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A Brief History of Our Work


We have been developing this work for more than eighteen years now. We held our first meeting together (we still called it satsang then) in June of 1999, two days before we were married, with a group of people who were familiar with us from the spiritual community. It was a very casual and relaxed meeting. The furthest thing from our minds at that time was any idea that we might spend our lives working as teachers of any kind. We had seen enough of that sort of life close up to know that it was not for us.


Taken by the Work

Two years later, we found ourselves operating a non-profit foundation to support what had become the heart of our lives. We had been taken by the very thing we wanted the least: a life given over to trying to understand and 'teach' whatever it was that needed to be heard in order for others to experience life without fear as we do: a life full of tears and laughter, pain and contentment, understanding and total confusion. A human life, incomprehensibly strange and utterly unreliable and beautiful beyond belief.

This was the first of six fundamental shifts that came to our understanding of our work and our lives—to our surprise.

For the next six years, we spent most of our time on the road. Thousands of miles, hundreds of meetings with thousands of people all over the country, with one purpose only: finding simple, ordinary words that would convey what we had done that had taken from us the burden of neurotic fearfulness, anxiety and dissatisfaction with our lives once and for all.


Escape From the Spiritual Ghetto

In 2006, after a trip to Chicago and Carbondale (Illinois), and Boulder (Colorado), it dawned on us that it was time to leave behind all our efforts to reconcile ancient wisdom teachings with what we had seen—not because those teachings were wrong, but because they did not work for what we were trying to do.

We saw clearly that there was nothing in that approach that could help us learn to communicate what had actually happened to us.

This was the second shift in our understanding and practice. We thought of this change as an escape from the spiritual ghetto.

A year later, we returned to Chicago and Boulder and, for the first time, we came to feel that we were on the right track at last and, although there was much we did not understand about what that meant, from our perspective it seemed inevitable that, even then, people might well be able to find a way to freedom from the hints we were now able to offer.

And we saw that if that was so, we could not continue to charge money for access to what we were suggesting, so we made everything we offer free of charge from then on out.

That was the third shift.


Look at Yourself

The year 2007 was full of fresh insights into just what it was that we wanted people to do to free themselves from the sense that life as a human was wrong. The 2007 Retreat in Ojai, California consolidated those insights into one simple act: look at yourself. That retreat was the source of the book Look at Yourself.

This was the fourth shift and it gave us, for the first time, enough understanding to begin to urge people to look, while we continued to seek greater understanding and skill at bringing that suggestion to people.


An Insight into the Cause of All Human Psychological Misery

The 2010 Retreat in Ojai, California, produced the fifth fundamental shift in our understanding. We saw very clearly, for the first time, that the fear of life comes upon us all probably at birth, and sets the context for all of our understanding of ourselves and our lives, making it the root cause of psychological human misery.

We began to cut back on travel then, although we still travelled occasionally to Northern California, and offered monthly public meetings in Santa Monica. In 2011, when the fees and insurance requirements for renting the Santa Monica room changed radically, we could no longer afford to continue going there and we had to stop offering monthly public meetings there, after nine years of monthly meetings.

The 2011 Retreat in Ojai, California clarified matters even further, and confirmed for us the actual utility of speaking of these things directly, with no purpose other that to persuade people to try the act. Upon recognizing that, we began to take serious action to bring this act to all of humanity.


Bringing this Act to All Humanity

We have come to see that anyone who will just do this act will almost certainly destroy the context of fear and open the space for a new context, uncontaminated by the sense that life is not to be trusted. The more we speak with people about it, the less need we see for elaborate, comprehensive explication of the causes and effects of the problem or its solution. We just ask people to look in such a way that they will see the harmlessness and attraction of the act, and then just do it.

This is the sixth shift in our understanding of our work, and its effects continue to arise, with new ideas on how to use known methodologies, previously used to persuade people to buy stuff or become something, in service to moving this idea into the world as quickly and as effectively as possible.

During the end of the 2012 Retreat in Ojai, California we launched the Just One Look Project with the goal of bringing the method of looking inward at the sense of me as the solution to human psychological misery and alienation from life itself to at least 10% of the human population as quickly as possible.


Our Last Chance?

We believe that the human community teeters now on the verge of a profound and tragic catastrophe of our own making. This would be by no means the first time we have driven ourselves by fear into an orgy of hatred and destruction, but given the great power we can wield now, in this time, it could very well be the last.

And it really does not have to play out like that. Now, maybe for the first time in our history, it is in our power to snuff out the cause of all our misery once and for all.


Using All Means Available to Us

The collective work in our discussion forums and the activities of the Just One Look Grassroots continues to bring greater understanding of the looking and its consequences, and of practical actions that can be taken to help ease the transition between life before and after the act of looking at yourself.

But our driving interest now is turning to the search for and understanding of practical means whereby we can bring the simple, harmless suggestion to try to look into the mind of the entire human community, before it's too late.

We are working constantly on an all out campaign to bring this great news to everyone.


Can You See the Promise?

We have come to see that the internet is cause for great hope that we might actually be able to do just that and, in order to effectively use the incredibly powerful tools available to us here, we need to make fundamental changes in our presentation that will make it easier for people to hear of us and much easier for them to get involved in the community.

Because at the heart of it all is the shining promise of actual human community at last.

This will take several years, and the efforts of all of us who have a glimpse of this great promise, to pull off. Again, the goal of this project is merely to get the suggestion to look at yourself into the ears of enough humans to ensure that all humans hear of it.

Please help if you can. We need money, talent, and skill in a number of areas including website development, accounting, fundraising, public relations, and others that we don't see yet. We need people to help us see what we don't quite see yet.

But just consider for a moment the great good luck we have stumbled upon here and its promise to humans everywhere.

Can you see?

Brief History of Meetings with John Sherman