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Since being interested in this approach, I've found that I have at times become quite sceptical of the language and the motive behind this looking business.

Although it is much more accessible (Free) and simply stated than all the religious teachings, in a way, this looking approach has developed it's own kind of doctrine. The fact that John Sherman states everything he believes in such a matter of a fact way, (which used too give me hope) reinforces my sense that this is yet another attempt at someone boasting that they have 'the Truth'.

Something seems off when people on the forum use phrases like 'the fear apparatus', 'being at stake' and 'I see I am untouched by all that happens'... simply because it is something you are repeating. Phrases you would never of used without hearing john saying these things first. If I am too say 'I see that I am untouched by everything' then this is just swapping my belief that would be 'I am harmed by everything'... these are just empty words at the end of the day and might not have any meaning at all. It is just more thoughts and ideas regardless of how good they make you feel and hope.

Even the notion 'Look at yourself' as if there is a self there too be looked at is just another idea, another thought, which people take very seriously and then state that 'this is the real me' or 'my actual nature'. The physical looking can be achieved without any of this language too go with it.

Don't get me wrong, 'the looking' probably does have it's benefits but I don't understand why the language and theories about what is happening when you 'look' is taken so seriously and differentiated too douglas hardings 'headless way'. It is exactly the same physical action happening but then a different language too go with it. Which is then just more thoughts. Also I don't understand why we are so limited in this forum, to be able to contact each other directly, or to be able to write stuff without it being censored. It's like some kind of a governed state in that sense.

Another thing I've been thinking lately is that the looking is a very selfish act, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If one is miserable he wants to try everything he can too become free from his misery. But as soon as you want someone too do as you have done, which is too look, you are using that person too come on to your side of what you think is the truth. At least that is the what I have seen myself when I have suggested it. I don't do it any more. Maybe once this sense of apathy wears off in me I will be more and more aware of the suffering in people and therefore be compelled too suggest this looking but I will never try to convince myself that I have done it for them or out of being a good, loving, compassionate person. I will know it was because I didn't want too experience any more of that pain. That is why it is selfish. But not in a bad way.

I have come too see that all humans are inherently selfish so that I can no longer pity anybody without realising that I am doing it too make myself likeable too them or doing it because it seems morally correct. Also if someone else is pitying me I cringe inside but wish i had the balls too slam them for it. In relationships we are continually trying too get what we want from others and then guilt games and manipulation comes in when we convince ourselves that the other person is too pathetic too stand alone in this world and deal with their suffering. We don't need anybody too behave or act in a certain way. I can no longer feel guilty for someone else's own projections. Obviously there are times when humans do physically help each other and let each other down but when we do stuff out of morality, then we play these guilt and shame games. I am not articulating this very well but I am trying to state what is seen as fact to me. It may sound cynical all this but I see this as a genuine report of what happens in a sane mind.

I realise that this post may seem quite contradictory but I am not trying too win people over too my point of view, just stating how I am thinking and feeling.

This looking may of been the best thing I could have stumbled into regardless of the things I have said above.


Very good, Jim. I think dissent is what breathes life into an idea. I have had similar thoughts and doubts and admire you for expressing them. I think you also capture the kind of cynical nonchalance we can go through when we begin to see the world as it is and magical thinking subsides. Perhaps folks simply use John's language in the interim period where they don't have language of their own to express what is going on.....because I believe something does happen, it just may be very different for each of us and we need to work out the changes we are going through.

Hi Jim, I can totally relate to what you write here! I disagree with some of the explanations and theories of John that he developed after having discovered the looking. And I got the impression that people may cling to words and theory during hard times, sort of like singing in the dark forest, to cover up the fear of the wolf. But the method itself is real and it works.

More things come to mind as I mull this over, and this may be localized to me and not apply to you or anyone else. I find that I still harbor this faint, or not so faint, hope that the looking is magical and will make everything fine. I'm peeking around the corners and up ahead for the kind of transcendence so many spiritual teachings offer. A magical shortcut, an absolution, a blissful disconnect from reality without drifting too far away, of course, perfect health, perfect harmony, etc. This wishful thinking is just below the surface, because consciously I know better. John's words in the latest newsletter exposed this tendency. I noticed a negative, childish reaction to this paragraph:

"The act of looking at yourself that we offer promises no transcendence, no bliss of being, and no escape from life's problems and difficulties. It brings neither sweet experiences nor deep understanding of the nature of things. It gives you nothing of what you have come to expect in the way of release from life's problems. Instead, it brings about a fundamental transformation of your relationship with your own life by destroying the underlying cause of the damaged psychology, which is an irrational, unseen fear of life itself."

Ah, come on! I was holding out for one or two "sweet experiences." I realized that I'm still "looking" for these things......not as much as before and not consciously, but this script of escape, salvation, and transcendence is so deeply intertwined with my identity and desire that it is almost invisible to the everyday eye. There it is, the last, or one of the last conditioned desires that is hanging around. Will I notice when it leaves? Because I do believe it will go.....

I appreciate your honesty Jim. To respond to this topic I too have to be totally honest.

Jack, I totally agree to what you are saying. And I can confirm that the magical thinking will go. Even if the process seams to be different for many of us, as you said, I am certain that it will go for everyone in the end. Because the magical approach to this work, or spiritual approach if you will, did disappear for me. That was actually one of the first thing that went for me. I had very little experience with spirituality and I have for several years now only seen this work in a practical way. Actually, that is the very nature of my recovery process. And I love it. New connections between cause and effect do continually and automatically appear in my mind. A kind of low practical human awakening. Not a spiritual all inclusive one.

I think that with approaches like: it's important to be authentic, finding your own words and so on comes from the underlying spiritual approach to this work. For me it feels more natural to compare the nature of this work and the forums to, lets say a group of laymen that has set out to find out how the motorcycle machinery really works. In such a context would concepts about, lets say the gearbox, be created and used by the group to talk about the technical system. Every member didn't have to invent ones own concept to be able to use it and understand it. And the same applies here in this work. It is a learning process. I don't know how many times I have heard something here, a new insight, a word or a concept, by a member or by John, that I felt fitted in in my own process of understanding and became the latest way for me to see and understand an aspect of my own process.

Viewed in a practical way, the common words and concepts here seams pretty harmless and effective. Personally I think, the fear of life, look at your self, and recovery period is very basic and well put concepts of what we are talking about here. Of course, it requires that the act has been done and that one has a slight experience of what that the concepts are describing. And I presume that most people here have some experience of the act itself. I agree that there can be a sort of dryness and rigidity in this work's concepts and expression. I can be pretty dry my self. And I see it to be a kind of attempt to stick to the point and keep the magic out.

And to be honest I am dead tired of the spiritual approach to this work. I get tired of just talking about it. My greatest wish for this work and that I always will work for is to free it from the spiritual approach. And until that happens I support moderation. I think moderation naturally will go when the underlying spiritual view goes. If the forums where fully open now, I wouldn't anyway, have the energy and willingness to be a part of it. To practice even more honesty I can tell that I somehow think that your spiritual background John, isn't very helpful in this area. I don't think you can express what you want to say any clearer than you already do. Your approach is clear and very easy to understand. And still there are a big chance that you get misunderstood. That has to have to do with context and old views and beliefs. And also, when I saw the information about your meeting in Ojai coming soon, I also come to think of something. The words: teacher, retreat and self inquiry is a part of the presentation of your meeting. My reaction is that that isn't either very helpful to free this work from spiritual approach and misunderstandings. Maybe I am too far of here. But I would very much like to hear what you have to say about it.

Its funny. At the moment I am working on a paper in History about the transition in thinking during European early modern time (1400 to 1700). It is commonly believed that during that period, western Europe went from magical thinking to a more rational thinking. It is argued that that is to be shown in how we addressed causal explanations in the old world compared to the modern world. That a transition has taken place is pretty clear, but many recent studies including my own, shows that the changes in thinking probably weren't as great as we have thought. Even in the modern rational world that is plenty of magic thinking to be found. Many of us are, in a way, still drawn to magical thinking. It seems that no historical change ever has or never will rid our minds from magic thinking. Only the looking can accomplish that..


I have no doubt John will meet the 'spiritual' question head on and to put this message out in a context of a meeting or retreat etc. an excellent way to make connections with people and make a little money hopefully. Really a very practical solution for exposure and cash flow probably.? There are so many people on internet putting out their way of seeing this question of' "who am I ?"and making a lot of money too..for me its all good and to be expected..I can take it or leave it. I know for myself coming from a long journey into the spiritual realm it did me no harm . I was listening to a video of Papaji and he said "look at yourself just once is enough"and he laughed...so even some spiritual teachers have pointed this out but we humans tend to put them way up there on a pedestal which seems totally unreachable and complicated concepts are projected on them.John and Carla have simply stripped away all the hype and made the looking accessible now..no seeking required. Although the recovery seems long and painful at times ..it is nothing compared to my 40 years of spiritual seeking and without anyone pointing directly to the context of the fear of life . The feeling of me has no qualities but my experience of life without fear running the show is very different . I could use strong superlatives like harmonious, peaceful, happy, loving on and on but could just as easily have moments where my mind goes a bit berserk and emotions are painful so I won't go there ( smile) .Hang in there Jim !

Cytex, how can you tell it works? Not saying it doesn't, I just can't know for certain.

Jackx, I think what John said about not expecting any big bliss experience is good, but he did say we will eventually be in love with life. Hopefully he was referring to this one!

I can understand the sentiment of this thread. I often feel discouraged to participate in the forum because of the issue of censorship. My last two posts were not published and my last thread was locked completely. My interest in participating in the forum has from the beginning been to attempt to understand things better; what is behind this term "fear of life", how and when did this phenomenon arise, what is this "recovery" period, is there a way to go through it more effectively, such things... These were all questions I've raised and there were interesting conversation around that, but they were always kind of stagnated by the sense that these questions are not welcome here. But to me it felt natural to pose these questions since they remain unanswered to this day and I thought that the whole point of the forum is to explore and develop and understanding of what we are actually doing here. What does John expect us to do here in the forum, I don't get it. Just as Jim mentions people just use John's terminology without penetrating into its meaning. I mean John brings up this term "fear of life" without explaining what it really is and we in turn are expected to use this term to describe something so fundamental to humanity without really understanding it. That's why I have never talked about the "fear of life" with anyone (maybe one or two people) simply because I do not know how to speak about it. I completely lack the words to describe the whole thing.

But anyway, I have to be sincere here and express my full respect for John's work. I am very glad to be part of this and to have done the act of looking and this, I think, is the whole point of John's endeavor. Make people do the act...period! The whole business of trying to explain the whole thing is secondary. And I have to admit that my desire to understand all these things have been irrelevant or even hindering my progress. I can really see that...really. But I'm still not in control of my attention and these questions pop up and very often appear attractive to me. That's just the way it is. So I post these ideas in the forum, and John should expect that to happen. But I also understand the fact that John has to prevent things from moving into the wrong direction, that's his responsibility and I respect that. So maybe the forum as it is now is not the best way to proceed. To my eyes it is ineffective and only a very very tiny fraction of visitors of the website actually participate in the forum. Maybe it should be more functional, practically-oriented with a clear intention and clear goals so that we here in the forum can really contribute and move things forward.


Jim Glover

Cytex, how can you tell it works? Not saying it doesn't, I just can't know for certain.

It has allowed me to realize, or better: to know, that there is a fixed foundation in my life, which is perfect (="me"). I can evoke it whenever I want by repeating the looking. Most of my problems arose from insecurity. When I did the looking, I immediately realized this is what I have been missing, although this feeling has faded in the meantime. I understand these words are already an interpretation. However, looking back when having a calm moment, I see that many of my problems have dissolved including the panic of speaking in public, my fear that I waste my life, my fear of rejection (this is still relatively strong), and I am much more resilient to pressure from outside.

I appreciate the "dissent" here, too. I'm sceptical about most things. But I as far as I understand, John has explained his meaning for the term "fear of life" very plainly and with no uncertain terms, as far as it can be explained at all. It's there for anyone who can read to contemplate about. I don't understand what's the issue about that?

Also, anyone can set up their own forum for discussing this. At Facebook it's very easy. I find this forum here unusually clearly intentioned and practical, but it is slow going, though. As for people not participating, it's to be expected that the majority doesn't want to go through the trouble, or does not feel verbose enough to put it into words.

And on the topic of words, it is very difficult to find words for new things, to dig deep and reject the obvious one's that don't get near the thing. As John has said it took him 15 years or so to strip off the bad words and find the right one's. And it's still a work in progress. So I don't blame if people use his words and don't embark on any redefining the whole thing again. Which will happen I'm sure, as all new discoveries will develop various schools of thought around them eventually.

As for sweet experiences, it might be lodged very deep in us to seek relief in them. Also magical thinking goes very deep in us. I've been thinking about the term "enlightenment" with this work and how the whole term is loaded with magical thinking and vague wishes to render it practically useless. Enlightenment is seen to be the ultimate in sweet experiences and the final goal and fulfillment. Any final solution to psychological suffering has to do with enlightenment. So does looking. But it's a term of no use with this, because it's so vaguely defined to only muddle things up.

I agree that if the goal is to distance this from spiritual, more might need to be done. What context would replace it? Self-help? Psychology? The latter is difficult without any scientific credentials, I imagine.


I find that I still harbor this faint, or not so faint, hope that the looking is magical and will make everything fine. I'm peeking around the corners and up ahead for the kind of transcendence so many spiritual teachings offer. A magical shortcut, an absolution, a blissful disconnect from reality without drifting too far away, of course, perfect health, perfect harmony, etc. This wishful thinking is just below the surface, because consciously I know better.

U.G Krishnamurti always empathised that there is no such thing as enlightenment and those who claim to have it are conning themselves and all the people they charge who ask how to get it. He said that the desire for enlightenment and permanence has been programmed into us by our culture, which makes sense.

He did say that he was functioning in the natural state though, that he was no longer functioning through the stranglehold of thought (to use his words) but through the life energy which is there. He said it was a physical, physiological change and that was all there is to 'the natural state'. I wonder how close it is to what we talk about here...

Wow! After combing through the forum for weeks, trying to find a way to engage meaningfully with other "lookers", I finally happened upon this thread. Although it appears I'm about two months late to this conversation, I can really appreciate the exchange here. Like Jim, I too am not a "joiner" and very skeptical of groups that develop their own language. It's not so much the language itself (which I recognize was very carefully chosen by John) but the rote nature of its use by "followers" that becomes worrisome. As I've composed postings recently, I've tried my best to use my own words, but still found that I couldn't avoid phrases such as "looking at myself" and "the fear of life". Truth be told, if I had to describe these phenomena I would use different words altogether, but then others wouldn't necessarily understand. In place of "the fear of life" I would tend to say "the need to continually escape from life" and in place of "looking at myself", I'd say it's more like "feeling myself". (Hmm, that one might not translate so well in mass communications ;-))

Another area that stimulates skepticism in my mind is the idea of "recovery". Although it does make sense that thought structures would need time to reorient to a new sense of myself, I find it a bit mysterious, and the suggestion that it might take an indefinitely lengthy period of time really makes me wonder about the cause/effect relationship between looking and the results. However, I'm desperate enough to wait this out for awhile, and like John says, how could it hurt?

Like Jackx I am also seduced by the idea that this will make everything better someday, not so much through sweet experiences, but through the effortless removal of my pathological thinking and habits. I am also seduced by the idea of meeting others who have lost "the fear of life", thinking that if I just experienced such a being in person, somehow I would be able to observe something subtle and "get it". Part of me would like to get onto a plane for Ojai tomorrow (not very practical at the moment), or at least try to meet others in my neck of the woods. Those little red dots on the global website map feel like such a tease sometimes...so close and yet so far...so I guess it would be fair to say that I too wonder why we can't message each other on this site or exchange email info.

Those are some of my thoughts for today. Thanks for the forum!

Hello Forum moderators,

I sent a response to this thread quite a while ago, and my picture shows up as if I have replied to it, but I still don't see my post. I did my best to faithfully adhere to the guidelines in "rules and regulations who needs them?" so I wonder what's going on. Technical issue?

That is one of the rare posts that need a comment from me before making it public, and I have not found the time to do that yet because almost all of my time is hijacked by the constant need to find ways to bring in enough money to keep our work alive.

I apologize for not having explained this immediately, and I will make a point of notifying those whose posts have not been approved for the same reason.

No problem! I'll be patient. I'm enjoying watching the YouTube videos of past retreats, and I find they answer many of my questions.


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