John Sherman - Just One Look

beginnersmind
Posts: 225
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:00 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by beginnersmind » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:45 am

Onceler wrote:
coriolis wrote:
KathleenBrugger wrote:Onceler, coriolis, and Eric: would you say that what's shifted is your identification? As long as you identified with your neuroses, they were monsters, but when you could see them as just psychological baggage you'd picked up along the way, and not really part of who you are, they turned into just a mess that needed cleaning?
I would say with Eric that it feels more like a loss of identity in the sense that what you always thought of yourself as and believed yourself to be is revealed to be mostly just a projection of a collection of memes you've built up over your lifetime into something you refer to, and believe actually is, a single separate me.
.
Wow, this stuff is like gold. Keep it coming!

Interestingly, I did not really have a dark night of the soul, unless you would count my whole life before the 'looking' resolution of the last few years. 6 months after the looking, at the time I didn't know what I had done, I had a very stressful, anxious period of several months where I didn't sleep much and felt like I was going crazy......but it was no worse than many other moments of my life and I almost looked at this period with curiosity, like what the hell? By contrast the rest of my life up to this point was pretty miserable and around the time I 'quit' spirituality things were looking up.

Perhaps the dark night is not yet upon me, though I am going through some very intense life changes right now. I must be tapping my inner 'what me worry?' Alfred E. Neumann......

Thank you Kathleen, Onceler, and Coriolis,

It's been a very fruitful conversation and it does help me to kind of write some of this stuff out.

Kathleen, have you ever seen the movie Jacob's Ladder, because in a way it reminds me of your question. It is an older psychological thriller. If you haven't seen it. It's starts off in the Vietnam War and the lead guy (Jacob) is attacked with his platoon. It seems that he is stabbed and looks to be dying. The next scene he is working in a post office, so it seems that he survived the attack. As the movie goes along though, he starts to see demons everywhere he goes. He feels like he is losing his mind and the only person he kind of confides in is his chiropractor.

It turns out that Jacob was supposed to die back in that attack, but for some reason he didn't. It also turns out that Jacob's chiropractor is also his guardian angel and he paraphrases Meister Eckhart and says to Jacob:

~Eckhart saw Hell too. He said: The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won't let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they're not punishing you, he said. They're freeing your soul. So, if you're frightened of dying and... and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.

Eric: I can completely relate to this as an analogy in my own journey. I have found that it has been my clinging, my refusal to let go that has caused unneeded conflict, confusion, pain, etc. It's in the moments of surrender when I completely see this for what it is. In my experience of this "transition", I found that even with what I identified with that I felt was negative, I would still run back to this thinking, conditioned mechanisms that often led to negative behaviors simply because while they didn't make me feel good psychologically, there was a comfort of the familiar there. There was a structure, and anchor....something I could indentify with. I think that's what led to or maybe it was a symptom, or maybe there was a reciprocal relationship between the two of my version experience of the "Dark night of the Soul".

Once I began to "surrender" for a lack of a better word, then I began to see this (or accept it maybe a better term) as psychological baggage and then I began to let go and not run to this for "security and safety." What I have found also is that while these conditioned thought mechanisms and behaviors were alreadt there. Once the underpinnings began to become unraveled, my "pain" threshhold for these conditioned mechanisms and negative behaviors began to drop.

Just one example would be, arguments with others that really never seemed to consciously bother me before began to really affect me a lot. I really began to see the wisdom in the Buddha's saying, "You won't be punished for your anger, but by your anger." Yet, I still entertained the condioned mechanisms, because there was an anchor there, an identity, security, as distorted as that sounds.

Onceler, as far as dark night of the soul. I would say there is a wide spectrum to it. There is a podcast called, "The Buddhist Geeks" that has a Buddhist psychologist talk about this phenomena. They even started up a program to help people on the spiritual path to get through this, so it is much more common that we may think. As Kathleen echoed, most of the world is trying to keep it at bay with the distractions of the world.

Eric

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:23 am

Thanks, Eric. Jacobs Ladder is quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. I understand that the screen writer was a practicing Buddhist. The Sixth Sense, another good movie, was sort of ripping off Jacob's Ladder. They all rip off a short story called The Incident at Owl Creek.

Instead of the dark night of the soul, I feel I'm having the twilight of the amygdala. My anxiety, as painful as it was, was a motivator and defined my course of action n a multitude of ways....the secondary gain was that I was so anxious I would get work done or make the right social/work related follow up. Now I feel like how some of my friends on anxiolytics like Celexa or Paxil report, just not as concerned about what others think nor highly motivated to stand out, or work hard.

I have to recreate myself without the defining boundaries of my maladaptive patterns. It's all good, but all confusing as well.
Be present, be pleasant.

davidm
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:43 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by davidm » Fri May 23, 2014 7:22 am

About the Adya quote on psychology, I really agree. Im dealing with dissociation and complex trauma, and I realized that I was doing a lot of damage by denouncing the past. the Looking seems nice but im not far along enough to give judgement on it. I just recommend you all check out Complex PTSD: From Surviving To Thriving by Pete Walker. It has so much useful stuff if you are dealing with conditioning. The author says that if complex PTSD were better recognized, the big book of mental disorders would shrink to the size of a booklet. He thinks its has that much of an effect.

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Fri May 23, 2014 12:23 pm

Hey davidm, good to hear from you. What I've noticed in myself and other people that have done the looking is that the effects are very subtle, but if you stand back and look at the totality of events since it was initiated, one sees a pattern of change and positive action. I have found that I am drawn to those things I need as my mind clears and that it is easier to stick with a pattern of behavior; better eating habits, exercise, etc. as the fear begins to clear. I'm grateful, and not surprised, that you are drawn to helpful solutions like the book you mentioned. I hope it works well for you!
Be present, be pleasant.

davidm
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:43 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by davidm » Fri May 23, 2014 10:04 pm

Onceler wrote:Hey davidm, good to hear from you. What I've noticed in myself and other people that have done the looking is that the effects are very subtle, but if you stand back and look at the totality of events since it was initiated, one sees a pattern of change and positive action. I have found that I am drawn to those things I need as my mind clears and that it is easier to stick with a pattern of behavior; better eating habits, exercise, etc. as the fear begins to clear. I'm grateful, and not surprised, that you are drawn to helpful solutions like the book you mentioned. I hope it works well for you!
I agree.. that's a good way to put it.

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Mon May 26, 2014 2:29 am

Yes, I hope you see these changes in yourself soon.....you have to look for them, as they're subtle.
Be present, be pleasant.

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6280
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Sighclone » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:12 am

Sorry to drift back to the OP here. Just listened to John Sherman's Batgap interview in 2011...again. His technique is simple, and kind of uninteresting (his words.) So you have to keep doing it again and again until it becomes natural. He constantly deflects conversations away from "spiritual" considerations and comparisons. But he affirms that using his technique will remove all of life's stresses: you will no longer be separated from your life; AND you will discover that your life is this big vague impressive unity experience which sounded like a lot more than what the average person would call "my life." Just by turning the "beam of attention" at yourself. I'm not trying to attack him here, just clarify.

But recall, that his goal is the removal of stress and strain in life, not so much to discover a big spiritual "truth." He doesn't try to have his cake and eat it, too. All you get is really mentally healthy. And I have zero complaint with that observation / claim.

What is interesting, of course, is that he refers back to one of our favorite spiritual teachers, Ramana Maharshi, whose "talks" is full of references to many spiritual texts and traditional Hindu texts.

JS specifically discounts "enlightenment" as a "state" -- something you did not have and now you do. "If it has not been here all along, if it has arrived, then it is a state." Archer gets a bit put off by this claim.

JS encourages us to discover the "separate self." "Who are you?" is changed from some kind of hunt to simply turning your attention on yourself...a subtle distinction. He does not think that those who claim to have "no self" are done. That is a "state."

I'm still reading him and working with his technique. The batgap interview, as usual, is revealing.

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:23 am

Good summary, Andy. What fascinates for me is the predictable course of the looking. There is the act, then there is a feeling of well being for several weeks, then there is the 'recovery' which can be quite difficult for some folks and take several years to get through. He likens the fear of life to a disease, the looking is the medicine, and the recovery is the return to health after the disease. Interestingly, Sherman no longer thinks of the looking as a practice or a 'fetish', but says that just one look will initiate the process.....but most folks naturally do it over again.

On the forums and in my own experience, the recovery period is difficult and brutal for many. It takes anywhere from 2-5 years. The states after the recovery sound quite a bit like awakening to me. Sherman calls it the natural state of humanness. Little cognitive dissonance, quick processing of emotions, marked reduction in anxiety, depression, and fear (including the fear of death), very much in the moment, joy, greater capacity to use intellect to engage in life, breaking down of barriers between people so that the suffering of others is felt deeply.....to the point that many in the process withdrawal from society. This is a constant evolution and has been my experience 2 3/4 years after the initial looking. There is more to it.....I experienced a disorientation as the knowns and predictableness of beliefs dissappeared.....I am still in that process, but there is a compensatory experience of well being and immersion in life that is remarkable.

I'm glad you have taken the time for Sherman and I appreciate someone else's views on what I have experienced, as it is somewhat outside the usual non-dual business as usual.
Be present, be pleasant.

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6280
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Sighclone » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:17 am

"You are not this life." He says that several times in that book of recordings from his seminars. He also congratulates one person for "finding myself everywhere." It is no surprise to me that some technique directly borrowed from Ramana would produce significant results, of the sort that spiritual people talk about. In one of his Oprah webinars, ET encouraged us to look at ourselves also. So disorientation, "spiritual bypassing" (dropping out) would be expected. What is pleasing for me here is that this technique/process is so profoundly simple and direct.

Personally, in experimenting with it in the last couple of weeks, I had several distinct experiences, all of them amusing. 1) I rediscovered "the inner body," -- yup, that is one of the first "stops" in looking. 2) I could not find myself anywhere. (Yup, to be expected, since the separate self is kind of a fiction.) and 3) The looking and seeking sort of morphed into "experiencing." And since "little me" kind of vaporized unless needed a few years ago, the Sherman-style inquiry generally comes up empty or includes the whole damn neighborhood.

I'm still reading him and have scribbled down some questions...mainly regarding the entire concept of identity and the need for it as life marches on...

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

karmarider
Posts: 2141
Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:00 pm
Location: Florida
Contact:

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by karmarider » Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:40 am

The looking as suggested by Ramana, Nisargadatta and Sherman is very effective.

Ramana said to look at "Who am I" and didn't need to say anything else, and Nisargadatta said to hold on to the sense of I am and did not need to say anything else, and John Sherman says clearly and simply to look at what it feels like to you, and actually succeeds in not saying anything else.

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:28 pm

I posted this in Sherman's forum this week. It is my experience with his self inquiry technique called the 'looking' which he discovered in an effort to understand the work of Ramana Maharshi. I highly recommend it it to everyone, no matter how spiritually sophisticated one may believe themselves to be. In my experience, it cuts through fear and delusion like a zen sword. It takes awhile to feel the effects, however, but the wait is worth it in my experience. Details can be found at justonelook.org.

Report after 3 and a half years.

I have talked about my first few years after the looking elsewhere, but to summarize, because it's important to where I am now: after 30 years, I was finished with the spiritual search, frustrated, angry and anxious. I gave up changing myself. In this state I happened on John and Carla's website. It looked like more of the same, perhaps more banal and simplistic than all the other spiritual appeals, but I must have made a go of the looking, actually followed John's instructions, and then forgot about it.

About four or five months later I went through a very bad patch. I was angry and anxious. I couldn't sleep, and thought I was going crazy. I somehow stumbled back onto John's site and read with amazement about the recovery period and gradually realized that this was happening to me. I had looked once, and with very little focus or hope, and started this powerful chain reaction of events and shifts in the ground I was standing on. It was difficult, but there was some comfort in knowing what was going on, even though I was still skeptical of all things 'transformative'. Somehow I hunkered down and decided to see where this thing goes.

Gradually things settled down and optimism returned, perhaps too much optimism at first because the road was still very rough and I still had the tendency to jump on the latest bandwagon and infuse things with magical thinking and meaning that was not supported by reality.....a strategy based in fear. In the intervening 3 1/2 years a lot has happened. I'll try to be measured and honest, although it's difficult to remember how things were.....in some ways not much different than now (same life) in other ways, worlds apart.

This incredible anger that sprang out of nowhere was the first to go. It must have been suppressed, latent anger from a long life of passivity and it broke out strongly in the recovery period. But it went fairly quickly, like a summer storm. I still had anger flare ups, but honestly, these days, I'm rarely angry, at least that long, smoldering type of anger that bursts out of nowhere into important relationships and strafs everything in sight. Now, when angry, it's a focused burst, that is quickly managed and burnt through and usually energizes rational action.

Anxiety was the next to go. During the recovery period my life long anxiety reached a fever pitch. I slept poorly and awoke in the middle of the night convinced that something terrible would happen ( terrible things were about to happen, but more on that later). I was choking on my anxiety, breathing was difficult, eating, sleeping were difficult. It was hard to focus on anything. In the middle of this, I remember having an odd thought, something along the lines of; well I've experienced this before (earlier in my life I had panic attacks, etc) and somehow survived.....this will probably pass soon. And it did. After several months the anxiety began to diminish. It has diminished to the point now, where things that used to put me into a literal hyperventilating panic, like public speaking and certain crowded social situations are only Miley anxiety provoking. Now I enjoy public speaking, tolerate crowded social situations much better, and don't obsess on things like every little physical ache and pain. There's still anxiety that swoops in for a visit, it's never far away, but I can breath and manage that in most cases. The difference is that anxiety sets off the alarm system to warn me of impending doom and danger, I do a quick evaluation of the situation and make a call. No danger here, things are okay, shut off the alarm.

Depression. Ah, my old black dog (to use William Styron's description). I think I was depressed and guilty in the womb. I can remember being surprised when my second grade teacher called on me by name in class. I thought I was invisible and she couldn't possibly remember my name from day to day. Depression was the last thing to go, and it is still going. It leaves, then comes back for its keys. Six months ago my mother died, then my wife's mother died, then both my daughters left home for college and living abroad. Before this I was on a roll, feeling the positive effects of the looking, dealing with my dying mother as well as could be expected, thinking that I had turned a corner with grace and maturity. Then the above happened, within three weeks, and depression and grief were back in the house. Through all this, despite feeling bad, there was equanimity. A sense that I couldn't really be touched by the suffering, although it was very real and the the effects painful.

Since then my pleasure in life has slowly returned and anxiety and depression have not. I always thought that an end to the huge ball of anxiety would be pure bliss and calm. It's not. It's simply ordinary. It's just life coming at me in a straightforward manner and much less distorted than before. I have found that with the anxiety gone many things I did, in a rather ritualistic manner, are no longer necessary and stop due to lack of momentum. Most recently I stopped a 30 year coffee habit. Coffee somehow seemed to reinforce and amplify the fear, anger, and irritability. It also helped me focus and probably warded off the depression to a certain extent. I simply no longer need these effects. Other bad habits fell away and healthy habits replaced them. I enjoy Qi Gong I the mornings where I practice mindful movements and directed attention on my breathing and movements.

Life without the context of fear is a little hard to get used to. I have to be somewhat careful, as fear was an inhibitor, therefore I can be a little more uninhibited in my language, etc. The great thing is that less fear means more energy to engage with life. There is more focus and less time spent on irrelevant rumination. I get things done for the most part. There is a greater degree of what the positive psychologist call 'flow'. Flow is to become immersed in ones actions with an intense focus and with a diminished awareness of the passage of time. It is not necessarily a blissful state, but rather a state of absorption in life and in ones activity. Flow happens more and more. I am in the moment, present, aware, calm and ready to respond to life. Anxiety, fear, depression stop flow and distance one from the stream of life.

Surprisingly, I still have some skepticism about the looking. Sometimes I think all the changes are just maturation, growing older and wiser. Then I think for a moment of how utterly miserable I was for much of my life and I see the beauty and the quiet unfolding of the looking. I sometimes think I should be 'enlightened', which was a goal for most of my life. Surprisingly, and as John predicted, I have lost interest in spiritual attainment and the constant thinking about--forum perusing obsession with all things spiritual. It seems it was a by product of my fear, this constant looking for an ideal state.....being better. I'm mostly satisfied with the present these days. There is no 'better' or ideal, in fact wishing for it, looking for it, takes one further from life as it flows through us.

The transformation resulting from the looking has been real in my life. It has unfolded slowly and has been difficult. But at some point, the slow, steady changes have become beautiful and surprising rather than excruciating. Hang in there. The momentum of fear takes awhile to change and shift in a positive direction. But it did for me and I look forward to the ever evolving, quiet transformation of the fear-free life.
Be present, be pleasant.

lmp
Posts: 194
Joined: Tue May 29, 2012 7:23 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by lmp » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:11 pm

Hi onceler,

may I ask you a specific question. What would you say if I asked, as a question to what you just wrote, about the cause of the anger, anxiety, depression. You might feel that a lengthy anwer is required but perhaps not. What have you seen about the cause of these three, for you personally or in general. If you find the question too big/wide just tell me so.

User avatar
Onceler
Posts: 2251
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:35 am
Location: My house

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:27 pm

Sherman calls it the fear of life. A subtle context of fear that we acquire at birth. This causes us to build psychological defenses as we develop. He would argue that one of these defenses is spirituality and the quest for an enlightened state that buffers us from life and direct experience These psychological defenses are themselves maladaptive as they separate us from the experience of life.....the flow I talk about. Sherman says simply that the act of looking, asking 'how does it feel to be me?' And simply sensing the feeling/answer dispels the context of fear. Our defenses collapse over time as we as we see directly who we are and know that we are not our life. It's a painful process, especially if we had long term, entrenched defenses in place. I guess I agree with this, as this is what I experienced, and as fantastical as it may sound. Sherman thinks that this utter simplicity is what Maharishi knew and tried to communicate. Read more on his website, as I probably have mangled it a bit, and he has a clearer understanding.
Be present, be pleasant.

User avatar
Sighclone
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6280
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 6:22 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Sighclone » Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:06 am

we see directly who we are and know that we are not our life
Onceler...such a dedicated and helpful member over many years.

And he then posts this long reflective apologetic, almost dismissive summary of his spiritual searching and progress. (Lovely, by the way.)

And then this ... "we are not our life".... here's a newsflash, Onceler. Sit down. The ability to say something like that, (in passing in the middle of yet another self-effacing post), sir, is evidence of immense spiritual advancement. The fact that you may not have 24/7 bliss notwithstanding. Can you imagine saying that, with complete conviction, 30 years ago? Just because it crept up on you (yes with the occasional jolt) is not a reason to dismiss any technique. The old skeptic hisself arrives at this discovery!

I have not walked a single step in your shoes, Onceler. But my early life was much less stressful, fearful, etc. If progress could be measured on a single continuum for all of us, the extent of your progress vastly exceeds mine. When I read your posts now, particularly this last one, what resonates is simple...it's called Grace. Thanks for your many many fine contributions to this forum and my life.

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

User avatar
Rob X
Posts: 323
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:37 pm

Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Rob X » Sun Apr 26, 2015 3:36 pm

Good stuff Onceler. I'm always struck by the honesty and down to earth wisdom of your posts.

Post Reply