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.
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?
Gaining control over your attention may seem to be the hardest thing you have ever tried to do in your life. After all, you are turning it forcefully in the opposite direction it is accustomed to going.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
In this episode, John Sherman explains the origins of The Just One Look Method and how it brings you the practical essence of the Self-Inquiry of Ramana Maharshi, clear of all spiritual references and ideas.
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?
The fear of life is the first cause of all our psychological troubles.
The fear of life is a silent and false assumption that life is untrustworthy and dangerous that runs in the background of all experience.
Now, strictly speaking, there is no requirement that you understand the cause of your mental misery before you can be rid of it and, conversely, mere understanding of the cause will not free you of it. But a clear understanding of the actual cause of our mental misery, although not required, vastly simplifies and mitigates the tumultuous experience of regeneration that often follows that first look.
Identity: (1) The character or personality of an individual: unity and continuity of personality; (2) one’s perception of the sameness and persistence of one’s own individual personality: sense of self. (Merriam-Webster)
Before you begin reading this post, please Google the phrase “the search for identity”. You will be shown links to almost 43 million pages that approach the issue.
It would seem that identity, and the search for it, is the heart and soul of being human. If that’s the case, how can it be that such a critical component of being human is considered to be such a mystery by so many? What is identity, after all? Where is it to be found?
In this episode, John Sherman reveals the actual nature of Ramana Maharshi’s Self-Inquiry, which is to get a taste of what it feels like to be you, and he explains what that inward movement of attention accomplishes.
In this episode, John Sherman speaks about how the practice of Self-Inquiry, when engaged in from a spiritual or magical thinking foundation, is crippled. Therefore, the best course to self-reliant human life is to simply look at yourself, your presence here, in the manner of Just One Look and follow with the practice of Self-Directed Attention.
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.