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.