Carla and I have come to an understanding that the non-dual spiritual teachings that seem to be everywhere in one form or another in these times are worthless at best.
There are millions of us who have believed in them and trusted them to ease the misery of worry and fear that is the lot of the vast majority of us. We do so because we are told that the wisdom to be revealed upon our acceptance and surrender will bring an end to our war on our own life, which is caused by ignorance.
We cannot help but pay attention to the sorry state of human affairs in our time. And there is no reason to turn away from the facts of the world’s current descent into madness, murder, and torture. This is, after all, the world we live in.
But there is no reason to allow our attention to be pulled to the fear-driven drumbeat of misery and helplessness that appears in a mind still under the effects of the fear.
Something can be done after all. We can work together to bring an end to the worldwide epidemic of neurotic personal fear that is the one true cause of all human violence against self and others.
This advice holds true for everyone, whether or not they have done the act of looking at yourself. If you haven’t done the act of looking at yourself yet, please go to our website now and start on the path out of a fear-driven mind immediately.
The Just One Look Method is a two-part process. Those two parts are the act of Looking at Yourself and the Self-Directed Attention Exercise.
The act of Looking at Yourself resets the mind and triggers a period of recovery in which the mind restructures itself, in a context that is no longer based on the fear of life itself. For the process to start, just one look is enough.
The second part, the practice of Self-Directed Attention, is fundamental in the recovery.
I will not pussyfoot around the situation facing humanity today.
I am seventy-four years old and I have seen a lot of drama in my own life and in the lives of humans everywhere. In the 70s, I robbed banks and destroyed the means whereby working people were being made poorer every day. In the course of things, I was shot, put on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, and imprisoned for almost 20 years in federal prisons.
Today I’m going to make one more attempt to answer questions about the similarity between what we call Self-Directed Attention and Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation. I can understand why there would be some confusion about the apparent similarity of the two practices, but they are actually diametrically opposite to each other.
When I speak of Mindfulness Meditation, I am referring to the practice that originated from Tibetan Buddhism. What I say here may apply to other versions of Buddhism, but I have personal experience with Tibetan Buddhism and I understand the outlook and the purpose of their practices, so that’s what I can speak about.
I am going to try to state as clearly as I can what the purpose of Tibetan Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation is, and then compare that purpose with the purpose of the practice that we call Self-Directed Attention. And from now on, I’m going to say just Buddhism.
If you really understand that what you are trying to do is to get a taste of what it feels like to be you, whether you have a conscious experience of having touched yourself with your attention or not, you cannot fail. It’s the conscious movement of attention toward the feeling of ‘me’ that counts.
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Through no fault of our own, most humans—that is to say most of us—have minds that have come into being shaped by a context of fear and distrust of life itself.
We didn’t cause that to happen, and we can’t even know directly that that is the case, any more than we can know directly that the Earth is a big ball without actually getting far enough away from it to see its roundness with our own eyes.
With very few exceptions, pretty much everybody on earth—butcher, baker, candlestick maker, rich, poor, beggar, and thief—each and every human being on the planet is at least as confused, fearful, miserable and afflicted as you are now or have been at some point.
Everybody on earth is at least as blameless as you are and as justified in their actions and beliefs as you are. Nobody on earth is in complete control of what they think, and want, and resist. Not even you.
One morning last August I was reading an article in an old Harper’s magazine about the origins of the First World War. The article explained what was happening in the world at the time, and it described the feeling of being alive then as an all-pervasive state of hopelessness, denial, despair, boredom, and malaise; a lack of interest in life. There was a sense that there wasn’t anything anyone could do to change things.
But with the assassination of the Archduke of Austria war broke loose, and triggered an explosion of excitement in the world. War seemed to offer the possibility of moving out of the swamp of generalized misery and hopelessness into a fresh and wondrous adventure, something which might just restore a feeling of the excitement in being alive. “The war to end all war,” they called it.
All of this was, of course, merely an opportunity to move the blame for the misery that had been festering internally to the enemy outside. And also, of course, that excitement could not, and did not, last very long. Soon all of Europe was smothered in corpses and drenched in blood, and the horror and stench of war covered the earth.
According to Buddhist texts and most of the wisdom teachings, misidentification is the sole cause of human psychological misery. Those teachings tell us that all personal identification whatsoever is misidentification, and they therefore advise us to seek a state that is clear of all limiting ideas about our true nature.
This is a perfectly understandable misunderstanding of reality, and no cause for blame. Truthfully, those who presented us with these teachings were courageous pioneers in the continuing effort to understand human being and human misery.
But it turns out that it is not identification per se that is the problem. It is the identification with a diseased personality that is the true cause of all the trouble. And that problem turns out to be hard to understand, but really easy to fix.
The root cause of most human psychological misery is the fear of life. This fear of life is a psychological autoimmune disease that arises in reaction to fearful experience very early in life, long before we learn that we have a mind–long before we are even conscious of ourselves as individual persons. The fear of life is an unseen assumption that life is inherently dangerous and profoundly untrustworthy. And it is upon this invisible foundation of fear and distrust that our minds develop over time.
My understanding of the mind and its role in human life may strike you as strange, but I promise that it is entirely consistent with everything I have seen in the current scientific literature on these matters. So please focus first on understanding fully what I am saying before trying to decide whether you agree with me or not.
Last weekend we conducted a webinar on the practice of self-directed attention which we teach to provide critical support when the results of the act of the inward looking begin to unfold in your mind.
In the opening of that webinar, I tried to convey insights and understandings that I felt would be useful.
I started out by answering five common questions about the looking and its results:
Coming clean: “To admit something to someone.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions
The root cause of all human psychological misery is the fear of life itself that strikes most of us at or near birth, and sets the context in which our psychology develops over time. It is useful to speak of the fear and its effects as a kind of psychological autoimmune disease that is subject to therapeutic intervention. There is no one to blame for our misery, least of all ourselves.
The simple act of looking at yourself with your mind’s eye will reliably destroy that context of fearfulness and its diseased psychological mechanisms. We have seen for ourselves that when that happens, the mind naturally begins to restore itself from a foundation of sanity and self-reliance.