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Articles and Essays

Enlightenment is Not Worth Striving For

Why the search for enlightenment and self-realization is a false trail.

John & Carla Sherman

The idea of enlightenment as a magical event that makes everything perfect is a fairy tale, a misunderstanding of what it really means to be free.

If you have been on a spiritual path for any length of time, this may be a hard pill to swallow. We know. We walked a spiritual path for many years ourselves once and taught it to many others believing that our deep understanding of spirituality had brought us home.

We were wrong.

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The Radical Act of Inward Looking

Paul Freedman M.S.W., R.S.W. 
Jonathan Goldberg M.S.W., R.S.W. 
Jaak Reichmann M.D., FRCP(C)

Paul Freedman has been working as a therapist in outpatient psychiatry for the past 20 years. Prior to that, his clinical practice was largely focused on working within the Deaf community. Paul has been a hospital-based MBSR teacher for over 15 years and is now largely interested in exploring how non-dual practices can be integrated into evidence-based clinical work.


In keeping with the new wave of context–focused treatment approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), we discuss an innovative behavioral intervention referred to as the Act of Inward Looking. The theoretical underpinnings of this intervention are based on the assumption that the primary cause of human psychological suffering is a pervasive fear of life which is established at birth and thereafter operates as an unconscious psychological context or schema. Problematic symptoms, negative behavioral traits and reactions as well as our attempts to get rid of them are seen as effects of this lifelong pernicious context. The Act of Inward Looking primarily targets and modifies this context and is thought to subsequently lessen or extinguish many of the aforementioned effects. The Act of Inward Looking is described in detail and viewed, in part, through the lens of In Vivo Exposure Therapy, as well as contrasted with mindfulness-based practices. The use of a trans-personal intervention within a behavior therapy framework (exposure) represents a unique integration of historically divergent theoretical camps.

Download The Radical Act of Inward Looking PDF (151 Kb)

This paper was published on Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology, vol. 1, Issue 4.