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I did the looking...

Hello, I am so happy to be here and to be able to read what others have experience with the looking. I had the fortune of stumbling across John Sherman's videos a few years ago, when I was trying to find meaning to life. I was blessed to understand or rather to have the experience of looking at my true self and had bliss for some time after that. John suggested to keep doing the looking and that's where I stayed for some 10 years now.

After some life accomplishments, I was still feeling that something was missing in the picture so I came back looking again for some answers and that's when I came across the self-directed attention idea. I am just introducing myself to this forum and I guess my next topic will take place on the recovery section of the forum, since I feel I already know how to find myself but not how to really stay there or access that mental place on a regular basis. I feel that my problem is that I easily "get lost" in the day to day running my life. I hope to have some great discussions here. I'm introducing my self as suggested on the phone meeting. Thank you very much John and Carla.

Welcome back! I'm interested in your comment that you 'get lost in the day to day running of your life.' I do too, but I don't feel this is a negative thing as you seem to imply......

I never really thought about being a positive thing until you mentioned it. I really don't know but it seemed to me that it is important to preserve your presence and awareness all the time, so you don't become circumstantial and reactive to things arising. I guess you have a good point. I just don't know if I enjoy the feeling of not being aware of my awareness? Once I looked at my true self I had bliss, but I never knew how to apply it to my life or even to stay there, in order to reach my full potential. I occasionally feel that a bigger force is in control but I always seem to get back to the fear and struggle for safety and security that is continuously running in my mind, unless I pay attention to it. Hope I make sense.

I don't feel bliss and don't think I ever have, although I badly wanted it. I do understand the desire for this kind of state or experience and for most of my life it drove me in my search. John talks about bliss being a state, therefore impermanent. I don't believe you need bliss to guide or energize you to your life's purpose, at least this wasn't the case for me. I have found that my life's purpose is simply living my life as it unfolds and being attentive as to where I look or focus my attention. This suffuses me with peace and a sense of sanity most of the time. Even the bad parts are interesting; my negative emotional states, my failings as a human being, the idiocy of the world.

I have found that the act of looking divested me of magical thinking, the need for something extra in my life.....bliss, specialness, enlightenment or whatever you want to call it. This loss is not without a certain sadness or nostalgia. I kinda miss the search for something special, the belief in magic and mystery.....the sense that the answer is just around the corner. However, I wouldn't trade this feeling of sanity, this sense of a broad and deep curiosity and intelligence about the world, this lack of fear and love for my life as it unfolds. I remember John once saying that reality is mystical. As I drove through the autumn countryside last evening, I was feeling this very thing, nostalgic for a loss of magic, but I just looked at the glowing land, the farms, and the beauty of life and was overwhelmed by the reality in front of me. There is no need for extra mystery, it's right in front of our noses. The veil of fear is pulled aside and we see the startling, plain beauty of our world.

So this is what I get lost in more and more, the day to day running of my life. It's quite extraordinary.

I would think when one gets to the point where one loves life itself, the way John talks about, that would suffice as enough 'magic' and resolution of mystery. At least for me!

Beautiful my brother, I recognize your words and joy is reverberating in me, thank you for that. I'm at some sort of strange point right now but can only agree that life is mystical for sure. I remember one time John said something like "just take a thing like water... Water! It's fantastic!" Kind of a joke, but it's true too.

Once we have achieved a better control of our attention, what then? What do we direct our attention to, through out our days, in our mundane life? That is, what is the ultimate goal of the exercise. What is it that we should be attending to anyway? That's what have me confused.

This is a very good question and one I'll answer with the caveat that I'm not expert (others should chime in as well). It seems our intelligence takes over and directs us to attend to things that: will be life affirming, interesting, solutions to our problems, beautiful, positive, true threats, helpful to others. It takes awhile to get there, don't despair I know where you are coming from well. But life reveals itself as anything but mundane when the habits of fear lose their dominate influence in our minds.

I guess it depends on what is meant by "mystery" and "magic." Life is certainly mystical just as it is, but there are also things that happen that, at least to me, are truly magical and mysterious because they can't be explained. Maybe this is all semantics? smily

Jazzrascal, perhaps it's just semantics, but I'm talking about the absolute mystery of the world around me. My awe and gratitude grow when I contemplate that the earth tilts on its axis, plants generate energy from the sun, cell division, the solar eclipse just about blew my mind, a kid's laughter, running, the taste of fruit, and it goes on and on. All mysteries.

"SDA and your life". This is where it is.....The strengthening of your own self-reliant control over your attention gives you the ability to attend to what is practical, helpful, and possible in the moment while declining to attend to what isn't helpful. By declining to attend to certain thoughts, they fade out over time and die of starvation. This is what is gained by SDA. Your healing mind develops the ability as John said in the 8/30/17 meeting to "separate the wheat from the chaff". This is what makes ordinary, practical, daily life so endlessly interesting and captivating. I too am a fan of being lost in my own life. This is where the action is. Good luck and welcome!

Hey Yuni, besides Jackx's really good comments below, I just wanted to say that John has emphasized to me personally, several times now, that the effects will be unique for each individual. Because of things John has spoken to me about regarding this teaching, I couldn't presume to tell you exactly what to focus your attention on, because it is entirely unique to you on what you want to focus on. It seems that what Jackx is saying makes a lot of sense to me as far as general effects though.

Also - going back to John saying the effects of the Looking/SDA will be unique for each individual, there seems to be an unspoken implication that, while the effects will be unique to you, they will also be of a positive nature. Something that will be of some type of true benefit to you in some way. At least this is what I glean now from around 6 months of listening, talking with, and reading John's teachings.

Wishing you peace and happiness, Lex

Hey jr..I think that's well put! Since you and I have similar interests in a lot of areas, we have witnessed and experienced things that many people might call miraculous, mystical, or magical - but, imo, this is just because it's outside of the interests of the majority of people in society right now. I don't know about you but, for me, things that other people might consider miraculous or mystical are no longer perceived that way for me so much in a lot of cases. Simply because I've witnessed or experienced these things multiple times. It doesn't make them any less of a wonderful experience for me. So I just think it's all what we are used to. If we lived in an indigenous tribe somewhere in the wilderness for our whole lives and, one day, a helicopter landed and took us for a ride, we might feel like using the terms mystical and magical for what was happening to us.

And, perhaps, through practicing what John is teaching, what Jackx said becomes more of an experiential reality: 'But life reveals itself as anything but mundane when the habits of fear lose their dominate influence in our minds.' - jackx Maybe we would appreciate water in the way John is talking about.. I mean, I appreciate it when I'm thirsty..or swimming in a beautiful mountain lake..or something of that nature..but, otherwise, water is usually not on my mind;-)

To me, the way John talks about loving life so much is very significant. I don't come across this outlook so often and, yet, to my logical mind it seems like this would be the a very effective way to live one's life, even just from a psychological standpoint. Of course you would still be ok with crossing over at anytime, but to my imagination and deductions, it's more like you would be appreciating the moment now if you have a strong love for life.

Jackx, maybe you ARE an expert! I mean, think about it, you are one out of, what, 3 or 4 people who have been using John's teaching for a number of years and come back to comment and share about it on this forum and the FB group.

"Jazzrascal, perhaps it's just semantics, but I'm talking about the absolute mystery of the world around me. My awe and gratitude grow when I contemplate that the earth tilts on its axis, plants generate energy from the sun, cell division, the solar eclipse just about blew my mind, a kid's laughter, running, the taste of fruit, and it goes on and on. All mysteries."

Yes, Jack, so true and I agree. I guess what I was thinking is that the reason the word "magic" has been viewed sometimes in a negative light on this forum is because it's seen in the sense of people wishing some magical force "out there" would intervene in their lives and make everything better. I love magic, but not that kind! :p

Dear Yuni,

The bliss you experienced is a by-product of touching your self with your attention. Although it may be pleasurable (not always, though), it is nothing but an experience and it does not mean anything. The best thing is just to forget about it and concentrate on SDA now. The idea that you need to "preserve your presence" is just another leftover from the spiritual search. That's not the way to stop being reactive to circumstances. This wish is basically a desire to go to sleep. This is one of the big mistakes we make when we are involved in a spiritual path (been there, done that): that the spiritual experiences we have are reality and we must preserve them somehow, we have to live from that state. That is a misunderstanding. You are here all the time. No need to focus on your presence.

The way to not be "reactive to circumstance" is to learn to control your attention, and then use that power to ignore the thoughts that are harmful or plain useless. Those reactive patterns are old psychological mechanisms that seemed to be useful at some point, but once you look at yourself consciously, they have no valid function anymore. It is impossible to be rid of them just by will. The only way to let those patterns go (good riddance!) is to refuse to give them your attention. Slowly, there will be a space between you and the reactive patterns, and in time you will start being able to not follow them immediately (react). You will see the thought/behavior pattern as it arises and you will be able to not obey the urge to follow it.

Any thought that appears in your mind that does not have a practical application in the moment can be discarded in the moment. In time, as Brian mentioned below, your mind will be able to "separate the wheat from the chaff" more easily. This will become automatic after some practice. But it does not happen overnight. You must work on it. And this work on your own mind will be seen eventually as one of the greatest satisfactions available to you.

In the beginning of working with JOL, it is useful to practice SDA twice a day, until you start to have some control over your attention. You must go back and start counting from 1 every time you get distracted. Whenever you notice a distraction, stop and start over. With practice, you may notice that the distractions get more subtle, so even a whiff of a thought counts as a distraction and... you start over from one.

As you develop some control over your attention with the SDA sessions, you can start trying to use it in your daily life "“ even as you continue your daily practice. It will be hard in the beginning, but with time and determination you will get the knack of it. Just try it.

This is nothing more than exercising you "attention muscle". For the rest of your day, just pay attention to what you are doing at the moment. Please forget about this business of being present, being aware of awareness, etc. This will only confuse you and will be counterproductive.

Please let me know if this is helpful.

With love,

Carla

I don't know about expert, I feel more ordinary by the day. I think about when I was in the recovery period and badly wanted to know what was in store and even if all of it was worth it......I wished more people would talk about what was beyond. I don't know that I am beyond recovery, but I'm not worried about or unsure about the power of this whole enterprise. I trust that changes will continue as my relationship to my life deepens. From my perspective, it's all worth it and powerful and real. This thing changed my life fundamentally......rebirth is not too extreme an analogy. It just takes time.

Thanks for writing this Carla - Your description of the way to look at the SDA exercise was very helpful to me on the internet conversations as well as here now. This one is going in my 'JOL Screenshots' folder!;-)

"I don't know about expert, I feel more ordinary by the day. I think about when I was in the recovery period and badly wanted to know what was in store and even if all of it was worth it......I wished more people would talk about what was beyond. I don't know that I am beyond recovery, but I'm not worried about or unsure about the power of this whole enterprise. I trust that changes will continue as my relationship to my life deepens. From my perspective, it's all worth it and powerful and real. This thing changed my life fundamentally......rebirth is not too extreme an analogy. It just takes time."

Yeah but Jack don't you see? This is right where I am now. Questioning if it is all worth it? You are the 'more people' that could talk about what's beyond.. This is really new stuff. And, you're right, it takes time. The fact that you are stating the effects of the teaching are powerful, real, and life-changing are quite significant imo. That it was all worth it for you. If I find that to be true for me at some point, I'm going to be stating that all over the place. I feel it's only because of my years of experience with the most powerful healer-type I have ever encountered and his stress on focused attention that I have been motivated to continue with the SDA. Otherwise, I probably would have stopped and been questioning the validity of the practice for everyone. It would have been more like my thinking would have been along the lines: 'Oh, well this did seem to work really well for John and Carla and a few others, but it doesn't seem to work for me.' And this is simply because this teaching is very new - with the addition of the SDA exercise and, now, John's new understanding and them going back out on the road to teach it.

I can tell you that if I get to the point where I feel like this is all worth it and life-changing for me, I'm going to be stating it here and as many places as possible. Maybe that's not so altruistic. Maybe it's because a lot of us here involved with a teaching like this have a sense of the connection between humans.. that, when we help someone else, we are helping ourselves. I don't know how many people are regularly practicing the SDA exercise right now. Let's say it's only 50.. In a few years, those 50 people could be posting about this teaching being life-changing for them as well.. And, then, this is how I see this teaching really spreading - because nothing beats the power of testimonials like that.

I also just remembered another significant post Carla Sherman made about the SDA exercise in the 'comments' section of another thread. This was very helpful and motivating to me as well. The more people we have saying things like you and Carla are, the more people will be drawn to this teaching. I definitely know this from past experience in the world of alternative healing.

The fact that you feel more ordinary every day is what makes you an expert imo! The few teachers/healers out there in human history that have been really effective have stressed this 'ordinary-ness' as well - usually using the term 'humility'. So, of course, this type of expert is the exact opposite of a wack-meister guru-type with the huge ego that have been on 'the scene' for so long. The few really effective teachers/healers always stressed the qualities of humility, kindness, love, benevolence, service, compassion. That's the true expert. There was a recent email from J+C I got - John was saying how, despite financial hardships, they felt ethically responsible to keep spreading this message. That line stuck in my mind because it's exactly how the few other really true teachers/healers conducted themselves as well. They were on a mission. The healer guy I refer to, who healed tens of thousands in Europe in the mid 1900's, used to always say, 'You just help and go on helping'. This is the guy who stressed the importance of focused attention for healing. It also shows me how much this teaching effected John and Carla's lives...There is no other possible way they would be doing this if they didn't believe in it that strongly - so that is a motivating factor for me as well.

Alright, I've said my peace..for now anyway..Just wanted to get this out and over the 'airwaves' - 'internet waves'? 'fiber-optic waves?' 'wireless waves?' Well, I have an ethernet connection, but you get the idea;-)

Yunibri14

Once we have achieved a better control of our attention, what then? What do we direct our attention to, through out our days, in our mundane life? That is, what is the ultimate goal of the exercise. What is it that we should be attending to anyway? That's what have me confused.

Jackx

This is a very good question and one I'll answer with the caveat that I'm not expert (others should chime in as well). It seems our intelligence takes over and directs us to attend to things that: will be life affirming, interesting, solutions to our problems, beautiful, positive, true threats, helpful to others. It takes awhile to get there, don't despair I know where you are coming from well. But life reveals itself as anything but mundane when the habits of fear lose their dominate influence in our minds.

I have had that same question for a long time too, Yuni. But I'll chime in by saying, like Jackx is implying, that it really seems to take care of itself. If you're new to this I think all you ever really need to know is in Carla's comment above.

I know too well how badly it can suck, because we want answers... If I have any advice it's to work to decline such questions that are trying to "figure it out", if you know what I mean, and instead trust that time and practice is the medicine.

Hey Lex, I see terms like teachings, healing etc (relating to other stuff, outside JOL) come up in your posts from time to time, and I gotta say I am confused by them. Do they relate to what we are talking about here? I don't know what they mean. In principle I think you're totally right though, that we naturally are inclined to help others, and that I think goes for everybody - it's just that with less clutter of fear we have more capacity for doing good. Given my personal circumstances I too feel ethically obliged to work with this in one way or another. But my first obligation is to myself, to sober up from fear basically. I also understand that this isn't and won't be the case for everybody, far from it.

Hey roed, good question.. No, the terms you may see me use such as teachings, healing, jazz, etc. are just what I'm interested in in life. Because one of the things I'm interested in is alternative healing methods, and because the most powerful alternative healing method I have experienced is in relation to someone who spoke of the importance of focused attention, I bring it up. It's related to JOL only in the sense that, because I am passionate about healing, knowing that focused attention is so vital to that part of my life, and seeing it so important to the JOL teaching it motivates me personally to continue with the SDA exercise to develop my focused attention. For you, it may be something different that motivates you to develop focused attention. It does seem like it can help with many aspects of life that one may be interested in. Actually, it's funny you bring this up now as I was just writing something about this to a friend in an email. I will paste that excerpt:

"I feel this is because not suffering no matter what happens is different than learning all encompassing love and how to help others heal themselves. Losing the fear of life seems like it is immense benefit and freedom no matter what you do, but I still feel that to use this for developing love and healing, you have to have that particular passion to do that in this life. Not different than our passion to play jazz"¦ I don't think that everyone who loses the fear of life is going to all of a sudden want to become a jazz musician..and they aren't suddenly going to want to develop the ability to love more and heal and help other heal, unless that's their passion. That being said, I do think a great amount of people are interested in learning to love more and open their hearts more, at least relative to previous times in history."

So while I currently believe that practicing the SDA exercise will eventually help me stop suffering and lose all fear of life, it seems like this is a process that takes years. But other benefits I am just starting to see, from practicing the SDA for around 6 months, is that an increase in the ability to focus my attention has an effect on many other things I practice in life, such as practices for jazz playing or alternative healing.

Every thread I am reading is helping so much. So glad you started this thread Yukio ❤

[LEFT]"Any thought that appears in your mind that does not have a practical application in the moment can be discarded in the moment."

I like that one Carla.Thanks[/LEFT]

 

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