Thank you all for your generous response to our recent fundraising appeal. We have enough now to get through the rest of this month and the first part of June. We'll keep you posted. Love, John and Carla.
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First published online and as an ebook on September 1, 2012.
This is a book about YOU.
It involves a story about a man named John Sherman and a revolutionary discovery that opens a totally new horizon for mankind.
Nonetheless, it is a book about YOU. In fact everything you have ever encountered is about YOU.
You don't typically think of it that way but, if you consider it, you are what you're interested in: you and your life.
Everything that comes into your experience is processed as it relates to you. This is not so much a matter of ego, or being in a selfish or self-centered state, it is simply the reality of the human experience. Your experience is that everything other than you is outside of you. So, life is about you. Life is the experience of you relating to everything outside of you. Everything that comes into your field of perception is therefore evaluated in terms of it being useful or not useful or irrelevant to your survival; followed by what will bring "good" or satisfying experiences and avoid "bad" or dissatisfying experiences.
So, it's you and life; you and your experience. That's what's going on. You can talk about it anyway you want and come up with all kinds of ideas about you and life. However, it comes down to what I just said.
This all started with your appearance here, with your birth. You don't remember much about it because you did not have language when it occurred. You know you showed up because you're here now, and you have a story given to you by others and then recorded by you — a story that is the story of you.
As you read this book, you will be evaluating it just as you evaluate everything that comes into your field of perception. You will compare it to everything you ever experienced. You will automatically continue to read it, as long as it shows up for you as non-threatening and useful; that is, as long as it doesn't hurt you (or more accurately, doesn't hurt the concept you have of yourself) and as long as it offers something good like satisfaction or contentment. Otherwise, you will lose interest and put it down.
Typically, the first quality that must be present is that you understand it. If you don't understand it, it appears to have no use. In addition, not understanding something seems to imply that something is wrong and somehow threatening. Please be clear that this is not a negative assessment about you. It is simply the way it is. If you get this, then you can relax a bit and continue on.
At this point, you may be asking, "What is this all about?" This book is about you; it's about the fact that you are looking for something. You have been living the life described above and it has not been such a good experience, and it has become apparent to you that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Each new promising possibility ends up losing its power to bring fulfillment or satisfaction. Life itself appears to be an unpredictable, incomprehensible, constant parade of appearances that must be processed so you can survive and maintain some sense of security or contentment. So you are looking. (Some call it seeking.) You're looking for something to finally bring you satisfaction, contentment, or fulfillment, something that will last and bring an end to what has been called "human suffering."
This is what you have been looking for, and where you have been looking is in the world: in possessions, in relationships, in ways to alter your experience, in spiritual teachings and teachers, any place that offers hope for a better experience of life. The possibilities are endless and can easily occupy a lifetime — and usually do.
This is a book about a very, very simple act that brings an end to the source of this drama. An act that brings an end to the fear of life that originated not long after your arrival. This fear of the experience of being here has been founded, not just on the way life appears to be, but also on who you consider yourself to be. As you may recall, I distinguished you from the concept you have of you. That is, you consider yourself to be some form of identity. For example, a body, a personality, or some role, like a father, a mother, a businessperson, a teacher. So this book, and the story of the man who came upon the key (the simple act that brings an end to the fear of life), is about you. It's not about your ideas or concepts about you, but about the actual experience of you. It's about who you are naturally, and about the experience of being that is natural to who you are: the natural human life.
You may ask, "But how do I do this?" This man, this unexpected character, John Sherman, has found the answer to this question. He didn't know he had found it until, over time, his experience revealed the obviousness of it. Since then, he has had only one thing to say to anyone who will listen: look at yourself.
In the pages that follow, I will describe my experience of coming upon John and Carla Sherman, and taking on the simple act he suggests. I will review his story and the turn of events that brought him to the recognition of this simple act, and I will share the experiences I have had since I began looking at myself. I will also discuss some of my ideas about this looking as a distinctive act that has the power to end the context of fear that has produced the insanity that pervades the world. Finally, I will report on the creation of a project to bring this simple message to humanity and have the world go sane.
The purpose of this book is to invite you to take on the act of looking at yourself and find out for yourself what life actually is.
I am a psychologist who has worked over the last forty years in prisons and in private practice. My work with prisoners has been a unique education. It has been said that the typical life of a human being is akin to being in prison. I have seen this to be accurate, both in my own life and in the world of prisons in which I have worked. And yet, at the same time, I have met men in prison who got free and experienced a quality of life beyond what most people outside the walls have. Interestingly enough, the man who came upon the simple act that inspired this book spent most of his adult life in prison. He has described this experience as one that served him well. Given where he ended up, I can understand it.
In 2008, when I was working as a warden in a medium security prison after thirty-two years of service as a forensic psychologist and prison administrator, I came upon John Sherman's website. At the time, I was delivering a program to a select group of inmates called The Impact Project. This was an intensive program that utilized material from a very popular and successful human transformation course that I had participated in over the years. The program I was implementing was successful in terms of the significant changes it produced in the personalities and behaviors of the men involved. However, I was under scrutiny by my director and the custody staff, who believed that I was misusing my role as administrator and compromising the operation of the prison. Therefore, even though I was teaching an effective living approach that prisoners found helpful, I was under a lot of stress and pressure, and I was struggling to manage my own anxiety and fear of the future.
I was perplexed at why I just could not find a way to stop my craziness, mainly in my relationships. I often surfed the Internet to keep track of new ideas being presented, especially those in the area of teachings that offered the experience of life I imagined possible. I had had many glimpses of this possibility over the years, sometimes lasting for days at a time, and had had perceptions and experiences that were consistent with what I had read about in many books. But still, like most seekers, I kept moving from teacher to teacher, and I tried many practices. While my experience of life was mostly fulfilling, I continued to be aware of a subtle background of anxiety.
When I came upon John and Carla Sherman's website, I was intrigued by the fact that this man was an ex-con who had served eighteen and a half years in the federal prison system. He appeared much different than the typical consciousness teachers around the net. His presentation was low key, and he talked in a very matter of fact way about the condition that pervades our experience. One thing he pointed out caught my attention: during the last 5,000 years, there have been many teachers, traditions, and practices but only a few people have stumbled upon a state of freedom from the common psychological, emotional, and physical suffering that has been a part of the human story. I had often wondered about this. I wondered why there didn't seem to be a specific process or procedure that worked, one that gave everyone access to an experience of life that is totally fulfilling, without the anxiety, fear and apprehension that seem to be everywhere.
John Sherman was saying that after a decade of trying to identify exactly what had resulted in his experiencing what he called "natural human life," it finally became apparent to him: it was the simplest act imaginable. He reported that, at first, he did not know what had caused his own shift in experience, where his life appeared completely fulfilling just as it is, without the fear and anxiety that had plagued him for as long as he could remember. It was during his attempts to talk about this shift that he realized he had looked at himself.
What followed was a period of reorganization of the very structure of personality that had developed out of the fear of life. This reconstruction took time, and there were difficult and uncomfortable experiences but, in time, he noticed that the fear was gone and life appeared to him as an endless arising of wonderful, unpredictable phenomena that filled him with joy.
My first impression upon reading this and hearing him talk about it, was that it was too simple, especially when I considered all of the wisdom traditions, teachings, and practices (especially from the East) that required intense effort, devotion, study, and usually involved a guru and the transmission of esoteric wisdom teachings. It also occurred to me that this man had a history of criminal behavior, part of which involved schemes to make quick money. Should an intelligent person like me, a psychologist who had studied and practiced much of the ancient and current techniques and teachings, accept that an ex-con had come upon the actual gateway to end fear and open the way to the fulfilled experience of life sought by humanity in so many different ways?
In spite of my reactions, I could not ignore his intelligence and clarity. I also acknowledged that his comments about how few people appeared to experience this fulfilling context of life was actually the case. I saw this clearly for myself, although I was too afraid to talk about it because it seemed to me that I would be questioning a sacred cow and revealing my naïveté. Yet, it is the case, and he shared that this was one aspect of human aspiration that had troubled him for a long time.
John Sherman also said that to do this simple act, nothing is required. You don't have to believe in it. You don't have to stop believing, practicing, or doing whatever else you are doing. There is nothing to join, no guru to be devoted to, and no payment expected. He affirmed that if you simply do this act, you will notice that it will occur to you to do it again and again, and the root cause of dis-ease in life, the fear of life, will come to an end. Then, over time, what he calls a "recovery process" will occur, and a natural experience of life, a sane relationship to life will be revealed.
So, with all of this considered, I chose to give it a try. I followed his simple direction to move the beam of my attention inward and do my best to get a glimpse of what it is like to be me. As time passed, I realized that this business of looking at myself was on the one hand very simple, and at the same time very complicated. I found that I was surprised and excited when what John Sherman suggested would happen, began to happen.
The experiences that followed the act of looking at myself are what motivated me to write this book.
After taking the action of looking at myself, I noticed that it occurred to me to do it again, at various times and various places. Something was occurring that was different from anything I had ever experienced. Something really new was going on.
I had always struggled with my relationships with women. I have been married four times. No matter what else in my life was working, intimate relationships continued to be frustrating. After so many years of failing in this area of life I concluded that, having come from a crazy family, I was just too screwed up to expect to have my relationship work.
Several months after I started looking at myself, I had a typical upset with my wife. The familiar pattern used to go like this: she would say or do something, and I would have an angry reaction. Then, we would argue until we realized there was nothing to do but stop talking. The open conflict was followed by distancing, disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, and depression.
On this occasion, when the reaction struck, I shared it with her and listened to her response. I understood her point of view, and what was needed to clear the air and move on. And I just did it. I did not think to do it, it just seemed to happen. I was surprised and confused afterwards. Something had changed, and I had not noticed it until this situation happened. The fear that was the context of my life was no longer driving me to be defensive or aggressive. I was free to see what was happening without feeling threatened, and I was able to simply respond. This seemed so simple and did not fit my ideas of how things worked. I had spent years in therapy working on this area of my life, thinking that I needed to work through my relationship with my mother and discharge all of my emotional baggage. When I looked to see how this had come about, the only thing that I had done differently was to do the act of looking at myself.
Not long after this, a crisis occurred in my career. I was not your typical prison administrator. As a psychologist, I had many years of experience working closely with inmates and getting a good sense of their world and the inside of their lives. After years of hard work, and developing relationships with prison administrators, I had been promoted to administrator of a medium security state prison in Camden, New Jersey.
When I became an administrator, in charge of my own institution, I felt compelled to implement an intensive program based on what I had learned over three decades of work. This new program would offer an opportunity for those inmates who were interested to transform their experience of life. I set up the program and led the three-day intensive that was the initial phase of the program.
As I continued to develop the program, I encountered hostility from many custody and higher administration staff who did not believe that inmates should be provided much more than punishment and seclusion. I knew that my direct involvement with the program, and the men who participated in it, would draw negative reactions. Yet, I could not ignore this opportunity I had to make a difference. After running the program with the help of volunteers for over a year, I found myself being investigated by the Special Investigations Division and I recognized that I would be removed. Long story short, I was removed and subsequently fired for violating procedure.
During this time, I experienced tremendous stress and concern about the future. My pension was on the line, after thirty-two years of service. I had a household, and financial responsibilities to manage, and I had people who were dependent on me. The people who worked with me on the program were supportive, but I was on my own to deal with this experience.
While the situation was uncomfortable and challenging, there was something else about my experience that I could not put my finger on. I noticed that I was not as freaked out as I thought I would be, as the process of fighting for my pension went forward. Of course, there was stress and many difficult decisions about legal approaches, legal representation, paying the bills while my pension was held hostage and so on. Yet, looking back on this time, I can see that what was gone was the background fear of life that had always been there in the form of angst. While I had concerns about the future, it did not incapacitate me or overwhelm me. I was able to see what needed to be done and do it. I ended up appearing on my own behalf before the State Ethics Committee. My case was resolved, and a memo from the chairperson went to the Pension Board suggesting that no negative action be taken on my pension. After that, I appeared on my own behalf before the State Pension Board. They were surprised that I did not have my lawyer present to do the talking. I made a statement to the board and asked that the documentation I submitted be reviewed and placed in the record. I was asked to step outside the room while the board discussed my case. Five minutes later, I was called back and told that my pension was approved without any action by the board and that I would receive two years of back pension payments.
It took me a while to see clearly that my personality was reconfiguring, and that there was a context for my experience of life that was not fear-based. The most incredible aspect of this is that it seemed to happen without my working it out. It just seemed natural for me to experience life not as a threat, but as an unfolding reality that was full of twists and turns, ups and downs, akin to the biggest and most exciting amusement ride imaginable.
I decided that I should go out to California to meet this guy John Sherman and find out what he was up to. There was a free annual retreat scheduled, so I registered and set up the trip.
The most striking aspect of my experience of John over the week I spent with him at this retreat was his ordinariness. He did not show up as a guru type. He did not exude the universe through his eyes and his presence. He appeared just as an ordinary human being interested in having a conversation about what he had done that had resulted in his living in the natural experience of life.
After the end of the retreat, my wife and I were invited to visit John and Carla Sherman at their home. We met for maybe an hour over tea. I forget the details of what we talked about. I think it had to do with my interest in working with John as he developed the conversation he wanted to have with people. He commented that his experience of me was that "I saw things clearly." As it turns out, this business of seeing things clearly is not something special. It is actually just the way life is seen, when the distorted, fear-based perceptions come to an end. I didn't recognize this at the time, but I think it is important to point it out now. When I left, we agreed to keep in touch and have more conversations.
I think that I emailed him after that and asked him if he would be willing to meet with a group of my friends using an Internet video connection. He agreed and we had a meeting at a friend's house where about fifteen friends interacted with John and discussed his suggestion to take on the simple act of looking at yourself and see what happens.
I found it interesting that most of the people there appeared to be skeptical and hesitant, even though John made it clear that this act did not involve a commitment to anything, that it was free, and that it did not require changing anything, or believing anything, even believing that the act would work. At the time, I found this confusing. Why wouldn't people find this interesting and give it a try, given that nothing other than the act was required? After several more meetings, it became clear to me that this hesitation was one of the symptoms of the context of the fear of life. Given this context, people consider it "smart" to be cautious and not accept anything as it is presented. This posture of questioning anything and everything that sees everything in life as a possible trick is different from realistically looking at a proposal. It is clear to me, as I write this now, that humanity is in a state of paranoia. It brings to mind the joke that I often hear: Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean no one's out to get ya.
But what we joke about is often revealing. I recall someone talking about this aspect of our perception in the past, and saying that if Jesus Christ himself were around today talking to people, you would probably hear people say, He seems sincere, but he is a little pushy.
It became clear to John, and it is also clear to me now, that these conversations with people are the place where the future of this idea is taking shape and direction. That the interaction with people in the space of community is the home of this work, and that this work is not about individuals, it is about all of us. As John points out, we are all in this together. It is clear to me that John does not see himself as the personification of this work, as has often been the case with the so-called "masters" in the traditions. The community is the source of this work. The community forums, which have appeared on John's website, clearly show that this is the case.
As I considered how I could work with John to develop this conversation and make this act available to more people, it occurred to me that this was finally the subject of a book I could write. Previously, I had had the impulse to write a book but, until now, I had not seen anything to say that would be different.
I presented the idea of writing a book to John and Carla. I suggested that the book be about my encountering John, and that I would speak as a psychologist. I would analyze his personality with the intention of finding out whether or not he was credible and authentic. I thought that this would be interesting to people, and it would provide an opportunity to present John's ideas. At the same time, it would address the considerations that people might have about John, given his past criminal life.
John and Carla thought it was a good idea, and agreed to work with me on this project. They set up an online meeting room and we agreed to meet weekly. I would interact with them, and ask whatever I needed to develop my thinking around John's history and my psychological interpretations of his personality. John was very open and thought it would be interesting to review his past and discuss my thoughts about him. I often wondered whether he would react if I pushed him a bit about his outlaw past.
We met many times, and had some very interesting and stimulating conversations. As time passed, I did make comments about John's personality and developmental history and used clinical terminology such as "anti-social personality" to describe John's behavior in the past. I took an indifferent stance in my questioning and writing that purposefully challenged John's authenticity. However, no matter what I said, he just found it interesting. These conversations began to show up for me like my therapy sessions. John would review things from the past, and comment on how he experiences those things now. He was brutally honest and readily acknowledged that he had been a dirtbag and that he did not believe in anything or anyone, especially himself, for all those years. I brought up whatever I thought would be a useful area to drill into. I asked about his failures and, of course, his relationship with his mother and father, and his relationship with Carla. Rather than giving me anything juicy to write about, John seemed to be noticing differences between the way he was before the looking and the way he is presently.
As I continued to write, I began to struggle with how I would get out of this new situation. I mean, it was clear that I could not identify anything in our interactions that suggested that John was inauthentic, or that he was not credible. But now, given that I was in the middle of experiencing the effects of having looked at myself and seeing the benefit of it, I realized that my experience of the truth of John's message was coming through in my writing. Therefore, I wondered if there was a possibility that my conclusions would be considered questionable. It might look like I was just using this approach to support John and his work.
Around this time, I noticed that there was a guy in the news making a prediction that the world was going to end. I recalled that, every so often, someone would predict the end of the world, and there would be attention given to it in the media. As the predicted date approached, there were reports that some people were selling all their belongings and preparing for the last judgment. I thought that this was all ridiculous since, if one considers this matter, it is apparent that the world has been on a slow slide toward the end for a long time. And this is not because of a prediction based on the alignment of the planets, but based on the actual, day-to-day "what is happening" in the news.
It occurred to me that it would be different and interesting if someone would come forward and predict the beginning of a new world, a world becoming sane and moving toward a future where the damage done could be reversed; a future that would ensure the welfare and well-being of everyone. I sent John an email sharing my thoughts about this. He wrote back and said that his response to reading my email was "joy." He saw that his mission now would be to bring the looking to enough people, in a short enough period of time, so as to bring sanity to the world. When we talked more about this, I said that it would be cool if he created an event at a specific date and time. On this date, everyone around the world who had heard the suggestion to look at yourself would take a few moments to do it, all together at the same time. I shared that I remembered the Hands Across America event years ago, when people held hands and formed a line from coast to coast to promote solidarity.
John liked the idea and said that he would make this event part of the movement forward. Soon after that, he told me that he had come up with the name of the project. He called it the Just One Look project. After some research, he had found out how many people it would take to create a critical mass that would carry the suggestion of the act to all of humanity. This really psyched him up because he saw that, given the technology we now have, it is actually possible to communicate with enough people to reach a critical mass in a relatively short period of time. Our attention began to turn toward this project and the organization needed to bring it into existence.
As the book took a back seat to the newly created Just One Look project, our conversations turned to what it was going to take to bring it into existence and produce the outcome we desired. To take on the goal of reaching the ears of ten percent of the world population within three to five years was a tall order given that we had no clear plan as to exactly how we were going to do it.
Our meetings became conversations to begin to distinguish what it would take. It was clear that it would require an organization much larger than John and Carla, who had been the whole of the RiverGanga Foundation until then. It was clear that it would take a core organization of committed people, willing to take on many of the tasks that occupied most of John and Carla's time. It was clear that time and money were the first two areas that we needed to work on. I found it interesting that these two areas of life are of central interest and key to success for all of us. As we discussed these areas in our weekly meetings, a process emerged in which our relationship to time and money came into consideration and review. I could see John and Carla looking at their experience of time and money. I did my best to participate in this interaction in a useful way. What started to reveal itself was the importance of the conversation, not just the conversation between us, but also the conversation that was developing in a community of people who were engaged in the recovery process that occurs after the act of looking. It became evident that conversation was the place in which the expression of the natural life showed up, and the field in which the way forward would reveal itself.
John had already said that it was clear to him that he had learned how to talk about what he wanted to communicate through listening to people in his conversations with them. He was looking for the kind of conversation where anyone, regardless of their beliefs, background, position, etc., could hear the suggestion to do this simple act and hear it clearly enough so that they would just do it. It occurred to me that life is a conversation. John often says, when talking about the mind and what shows up in the mind, that the mind is our life. I looked at this for myself, because this wasn't clear to me. When I looked, it was evident to me that life shows up in the constant conceptualization of experience that is occurring as a conversation, and that this conversation occurs in a context, either a context of fear or a context of wonder and joy. I was actually aware of this. I just had not recognized it as my own life.
As our meetings continued, John talked about the need for an organizing committee. He said that a guy named Bill was interested in donating his time to work on organizing volunteers. Bill joined the conversation soon after that, and we continued forward as an organizing committee. The development of the community forum on the website became an area of interest and a place that John and Carla's energy moved toward. As of this writing, the process continues. I wonder what it will be like to read this at some point in the future, when all of this has played out. What a wonderful experience it is to engage with the unknown.
Before continuing, I think it is important to make a few things clear. What I have to say about this act of looking at yourself in terms of my perceptions, ideas, understandings, theories, etc., is just that: what I say about it. I don't claim what I say to be the truth. In fact, as far as I can tell, unless you experience this act and what follows for yourself, you can only imagine what I am speaking of. As Alan Watts once said, "If you eat the menu, you are not eating the food."
Actually, nothing can be said about the experience of who we are. And yet, all we have is language with which to exchange ideas. The important difference with this act of looking at yourself is that it goes beyond ideas and concepts. It is an action that is in the realm of experience. It is clear to me that this simple act is all that is necessary to fulfill the promise of being human, but whether this is the case or not is something you must find out for yourself. You must only rely on yourself when it comes down to it. This is the only way.
Now I am going to turn away from talking about my relationship to John and Carla, and make use of your attention in a more important way. The story, like a country and western song, is what we are so used to being involved with and living with. It can be interesting and useful to a certain extent, but it is still just a story.
What actually makes a difference? What really matters? What do you really want? Let's take a look at what you have been looking for. Let's take a look at looking at yourself.
This is a simple, direct method of experiencing the stark reality of you that brings about the end to the fear of life, and results in the experience of natural life. The experience of life is the ever-moving, ever-changing energetic play of form appearing in perception. Beyond the linear grasp of the mind, the experience of life is complete and fulfilled. It is all-inclusive: it includes the appearance of all internal and external phenomena and is itself life. Incomprehensible and mysterious, life is the precious gift, the birthright of appearing in human form. When the fear of life that occurred at birth departs, as a result of the direct experience of your actual nature through the act of looking at yourself, the apparatus or persona formed by the context of fear transforms itself. Once that process occurs, the direct experience of life is possible. Rather than this being a special state, it becomes evident that it is just the ordinary or natural experience of human existence.
The discovery of this simple and direct method is a radical and revolutionary event.
Until now, all of the teachings and practices throughout the ages have failed to provide an actual method for experiencing natural life that will work for anyone who hears of it and performs it.
The act of looking at yourself means that, for the first time in human history, the experience of life that has been limited to the sages and saints is available to all human beings.
The act of looking at yourself is not a spiritual practice, and it is not mystical. It does not produce an immediate change in your experience. It is actually what is occurring all the time, as the action of looking at all that arises. This looking need not be understood; it is as incomprehensible as its source. All that is needed is to notice your ability to direct attention at will, and take the action of directing it fully to the sense, the experience, the feeling of what it feels like to be you. Just to make contact with it for a moment, to get a brief glimpse of it, regardless of what thoughts occur before, during, or after the act is performed.
Thoughts are commentary and interpretation of experiences. Thoughts are always based on the past, and are in the realm of conceptualization. They are concepts about experience, not experience. The experience of looking at yourself cannot be understood in thought. That which is being looked at does not appear in thought, and cannot be conceptualized. Only by the effects of having taken the act can it be known. In time, when the looking does its work, the fear departs along with the effects of the fear, and you become self-evident, not in concepts or ideas, not as a belief, but just as you — always here, always looking, never moving, having no qualities, no form.
The act of looking at yourself is the actual gateway to having the experience of life that we have been seeking. And this is where this simple act of looking at yourself departs from the past. This is what is different about what John Sherman is talking about. It is the case, I have found in my own experience, that this act of looking is the act that ends the fear of life and ignites the fire that burns down the neurotic personality that seems to be us. John is telling us that there is no need to keep listening to people talk about what it is like to be free, hoping that it will rub off on us eventually. There is no need to practice anything. John is telling us that he has discovered the single, simple act that is the key to the kingdom. From the other side of it, after the looking has done its job, it is obvious that this is not a spiritual matter. This is what it is, nothing more and nothing less.
What is clear to me is that this is the discovery we have been waiting for. If we are all the same as human beings in this life, then we all have the same birthright and we all have the same potential to be free and fully alive. This potential is fulfilled when we look at the truth of who we are. Just to look, not to see, since there is really nothing to see. To look in the direction of the source is to be the source, looking at itself. This is the fulfillment of being human: to be who we are and to be aware that life itself offers the appearance of separation, so that we can look at everything.
The lightness of being that follows the process of recovery from the effects of the fear of life is characteristic of the experience of natural life that ensues. The recovery process can be uncomfortable. I liken it to the process that a caterpillar goes through before transforming into a butterfly, with the added reflective awareness that we have as human beings. As the form of the caterpillar departs, there is concern as to what will come next. Is it nothing, is it death, or is it something beyond anything we could ever know as a caterpillar? Or is it the experience of being a butterfly, the freedom of flying?