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Ten Questions for John Sherman

John Sherman was interviewed by Robert Wolfe in Ojai, California on August 18, 2005

John Sherman, at age 63, is in the seventh year of publicly propagating the profound spiritual teachings of the revered sage Ramana Maharshi. The ironic title of John’s e-book is Meeting Ramana Maharshi. John met Ramana in reading Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi while in prison for bank robberies. John says of his awakening to the absolute, “I never suspected that what I would discover is this that has always been here, that has no purpose, has no preference, has no condition, has nothing whatsoever to do with time and is unspeakable. It is not new, this light of awareness. It is the ocean in which all things live and move and have their being. It is here, it can’t be obtained and it can’t be gotten rid of. It is truly all there is. Unseeable, ever present, it gives life to all. There is nothing that can be done to attain knowledge of this ocean of awareness by individual beings with belief in separate existence.”

Robert Wolfe, a fellow Ojai resident, asked John about some of the details between point A: John’s youthful intention to follow Christ -- and point B: his appearance for two years on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted posters. Or, more importantly, the major point: Why is the former political revolutionary urging all who will listen to relate to the world as it is?

At age five, about the time that Ramana was dying, you were handing out Bible tracts on the street. The year before, at age 4, you had read that “Jesus made a scourge of small cords and drove the changers of money all out.” At age 33, you instead carried a machine gun. Was the Bible a bad influence?

That depends on what you mean by “bad influence.” I have said, and it is still my sense, that the Bible crippled me as a person. Not because of things in the Gospels, like what you cite there. Although I have to confess that, after reading this question earlier, I was able to recall that that particular episode actually was in my mind more than once, during my stint as a revolutionary. But it wasn’t that about the Gospels that had such an impact on me. It is my sense that hearing Jesus’ teaching at such an early age, prior to having erected the kind of defenses that most of us have adopted from religion, really ruined me. What was ruinous about it was how radical and uncompromising it was, what he asked of us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How do you do that? And yet, surely this is at the core of his teaching. “Take no thought for tomorrow.” How do you do that? The things that he asked of us, or at least the sense of them that comes through the millennia that separate us from that time and that context and the editing and revisions that his words have gone through over the centuries after his death, is so uncompromising, so absolute and impossible to live up to. It is my sense that we all want to be good. The main criterion that we apply to the effort we make to create a satisfactory story of what we are has to do with wanting to be good, wanting to be on the side of what is right, true, honest or good, basically just righteous. And, in my earliest time of receiving the instruction that comes from society, from parents, religion and so forth, as to what constitutes good, what I heard was that I should love my neighbor as myself, that I should take no thought for tomorrow and that I should not concern myself at all with the circumstances of my life. That went very deep in me. I am not suggesting that consciously I tried to be a true follower of Christ because, consciously, I was doing the exact opposite. But the bedrock foundation that I had for determining whether I was good or bad were these radical, absolutely impossible to comply with instructions. So I have often, in retrospect, felt that it was this instruction at such an early, defenseless age that, throughout my life, made it impossible for me to be normal, ordinary. Nothing can live up to that.

Though you now have a greater affinity with Groucho Marx and John Lennon, you were once impressed with Karl Marx and Nicolai Lenin. What later made the so-called atheistic ideology more appealing than the theistic one?

Actually, the atheist ideology was the first one that I consciously adopted. And my relationship to the theistic religious standpoint was always oppositional. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like what my grandmother had made me do at that age. Your grandmother, by the way, was the one who taught you to read by reading the Bible at age 4, right? Yes that’s right, she was a Pentecostal Christian. My view of religion was always a mixture of an intense desire to be as what I heard Christ had instructed us to, and an intense revulsion against religion in general. This led me to, on several occasions in my youth, becoming born again and then becoming not born again. My relationship with religion was very much troubled and, mostly, I felt revulsion to it. When I came upon the teachings of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Mao Tse Tung and particularly the philosophical foundation of it, the Dialectical and Historical Materialism, I was in prison for the first time. That was in 1968, which was a time of some ferment in this country, although I had been largely uninvolved and even unconscious of the political and social upheaval that was under way, because I was otherwise occupied in gambling, falsifying credit cards and checks, and other sleazy adventures such as that. Nevertheless, the times were filled with upheaval. And, when I came upon these teachings, I was stunned by them. It was very obvious to me that they truly described the operation of human society and revealed the source of all misery and suffering in the world.

Do you mean Capitalism?

Yes, well, class society in general. The philosophy and political economy of Marxism-Leninism has a lot of depth to it and, in fact, it purports to explain all of History as a history of class struggle, capitalism being theoretically the final stage, the death throes of class society. And I was stunned! It answered everything. It explained everything. For the first time in my life, there was a huge shift, in which I felt that I finally got it. I finally knew what was going on, and I knew what to do about it. And the fact that part and parcel of that philosophy was militant atheism didn’t really trouble me at all. If anything, my view of the whole business of theism and atheism was that it was pretty much irrelevant to my everyday life. So, I didn’t see it as that. What I saw it for was, finally, getting an explanation. An explanation and a prescription for what was to be done. And this was huge. This wiped out my confusion.

And there was plenty of reason to believe that religion was just another aspect of Capitalism?

I don’t know if it is an aspect of Capitalism, but is certainly is an aspect of ignorance, to one degree or another, although all religions that I know anything about have at their core that very same insight, that very same fundamental intuition that is at the core of all spiritual teachings. Religion is such a monstrous reaction to that radical and simple reality, that it has become a force of ignorance in the world.

It is almost a distinction between religion and spirituality.

Yes, right.

In one of your talks you said, “We never hurt anyone in the bank robberies or property bombings, but us. One of us was killed.”

Have you had any reflections on why that wasn’t you? Just luck, so far as I can see. I was shot during that bank robbery. I was shot in the jaw. Just luck, so far as I can tell.

No divine plan?

I don’t see any evidence of a divine plan.

In another talk you said, “My life has been a life of stealing, cheating, lying, betraying… I don’t think there are many sins I have not committed. Throughout all of that, what was driving me was a determination to do the right thing. I tried hard and failed.” Everyone thinks they are doing the right thing, don’t they?

Yes, they do. That is my continuous experience, and the more that I am in this strange role that I find myself in now, the more that is confirmed in my discussions with people all over the country. Over the world, really. I have conversations with people by email in a lot of places. It is my certainty, concerning my own insanity, that it was shaped by a determination to be right, to do right, to be righteous. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. Nobody chooses to be wicked. So far as I can see, nobody chooses anything, as far as the way the life unfolds, apart from where they put their attention. But everyone, and certainly it is the case with me, seeks always to explain the story of their life in terms that make it righteous and good. And, since some lives unfold in such difficult forms, that creates an internal insanity to try to make what I am “good,” when what I am doing is so self-evidently “bad” and “mad.”

You have explained karma by saying, “Actions ripple out in all directions, action always creates more changes.” Ramana would never have guessed that his inaction would radicalize the life of a felon, half a world away, nearly half a century after his death. His karma is your karma, right?

Yes, what else could it be? Karma is a tricky thing. What is obvious to all is that our lives and the life of the world are bound up in the immutable web of cause and effect. I don’t see how it is possible for anyone who seriously looks at it to deny it. It doesn’t take a spiritual awakening to see that this world and these lives are shaped and formed by an infinite web of cause and effect. It is common, in our time and in this culture, to think of karma in very simplistic terms. “I do bad, bad comes back to me.” Certainly, there is some of that in action too. But the whole machine of the cosmos is the karmic engine that is shaped and formed by action and consequence. Of course, in truth, there is no true boundary between Ramana and I, or Ramana and you, or Ramana and anything else. If we focus our attention on Ramana, we can say that about us and Ramana. If we focus our attention on Robert, we can say the same thing about Robert. There is no distinction or separation. Another thing that is certainly true is that had it not been for that moment when that sixteen-year-old boy, caught in a terror of fear, a certainly of imminent death, rather than doing what would be expected of a boy in circumstances like that, looked within to determine who dies. Had it not been for that moment, you and I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here. And I certainly would not be in this role that I am in. And nothing would be the same. That is for sure.

Not only that moment, but his life of inaction, really leads to this action.

Yes, this action, the action of looking within, is the last action. It is the finishing of action. None of that would have occurred without that final movement of action, the action of looking within. That too ripples outward from that impossible moment.

So we take action without concern for outcome, and we can know that it will ripple out.

It depends on what you mean by action. Most people think that activity is action. The activity of the form, the body, the mind, the speech and so forth. That is not my sense of what action is. Action is this internal relationship with the activity of the body and the mind. So far as I can see, we have only one action that we can take. We can say, “This and not that.” That is pretty much our whole bag of tricks. It is my continuous experience that the actual activity of what seems to be a person in the world, the going about and speaking to people, or going about and robbing banks, or going about and doing our day-to-day lives is something about which we have nothing to say. This is what Ramana would call prarabdha karma. Included in that are the thoughts that come to us, the feelings, and so forth. All of that, we have nothing to say about. All of it is the fruit of past action, it is the cause and effect consequence of what has come before. When that internal relationship with the activity of the person ceases, when the inclination to say “This and not that” disappears, then, likewise, the “cause and effect” effect on the world disappears. There is no more action. That is my continuous experience. I was creating lots of action when I was robbing banks, because I was endlessly concerned with what I was doing, and what it meant, and what it said about me, and how it defined me. That is all any of us want to do: define ourselves, understand what we are. In those days, that internal energetic self-hatred had enormous consequences in the world and in this life.

Your definition of yourself exists even with inaction.

Yes, that’s right. That is what our internal action is, self-definition. Choosing what about me is good and has to stay, and what about me is bad and has to go. But, more often, “How do I explain what I am doing in a context that makes me not evil?”

And letting go of those desires to keep the good and get rid of the bad is basically what you are referring to?

Well, yes, but not quite. I hear this business about letting go a lot and I have no idea how you let go of anything. I have no interest in the activities of this person. I have no sense that the activities of this person have anything to say about me. That is not because I have let go of that. That is an unintended and an unexpected consequence of self-inquiry.

When you worked in Gangaji’s organization, you were a computer specialist, which the feds had unwittingly trained you for. So, now you are paying back your debt to the tax payers, aren’t you?

I hope so, they supported me for eighteen and a half years. Not only did they unwittingly train me to be decent with computers, they also unwillingly did so. We had quite a lot of drama that came down around all of that when I was in. The way I can repay my debt to all is to be used in the way I am being used.

The approximately three decades before your imprisonment, you have described tersely, “A failed student, soldier, husband, father, machinist, con man and gambler.” Plus “I have been stabbed, beaten up and had an array of drug experiences.” Could you fill in the details of the phases you have alluded to?

The details of that would take a book.

Have you thought about doing one?

Actually, I am in the process of doing one. There is nothing too deep about it. I just failed at everything I did. I couldn’t do anything right. Nothing that was offered to me, no path, no role, no activity that was offered to me lived up to what I thought human life was about. Nothing satisfied me. In fact, I think it would be accurate to say that is true of everybody but not everybody is quite as good at failing as I was. What I want to get across is that everybody’s experience is the same as mine, I think. Nothing satisfies. That is why we spend our lives continuing this fruitless search for satisfaction, looking always where it cannot be found. That is why the churches are filled with people. That is why the army is filled with people. That is why there is murder and rape, and genocide and oceans of bloodshed by human beings, in all times and all places. It is this dissatisfaction with life. It seems to me that a human being is presented with very limited choices. You either give up basically, “Yes, right, life is unsatisfactory.” It’s the old story that “life is a bitch and then you die” that is a huge statement of folk or cultural wisdom. You are given the choice between, “Well right, life sucks, so what?” and trying to do the best you can to make something of yourself, like go to school and get good grades, get a good job, be a good soldier, be a good husband or son. Or just going crazy, like I did. Everybody’s story is everybody’s story, except in the details, but the details are not so important. It is a miracle that I am alive considering all that I have done, all the danger that I have foolishly exposed myself to, all driven by this fundamental desire to be something right, to be something satisfactory. The Buddhists are really clear that “life is suffering,” which is just another way of saying that life sucks. I think that is accurate enough. Life as an individual human being is nothing but suffering and dissatisfaction.

In your case, the dissatisfaction caused you to move from one place to another, from being a student to being a husband to being a father? The dissatisfaction with each thing led to another?

Yes, it led to rejecting it and moving on to something else. Until I met Gangaji, the one endeavor and the one identity that suited me and seemed to be satisfactory was the “communist revolutionary.” And that didn’t last for very long. But, by the time it had revealed itself to be empty, bleak and a lie, I was safely ensconced in prison and, in fact, had pretty much lost the impetus to leave prison.

Before you met Gangaji, what had you thought you would do when you got out of prison?

I had no idea. I wasn’t even sure that I would get out of prison. If I was to get out of prison it was far enough in the future that I didn’t have a clue. Before I met Gangaji, I had no resources outside. I had nobody, I had no friends. My life was in the prison, and I may have thought about it once or twice. I remember thinking about the opportunity that the new technology gave to rob banks from a distance. I just had no idea. I knew that, by the time I got out of prison, it would be extremely unlikely that I could shape a productive, ordinary life. I just didn’t know.

So, there you were. A failed revolutionary, with no prospects. Before you were sentenced to thirty years, you walked your talk. And released from prison a realized man, you walked your talk. A case in point is the way in which you and Carla became husband and wife. In your e-book, you briefly mentioned how this came about. What happened when two awakened persons each wanted a conjugal partner?

Well, I don’t know what would happen in a case like that. As far as my own experience is concerned, and this is truly an incomprehensible miracle, this marriage with Carla, this came about when my wanting of a conjugal partner disappeared. There is something really interesting in this business about “me and my life.” On the one hand, my life seems dramatically and radically different from the norm. And that serves, that is useful. It gets people’s attention. It is a useful misunderstanding, but it is a misunderstanding. From my side, I am just like everybody else. So far as I can see, there is no difference between me and anybody else, other than what I have explained to be the crippling effect of having received Christ’s teaching at such an early age. That is to say that I had not the tools, mechanisms and structures in place to make do. I really thought that we were expected to be all out, all the time. So, when I speak about the things that drove me, it is not that I think they were any different than anybody else. It is quite the contrary. As far as I can see, the things that drove me are the same things that drive everybody else. I just wasn’t very good at keeping them under control. But one of the currents that was huge, even after the meeting with Gangaji, even after the wrestling with Ramana, was what seemed to be a deep psycho-sexual need for a wife, a conjugal partner, as you put it. And this was a very strong river that ran throughout my entire life, and characterized much of my turning points in life, which were connected with failed relationships with women, always. And then came a time, when I got out of prison. Now I am surrounded by women and, after eighteen and a half years of not being around women. And women many of whom saw me to be kind of spiritually heroic, heroic in a lot of ways. I was very much aware of the force of this desire to be with a woman, to have a woman who would give me what I really wanted on this level.

The question that Gangaji puts to people often, and that she has put to me in the past is, “What do you really want?” That question is extremely profound and extremely powerful. It is like the question “Who Am I?” It seems on a superficial level to be not much to it, almost a rhetorical question. But when I truly met that question, and not a spiritualized version of that question, I discovered what I would get from it. “What do I really want? What is it?” Let’s say that I get exactly the woman I want, whoever that might be. the woman of my dreams, so to speak, and let’s say that she related to me exactly in the way that I always wanted a woman to relate to me. She adored me, she did nothing to try to correct me or judge me, just adoration. I could see, honestly, that that was what I wanted. And, of course, the engine that tells us what is right and wrong discards that, and says, “Yeah, right, so much for that.” But that is what I wanted. It might be a stupid wanting, and an unfulfillable desire, but nevertheless that was it. So, I allowed myself to really imagine what that would be like, what that would look like. I allowed shape to form around this mute desire. Then, I asked myself, “What would I get from that?” And I discovered, beyond any possibility of misunderstanding, that what I would get from that is nothing. That was the end of it. And it was not long, less than a month after that, that Carla and I were married. So, it was not the result of my desire for a conjugal partner, and this is just as true for Carla as it is for me. This miracle of a marriage actually was the result of, if it was the result of anything having to do with that desire, the disappearance of that desire.

So a minister might look a couple in the eye and ask each one, “What do you really want,” as he’s getting ready to marry them?

Yes, it would probably be useful.

Can you give us your message now, in its most distilled form?

I have been trying, for almost seven years now, to answer that question. Every time I speak with people, I am trying to answer that question. Here is Ramana’s invitation. Ramana came to us with an unbelievably radical departure from spiritual orthodoxy. In the fifty-five years following his death, there has been a great deal of religifying of Ramana that has gone on in India and everywhere. But Ramana’s actual offering is so radical a departure from the spiritual orthodoxy and so simple, that it is really difficult to even speak about it, because we speak about it in terms and in a context that is spiritual. But Ramana was not spiritual. Ramana was extremely erudite. He knew an awful lot about spiritual practices, and spiritual orthodoxy, and spiritual teachings. But he himself was not spiritual at all, truly. The form of Ramana was limited by his education and the cultural conditioning that shaped it, that gave it form, that gave it speech and gave it a vocabulary and a set of concepts to use to communicate. His speech seems to be in a spiritual context, but the heart of his offering has nothing to do with anything spiritual. It has to do with truth. Not spiritual truth, but actual, verifiable reality, how things actually are. And about the inherent capacity in all of humanity to discover directly the actuality of one’s own nature, of what they are.

It is known and recognized by all that in our lives, if we find ourselves in a spiritual context at all, we have come upon it, first of all, through a long period of material seeking. It is my experience that there is one desire that drives us all and that is the desire to know what I am. This desire, in most lives, for most of the time, is wrongly understood and projected upon objects of acquisition or aversion. It is projected upon objects of acquisition like relationships, power, money, position in the herd, education, and understanding. The seeking after understanding as a way of quenching the thirst of this desire to know what I am is a huge mistake. The nature of this desire is denied, is unrecognized. It is not recognized to be the desire to know what I am but it is easy to see it in operation, as we are continuously trying to understand our story, to put it in a good context, to fix it, to shape it, to get rid of the things that cannot be if I am to be what I must be, in order to accept myself. The endless effort to run the memory tape of my life, so I have a consistent and coherent structure that I can call “me,” which, of course, always fails. Moment to moment, it fails. This story about what I am, the story that entails and incorporates all of my emotions and feelings, unconscious urges, the things that I do in the world, the things that I have done, even the thoughts that come to my mind, this is an endless backbreaking doomed-to-failure effort to provide a structure, a face, a shape that is stable and safe, and that I can say, “That is me.” There are always these things about me popping up, that I have to say “It’s not me.” But that is the desire that drives it all and the culture is porous to this reality. It shows up all the time. “Be all that you can be.” “That is not who I am.” “Let me be who I am.” It is porous to the understanding of what is really driving us. This is a holy desire. This is a sacred desire.

Throughout our life, before we come into the spiritual realm, we try to make this shape by what we do, what we acquire, our relationships and so forth. The power of understanding, money, position, safety, and all of that. At some point, in some lives, (probably most lives, to judge, for example, from the statistics that 85% of the people in this country identify themselves as Christians) this shift occurs when we see very clearly that all that we have done so far has not worked. Although we may not acknowledge this consciously and openly to ourselves, we may see that all we have done so far has not worked. It hasn’t done what I wanted it to do, whatever I think I wanted it to do, much less what I really wanted it to do, which is to make of me a coherently sane and good person that I can say, “That’s me.”

There comes this point when it strikes home that nothing we’ve done worked, and usually that is the moment of the shift into a new arena of seeking identity, which is the spiritual arena. We hear these glorious and wondrous expressions that come from the great ones, although not so much from the great ones, as from those who follow them. The sutras, the shastras, the Upanishads, the hymns, scriptures and gospels, the poetry, all of that is a vast body of spiritual expression that sings to us, speaks to us, resonates somewhere deep in the core of our being. They speak in some cases of salvation. In some cases, of paradise, and in some cases that are a little less religious of enlightenment, self-realization, and awakening. The Buddhists say that the greatest luck in a lifetime is even to hear the word “enlightenment.” We hear these words and we hear these concepts, these songs and poems, and we say, “That is what I want. I want to wake up. I want to be realized. I want enlightenment.”

But we have no idea what we are talking about or, more truly, we have way too many ideas of what we are talking about. And we seek after these things. We seek in the same way that we have sought in the material realm. We seek what we are looking for in the spiritual realm, using the same tactics, the same I-want-this-I-don’t-want-that trick that we have. We compare our present state with the reports that purport to be descriptions of the “awakened state,” or the “realized state,” or the “enlightened state,” and we see that we fall short. And we continue on. Often we go from tradition to tradition. Sometimes we stay in a tradition forever and we receive instructions, we receive puja instructions and mantras, meditation techniques, transmissions and initiations, all of which seem to have some effectiveness, because from time to time, we taste this sweet experience of open-heartedness and emptiness and peace. And that passes, of course, to be replaced by the experience of having lost it and needing to do more, needing to figure out and understand better; needing to be more humble or devoted to our practice. And, for the most part, this is the story of human life. It can take some pretty horrifying turns and twists, with people blowing themselves up because of some spiritual impulse that is authentic. But that is what we do. And because now we are in a realm in which failure is not an option, we pretend to ourselves and we do the same thing we have always done. We say, “This I want, this I don’t want.” And that can go on for the rest of our lives. Papaji speaks of us as “marching in lock step to the grave.”

Ramana cuts through all of that. Ramana points out with crystal clarity the absolute lack of value of spiritual understanding, the absolute uselessness of all of our activities and doings, wantings and not-wantings, our renunciations, meditations and pujas. Not uselessness entirely, because they serve. They bring us here, anyway. But Ramana points out to us with crystal clarity that we came into the spiritual realm in order to be finished with the spiritual realm. That is really what we are here for. We are here to finish and the time is now. It is always now. The reference backward to awakened experiences in the past is of no use to us. The projection into the future of what might happen, or what I might get, or what I might attain in the future as a result of my present practice is just more of the same internal warfare of “not here,” “not now,” “not this.”

All of the teachings have a couple of fundamental insights deeply at their core. Even the religions, at their core, have these fundamental insights, the most profound of which is that what you are seeking is yourself. They all have that, and they all ignore that. What you are seeking is yourself. What I heard from Ramana is, “Don’t believe that, find out if it is true.” Don’t believe anything that you receive from spiritual teachers, or from spiritual tradition, or from religious tradition. Find out, for yourself, the truth of the matter. What is actual? And since they all have at their core this profound insight that you are what you seek, that what you are seeking is yourself, how hard can that be? Ramana’s insistence, again and again and again, is first, before anything else, find out what you are. Everything that you do, everything that you think is all about you. You and your relationships and your goodness and badness, your failures and successes, your death, your birth and your life. So, first, find out what all these stories are about. Find out what you are actually. Now, in this moment.

This is the first radical departure of Ramana. Ramana has no truck with the idea that people need to be worn down, or worn out, or snuck up on with this fundamental question. This question is everybody’s question: What am I really? In order to do that, all that is required is this desire that is the only desire in operation, which Papaji calls “the self’s endless interest in revealing itself to itself.” This desire to know what I am finally, once and for all, for good or bad. If I am a limited individual consciousness in a skin sack of meat, let me know that now. No one anywhere, at any time, can tell you how to do this. How can you be told how to find yourself? But if this desire is unleashed, if it is seen for what it is, that is all that is required. Just that. It will take you home. There is no how to do it. How to do it is to completely disregard everything else that you have been looking at, everything else that you have been looking toward for a solution. That is how to do it. And to follow this desire back to its source. That is the first and most profound instruction of Ramana Maharshi. It is truly all I have to offer. The encouragement, the prayer, the begging and the wrestling with whomever comes to me to find out what they are. Ramana also has clearly seen, and is crystal clear in his instruction, that no spiritual understanding is of any use to you in this. It is actually a burden. It is not a help. It is to be jettisoned, to be ignored. What you are is much too simple to be contained in any understanding, no matter how subtle, sophisticated and vast it might be. The spiritual understandings are mostly used in order to compare our present state with what we imagine to be the state of awakeness or realization. They are useless. Most fundamentally, Ramana’s announcement, and this is the aspect of Ramana’s teaching that seems to me to be unheard mostly, is that there is absolutely nothing whatsoever that you can do to attain realization. And the reason for that is that you are already, just as you are, with nothing fixed, nothing made to stay, nothing made to go away, the perfect realization of eternal awareness just as you are. If anyone really hears that, it must provoke in them curiosity at least. “What can he be talking about? What am I that he can say such an absurd and profoundly ridiculous thing about?”

So that is what I have to offer. The encouragement to just for now jettison spiritual understanding. It brings you to the point where the desire to know the truth is inflamed and beyond that, it is a weight, a hindrance. Secondly, there is no possibility that any practice, any understanding, anything that you do or don’t do can bring you to realization, because you are realization. Thirdly, find out what you are. Actually. Not spiritually, but actually. What am I, actually? In the course of that investigation, many things may appear, vying for your identity. Many states, many ideas, many understandings, many objects. But the desire to know the truth is so powerful that it sweeps us aside, sometimes very quickly, sometimes not so quickly. This desire to know the truth is so profound and so huge that that is what you can trust. The last thing I have to say to people is this. Do not waste a nanosecond of this life saying to yourself, “Oh, I had it and I lost it. Oh, I have been caught up in thought. Oh, I have been suffering again.” Don’t waste a single nanosecond with that kind of story about something that happened in the past. What you are is now. It has nothing to do with any story.

That leads up to my last question, the most significant question. Who, beneath the story, is John Sherman?

John Sherman is nothing but the story. Who I am, nothing can be said about. Not because it is too mysterious, or too deep or too anything. It just simply is not accessible in that way. I am you, truly. If you find you, you find me, truly. And you will be no better able, I predict, to answer that question than I am. Everything that is spoken about the truth is a lie. Everything that I have spoken about the truth is a lie.