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.

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A World Gone Mad

We live in dire times. Children are being gunned down in their own classrooms and countries with thermonuclear weaponry are threatening to use them for fear that others might use them first.

It is true that many non-profit organizations are making admirable efforts to solve localized problems around the world but they stop short. Their efforts are commendable but they do not address the root cause of all our problems: the fear of life.

Continue reading

About Expectations

A few weeks ago we went to see an acupuncturist in a Los Angeles neighborhood that was completely unfamiliar to us. John dropped me off at the office and went to park the van.

When we left the office, he could not remember where he had parked the van.  He had been in such a hurry to get back to the office that he had not thought of taking note of the location. We walked for hours looking for the van, to no avail. We had to rent a car in Glendale to drive home.

Continue reading

Naked and Afraid

The baby, too, just like a sailor tossed
By cruel waves, lies naked on the ground,
Poor child, bereft of every means of life,
As soon as it has left its mother’s womb
In throes of birth, and fills the room with squalls,
As is but meet for one who has to pass
Such ills in life. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (54 B.C.)

If you have followed our work for even a short time, you must know by now that, in our view, it is the fear of life itself that ruins life for almost all of us human beings.

Continue reading

What Makes our Work Different

Someone recently sent us an email with a question that we found very useful.

First of all, I would like to say “Thank you” with great sincerity and deep gratitude. I enjoy listening to your talks due to your sincerity, honesty and, above all, your simplicity. I would like to ask you one question and I hope you can find the time to answer. It would be much appreciated. 

Many years ago, I came across Nisargadatta Maharaj’s book I Am That and although I couldn’t understand most of it, certain parts spoke to me. If you will bear with me, I would like to give two quotes that really struck home:

Continue reading

NEW BOOK: The Just One Look Method

New book by John and Carla Sherman
The Just One Look Method: Complete Instructions

The Just One Look Method is an extremely simple approach to mental misery unlike anything you have ever tried. It will rid you of the root cause of your dissatisfaction with life and the painful yearning for peace and fulfillment that seems never to be fully satisfied.

The Just One Look Method is the result of nineteen years of experience working with people all over the world who have seen their relationship with their own lives change dramatically for the better.

We do not give you descriptions of a life free of fear. We do not tell you what to think about yourself and others. We do not tell you how to live your life, how to behave, what to believe in, etc.

Continue reading

Everybody Is Just Like You

Everybody is driven by the same underlying fear of life that caused you so much difficulty in your own life prior to looking at yourself. Your response to it was most likely different from that of the villains of history, but it was also shaped by the idiosyncratic way in which your particular psychology developed and found some homeostasis. So if you have been a good person, it was because the circumstances of your life have caused your response to the fear to take the form of good personhood; of being a good guy rather than a bad guy. It’s that simple.

Continue reading


Expectations come in at least two flavors. The first flavor is a reasonable expectation as to what might happen in the course of our day-to-day life. For example, if I plant a garden, I will have the reasonable expectation that, barring bad weather or unforeseen damage by pests, in due time I will have the fruits of my labor in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. If I place an order for something at Amazon, I will have the reasonable expectation that, in due time, a package will arrive at my door. If I work for wages, I will have the reasonable expectation that on payday I will have money.

Continue reading

What Do You Really Want?

Before looking at myself, I would have had no idea how to answer such a question. Maybe money and power, so I could do what I really wanted to do? But what then? And what exactly was it that I would really want to do? And what would I get from doing it?

Enlightenment maybe, or knowledge, but what would I expect to get from them? What exactly would they bring to me?

True love? True friendship? A sense of accomplishment? Happiness? But how would I recognize true love, or friendship, or accomplishment, or happiness if I got them?

Sticky question, isn’t it?

Continue reading