to say that I agree with the statement of "what I have experienced so far has convinced me that this is a thoroughly worthwhile practice to commit myself to totally...perhaps, the ONLY practice that really matters."
R.W. (USA) August 3, 2016: I had a mystical experience in July 2012. Since then, I've been driving myself crazy trying to find a way back to that oneness. Everything in my life has left me empty and unfulfilled. Seeking has been a way of life in one form or another. Money, Love, recognition or approval, etc.
But after two weeks of self-directed attention, focusing on the breath, I've seen the obvious! I'm plumb crazy! Afraid of everything! Committed to distraction to avoid who knows what. This practice gives me some insight to how my mind actually works, without having to study some manual, or adding more ideas to contemplate endlessly in hopes of a cure.
By learning to focus my attention where I want it rather than where it's called. I feel it's a way to learn to love myself! A way to finally quiet the self-hating voice. And, in the process, stop the voice of hate for everything eventually. I'm nowhere near that, but I have a sense that I've never felt before that if I am diligent and dedicated to this practice, the result is guaranteed. So much is observed as I do this, it just blows my mind!
V.R. (USA) July 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.
J.W. (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!
R.A. (Sweden) July 27, 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 to 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.
Y.H. (USA) July 8, 2016: I first came across John and the looking before he started calling it that, about ten years ago. At this point, I feel certain that I did the looking, and I continued to follow John as his way of describing this act developed away from the world of spiritual seeking into the much more practical thing that it is now. Everything John said about what it's like to be sane, and what it's like to experience life without the craziness generated by the fear of life, felt intuitively true and desirable to me. But even though I had done the looking repeatedly, I still felt miserable. I believe John has said the looking will cure you of the disease, but it takes a while for the symptoms to go away. Well, I felt anything but cured and, to be honest, I felt very little difference compared to before I had done the looking.
After that, I did not experience addiction myself but got into an intense relationship with an alcoholic and became deeply codependent, and like others forgot all about the looking. I also went through a different recovery in the Al-Anon 12-step program, and my formerly actively alcoholic partner is now sober and doing great in recovery himself, but I have remained miserable in the same way as I was before the looking, even though my life circumstances have improved greatly in many ways.
Recently the misery got to be such a problem that I've started flailing around for anything that might help, and came back to see what John was up to lately. A few days ago I listened to his podcast on self-directed attention, and I am starting to think this may have been the missing piece for me. I've been practicing the exercise of focusing attention on the breath and, outside of that exercise, I am practicing becoming aware of what I am attending to and determining if that is useful to me or not, and at times (this is a hugely different experience for me) actually being able to decline to attend to thoughts/feelings/internal monologues that I see to be harmful.
I will be honest. For a while, I felt rather disappointed and disillusioned about the looking. I always felt John and Carla sincerely believed in its effectiveness, but that for some reason it just didn't work for me. I am excited to give this approach another try with this tool to help me through as I hopefully go sane. I am very grateful to John and Carla for continuing to do this work, and for the support of this community.
J.S. (USA) May 26, 2016: I had seen John Sherman almost 20 years ago in a 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 second chance.
D.M. (USA) May 22, 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.
R.H. (United Kingdom) May 17, 2016: It's been about a year since I first did the looking and I just seem to have come full circle, I realized when listening to John again recently... My life is feeling easy & uncomplicated now and I have a gentle sense of simple fulfillment and joy most days, even when there is some physical discomfort... Don't seem to be looking for alternative options to what actually is any longer—to the occasional surprise of my mind! Have been doing self-directed attention. Anyway, much gratitude and love.
J.G. (United Kingdom) May 16, 2016: Things are getting better all the time. One thing that is becoming very obvious is how our personalities are constantly changing. From fearful to angry, to calm, to confident, to anxious, to bored, to excited. Nothing is fixed and we need not try to be permanently happy or positive, etc.
I feel much more relaxed in situations where I was completely tense before. I am looking forward to the summer, and to seeing friends and family. Something I shied away from last year, living out my days as a miserable hermit.
It's good to know that it is totally in my hands when it comes to how much suffering I endure from day to day. I am practicing self-directed attention and I can see its reward. Even if I don't use it very skillfully and become lazy, nothing sticks around as long as it used to.
J.L. (USA) May 15, 2016: After so many years of seeking, the one thing that probably gets in my way is the timing of the process. I just want it now! That's the disease. I'm very interested in learning more about the part where John says that people don’t notice there's a change. I take this to mean that, as the time passes, by doing this process, one many not notice a change, but there is a sense of less reactions, life is going by easier. I love the way John includes details that I've never heard before. It's much support, when I don't know anyone to talk to about this process.
D.D. (USA) May 9, 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 those 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."
J.K. (USA) April 25, 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 its 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 undrunk 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 with 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. In 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.
R.A. (Sweden) April 12, 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.
C.S. (Norway) March 26, 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 wonderful world that we live in. 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.
A.P. (USA) March 18, 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!
H.W. (Australia) March 15, 2016: It was only after the fear of life had disappeared from my life that I knew it had been there at all. All my old pursuits have remained, except one: the great self-justifying spiritual search.
Now I do things spontaneously, following my passions, and then live with the feelings that arise on the full spectrum from exhilaration to despair. The need to justify occurs as thoughts but does not underlie actions. It is such a relief, even in the midst of a day or two of misery. Nothing lasts long enough to stop me from getting on with enjoying living. This is stunning. John has found the key.... If you read this and wonder, try the looking.
J.K. (Finland) March 8, 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.
H.W. (Australia) February 23, 2016: Since I finally recognised 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 whatever 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.
A.W. (USA) February 23, 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 whatever 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.
P.A. (Ireland) 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.
A.W. (USA) 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!
D.P. (Canada) February 23, 2016: John and Carla are doing something for humanity that no one has ever done before: simply reconnect 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, to have fun going work being 62 years old. And even considering taking no retirement or at least stopping dreaming ofthe day when I will at last retire and relax... No need, no need: life goes on and gives me a kick, and I don't worry anymore 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 was only in June 2015 that I really started 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!
Y.A.P. (USA) 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!
B.P. (USA) January 14, 2016: When I started looking six months ago, I was so eager to be able to have definite indications that I had finally found an answer to my never-ending quest. I was quick to latch on to brief glimpses of vastness and peace that sometimes were part of looking.
True to what John says, that all passed, as transformation persisted. It's like you stop looking for change because undeniable change occurs, or perhaps that's just part of the change. Hard to say.
It gets so much better. The pre-looking self has no idea; there may be some intuition at times but it gets little air time in a fear-based consciousness.
P.F. (United Kingdom) September 23, 2015: Looking back, my life has seemed to be on a gradual decline with social anxiety and a general unhappiness being my main focus for the last twenty-five years or more. I maintained friendships somehow, as my anxiety kept driving me away from anything but the minimum of social contact. I eventually succeeded about three years ago, as I had barely seen the friends I'd had for twenty years for about two years. I had gotten into spirituality and found I was isolating myself more and more except for going to work. My personality as it were, was disappearing and just felt like a dull shell as my work mates went about their lives.
I used to go walking in the hills alone hoping for a respite from my ever chattering negative thoughts, and the times when the biting wind and rain silenced my mind were bliss. About two and a half years ago, I reached the top of a hill I was climbing and sat down and realized I had no friends, no girlfriend. I have always had a problem with relationships and have been with some great women, but my anxiety couldn't handle it. I had nothing to say to people as I was doing nothing, even to my family.
I was at my lowest ebb and, in searching the web, I found John's website and gave it a go. Well, for a couple of months after, I had some really low moments but they passed and then I felt like life had decided to stick its boot up my ass. I gave away all my spiritual books to the charity shop and stopped searching for others. I decided to take up golf lessons just to try something new and get out of the house.
It was at about this same time one of my old friends appeared at my door for the first time in over two years. It was uncanny, as he liked playing golf too, so we decided to have a game.
From there I began going out with my old friends again. Don't get me wrong, all my anxieties didn't just disappear but they are gradually diminishing. The first sign I noticed was that whenever I seemed to meet anyone, or even hear a sound, a knot immediately appeared in my stomach. After a while, I realized that wasn't happening anymore.
As these anxieties disappear, I find I can talk to the neighbors and not worry about what they think of me, if the usual small talk is a struggle, and also allows room for me to relax more and conversation happens easier.
I have also joined the local squash club and even played for their league team last night. Sitting on that hill a few years ago, I wouldn't have believed I could spend an evening with a group of people I don't really know that well and feel welcome.
My friend in work also asked if I'd play for the local bowling team. He'd asked a few years ago, but then there was no way. But this time I decided to play. It's as if the anxiety has disappeared and a "I'll give it a go" attitude has appeared.
I always use that hilltop moment as a reference point in my progress because you start doing things that seem to be no big thing now and so you easily overlook the fact that, sitting on that hill, these things at the time seemed completely impossible.
I have never felt so excited about the future knowing that, after twenty-five years or more of unhappiness, in such a short space of time all the things that have been holding me back are falling away and my personality is freeing itself from the shackles of fear. I can't wait to see what unfolds. Thank you John and Carla for everything.
S.M. (Bulgaria) August 11, 2015: My name is Sergey. I am from Bulgaria. It works! I can tell this after two years’ experience. How it started. I knew that I am always the same and there is no change in my core—I was remembering moments of my childhood and it seemed to me that then and now I am always the same. When I read about the childhood method, it was like a moment of enlightenment for me, everything was clear!
I tried to look at me and it was done from the first shot. Two or three days later, I was feeling great, like never before, I can't describe this. This continued for about two weeks and then came the worst. I didn't know that there is such thing like "recovery period." In short, a year and half I was in my mental hell. Now I think that fear is here, but now I know it and there is no drama. I just know that it is not me. Or to be clearer: shit happens, but it doesn't touch me. I just keep moving forward. Before looking at me, I got up every morning with anxiety, easily refusing every opportunity. I did not want to even go out for a walk, constantly worried about the future. In the recovery period this was worse.
Now it's all gone. Yes, the life is same, but my attitude is not. I want to tell much more about how the looking changed my life but it's not easy for me to do it in English. I wish, in the near future, if I have the financial opportunity, to expand John and Carla's work here in Bulgaria. I think often of this. And, in the end, thank you John, thank you Carla, thank you all for this gift. God bless you!
M.I (Canada) July 1, 2015: I did the looking several years ago and I must say the effects never cease to amaze me. There are so many facets of my personality that were formed and solidified due to the fear of life that it has taken a long time for many of these traits to fall away. Depression, anxiety, finally gone. From the first look at myself I felt I was now in the drivers seat. It's like I was handed my life back now it was up to me. It's not like someone telling you take responsibility or how life should be without all these bothersome thoughts and emotions.
In fact, John and Carla have been immensely helpful along the way sharing their own experiences during the recovery period however never interfering with my individual process. Their advice over and over is simply to look at yourself and if you feel to share your experiences in the forum as a way to support each other. Their observation that we only have control over where we place our attention is a powerful help as I go along and immediately verifiable to anyone trying it. Life is a mystery for sure but this work exposes a practical truth with no spiritual elaboration..you are here and you can fully engage in your life without fear.Worked for me!
T.K. (USA) July 1, 2015: In my opinion and going by just the actual results that I have experienced in my day-to-day life, this Nonprofit organization should be on top of all the ones we have on this planet!. We have a large number of Nonprofit organizations and they do contribute to some well being or aspect of the people in some way on the physical level. However, the biggest problem is the suffering, misery, conflict, anxiety, fear etc. that reside in our minds and thereby influences how we perceive our life and live it.
What this organization run by John and Carla is teaching and showing the way how we can get rid of all that and live a happy satisfactory and free form fear life that changes how we perceive everything else. What else is there to say? They provide very practical advise and methods that cab be followed to get there. I hope and wish everyone in the world gets a chance to hear about it and try it.
D.G. (Ireland) June 30, 2015: John Sherman manages to convey in a direct simple manner the simple act of inward looking that eradicates all fear, misery, aggression, hatred, etc., from one's life. In recent years he has divested himself of all spiritual and esoteric terminology to make this simple teaching accessible to all that hear it. It is a great blessing and hope for humanity.
B.M. (Switzerland) February 28, 2015: During the recovery period, lifelong mechanisms of dealing with a seemingly threatening life become meaningless because the underlying cause, the fear of life, has fallen away. However, the replacement with new authentic ways to deal with sensations takes time. During this period, it is the old mechanisms that are still available and operate despite their inefficiency. This creates stress.
It is my experience that more can be done than just controlling one's attention. Accelerating the recovery period is an important topic. Controlling the attention is certainly the core to efficiently dealing with this period. However, there is no need to abandon all other methods of healing that humans have found. What is useful depends on each individual life history and it is hard to generalize. What helps me is to establish a healthy life style, such as exercising, reducing alcohol consumption, being in nature, not engaging in other people’s drama and stay true to myself. Other things that I found during my lifelong quest for an escape prior to the looking are now easier to implement.
N.G. (USA) December 18, 2014: Self-directed attention is key for myself. I do the breath work a few times a day and it helps pull me out of my thoughts just for a moment. Almost like hitting the reset button. Over time, it has become more automatic. I find tai chi helpful, as it's extremely physical and requires me to focus on very subtle movements and sensations. There's a skillfulness that is developing in all aspects of my life, and I feel that I can cut off useless thoughts a lot quicker than in the past. It's a process, and one that I suspect is lifelong.
T.H. (Australia) December 15, 2014: So, what happened to me? The separation between myself and my body went away. I am more alive than ever! Sometimes I just watch myself and am amazed!
What John Sherman said was true for me: getting this body in contact with me made all the difference. It's true that when I see myself it is unmistakable... And the only guidance is that I am trying to feel me.
Most people just don't get it. They have ideas about what they are. So I try to trick them by doing the memory of you as a child trick. Life is a gem. It is very alive. Thank you.
A.D. (USA) December 14, 2014: I don't know why this process takes a long time, but it just seems to. When I think that I spent the first 35 years of my life terrified, it makes sense that it takes years for the fear of life and its effects to unwind. There is light coming through though. I'm about four and a half years in and I've been honestly amazed at the changes that have taken place inside my head over the last six months. I've done the focused attention practice for the past couple of years because John recommends it and I find it very helpful now, but I don't think I would have said that it helped during the worst part of the recovery, so you're not alone to feel that it's not "working" right now. It will though. Best of luck and hang in there.
M.H. (USA) December 14, 2014: It's been six years for me. I think that the outcome of this work, for me, has been the antithesis of every proposed form of relief I tried for decades. Some of those practices still have merit when seeking temporary relief, and I will use what I need to if things get really bad.
I think too that the kind of relief I've found with Just One Look, well, it really is like nothing I could have imagined. About three years in, I started to notice little things. I had very subtle and fleeting feelings like I had never had before. I started to have regular experiences with feeling safe. There was no great inspirational moment or stunning insight, like I had been conditioned to desire. Just a glimpse of something permanent.
My relationship with this subtle feel for life is taking root, ever so slowly. Circumstances still suck sometimes. And my body chemistry gets out of whack still. I have, quite naturally, found ways to deal with it though that are also working ever so slowly.
M.I. (Canada) December 14, 2014: I feel there is tremendous value for me in learning to focus my attention. For example, I felt very anxious quite often around 5 pm so when I feel that sensation coming on, I move my attention to the breath, then the sense of me. It seems drawing attention away from the anxiety sensation dissolves it, for that moment anyway. I'm not giving energy to it.
The sensation comes back for a while but each time I gain confidence that I can move my attention away from it. Lately I've noticed that this sensation is not often there anymore. I know that for me it has taken time and I'm not sure why that is, but I feel the looking gives me a strong foundation which I didn't have before.
J.K (USA) November 30, 2014: I guess the looking and self-directed attention free up a lot of energy previously diverted to fear and angst. We have to do something with that energy, right? I spent a perfectly enjoyable afternoon knocking around my basement trying to make it more energy efficient, solving problems and creating new ones. I was totally absorbed in the work and the physicality of my movements. Life is a never ending source of conundrums and puzzles. Our bodies and minds just seem to create an agency or connection between disparate materials and energies.
S.V. (Finland) November 27, 2014: I've come to think of looking at yourself as the mother of all life hacks. Nearly everything gets distorted without their proper context and nothing is in their proper context if it's in the context of fear. Your eating gets out of control, your exercise neurotic, you don't sleep well, and you escape to work if your mind is enslaved by the fear of life. But freed from it, you're neither neurotically obsessed nor in denial with these things. And the looking is a true hack in the sense that it's easy, fast, and comprehensible to all. It's simply the single most important and most beneficial thing you can do for yourself. The second most important hack is the Self-directed attention training.
I've come to think that to do anything the best way possible you need to start with looking at yourself, if you haven't done it already. It sets the proper foundation. It applies to any area in life whether it be scientific, artistic, technical, or anything else people do. So one avenue to spreading the word about the looking could be as a starting point to any skill or practice one does or teaches. For example, if I were to teach landscape painting (my special interest) I would set the session with inviting people to look at the "me" where the vision and sensation of the view ends up. After looking inward you look outward to the world, the view in front of you, and the thoughts and feelings it evokes. This way you would have accomplished the single most important life intervention without even realizing what you've done. Later on, if the interest is there, you could expand on the inward looking. The trouble with it is that it's kind of too good to be believable unless you see its effects in your own life.
T.H. (Australia) October 2, 2014: John, this body touched myself, 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 here, behind and within the experience. I left a testimonial in teh forum ages ago. I really don't feel like I'm done but, as John said, that wasn't the point.
The point is 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 in the forum 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.
R.H. (USA) September 23, 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 a while 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 decisions based on emotional reactions, but you can't change the past. My present is pretty good.
B.M. (Switzerland) September 8, 2014: Previously, in my search for the perfect, the sublime, the extraordinary, I would scrutinize every sensation for whether it is authentic, novel, etc., basically judging it like an expensive wine. Not surprisingly, I found a fault in everything. Especially in relationships. After about one year into the looking, more and more, I do not compare sensations to any silly and obscure reference, but apply what John calls self-reliance, and guess what? Fulfilling relationships, romantic and also at work, just happen. Opportunities everywhere. I feel I do not even need all that, but it is sweet, and I am grateful. Life has found me, finally. Before, I felt lonely, almost an outcast. I still have anxieties: that I am doomed, that I will end on the streets, unemployed, an alcoholic, an addict etc., if I continue on this slippery slope that got worse with the looking, when I stopped being vigilant 24/7. To keep these anxieties at bay, the self-directed attention practice is very helpful.
T.V. (USA) September 11, 2014: I have meandered in spiritual circles for quite a while and stumbled upon John and Carla's work in 2008. For a short time, I enthusiastically translated some of John's articles and then cooled off or got distracted by something else... But perhaps this initial looking had a root in myself, and I rediscovered them again a few months ago. What I can tell? I think I hadn't had a serious recovery phase so far
My life is now as it has always been–ups and downs, accidents and unexpected events, not always pleasant. But my relationships with life and people are changing, very incrementally, not dramatically, not overnight, no enlightenment or anything like that. But it is completely different now compared to what it was even a couple of month ago. I don't know how to fully express my deep and genuine gratitude to them both, to what they are doing.
A.M. (Spain) September 4, 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 because, as you say, they basically just keep talking but offer nothing pracrtical!
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.
C.L. (USA) July 15, 2014: John and Carla offer a simple and effective means to end human suffering, for anyone with ears to hear it. Stripped of the mystique and romance that accompanies most prescribed roads to freedom, it's almost too simple, and it may be hard to believe that it actually works. But when you listen to John speak, you know that it has worked for him.
I believe the looking has also created a shift in my own life. Personal anxiety is so missing in my daily experience that I sometimes feel nostalgic about it, which gives way to compassion. I find The River Ganga Foundation's full disclosure of finances quite unique, and refreshingly innocent for this world. They make it very easy to trust that any money donated to them will be put to good use.
E.D. (Canada) July 1, 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 River Ganga 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.
O.O. (Finland) July 14, 2014: 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 genius 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 don't come anymore or they appear weaker, me seeing them, a bit dreamlike, and being able to choose to leave those thoughts. I am very very grateful. Thank you so much. My deep respect and appreciation.
J.K. (USA) July 1, 2014: John's looking technique quite simply changed my life. The anxiety, depression, shame, and anger I carried around like a backpack is gone. What's left is a growing clarity and curiosity about life. It's become more adventure than burden. I don't think there is a sum of money that can cover this rebirth or repay John and Carla. I give what I can with no reservations.
C.S. (Norway) June 28, 2014: Why should you not support John & Carla Sherman's work, when they are amongst the very few who have understood the root cause and underlying mechanics of our human suffering and self-destructive behavior, and they even have developed a medicine, a simple act, called "looking at yourself", that will wash our human mind clean from its deadly malfunction, so that we humans can take part in life with all our resources and be constructive.
D.G. (Romania) June 27, 2014: The River Ganga Foundation is doing a vital work for the human society. Their vision, support, and continuous work has changed and continues to change the lives of all those that take their approach to heart. I consider that they bring beauty and richness to the world. I believe that their projects should be made available more and more. I did and will continue to offer them as much support as I can, since they offered me a way to be satisfied with myself and my life.
They showed me the way to be myself, to learn, to grow, to not be afraid of the human life, of the human experience. To experience compassion, to help others find their way. I believe the RiverGanga Foundation has a role in creating a better world, for each one of us and for all of us together.
J.S. (USA) June 26, 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 vanish, 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.
S.S. (Australia) June 25, 2014: John's approach is simple yet life changing. I became attracted to his teaching as I found it placed focus where focus was needed: the act of inward looking, and looking at myself. I continue practicing and supporting his teachings and see its clear impact on my life.
M.B. (USA) June 24, 2014: John's realization has taken a highly important and ancient life transforming practice and seen a way to deliver this to humanity in a simple and easy to understand way. The non-profit-making ethics that John and Carla employ further enhance the veracity and sincerity of this teaching. I fully support and endorse their status and hope that as many others as possible get to hear his message and experience the huge life enhancing benefits it can bring.
S.W. (UK) June 24, 2014: John's talks and his crystal clear cutting through of any complicated methods enabled me to recognise the majestic beauty of our humanity. The simple act of looking could enable all us to fall in love with everyday life and to appreciate its unspeakable wonder. I'm eternally grateful to John and Carla.
R.H. (USA) June 19, 2014: To those who have lost faith in politics & religion, John offers a direct experience into the true nature of suffering, and offers us all an important key that unlocks the deep mystery of how to once and for all free oneself' from the eternal fear & fustration of human existence. In my own case,.this sharing has helped me become more self-reliant in discovering the true nature behind many of my personal problems. I recommend that anyone who wants to be on the cutting edge of life take a look at whats going on here.
E.D. (Canada) July 1, 2014: After decades of searching for the meaning of life, of 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 River Ganga 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.
I.R. (Italy) June 15, 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 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 and instead it's always me with myself. Inner strength, stability, stamina are growing, in spite 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.
A. (Belgium) July 5, 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 it yourself. It is simple and cannot do any harm. If you followed so far, you will understand why it comes natural to donate.
A.W. (USA) June 28, 2014: Why should you not support John & Carla Sherman's work when they are amongst the very few who have understood the root cause and underlying mechanics of our human suffering and self destructive behavior, and they even have developed a medicine, a simple act, called "looking at yourself", that will wash our human mind clean from its deadly malfunction, so that we humans can take part in life with all our resources and be constructive.
D.G. (Romania) May 30, 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 three or four months on a regular, daily basis. The only thing I noticed, at first, was that there was a certain discomfort that I had had 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 four years, although it’s not nearly as intense anymore.
The changes that happened to me had two distinct characteristics. Most of them happened long before I was able to acknowledge 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 barriers 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 anywhere, no wall that I can conjure up. Fortunately, the same thing happens if I am in good surroundings. The silence of a church or the beauty of nature touch me on 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 are meant to embrace the world and one another, to find solutions and face problems, not to hide, close, or wither in denial.
M.R. (USA) May 12, 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 had 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, not 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 had 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 about what distinguished the looking from any previous pursuits included the fact that, since beginning the looking, I haven’t really looked at anything else to resolve or ameliorate my condition. That was 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 neither the bliss states nor any other transcendent state would be the answer to what I thought was the problem. There was no point in looking 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, to the juggling of belief systems, 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 have been travelling, 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 had 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 those that 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 would 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.
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 fall 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 put 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 and 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 of what John and Carla are attempting to communicate to what felt like a very obtuse version of myself. Thank you, John and Carla.
PS: 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—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 breathing, 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 had 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 the 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 that 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 recently, from going to someone else for bolstering up or for 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.
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 would see a result, this has been more than worth it. In deep gratitude to John and Carla.
N.P. (USA) May 20, 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, which 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 tai chi. I also started taking Alexander technique lessons which are 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.
G.M. (Canada) April 26, 2014: Hi John, it has been seven 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 lose this!" when at the same time the knowledge appeared that it can't be lost, because 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 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.
V.D. (Australia) April 17, 2014: My name is Vera, and I am the wife of Peter Duggan. 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 from Vietnam, this was when it all went pear-shaped. Peter started to change. He became very aggressive and psychologically cruel to me 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. He 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 disappeared 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 River Ganga 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 attempt at writing, 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
S.V. (Finland) April 13, 2014: I can testify that things get easier. I'm about two 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, I had 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.
The feeling that there's something wrong in 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, which is my main and worst issue, perhaps. It didn't seem to go at first, but it appears not as often and as intensely as before. I'm not as anxious to make something out of my life anymore.
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 of it in John's responses to questions in 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 feel too that it would be absolutely marvelous if there was some systematic survey or statistics gathered about people who have 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 on the website.
V.R. (USA) March 28, 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 of being with itself due to unexamined conditioning, or what John calls the 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.
N.G. (USA) January 24, 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 blog post 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 seems to have passed 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, upon 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 had seen changes in me in 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 the Just One Look 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 this 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, but 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 too 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.
N.L. (Sweden) December 30, 2013: I have learned a lot about the process of recovery during this year and that is thanks to everything I have read and heard through this amazing community. And I especially have a few things that I have learned and which I will take with me in to the New Year.
The recovery is my life. I know now that I will never be finished. No matter how hard and confusing life can be from time to time, I know now that that is not a sign of failure. It is a sign that I am, for the first time ever, standing in my life on my own legs and are experiencing life without protective mental strategies. My recovery is my life unfolding.
The context of fear. I know now that the act of inward looking not has given me anything special. It feels more correct to say that the act has removed the ground in my mind from where the context of fear was getting its energy. And without a ground to stand on, the context of fear gets weaker and weaker.
Ordinary sanity and mental health. And I know now that, as the context of fear gets weaker, a sane and constructive psychology starts to replace the old and infected psychology. And that leads to ordinary sanity and mental health. And I know now that that is what I have always wanted. Of all the heights and depths the human mind can come up with, it is nothing compared to the possibility of living a sane and intelligent life.
Learning to know and strengthen my attention. I know now that the more attention I give to the old, useless mental patterns, the longer they stay. And I also know now that if I don’t give them my attention they lose their power to ruin my day and my life. Our attention seems to play a key role in everything actually. Constructive or destructive seems to be a matter of attention. I am just starting to see the effects of this in my life, but I can really feel the usefulness of getting to know my attention.
My own way? I know now that this is not my way. I used to have a strong desire to go my own way, that everything had to come from me and my own insights and discoveries. But I don’t think that that is the case for the work that we are doing here. It seems more and more obvious that we humans are one creature. And it seems like, after the first look, we get better and better at benefiting from other peoples discoveries. I know now that it is much more useful to learn together about this process than to go my own way.
Spreading the word. I know now that spreading the word about this new possibility is more important than knowing for myself every detail about this process. I have done what I can for myself. And I am now trying to use what I have learned to live more intelligently. And even though I feel far from skillful in dealing with my mind and life, and that I have a lot to learn, I know now that it is much more important to focus on giving more people access to this new possibility and to suggest the first look.
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. 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 that was 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 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.
N.L. (Sweden) November 30, 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 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 simple-minded. 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.
J.A. (USA) November 15, 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 pretension. 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.
A.D. (USA) September 25, 2013: 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", 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, wanted to compare my recovery to other people's to see if I was behind. The thought that I was just letting time pass in misery while not doing anything to make my life better just made me crazy. 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. John has talked 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 doing this if you're struggling.
So, in short, as someone who has haunted the forums looking for some report from anyone saying that this works, I can now say I 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.
D.S. (USA) August 8, 2013: 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 underlying elusive anxiety and fear John speaks 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, old patterns are very strong and prevalent, the intensity with which I feel things is 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, on 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.
I.R. (Italy) December 2013: Dear friends, 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 freedom. 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 the 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.
J.M. (United Kingdom) August 4, 2013: I would not trade this for anything. I am so grateful, John, that you stood in front of your bookcase and said in eight minutes what my guru could not say in twenty-five years!!! Because my friend saw it, and told me of it. Three months later I went to him and asked him, "Can I see it?" I watched it twice, and I remember saying to him, "It's like a silent detonation going off somewhere." And I tried, with everything I've got, I tried, still do...
I am sick of people saying you sound like someone else, seriously. I'd tell them 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.
J.M. (Nigeria) July 20, 2013: Brilliant, this is what I have been searching for thirty years.
R.W. (Denmark) July 19, 2013: It took me three 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.
E.P.S. (Brazil) July 11, 2013: John, I wrote you from Rio de Janeiro back in 2008. Now I write you four years later to say that I am amazed as each day begins, and all my mind troubles and problems have absolutely vanished. I am practicing Zen meditation in a local zendo, and everything has changed. As you said, it might take time, and it really did take time, but now the search is over and I am here to thank you. Blessings.
I.W. (South Africa) July 7, 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... It feels like something really solid in the midst of myself. Finally, the simplicity of it makes absolute sense.
O.O. (USA) June 6, 2013: I think John Sherman 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. Sounds 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 enlightenment, 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!
R.I. (Canada) April 25, 2013: There are many non-profit organizations which do great work to alleviate the symptoms of immediate suffering in human lives. The River Ganga Foundation, and the work of John and Carla Sherman, does more. The simple suggestion they give to look at the feeling of you is enough to end the cause of all the insanity we inflict on each other. Perhaps at first this looks like a big promise but it works, as I can say from my own experience. As a child I remember many moments when I felt this sense of me which, if I look now, is the same as it was then.
I always felt something was wrong with me feeling constantly fearful, anxious, and unworthy, which led to depression and over-the-top emotions. I thought if I could just find the right teacher, healing technique, spiritual path, enlightenment, etc., all would be settled and I would finally live in peace and bliss. Since first looking at myself five years ago, all these ideas have simply fallen away. I guess you have to try it to believe it, but living each day without fear is pretty amazing, so of course I support this wonderful community and I would love for all humanity to benefit from this.
B.L. (Sweden) April 24, 2013: John Sherman has been a voice in my life for well over ten years now. All his teachings are made available for free, which indeed was helpful to me as a Buddhist monk without a penny to my name for sixteen years. Over time, John has simplified his message, and there is now a thriving community of people who have followed his instructions, and reaped the wonderful benefits. John and his wife Carla strike me as people of exceptional integrity. I couldn't think of a more valuable message than theirs. I keep listening to everything John says, at least a couple of times a week. So of course I'm delighted and proud to contribute financially every month. Shine on, John and Carla!
K.S. (Ecuador) April 24, 2013: I first encountered this organization when I downloaded John's book, Look at Yourself. I was facing a time of great personal challenge following a surgery that included many nights during the recovery period where sleep was elusive. I learned about a concept that is so simple and yet so profound that it truly changed my life.
J.J. (USA) April 13, 2013: The River Ganga Foundation is the ultimate non-profit. Everyone should visit their website and just try its simple approach. There's no pressure to sign up for anything, get involved, or even to hang around. It just presents just a simple method that could change your life dramatically and lots of encouragement from others if you need it.
A.D. (USA) April 11, 2013: In all my experiences with non-profits, I have never come across one that is more transparent and run by more dedicated people than The River Ganga Foundation. John and Carla Sherman have selflessly dedicated their lives to raising awareness of their Just One Look message, an idea that has greatly enhanced my life. I'm proud to have been able to contribute to this wonderful organization that has helped so many. John and Carla are so hard-working and I'm happy to know them.
D.P. (USA) April 8, 2013: The River Ganga Foundation is the non-profit that provides the basis for the communication of what I consider to be of great importance to all human beings. John and Carla Sherman dedicate their life to communicating a revolutionary breakthrough in bringing an end to the fear-based experience of life that has blocked our natural connection to our world and each other. As a psychologist with over forty years of practice, who has engaged with the spectrum of teachings, belief systems, practices, philosophies, not to mention sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I have finally come upon a man who discovered the simple act that turns all that came before it on its ear. After taking his suggestion to try the act and pay attention to the shift in my experience of life, I cannot express my surprise at how it worked exactly as he predicted and opened up a totally new realm of clarity and effectiveness in my life. I now work to help bring more exposure to this foundation and its potential to bring sanity to humanity.
M.A. (USA) April 8, 2013: When I found The River Ganga Foundation I was lost, scared and feeling suicidal. I had tried for more than twenty-five years to fix myself through religion, spirituality, psychology, philosophy, and good health habits. Though these practices did help to deal with symptoms, none could effect a cure. I was ready to give up and check out when I stumbled onto The River Ganga Foundation's website. I was elated to find that there was no charge for services, and that there were no requirements.
How ironic that, after spending decades and all of the money I had spent, I would come across a cure for what ailed me that was free and effective. After trying to do what John and Carla suggested, I found deep and lasting contentment and a genuine love for my life as a human being. Many of my neurotic habits have left me or are on the way out, and I can't even imagine not wanting to be alive. The River Ganga Foundation saved my life! I highly recommend the simple services that they provide.
D.N. (USA) April 8, 2013: I stumbled upon John and Carla Sherman's work less than a year ago and the tuning fork of pared down authenticity of the message and its delivery grabbed my attention then. However, I was not prepared for the fundamental shift that appears to be taking place as a result of the looking. I feel I am just beginning, but a beginning it is, and this simple act is changing lives one at a time. I feel enormous gratitude.
R.S. (USA) January 26, 2013: My wife Natalia and I interviewed John Sherman regarding his work and his instruction in looking at yourself. We found his instruction to be valuable, practical, and effective. John Sherman is dedicated to offering his simple technique to humanity in a selfless way. He and Carla work diligently and tirelessly to bring this message to the general public in a simple, unpretentious way. May John and Carla Sherman keep up this inspiring work!
D.S. (Serbia) January 23, 2013: Everything is different now as compared to the time when I started looking at myself. Thank you. God bless you.
D.R. (USA) August 21, 2013: After forty years practicing as a psychologist and, in my personal life, studying everything I could find in the area of self-realization, awakening, enlightenment, etc., I came upon this website. Since then I have taken on the simple suggestion to look at myself and followed the guidance of John Sherman. I have had a breakthrough in consciousness that has totally recontextualized my life. I suggest that anyone who suffers anxiety, depression, or fears of any sort listen to what John Sherman has to say.
W.C. (USA) August 21, 2012: During the time I've been involved with The River Ganga Foundation, I have been honored to get to know and work with some of the amazing people who have committed to Just One Look. John, Carla, and those who are cooperating with them are donating countless hours to this life-changing work. I have chosen to donate time and money to The River Ganga Foundations and expect to do so for as long as I am able.
N.M. (Germany) August 19, 2012: For as long as I can remember, I have been grappling with trauma that occurred in early infancy. As a result, my life has been full of struggle and despair. Nonetheless, I searched high and low for a way out. I was blessed with having found many powerful sources of help along the way. Yet not one had a lasting effect.
Until I found the offering of John and Carla Sherman. This discovery is the most significant thing that has ever happened to me, and I am convinced that it is the key to solving the world's most intractable problems. John and Carla offer their services selflessly and wisely, sharing their resources, knowledge, and time to all who request it, asking for nothing in return. I can think of no one more worthy nor of a more valuable endeavor.
K.H. (USA) August 18, 2012: Several years ago, I was freely given what I have so desperately needed all my life: myself! This gift, given to me through the work of John and Carla at The River Ganga Foundation, has not only freed me from an endless and fruitless search for peace, but allowed me the freedom to give of myself to others. I don't know why, or how, what John suggests (to look at yourself) works; only that it does work. Happiness abides in this looking. I unequivocally support The River Ganga Foundation, and recommend their work to all who seek the truth.
E.R. (USA) August 17, 2012: Life can be difficult and many of us go on one search or another to find relief, to find meaning. My own search took the form of meetings, constantly reading metaphysical/philosophical books, and seeking out groups interested in these same studies. It was in one of these groups that I heard the name John Sherman mentioned. I will always be grateful for this couple and the enthusiasm they expressed about John's meetings. I immediately browsed the Internet and found out that he and his wife, Carla, lived 2,400 miles across the country from me!
To make a long story short, I eventually attended one of John and Carla's retreats in 2005 and came away knowing that I had found what I had been looking for! John Sherman has a way of reassuring one that everything is all is all right, right now, and that life is here for one to enjoy. He has shown me how to neutralize the effects of conflict in my life. Burdens have been lifted.
I continue to study and stay in touch through CDs, articles, podcasts, etc. Although we are not pressed for donations, I do donate when I can. I also purchase CDs from his retreats and meetings. What John and Carla are doing for our world is beyond words. If Grace could take a form it would look like the two of them!
L.C. (USA) July 17, 2012: I first learned of this organization in 2007, when a friend sent me a link to their website. Since then I have been listening to their podcasts and doing the one simple act they advocate. Recently, when I noticed my underlying anxiety had dramatically diminished, I could see the effects in my life, and I volunteered to help them in their efforts. All of my contacts with this organization indicate they have the highest integrity. All their time, energy, and money goes toward furthering their efforts to communicate one simple act that can free people from the fear that ruins our enjoyment of life. In order to exclude no one, they offer all of their services free of charge and rely on donations to support the organization. There is no heavy-handed pressure for donations. As far as I can see, everyone is treated equally whether they donate or not.
T.H. (Australia) November 10, 2011: John, having been a student of the mind and predominantly eastern philosophy for just the last five 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.
M.S. (USA) October 27, 2011: 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 first saw John, it was on the internet. I was surfing reports on electro-convulsive shock treatment and its harmful effects on 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 my wife and I 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 bedridden. But I knew I 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 it 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 three six-foot bay windows that open onto 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 it than for 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 eight hours moving my attention inwards.
When I turned forty years old, I first started really feeling depressed. It wouldn't go away and I started seeking help for a myriad of psychological 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 the dangerous decision to get ECT treatments. The doctors told me it could actually screw my mind up 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 group on every possible Open House, Worldwide Online Meetings, and four Five-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 three 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 one. I had gone back to my lung doctor two 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 behavior. Even our own has to be accepted on that account. We all always are doing the best we can. 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.
B.A. (USA) July 24, 2011: I came across the looking in 2006. This was five years after a very quick meeting I had with John and Carla in 2001. At this point, I was steeped in the spiritual lifestyle. I was immediately taken by the simplicity and practicality of the looking. At last, there was something I could actually do.
Fortunately, I was able to grasp what John was speaking about and was pretty successful in attempting it. I would say that my one obstacle was an internal pressure, a physical sensation. With patience, I moved past this and began to quickly touch the reality of me. The most helpful of the pointers for me was and is "I am here. I am always here".
My life has changed in many ways during the course of recovery. I still have challenges. They are always there. I get frustrated and overwhelmed but these states pass rather quickly. I am less superstitious about these states and moods. These days, I am very happy and content with my life. I love sitting with my partner and watching TV. I love walking my dogs, listening to music, doing the work that I do. I no longer require big ecstatic experiences. I am so happy with my life just as it is.
My advice to people just beginning the looking would be to be as patient with the process as possible. It is not a quick fix but it is a real fix. Also, it is good to focus only on this for a while. Set the spiritual teachings down for a while. They can always be picked back up again. With a much different perspective. Give yourself the space to experience this work unencumbered by other things.