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Beginner's Questions

Hello Everyone! I just discovered John and Carla's work, love the website and am already practicing the self-directed attention method and read the booklet, No More Fears, No More Anxiety. It all sounds good to me, as I am very familiar with the non-dual perspective, although I have never found the kind of peace described as a result of the many self-inquiry practices that I have attempted in the past. I was initially attracted to John's method due to the natural simplicity of it, as exemplified by the "Just One Look" video featured on the home page, but as I delved further into the material I became a bit dismayed as the description of the "Self-Directed Attention" method became increasingly complex (essentially turning it into a traditional-style meditation practice with the incremental additions to the instructions - e.g. "...do this for 10 minutes at a day. Set an alarm clock...."), thereby negating the intuitive appeal I found in the simple "Just One Look" instructions. This response was further reinforced by the further discussion of the challenges of the "Recovery Period," with its movement into issues dealing with the unconscious, recommendations for journaling, topped off with the webinars, YouTube discussions, and a community forum with thousands of posts, all for something that started out with the beautiful simple message of: "Just one look is all it takes...An extremely simple approach...unlike anything you have ever tried."

At this point in my life, I'm definitely not into complex incremental approaches, journaling, or deep psychological analysis. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. My journey has gotten me to the point where its clear that whatever is the key to inner peace and happiness is, it is a very simple, intuitive focus that does not require a lot of instruction and analysis. I suspect a lot of you are in the same place as me and possibly have had the same concerns. So my question to all of you is, is it enough to just practice the simple "Direct Look" method (as exemplified in the "Just One Look" video and on page 1-2 in No More Fears, No More Anxiety) in order to find inner peace and freedom? And to just forget the rest?

A second question (unrelated to the above) which I'd like to ask is, in Step Two instructions of the "Just One Look Method" it says:

-"...move the focus of attention inward, looking for the faint sensation of what it feels like to be you. What you would call me. What you are looking for here is the simple me-ness of you. Not the thoughts or the emotions [that] rise and fall within you, or any ideas about your nature that you have heard or read about."

My question here is that, while I have followed these instructions several times, and yet I'm still not sure I know what is being referred to as "what you would call the me." I believe what it may be referring to is just the basic sense of impersonal, space-like/cognizing awareness that is always present, yet I wouldn't call that "me" (as in a separate entity), but rather "presence-awareness." Are we basically talking about the same thing, then? Or is it an entirely different phenomena that the instructions are referring to. I know that semantics can be tricky!

A big thanks in advance to all of you willing to address my questions and concerns here.

Hi Troubadour,

My name is Peter Duggan, and I have been with John and Carla since 2009. I started doing Johns looking method just after I read his 2006 Podcast. I had suffered for a long time with with PTSD because of time spent in a war, so I was pretty desperate. I must say that in my case I had only been doing John's method for two weeks when I discovered that something was happening to me.

Now seven years later, I find on looking back that my whole life has changed for the better. All my anxiety and fear is gone, and now I have a hole heap of joy in my heart. I think that I was after enlightenment (whatever that is) but I don't know whether I ever found that. But the joy that now lives in my heart is so big and beautiful, that I no longer want for anything else.

So yes, my friend. All that john promised me has come to pass, and I now will support this man and his wife for as long as I live. I think that too many people worry whether they are doing the looking right or not. It is easy really, in fact so simple that it is hard to explain it to others. I would say that what you witness seems to me to be right. I call it the awareness of awareness. That's the only way I can describe it. As John has always said, if you do it once, and get it right, you will keep on doing it. That's just how it is. Do not give it up mate, it is worth the effort, that is for sure, and when you find that peace and joy within you, you will be a very happy fellow. Good luck to you, my friend, and I really hope you persevere. All the best"¦ Peter

Hello Troubadour,

This is not an incremental approach we are talking about here. I'm not sure where you got the journaling and deep psychological analysis part, but you must have got the part about just one look. It's enough. You can forget about the rest. But like in the rest of anything in life, there's more to it. One look starts a process, the rest will be history. Like with any genuine discovery, there's a lot to it if you're inclined to inquire into it. That's what we do here in the forum. With one look you've done what's needed and will get there, but the attention training part will make it easier. Besides, what's life but giving attention to things? It's worth getting better at. After looking, you land on your own life. You can forget the rest, but you can't forget your life. Things will not become miraculous and blissful as we not after transcendence, but life, and new skills might become handy when your mental landscape starts shifting.

After looking comes "recovery". You'll find out what it means, but the looking is like pulling the rug underneath you. Things might become wobbly. All your life stood on that rug. When it's gone "” and you might not notice it's disappearance until later, by it's effects "” things will happen on the stuff that stood on it. It takes time. That's what's called recovery here. I don't see any need to be concerned about it until it becomes apparent to you.

What comes to the me you're after in looking, it's just the me in the ordinary sense. The trouble is that you might have picked up a lot of abstractions about the "me" along your non-dual journey, and it might be something you want to ignore for the time being. I come from Krishnamurti circles and I believe he tried to convey the same thing, but failed. It was still too convoluted to get across, to hit the nail on the head. "What you call me" says it all. That's the address where you send the beam of your attention. What you call me, what we all call me. Everyday, ordinary, not impersonal, but the first person me. But not the personality. The insight is that no further qualifications are needed. We probably are talking about the same thing as you described, but it feels like "me". Separate entity or not, find what feels like me. You might call it "presence-awareness" after the fact, but you might miss the spot if you start with it. If you've given it a genuine try, you've succeeded, most likely. That's what John keeps saying, anyway.

I'm not sure if any of this is of help, but there you go.

Hi troubadour, welcome to this community. I agree with Seppo, that there is nothing mysterious about this process, although it is curious. I would add that you don't have to do anything......I didn't. I didn't even know I had really done the looking until several months later. I was like you, finished with spiritual business, and I use that word literally, as much of it has been commodified.

The great part about the looking is that you find your way. I slowly, after several years of interesting experience, began to listen to my instincts and my own intelligence. I reincorporated some of the spiritual practices that I had thrown out with the rubbish, not as vehicles to enlightenment or betterment, but simply because they made sense and amplified my experience of being a human. My directed looking practice is simply 20 minutes of observing my thoughts and sensations and is immensely satisfying and grounding. My fear and anxiety are mostly gone, as Peter talks about (can't say I experience the joy he talks about) and life is exquisitely interesting. Things can be done out of curiosity and for fun without the obsessive drive for salvation.

I would say don't do anything if that is what your instincts tell you. It is a process and your instinct and intelligence will guide you. We all do this differently, as John has said often. This probably explains the confusing posts on the forum....we all have our own process once the looking is initiated.

Good to have you here and keep posting. Your insights and experience are valuable.

Hi Troubadour,

Yes, the looking works. All you need to do is to make one honest attempt at getting a taste of what it feels like to be you, one time. But you can save yourself a lot of trouble by committing to the self directed attention practice. Forget the alarm clock - just do it - as much as you can. Everyday, all the time you are not occupied with some task. There really is no reason not to. It is tough in the beginning but it gets easier. Be determined to take back control. Don't give in to thoughts telling you otherwise. I just can't recommend it enough.

The benefits we can get from it are plenitude. For example I have gotten better at all things I set out to do, I learn new things much quicker, I am more attentive and loving with people, I find more creative solutions to problems, I have become really skilled in may new things without putting a large amount of effort, like I have become an excellent cook if I may say so myself (after all it is myself I am feeding with it, so I think I may), and a lot more. So that's great. Kind of just getting better at life generally. But above all - and I am so thankful for this - is that I have gained the ability to detect for myself when a thought, assumption or inclination is based in fear rather than sanity, and I have gained the ability to actually not spend any energy in places that seem useless and destructive. This is what finally gave me my life back. There is still fear residing in my mind, but thanks to directed attention I actually have a say in how to go about it all.

I have people around me that are recovering who have no determination to work with attention. And they are fine, really. I mean it's pretty tough and there is confusion but ultimately they are fine too. But boy are they missing out..

 

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