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I've been listening to you (John) for about 6 months and appreciate what you have to say--and your efforts to say it in a way we can all understand can't be easy.
I have 2 questions.
First, I struggle with your notion of fear of life. By fear of life do you mean lack of control? This is about as close as I can get to what you are talking about and certainly applies to me as my whole life has been one of trying to gain control through personal manipulation, buying stuff, or trying to alter any and all things I think suck (former SDS activist here). Is the fear you speak of merely a response to the fact that we have no control? Is need to control the root of the whole problem since relinquishment means we don't exist as individuals?
Secondly, since 1974, I have struggled coming to grips with a 3-4 month spiritual experience that absolutely knocked me out of my body and completely changed my perception. For that brief time, I was absolutely separate from my body, blissful, peaceful and one. The time since that experience has been spent trying to figure out what I did wrong and find out what I needed to do to get that experience back again (repair the wound). Understand, I was in a Midwestern town and the closest explanation to what was happening to me was that I was born again (well, it was the 70's and the age of Jesus freaks etc.) certainly an interesting concept for a wayward Episcopalian to grasp. Anyway, several years ago I came upon non-duality, and more recently found you. Clap, clap!
Nisargadatta had the beginnings of a response to that experience when he said "Even faith in God is only a stage on the way. Ultimately, you abandon all, for you come to something so simple that there are no words to express it."
That quote sort of gets to the gist of my question, but not completely because the experience I had was beyond belief - yet certainly solidified it. I get the stage analogy, yet I still, after all these years, often feel abandoned by God because the experience, as you know, is very, very real - duality rears it's head. I am interested in where you place that experience now (how you categorize it). Because of its stunning, breathtaking presence, it is hard for me to explain the experience by simply telling myself it was just the case. Do you have any other suggestions?
Thank you again for your efforts and attempts to help us deal with these stumbling blocks. mjh
Hi, I prayed with Pat Robertson in the 70's; played in a heavy metal rock band in the early 80's; buried myself in the black healing sands in the mid-80's while studying Transpersonal Psychology at the Association for Research and Enlightenment, where I had many metaphysical experiences, including one where I had complete 360 degree consciousness. I then joined a Twelve step group and worked all the Twelve Steps to death, and studied the Twelve Traditions as a means of effective service. Then I found Buddhism for a few years and that enacted great changes in my surface awareness. Then the Course of Miracles. Then marriage, kids, and consumer culture extravagance. Then, for about a week, complete bliss and sweet understanding of all things, which left a mark for sure. Then, I studied Anthroposophy so as to become a Waldorf teacher, where "Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path" became my bible. Then divorce, dark night of the soul, and moderate drinking after being sober for 18 years. Then I became a martyred poet that lived in austerity and emulated the lifestyle of my hero, Henry David Thoreau. Then I became suicidal and did not want to be alive anymore. Then I bumped into John on the internet and heard him say that beliefs were stupid (he did not say that but that's what I heard) and I found hope. I tried to do what he asked. My mountain of spiritual beliefs and understandings were a pain in the ass, but I kept at it. Three years later, I am in absolute love with life. The idea of not wanting to be alive is just absolutely absurd, though I do have a strong inclination to not be around people. I seem to have no defense against human misery these days--perhaps because my sense of separation is no longer fueled by the insane fear of life. Right now, all of the shit that I've experienced is good. It's all an effect. Descriptions are just plain fun, as are stumbling blocks. I have physical challenges that I am curious about and take action on, without the incessant plague of feeling like I have to work on myself. Life as I see it is unfolding right before my eyes and even though circumstances seem to suck sometimes, they have no bearing on the ever present reality that I've come to affectionately know as ME. Which is you too BTW!
Hello, Mike, I would like to acknowledge that I've read your letter and am amused (?) by similarities between us, though I have lacked your level of 'achievement' (whatever that may mean (really dunno). Thus, and estimating us to be in the same age range by the amount of experience I've also gone through, well, no Pat Robertson in my life (being a nice Jewish girl) but definitely, Cayce, 12-step, Buddhism (and Sufism, where my community is now largely centered), then marriage, then kids, then Course in Miracles. Many of my children's closest friends attended Waldorf, and I live within minutes of the East Bay Waldorf School. During this time, eventually doing some Diamond Heart work. Yes, divorce. I feel I've lived a fair amount of my life in dark night of the soul territory, but, in 2009 I was 'laid off,' and pursuant to this I fell into the deeper realms of the dark night, including contemplation of suicide and certainty that me and my spiritual path had parted ways. Similarly to you, I was checking an Advaita teachers site when I found John, and as soon as I heard him, something deeply resonated. I was in a state of being by that point similar to the description, at wit's end. It is funny to think about this now, because that is no longer the case with me, it really isn't. When I was at the depth of it, after I'd come across John, I sent him and Carla an email describing my state (possibly including how close I was to not wishing to be alive at all). I did not hear from them for a month or maybe more (and had forgotten I'd sent the email), when Carla wrote back asking if I still wished to have a phone talk with John. Yes, I'd forgotten that that was what I'd requested. I wrote saying, as I'm now mentioning to you, that I wasn't really using the process any more as I felt frustrated and confused when I tried to use it, indeed not knowing whether I was doing it 'right' or not, and not wishing to waste time at doing something that made no sense to me (yes, I know, ironic choice of word), but that now that I thought of it, I was basically experiencing a life with little fear in it and a more engaged life though by no means 'problem' free. As to my phone conversation with John, given what was going on in my life, I was uncertain whether it was required at this moment, and put the question forth to them (John and Carla). As they have not responded up till now, I presume there is no problem I guess I still wonder a bit about this issue. I mean there's no real telling if I 'got' it or not, right? ) However, life has resolved to a remarkable degree.
I have in the past two weeks been dealing with a complex and challenging issue in my life and received a notice on the upcoming Ojai Afternoon and wondered if maybe I'd benefit from connecting more with John's community and tuning in once more to his message (even if unable to do the exercise I looked at the site and started reading messages and came across yours, expressing much in sync with my own journey, and decided to reach out and shout: Hi! In sanghahood, Marlowe
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