John Sherman is Dead

I never met John Sherman in person. We spoke over the phone sometimes and had somewhat frequent online video meetings during the last years of his life. Our meetings mostly concerned the development of the Just One Look work. A  deep fascination with the act of inward looking was something I shared with John. I never got tired of speaking about it with John and his wife Carla.

And even though John and I had no personal relationship, his death created a kind of silence and empty space in me. I have never related to John as a spiritual teacher, and I never let my own road to sanity build upon John personally or on his own experiences. But still, his clarity and focus have been a true inspiration and support to me over the years. So, I thought, what now that John is no longer around? What do I do now? I mention this because I believe others who are familiar with The Just One Look Method may have had this question appear in their minds also. The answer to that question came to me almost at the same time as the question itself arose: John Sherman is not the cause of my sanity. The act of inward looking is.

This is not meant to diminish John’s meaning as a person but to honour the way he managed to free The Just One Look Method from himself. So, let us honour John’s legacy by remembering that he always wanted people not look at him, but to look at themselves and, if possible, offer the same opportunity to others. And let us honour the fact that the road to sanity is open and not dependent on any special teacher or teaching. 

Personally, I especially honour the insights and the fresh perspective on the human mind and the nature of mental suffering that he shared. They freed me from the unbearable burden of believing that the human life and mind are broken and need to be fixed. They taught me that striving for a non-reactive and trance-like state is not worth the effort and it is a waste of a life.

And John, if you were to read this text, I guess you would say something like, The insights that resulted in The Just One Look Method came as a gift, once again reiterating the impersonal nature of The Just One Look work. I agree with John; this work is a gift and I intend to do what I can to keep this gift alive.

So, what now? Well, John Sherman is dead, but we are alive and so is The Just One Look Method. Let us honour John by accepting that he is gone and use this new situation in a sane way.  Let us get truly self-reliant and stand on our own legs by taking charge of our own life and attention. Let us develop our own clarity and focus. And also, if possible, let us do what we can to offer the possibility to be free of existential fear to as many people as possible.

Niklas Lindström 

In the next post I plan to share my current understanding of The Just One Look Method. I will also try to critically address some central questions and premises related to the method. What is it that we look at when we look at ourselves? And how and why would a minimal movement of attention produce anything at all? And the scariest question of them all, is all this just a well-built fantasy and wishful thinking? Is it all in our head?  And if not, how about the way forward?  

Just to Say Hello

It has been a long time since the last newsletter. I am writing to say hello, and to let you know I am still here. And I have a couple of projects in the works for Just One Look. One of them is an Italian translation of The Just One Look Method e-book that I hope to make available soon as a free download.

John’s Memorial Service was held here in Ojai on November 20. I posted the audio recording of it as a new episode in our podcast. You can listen to it click here.

People have asked how I am doing, so I thought I would share some of it here.

So much has changed in my life since John passed away on September 29. I now work a full-time job here in Ojai in a medical coding and billing office. In February, I joined the Santa Barbara Choral Society and just sang my first two concerts with the choir two weeks ago. And I am dancing again. I am taking a contemporary dance class once a week here in Ojai, which is a real blessing. Bringing music and dance back into my life has helped in this period of mourning.

After John was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in May 2019, I went into a tailspin. The barrage of old patterns of thought took me completely by surprise. For a long time, I had experienced life without fear. But now there were all these emotions—fear, doubt, panic, anxiety, and anger—begging for my attention. My attempts to ignore them, to refuse to pay attention to them, did not work. They were relentless. Yet, as in Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, instead of trying to get rid of them, I resolved to somehow “welcome and entertain them all.”

It has been quite an adventure, this deep dive into a whirlwind of emotions, into this “crowd of sorrows.” I could see how my reactions—the fear, the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the worrying—had been set in place a long time ago. They were trying to protect me, to help me. But I could also see that now my task was to open.

Thankfully, the gift of learning to look at myself had broken the illusion of “I am my body,” “I am my thoughts,” “I am my emotions.” But in the face of loss, of watching John gradually disappear, with nothing I could do to stop it, my old emotional survival reflexes were overwhelming. All I could do was welcome the intensity. As much as possible. Bit by bit. Moment by moment.

If, like me, you experience intense emotions that overwhelm your body and mind, this is an open invitation to stop running, to stop trying to fix yourself and welcome all those parts of you that you have despised. Now that you have looked at yourself, there is some space between you and the thoughts and emotions. You can watch them. Deep down you know these reactions are not who you are.

John used to say that when you look at yourself, it is as if you opened the prison doors, and all the prisoners with teardrops tattooed on their faces come rushing out. We cannot ignore them, cannot fight them, cannot erase them, but we can welcome them with compassion and tenderness. All they want is to be seen and loved. By welcoming the despised parts of ourselves we can become more whole human beings. We can end the war within ourselves.

Wishing you all the best,


A Celebration of Life

John William Sherman

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.
And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.
But there is no other way.
The river cannot go back.
Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.

Khalil Gibran

John Sherman left his body and became the ocean on September 29, 2021. He was 79 years old.

Podcast Ep. 40: Mahasamadhi

A Meeting with John Sherman in Ojai, California on April l4, 2007.

Ramana Maharshi was born in 1879 and when he died, on April 14, 1950, he was 71 years old. Ramana brought to us an incredible, simple insight. Many saw him as a saint, an ethereal being who somehow came down from heaven to transmit and bestow upon us the experience of silence, peace and the vastness of being. But, as far as I know, this is not the way Ramana saw himself.

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Podcast Ep. 39: Escape from the Spiritual Ghetto

A Meeting with John Sherman in Boulder, Colorado on June 28, 2007

There really is a problem, a shortcoming, a sense of a false promise that afflicts us as human beings and, no matter what practices we engage in, this sense of life as a false promise, of things falling short, remains in the background.

Podcast Ep. 38: Meditation Can Serve Self-Inquiry

A Meeting with John Sherman in Ojai, California on July 14, 2007.

The meditation that I speak of is the very simple meditation practice that I received from the Buddhists, I think it is called Shamata meditation. And it is just a matter of watching your breath. You sit comfortably, close your eyes, and watch your breath as it comes in and out of your nostrils. What you are after is to get a one-pointed, attentive experience of this physical sensation.

Podcast Ep. 37: What Do You Really Want?

In this episode, we discuss how the search for enlightenment or self-realization is a search for an escape from life and its difficulties. The longing for awakening is actually a desire to go to sleep, to escape from the reality of your own mortality. What is possible is to free yourself of that which keeps you searching for an escape from ordinary life into an imaginary state where everything is perfectly safe and unchanging.

If you were inspired by this post, please make a donation to support our work.  Suggested donation: $3

What Do You Really Want?

Have you ever noticed that whatever you think might give you peace and satisfaction fails to do so when you get it?

Why is it that even when we achieve all the goals we set out for ourselves in our lives—the perfect partner, a beautiful family, lots of money, a good job, etc. —none of that eliminates the sense that there is still something lacking?

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Podcast Episode 36: Get Off the Bus

In this episode, we discuss how your thoughts are yours to understand and to use, but they are not you. If you have negative thoughts about a present situation and there is something you can do to change it, you are free to follow those thoughts and use them to solve the problem. But if there is nothing you can do in the moment, it is safe to ignore those thoughts and put your attention on the sensation of the breath.

If you were inspired by this post, please make a donation to support our work.  Suggested donation: $3

Podcast Episode 34: Simplicity

In this episode, we discuss how simple it is to free yourself of the fear of life and start a process that will result in a new, healthier, and saner approach to your life and your mind.

If you were inspired by this post, please make a donation to support our work.  Suggested donation: $3

The Power of Attention, Part Three

Recovering from Fear

During the recovery period, certain situations may trigger the appearance of fear-generated thoughts in the mind. Old patterns of reaction to circumstance may reappear and catch you by surprise. You need not be discouraged. These are merely old soldiers of fear trying desperately to keep their grip on your mind. They are just trying to protect you based on the false idea that you need protection from life itself.

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Podcast Episode 33: Naked & Afraid

In this episode, we discuss how the fear arises, how it manifests in our life, and how it can be eliminated, opening the way to the development of a sane, fearless mind.

If you were inspired by this post, please make a donation to support our work.  Suggested donation: $3

The Power of Attention, Part Two

Self-Directed Attention

The practice of Self-Directed Attention allows you to develop deep control of your attention and enables you to choose for yourself what is worth paying attention to and what is not. Over time, you increase your ability to decline to attend to thought forms that are harmful or simply irrelevant in the moment.

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The Power of Attention, Part One

Looking at Yourself

When you look at yourself directly with the firm intention of getting a taste (a feel, a whiff) of what it feels like to be you, the unconscious ground of fear upon which your mind developed over your lifetime dissipates. Just one look with your inner eye at the raw sense of me before any names, definitions, understandings, and emotional states eliminates that underlying context of fearfulness.

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Podcast Episode 32: The Power of Attention

In this episode, we discuss the fact that there is nothing that you can control in your life other than what you pay attention to.

If you were inspired by this post, please make a donation to support our work.  Suggested donation: $3

Enlightenment Is Not Worth Striving For

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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