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The Soldiers of Fear

The act of looking at yourself cleans up the slate; it removes the context of the fear of life that is the distorted environment in which our minds (our conditioned responses, our understandings, etc.) have developed over time. One look at the sense of being me flips the switch: the reality that one is always here and not at stake in life is exposed and the whole project of self-protection loses its ground of being. This all happens under the radar, in what is referred to in psychology as our subconscious. We don't see it happening, but John and I have seen this happen over and over with hundreds and hundreds of people in the last 19 years, so by now we can safely state that that is indeed the case.

Now, the tools used by that project of self-protection are the mental mechanisms that, as a group, we refer to as the conditioned mind. That's all the mind is: algorithms. Algorithms are a systematic method to achieve a variable goal with different quantitative or qualitative components. They are sets of instructions, as in a computer program; they are dumb, automatic and strictly mechanical. It's all about "if this happens, I do this" as in "If I am having worrisome thoughts, then this means that I am still not free, so this is not working for me and I must go look somewhere else for a solution." We take those thoughts to be a true, accurate description of what is going on and we act based on that assumption.

Once the fear of life goes, those mental mechanisms that are contaminated by the environment of the fear of life in which they were born are still in place and they do not go away immediately. They are the actual fabric of the mind, so to speak. But with the context of the fear of life gone, those old, fearful mechanisms start fading away"”most often not without a fight"”as new, saner mechanisms begin taking their place. This is a long process; it does take time.

The best way to understand clearly what is happening and to be able to see which, if any, of those thought patterns are actually true and useful and which are just diseased habits of mind is to develop strong control over our attention. What keeps those thought patterns is place is the attention we give to them. We have learned over a lifetime that thoughts are important and we need to pay attention to them"”especially the negative, destructive, worrisome ones.

What is impossible to see when we are in the early stages of recovery, say, the first couple of years, is that those thoughts that come to us to tell us that "This is not working for me," or "I don't agree with the theory of the fear of life as the cause of my mental difficulties," or "I don't agree with the idea that the birth trauma is at the root of our mental problems," or "This method is the same as a method I did before, and I know that this is about," they are all soldiers of fear trying to reassert themselves, trying to maintain the status quo, fighting to stay in place and protect you from something that is a real threat to their existence. They will fight to the death to stay in place, but you do not need to trust them blindly. The only useful thing to do is to refuse to give them your attention.

The way to develop that control over our attention is to practice Self-Directed Attention as described on our website. Nothing else will do it. This is not about replacing bad thoughts with good thoughts. It's about developing focus and becoming able to decline to pay attention to useless and destructive thoughts and behaviors. When you don't feed them by paying attention to them, they starve to death.

When one is going through a depressive period, or a physical disease, it is very hard to practice Self-Directed Attention. The barrage of sad, negative, pessimistic thoughts is almost irresistible and it seems to be pretty much impossible to keep focused. But if we do the practice diligently when we are able to, that will build up and strengthen our control over our attention so that, when times get hard, we have a little more control. And if we just can't do it, it's totally okay to take a break. This ain't the Army, folks!

As we develop more control over what we do pay attention to and what we can simply ignore, we become more able to see clearly the relationship between thought and attention. In the first months, maybe years, after having done the act of looking at yourself, it's best just to follow the instructions closely and do the practice strictly without any deviation. This will not do you any harm and it is safe to trust that, since it has worked for so many people already, it will work for you too. There is nothing to lose. And it's never too much to say it again: Self-Directed Attention will not work unless you have looked at yourself in the manner we recommend on our website.

So, whatever fearful and worrisome thoughts still show up trying to get your attention at any cost during the period of recovery, they are not the fear of life and they don't mean that you are not already free of fear. Those thoughts are the remaining soldiers of fear, the servants of the perceived fearful need to protect yourself from life, and they keep fighting, although the war is really over the moment you successfully touch yourself with your attention.

The presence of those diseased, fearful thought processes (algorithms) does not mean that one is not free of the fear of life. They are just the remnants and they will go eventually no matter what you do or fail to do. But a strict and serious practice of SDA will not just hasten their disappearance; it will give you a much better understanding of your own mind and how it works. You'll become more in control of your reactions, and that will happen naturally, in the moment. As the diseased mental mechanisms that used to make you do stupid things fade away, what is left is your own innate intelligence clear of the clouds of fear and no longer contaminated by the fear of life.

That natural intelligence is your birthright and it is the natural state of being human.

Hey Carla, thanks so much for this detailed description of things that happen during this process. Certainly brings even more clarity for me and what I'm doing with JOL. I'm sure I'll be referring back to this one. A couple of questions came up for me as I've been reading, and re-reading, this article.

Carla Sherman

One look at the sense of being me flips the switch: the reality that one is always here and not at stake in life is exposed and the whole project of self-protection loses its ground of being. This all happens under the radar, in what is referred to in psychology as our subconscious.

So I am very curious about this self-protection in regards to physical life. What I have noticed with a good amount of 'seeker-types' is that there is this fear-based thought that, "It is better to die, than to live." Which, to me, indicates the desire to escape from suffering caused by the fear of life. Then, you have the even more extreme fear-based thought that, "It is better to live than to die, because dying is somehow 'bad". So, in this outlook, the fear of the unknown is present, and the belief is held that even though one is suffering from the fear of life, the fear of the unknown generates even more fear than the fear of life. (The devil you know is always better than the devil you don't - ha!!) I always assumed that, when the fear of life is gone, the outlook would be, "It is fine to live, it is fine to die. I am always 'here' and am not at stake in this life." Now I know John says that, if a bus is coming at you, you are going to step out of the way. But this, as I currently understand it, is because all of us have the desire to avoid unpleasant experiences (here being the pain of being hit by a bus!) no matter if the fear of life is there or not. But, if there is a peaceful way death that arises (non-bus related!;-), is there any form of self-protection that still exists after the fear of life is gone that wants to 'protect' the body/mind from physical death? Or is it more just, 'Fine, either way. Fine to live, fine to die...no preference.'?

Carla Sherman

So, whatever fearful and worrisome thoughts still show up trying to get your attention at any cost during the period of recovery, they are not the fear of life and they don't mean that you are not already free of fear. Those thoughts are the remaining soldiers of fear, the servants of the perceived fearful need to protect yourself from life, and they keep fighting, although the war is really over the moment you successfully touch yourself with your attention.

It seems to me that, at a practical level, it matters not whether the fear-based thoughts that arise are from the fear of life, or are the remaining 'soldiers of fear'. They still have the same effect on us and are just as real to us and have the same effect on us. Like with John's Japanese soldiers on the island analogy. The war may be over to the rest of humanity but, to the soldiers on the island, the war is still going on and even though the war is over in the world, to the soldiers on the island this fact has absolutely no effect on their thoughts or actions. So what I am saying here is that it seems like it doesn't matter at all, practically speaking, whether or not the fear of life is gone or not. That the fear of life is gone in reality very well may be the case, but until the 'soldiers of fear' know it, until our fear thoughts stop arising, the fact that the fear of life is gone has no bearing/effect on our thoughts/actions/emotions in our practical lives.

Thanks again for all of this Carla! smily All the very best to you and John, Lex

Perfect Carla!

The soldiers of fear is really a good and helpful metaphor.

Brava, Carla!

It was very helpful to read your post. I think this should be retitled" The Remaining Soldiers of Fear"

Hi, Mischa! Glad to hear it! It would be great to hear more about your experience with Just One Look. Would you please tell us a bit about yourself? Here are a few things we would love to know about you:

Where do you live? What is your age? When and how did you find out about Just One Look? When did you look at yourself? How long have you been practicing SDA? What changes have you noticed so far? Anything you would like to tell us about your process with JOL would be helpful...

Please create a new topic in the Using the Just One Look Method sub-forum at https://www.justonelook.org/community/forums/forum/conversations-about-the-looking/looking

Have you downloaded our new ebook yet?

https://www.justonelook.org/Forms/jol-method-ebook/jol-method-ebook-request.html

All the best,

Carla

I think those are good questions, Lex, and express what I think about, too, and experience.

In my mind saying that the fear of life is gone and what I feel is only the remnants left is meant to inspire faith in the process. We don't have much to verify it while in recovery from them. As you said there is not much difference in the feelings and algorithmic reactions we experience whether they're pre or post looking. But I think there is some kind of seed of faith in it, or intimation of something having been happened. Very faint perhaps. A distance between them and me, as it has been described elsewhere.

As to telling between a neurotic fear and an intelligent one, it does not seem at all easy while starting recovering from our condition. Perhaps it comes clearer as we go on. I'm willing to accept fear for life as our physical being is threatened, or even fear for mental threat. Those are protective of this life we're experiencing and I don't see nothing neurotic about that. But how far does this protective fear go? If it implies fear of death, I don't know. It seems to me that there is a clear difference though between neurotic fears and protective ones. There's intelligence and built in integrity and coherence that makes sense. There also must be intelligence when there's no point in preferring continuation of life and to let end come. I feel it would be kind of silly for us not to protect this life we experience as part of our bodies is preference for it's continuations as far as it seems intelligent. The preference for life seems innate in all physical beings but it shouldn't necessarily be a problem, as it is for many of us now.

Hey Seppo, great insights. Thanks for sharing. Yes, maybe there is a seed of faith in it. But, like you say, only to inspire faith in the process..because this definitely isn't a belief thing or a 'placebo effect' so we don't have to 'believe in it' for it to work as I'm sure you agree. I like what John was saying on one of his recent podcasts. A lady asked him how do we really know the Looking has done anything? John's answer was great I thought. He said something like, 'Just trust me that it does something, it can't hurt you to believe it's doing something.' Makes sense to me! As I tell more people about the Looking, this question does come up, and I addressed it in another post. But, just to sum it up, the Looking is something you really only need to do once and it really doesn't take all that long. So why not do it, just in case it works?!

Also, in listening to John, I feel that several times he has said something that has really struck a chord with me. Basically that 'you will know' when it's right. Someone asked him how long they should do the SDA, and he said that you will know when you don't need to do it anymore. Makes perfect sense. And I believe this to be true of fears as well. I believe we will just know when our fears are rational or irrational. It has been my experience with a number of people over the years that the preference for life is actually not preferable in human beings. But some human beings have the fear of the unknown, death in this case, or perhaps some acquired religious and/or spiritual beliefs about life and death that causes them fear and suffering. Because I've become intimately acquainted with the life/death subject from years in alternative healing, it is of particular interest to me. Again, John's answer is the one that resonates the best with me right now - basically that, when the fear is gone, we will know the right answer. And, btw, I would say I define the term 'right' in this context as what causes the least amount of suffering and greatest amount of peace for all concerned.

This is all I think I know right now... I wish I knew more.. Better do some more SDA and get rid of those Soldiers of Fear!;-)

 

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