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My experience with the looking.

Normally, I wouldn't post anything about myself. Not because I'm showing any great humility, but my experience isn't all that exciting. I have no great enlightenment story.

I am 54 years old. I am a recovering alcoholic with several long and short periods of sobriety. I have also been a spiritual seeker for about 20 years. I started with Zen. I did koan study. The first couple of koans took a long time. But after I began to see a pattern and was passing koans left and right. I hadn't reached any great understanding. I just figured out what the teacher wanted to hear. I left Zen because I didn't want to continue disrespecting the great Zen tradition or waste my teacher's time. I then tried Tibetan Buddhism. I liked the more structured chanting, prayer and meditation but also began to feel that I should have more passion and was just going through the motions. I figured I wasn't doing Zen or Tibetan Buddhism correctly or I would've been seeing some progress. Then I discovered Advaita and really resonated with the teachers I saw on You Tube. During one viewing there was a John Sherman video on the side.

I really liked it but it seemed too simple. "Just look at yourself." There is grand tradition in Zen of students cutting of limbs to show their desire to learn, week long periods of zazen sitting when your legs are cracking, the mind is going crazy meditating etc etc. Tibetan masters studying for years and years. How is looking at myself going to be anything? I also worried that I wouldn't be doing it right. But Sherman kept saying "Trust me. You can't do it wrong."

I started with this feeling of me. I don't think about it or analyze it. At first I would look at myself and get an immediate negative reaction/twinge of insecurity and guilt of past deeds. I screwed up. But I wouldn't stop and analyze why I was feeling bad. I would just stay with the feeling of being me. After awhile, when I don't judge or analyze the negative feeling slowly goes away.

I do this whenever I can remember to do it. I have a picture of Ramana Maharshi by my TV. It reminds me to look at myself. I see Ramana and automatically look at myself for a few seconds. I also have a few cards around the house (on my nightstand, in the bathroom) that say, "Look at Yourself." And for the next few seconds I look at myself while I'm doing whatever it was I was doing. Now and again, the thought will just spring up, "Look at yourself." It's now just a habit. A very pleasant habit.

I've been going to AA and doing the 12 step program for about 20 years. It helps millions of people but I kept having relapses. Unfortunately I found that the emphasis on a personal God who controls things, makes this happen and that happen if I just do the right thing, wasn't doing it for me. They also talk about getting rid of character defects. This of course sounded right because I thought I was alcoholic because there was something wrong with me.

After awhile after trying looking at myself and listening to John Sherman, that I wasn't doing anything wrong. This has really helped. I'm more peaceful now. When "life shows up" as we say in AA, I don't get frustrated. I might have an initial reaction of annoyance and even anger but it doesn't last very long. I can fairly quickly(without even realizing I'm doing it) see that it is not happening to this person, Timmer. It is just happening. It is not personal. I don't avoid things or stick my head in the sand. In fact, I can more easily see what role I have in making a situation or relationship difficult.

This week I drove down to southern california from where I live in northern california, about an 8 hour drive. In the past this would've been a miserable experience. I hated the long drive and then the end of it was the icing on the cake, 2 hours of SoCal rush hour trafftic. A catastrophic end ot a very bitter experience. But it wasn't happening to me. I was just there. Also a few minutes ago, I typed this long boring report and was getting ready to post it. When I was done it said I hadn't logged in. Then when I logged in the report was gone. I had just wasted 30 minutes composing and typing. But I just thought, "well, that was interesting." I didn't get mad. In fact it was kinda funny. Let's hope it doesn't happen again. Not sure if it'll be as funny the second time. I am also now sober for 6 months and not even thinking about drinking. Thank you John and Carla for teaching me to "look at myself." Now, I'm going to cross my fingers and hit "submit new thread." Here goooooooesss.......

 

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