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In the eagerness to talk about the various energetic mental and emotional states, and listening to the usual conversations about relationships of the looking to wisdom teachings, maybe I (or we) have forgotten to ask a simple question.

So here it is: what is the relationship of the looking to happiness?

I would love to know what people say, especially John.


Not sure what you mean by happiness, but what the looking will do is rid you of the forest of neurotic relationship to life that came into being to serve the idea that life cannot be trusted, and must be feared and escaped from.

Have you tried to feel the faint sensation that is your basic nature, the sensation that is what you would call "me"?

Have you found your mind to be undergoing widespread changes, some almost imperceptible, some wild beyond anything you had expected?

Have you started the practice of focused attention and begun to discover the possibilities that appear when you start to learn how to work purposefully with the power of your attention?

When the fear of life disease is cured the mind begins to heal and that healing will unfold until you find yourself in self-reliant, intelligent engagement with your life as it is, with all its wildness and unpredictability and discover there the true wonder and satisfaction available in a human life.

Does any of that seem like happiness to you?

If not, please tell me what you mean by the word happiness.

In true love and support,


Hi John,

My answer would be yes to all the questions you ask about the act, practice and the results of the looking. The sane mind that is the result of looking is very 'realistic', grounded, and simple. Also I would never have guessed that this is what I would have wanted or more importantly what I needed.

The other question you ask is far deeper where you ask me to define happiness. I ponder over this and am unable to find an answer. Seems like just another word, a label. But it does point to some kind of contentment, a not-running-away from life.

The idea behind asking the question was to setup a way to talk about the looking starting with a positive emotion because I feel most forum discussions deal with overpowering negative ones. So starting to talk about the looking with a word that usually has positive connotations might help bring out some more facets of the act.

I guess then an even more important question can be asked. You use the word 'neurotic' a lot and I relate to it. What is the difference then in the use of attention in a neurotic mind versus a sane one? I guess thats what I want to know.

I experience things differently after many years of looking and thats awesome. But I am unable to explain how the newer mechanisms are different than the older ones in a simple way. I feel that they are different, not based on fear etc., but maybe it helps to know how things actually change in effect and not just cause. Or are these changes completely dependent on the individual mind, and the only thing that can be said is that there is a lack of distance to one's life? If so, how is that lack of distance affected by or affects the movement of attention?

Sorry for the ramble, it all came out rather spontaneously. Please do address anything that you may find helps me and others.

Keep in mind that there is much more to look at than 'me'. Once you have taken that one look, the possibilities open wide for the exploration of the wonder that is your mind. Look at everything. Look at thought; look at physical and emotional sensation; look at opinions and habits. Not with the intent of changing, or keeping, or getting rid of them, but always merely to see them freshly as they are without regard to their content.

This sane use of attention will inform you, empower you, and serve you for as long as you live.

And this is the difference between a life in thrall to neurotic thought processes and a mind that is sane.

"...The idea behind asking the question was to setup a way to talk about the looking starting with a positive emotion because I feel most forum discussions deal with overpowering negative ones. So starting to talk about the looking with a word that usually has positive connotations might help bring out some more facets of the act..."

Thank you very much for posting this! I totally agree with you. My impression is very similar - many posts remind a group therapy session. Perhaps it's understandable - people bring their pains and worries to the community... But I am afraid that some people still kind of wallow in their problems... and for someone new who browses the forums, the overwhelming majority of negative posts might seem not that attractive, to say the least. Another reason for this might be that people who find satisfaction as a result of looking, they just go away, continue their life, content and happy. They don't look for a way to express themselves, they don't need a community of people to share their feelings, etc., and we don't hear from them much.

We need more positive posts here! Our brains and minds tend to copy and reflect the environment they find themselves in - they get negative when surrounded by complains and problems, and they tend to look for traces of happiness in themselves when they hear positive reports from other people. It's all reciprocal: We shape our environment, and our environment shapes us!

Thank you again!


There are many positive reports in the forums, and referring to those who are working through the difficult recovery from this dreadful disease as wallowing is extremely disrespectful. Wallowing in the misery is often a fundamental symptom of the disease, and scolding people for speaking about it as if it were their fault is not what this forum is about.

Our purpose here is to work with those who are recovering from the disease by encouragement and help with learning how to gain control over the focus of attention. When they are deprived of attention (which is their food), these mechanisms of misery die off much more quickly, and true self-reliance dawns sooner and with greater intelligence and strength. All else leads to a prolonged recovery with much greater pain.

We have made two changes to the forums as a direct result of your posting.

One is the creation of the Reports from sanity and self-reliance forum to highlight the actual way in which the looking changes people's lives. The other is the decision to allow access to all the other forums only to registered members. You will receive an email about these changes and some others that you might have played a role in by making these suggestions. Please take this criticism in the spirit it is offered, which is one of honesty and directness.


John and Carla

"...and for someone new who browses the forums, the overwhelming majority of negative posts might seem not that attractive, to say the least." This is interesting. Actually the honesty of the reports impressed me when I first found this forum. I felt it needs true confidence to allow complaints and stay calm and firm. I googled "fear of life" because that was the self diagnosis that I eventually came up with. And I found John and Carla.

The simplicity, almost austerity of the method sharply contrasted with the hugeness and perceived complexity of the issue (the eternal human dissatisfaction with life) and and the bold promises ("snuff out the fear of life"). I have never encountered anything like it before. I mean, can you imagine, my whole life I was looking for a solution (including scanning the internet with keywords), and here it was, appearing almost like a scam. But no... all provided for free! And it just felt so correct. An important aspect to gain trust about the authenticity of the approach were the honesty, sincerity and level of details in posts of people going through the so-called recovery process. Then, I even called a person that was listed with a video report he provided two years back. I wanted to know from him, whether, one year after his enthusiastic report, he would still stand behind his claims. He confirmed but also admitted ongoing challenges and difficulties.

All this is in contrast to many, many other places where bliss is promised, and happiness. There, a high gloss couverture is applied to all content (by heavy filtering, censorship?), maybe out of fear that the illusion and business model could collapse by "negative thoughts".

This just to offer another perspective. I agree that solid and reliable reports of stably recovered people are extremely important and helpful. But they can be found here too.


I would agree with John, that the unraveling process is complex and the need for compassion and understanding, from both others and oneself, is critical. In my experience, the first few years after the looking were amazing, because the contrast between my old self and new outlook was so sharply defined. As time has gone on, however, I tend to forget how miserable I was and I register the change as more subtle. Life's setbacks can occlude the changes during this period and sometimes I feel as though nothing is happening. All it takes is several minutes of contemplative reflection to recall just how miserable I was before the looking. 😉

I'm beginning to realize that this is not about reaching a plateau or place of comfort. It seems that as our ability to handle life and live life intensely increases and fear falls away, life responds with increased intensity. Or it may be that we just didn't feel the intensity before and were numb to certain aspects of life that the loss of fear opens us up to. Whatever the case, there is an ever expanding gyre as we confront the richness of experience. Sometimes this is stunningly difficult, an awakening child in an adult world, sometimes it's stunningly beautiful and transcendental, but it's always new and fresh.

As many say, and perhaps the theme of the looking, it's not what I expected.


Good feedback. first, it reminds me that by forcing happiness or an imagined 'positive' state as the end result might be the opposite of what is actually required, which is the strength (or compassion) to admit what is going on. even if this means the social connotation of such energy is 'negative'.

Also positive reports from others can be encouraging. the ones of great happiness and freedom and lightheartedness created for me a sense of 'not having gotten there'. and now I realize that it is not what I would have wanted anyway.

The true encouragement comes from reports that convey self reliance and not necessarily the complete abandonment of all troubles.

Hello all.

I know very well the psychological aspect of "wallowing" in my misery. I guess just because it is so familiar and dramatic. I also know the happiness, bliss and love of melting into a beautiful experience in nature etc. They are both simply states which come and go no big deal. Now my sense of me is more like a flat line of calm that can bring a smile to my face through it all. I don't feel the need to control the outcome of any situation so much. Although I don't experience so many intense overwhelming emotions anymore I do feel almost daily anxiety arising very subtly and I tell you in a matter of minutes by turning my attention away it totally dissipates.I seem to know now that this too will eventually be gone and I respect the process and timing it takes.I am surrounded by fellow human beings who have great ups and downs and I am aware it is tremendous fear gripping them. I've been there and I feel tremendous love and compassion for them especially my grandchildren The looking has made it possible for me to share a totally new perspective and it is well received since there is no 'preaching' aspect. I simply say look at the feeling of being you that's all that is needed.

Love you guys. Great to read your reports.


John and Carla Sherman invite all to a conversation as sane human beings. So as we are sane, then how should we sound? However these forums sound, sanity is expressing itself for me. To see that a "relationship to life that came into being to serve the idea that life cannot be trusted, and must be feared and escaped from--to see that as unnecessary is the presumption here.

Hi everybody,

I would like to comment on the statement made by Tamara, who said that there might be many people who have positive results but do not have the desire to talk about it. I find this to be very true from my experience and thank her for bringing up this point, really. I used to be very eager to talk about experiences, especially of spiritual nature with like-minded people. However, since I have done the act of looking, this notion very radically changed, even to the point that I abandoned some relationships that were based on such discussions. But I felt obliged to give a comment and thanks to Tamara I write now, although I really feel that I have nothing important to share.

There is one thing I would like to mention as to what is happening to me in the period of recovery. John, you are often mentioning the term "focused attention", yet my experience is that there has been appearing a formerly unknown or unrecognized form of attention which is not focused at all. It somehow appears to me that the focused "beam" of attention is itself a symptom of the state of fear and that the more the fear goes away, a less focused attention shows up; a mode of attention that is not a beam anymore but rather a pulse wandering quite uninvolved, not being caught be anything specific but more all-inclusive and uncontrolled and at the same time very calm and satisfying. Like being in a state of "nothing special really happening" and that seems to be quite satisfying. And it really appears very new to me as a result of the looking. I'm not quite sure I'm getting across what I'm trying to say"¦so I rather stop here.

And thanks Tamara for your comment...


Wolfgang (Germany)

After looking at me you will already remember me. This is what you are. This is where you are. This is who you are. I includes our troubled mind. You are secure in me. You may have these thoughts or not. But whatever thoughts you have you after looking at me--you will enjoy exploring. Life is new, slowly tentatively even while deliciously resisting the glance backwards to the old reality like Lot's wife. There is a niggling going on in my mind. When you turn the corner in me you almost can't believe the texture is gone--for a second or two. If you listen a brother or a sister may say what you need to hear. I certainly appreciated hearing this suggestion to look at me from John and Carla Sherman.


Your experience with attention is exactly my own.

The exercise of deliberately moving attention away from what is attracting it at the moment is intended only to free it from the grip of fear, after which your natural intelligence will direct attention effortlessly to whatever needs it in the moment.

Your description of attention's ordinary state of calm and satisfying wandering is perfect.

Don't hesitate to post here about your experience, your understanding, your life, and any confusion that arises. We are none of us alone here.



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