John Sherman - Just One Look

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Onceler
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Fri Aug 23, 2013 3:49 pm

Be present, be pleasant.

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:06 am

The following is a post I made on John Sherman's website. Kind of updating my continuing transitions and grappling with the mystery:


I am revisiting this thread nearly a year later and find it both reassuring and unnerving. I can relate much more closely with the posts of Seddho and his position. While my old post in this thread is valid and real, I realize that a year ago I was closer to my old misery and the relief I felt from the removal of overt chunks of neurosis was more palpable because I was closer to it? But things have grown a bit more complex in the intervening time. A year later, I am in a different position, working at another level.

I feel as if the removal or the shifting of some of my more overt neurotic patterns has left me somewhat unmoored as they made up much of my identity. These patterns, as painful as they were, ran a straight and dependable course. (I believe psychology calls this 'secondary gain'). Food, binge eating, was a reliable friend, albeit a painful obnoxious companion. I could count on it when things got unpredictable. The enveloping of depression as it moved around me with its painful numbness was predicable and, in a way, soothing. Anxiety would be triggered predictably by certain situations and events. It was a train I could set my watch by. These neurotic energies were my identity and when I stumbled I could reach out and brace myself against them. They were the spouse/partner you couldn't live with, but couldn't live without.

Now, much of that is gone and I feel I'm on different terrain. A landscape where my usual, dark landmarks are gone and the absence of them doesn't necessarily bring clarity, it just allows me to explore other aspects of my personality and the world at large. Things are being overturned and revealed. This seems to be happening in slow motion or real time. It is not something that is overtly troubling.....but at times can be disorienting and.....it is not the expected outcome! John's blog on expectations makes so much more sense in this context. I realize that expectations, like our familiar neurosis are landmarks and predictable, but they are no more real than anxiety and depression. They are a fixed star and navigational point, but a setting on this course invalidates other options and experiences which are close at hand, necessary.....our lives.

It is hard to put my experience into words, as the terrain shifts as I speak it. I think the word "dynamic" is the best descriptor. I am not viewing the world from as fixed a position (anxiety, depression, misery, expectations was the fixed position). I am moving as the world moves. Layers are being overturned and exposed that I had no idea existed and I respond to them in ways I have not in the past.

I am dropping the fixed point identity, reluctantly. The stultifying neurotic, suffering fixed point. The blissed out spiritually finished fixed point. I am looking at a world of ever changing challenges and discoveries from a dynamic position. One that I now realize will never be finished in its complexity.

A year from now, I suppose I will post something completely different.....
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by treasuretheday » Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:17 pm

Wow! So beautifully written, Onceler! I quite enjoyed "hearing" about your experiences of deep listening.

I feel from your post a wonderful energy flowing as you are listening to your life speak. The judging mind is melting, softening the separation between consciousness and life itself.
Life itself is the proper binge.
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:22 pm

Thanks, Treasure......I still don't feel I've come close to describing my experience. It is so outside the expectations that I had.....in many ways I have lost certainty and 'understanding' or what I thought I knew. This is mainly coming from consciously and unconsciously dropping the spiritual frames of references along with the deconstruction of other 'neurotic' fixed points I talk about. This shifting and uncertainty is unsettling.

Spiritual and religious conceptualization, even Tolle's refined, simplified message, seems to now be more of a barrier and hindrance than a benefit.
Be present, be pleasant.

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by runstrails » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:55 am

Lovely post, Onceler. Humble, wise, insightful and personal. The kind of post that truly enriches this forum. Thanks.

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by beginnersmind » Mon Apr 28, 2014 2:14 pm

Onceler wrote:Thanks, Treasure......I still don't feel I've come close to describing my experience. It is so outside the expectations that I had.....in many ways I have lost certainty and 'understanding' or what I thought I knew. This is mainly coming from consciously and unconsciously dropping the spiritual frames of references along with the deconstruction of other 'neurotic' fixed points I talk about. This shifting and uncertainty is unsettling.

Spiritual and religious conceptualization, even Tolle's refined, simplified message, seems to now be more of a barrier and hindrance than a benefit.
Funny, I am right now reading John Sherman's book, "Look At Yourself". I can relate to your statement that the shifting and uncertainty is unsettling. I am finding an ebb and flow of the underpinnings of my conditioned thought system being removed. It seems that as this "firm foundation" is being removed or reinterpreted, there is no anchor of certainty to give a sense of security. Reading John's book is helpful in the fact that one doesn't have to feel that they are "losing it" so to speak.

I've been on other sites where people are just talking about sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows since they began their spiritual path, while my life felt like it was falling apart. What the hell was I doing wrong? Come to find out, nothing. The initial honeymoon was over is all. Now I had to really look at myself and there is a lot of repression that I think was never even consciously realized as being there. Yes, my experience too is very outside the expectations I had.

Eric

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by coriolis » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:05 pm

beginnersmind wrote: I've been on other sites where people are just talking about sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows since they began their spiritual path, while my life felt like it was falling apart. What the hell was I doing wrong? Come to find out, nothing. The initial honeymoon was over is all. Now I had to really look at myself and there is a lot of repression that I think was never even consciously realized as being there. Yes, my experience too is very outside the expectations I had.
I think we all store our monsters in a dark closet and take pains to keep the door closed and locked.
The lock on the door is fear.

When the fear subsides due to the looking, the closet door opens, and the light shines in and one is faced with a monumental housekeeping task that can be very intimidating in scope.

But with the fear gone it's just unpleasant work toward a worthwhile goal rather than a part of oneself cut off and kept in the dark because the "fear of life" wouldn't let you look at it.

Real progress for a change instead of more secure and sophisticated locking mechanisms :)
Look deeply inside yourself and try to find yourself.
The ensuing failure is the true finding
---- Wu Hsin

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:45 pm

Really helpful posts, Corilois and Eric. It's nice to know others experience similar things I'm going thru. I like the way you say the housekeeping is monumental! That's a very accurate way to put it. I'm not feeling bad and the shame and guilt are pretty much gone, it's just that with the light coming in I see so much to do. I guess I'll roll up my sleeves.....this really is a process of undoing a life's worth of psychological untidiness.
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by KathleenBrugger » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:44 pm

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?

These posts are really helpful because its so easy to get the idea that spirituality should enable you to bypass psychological problems. Just recently I came across this comment by Adyashanti:
Adyashanti
I would guess that the vast majority of people who come to see me, or any other teacher, would probably do well with a little help from a good psychologist. I think psychologists can offer tremendous aid to people who are trying to transcend their conditioning. Going to a psychologist is not the only route, however. There are other ways to deal with conditioning, too. Somehow or other, the conditioning will need to be addressed, either before awakening or after awakening. You can have direct experiences of deep reality, but if you have too much psychological conflict, or your ego is still too fractured and not functioning coherently, it will keep holding you back. Ego, by its very nature, is never completely coherent, but well-functioning egos are nicer to be around.
Onceler, you talked about letting go of the "fixed point." This made me think of one of my favorite Alan Watts book, The Wisdom of Insecurity. The book is all about learning to live without that fixed point. Here's a couple of my favorite passages:
Alan Watts:
“Life is a dance, and when you are dancing you are not intent on getting somewhere. You go round and round, but not under the illusion that you are pursuing something, or fleeing from the jaws of hell. How long have the planets been circling the sun? Are they getting anywhere, and do they go faster and faster in order to arrive? How often has the spring returned to the earth? Does it come faster and fancier every year, to be sure to be better than last spring, and to hurry on its way to the spring that shall outspring all springs? The meaning and the purpose of dancing is the dance. Like music, also, it is fulfilled in each moment of its course. You do not play the sonata in order to reach the final chord, and if the meanings of things were simply in ends, composers would write nothings but finales…When each moment becomes an expectation life is deprived of fulfillment, and death is dreaded for it seems that here expectation must come to an end.”

"“We do not really want continuity but rather a present experience of total happiness. The thought of wanting an experience to go on and on is the result of being self-conscious in the experience, and thus incompletely aware of it. So long as there is the feeling of an ‘I’ having this experience, the moment is not all. Eternal life is realized when the last trace of difference between ‘I’ and ‘now’ has vanished—when there is just this ‘now’ and nothing else. By contrast, hell or ‘everlasting damnation’ is not the everlastingness of time going on forever, but of the unbroken circle, the continuity and frustration of going round and round in pursuit of something which can never be attained. Hell is the fatuity, the everlasting impossibility, of self-love, self-consciousness, and self-possession. It is trying to see one’s own eyes, hear one’s own ears, and kiss one’s own lips.”
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:47 am

Brilliant additions to this thread, Kathleen. So much to think about. To give some context to your first question, I never had the ineffable, mysterious, blissful states so many write about. I cut my spiritual teeth on zen and it seemed to set the tone for my further exploration....a sort of everyday spirituality. I have seen the Adya quote before and many other teachers, like Jack Kornfield, also reinforce the need to get psychologically "right" before setting off into parts unknown.

I feel I'm in the process of psychological clearing, John Sherman style, and it's maybe a shift of identification, but also just a simplification of things. The brilliant part is that it happens on it's own, once initiated......with the act of looking at yourself. I do believe it fulfills Adyashanti's advice to set yourself psychologically aright before going further into spirituality and should be the first action in not only spiritual seekers, but everyone. I also suspect that there is no further action necessary as the continuous unfolding of a life engaged, a life without fear and neurosis, is all we need.

Don't get me wrong, it's not easy and it can be disorienting, but constantly fulfilling and satisfying. It doesn't feel like what others describe in these forums, so I'm a little adrift.....without fixed points, positive or negative. I am losing interest in spiritual conceptualization......reluctantly, I love spirituality.

Thanks again for your comments.
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by beginnersmind » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:44 am

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?

These posts are really helpful because its so easy to get the idea that spirituality should enable you to bypass psychological problems. Just recently I came across this comment by Adyashanti:
Adyashanti
I would guess that the vast majority of people who come to see me, or any other teacher, would probably do well with a little help from a good psychologist. I think psychologists can offer tremendous aid to people who are trying to transcend their conditioning. Going to a psychologist is not the only route, however. There are other ways to deal with conditioning, too. Somehow or other, the conditioning will need to be addressed, either before awakening or after awakening. You can have direct experiences of deep reality, but if you have too much psychological conflict, or your ego is still too fractured and not functioning coherently, it will keep holding you back. Ego, by its very nature, is never completely coherent, but well-functioning egos are nicer to be around.
]

Hi Kathleen,

I don't know, it's kind of hard to explain. I don't know if I'd call it a shift in identification as much as a loss of identification, or rather, a removal of the underpinnings that held my identification together. It is kind of like the foundation of the meaning I projected onto the world, the meaning I projected onto life, the meaning I projected onto myself, my hobbies, my "pleasures" all started to fracture and fall apart.

The seeming solid foundation of all of this started not to seem so solid anymore. It's disorienting because when for so long you project a meaning onto life and/or or the world, even if you don't like what you're projecting, it still "has a meaning", a familiararity, a sense of security as distorted as it may be. As my beliefs started to crumble, the meanings I put on everything started to crumble. There was (and sometimes is now) no anchor so to speak.

There was a point when I thought the human experience was absurd, insane even with no real point. In some ways I still do. It's a ridiculous hamster wheel we put ourselves on trying to achieve this and that, get this and that, be this and be that, and most people end up doing what Thoreau called, "Living a life of quiet desperation." It's no wonder that we try to distract ourselves whenever possible with things like sports, movies, work, celebrity gossip, gossips, news, and even spirituality. It's also no wonder that the United States where I'm from, our population in general is so heavily medicated with anti-depressants, anti- anxiety, anti-this, anti-that medication. I really feel that people in general know that something is not right. That there is something inherently wrong with the way life is being lived. That this meaning we put on what it means to be living life and getting on that hamster wheel to is ultimately meaningless. And that is terrifying to look at.

And when I began to see that all of these things that I made so important, so meaningful, so real, so my life start to crumble, it honestly became scary, because if these things weren't as damn important and meaninful as I always thought they were, then what the hell am I even doing here? But to clarify, I'm not talking suicidal tendencies with all of this, I'm saying there was a kind of depression caused by the collapse of my "entire world." The meanings I held so dear were shattered, and I was just left with this kind of void. Emptiness.

But I have had those mystical "blissed out" experiences before. In fact, the first time it happened that was something I never experienced anything like it before, I was about to give up on this "spirituality" thing. I came upon me when I least expected it.

But what I have described here is a type of what is often called a "Dark night of the Soul". Thankfully, I had a book called, "Spiritual Emergency" that I read when this first began to happen. And this has gone on for at least a year now, though I seem to be coming out the other side.

But I can't say it is a shift in identification. Many of my old conditioned mechanisms are still there. In fact, when I felt everything start to crumble, some of my more negative habits and behaviors started to escalate. Some are still around. I do agree with Adya. we have to look at our psychological conditioning. We have to look at the dark corners of the mind or our shadows. But in doing so the waters get much more muddy and cloudy before they get clear, that's for sure.


Eric

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:29 am

This is really good, Eric, very good. It very much captures what I'm going thru. I like what you say about meaning. Sometimes I feel I pull together a pocketful of meaning, framework, conditioning, in order to go to work or go out with friends. Then, alone, it unravels and I have reconstruct it again the next morning.

It's disorienting because it's fresh and new. Life just keeps coming unfiltered and you deal with it.....and it's the dealing with it that is gratifying. Spiritual terms like ego and presence don't really capture it. I feel there needs to be a new language, something that captures the dynamic interchange with life. Without the old conditioning, or rather less conditioning, it alters the trajectory just enough that you're landing off course, and it's hard to get ones bearings. Thanks for your posts and your honest articulation of your experience......it helps.
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by KathleenBrugger » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:33 pm

Thanks for sharing yourself Eric, that post was beautiful. I think maybe I wasn't clear when I asked about identity, because it seems to me that when you were talking about loss of meaning that's what I meant--not a change of your total identity but not identifying with particular beliefs anymore. For example, one of my neuroses was/is a pathological need to be right. I was terrified of ever being wrong because that would mean I was wrong; my identity was all tangled up with being right all the time. I can still feel the pull of that need to be right, but now when I'm wrong about something I can (usually) easily admit it, even laugh about it--it doesn't mean anything about who I am. Onceler mentioned not feeling shame and guilt; this is also gone--I'm no longer ashamed when I make a mistake. The crazy thing is we are so attached to having an identity that we even resist giving up the components that cause us suffering!

My husband and I have been talking recently about what it would look like to live in the world without beliefs. Having a point-of-view in terms of seeing from a particular body/mind, but without filtering what we see through beliefs and assumptions. But, as Onceler noted, how do you do this when you're interacting in the world? Do you have to put a belief/meaning-based identity on, just like you get dressed in the morning, to interact with people in ordinary life?

I think "Dark Nights of the Soul" are a lot more common than we're led to think. As you say Eric, we drug ourselves with alcohol, TV, sports, and pharmaceuticals because our culture provides very little support for addressing a crisis of meaning. I think that's part of what's creating your disorientation; our culture pretends as if what you're going through doesn't exist, or that it means you're having a mental breakdown (which we'll need to hide away because it's embarrassing).
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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by coriolis » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:22 pm

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.
You can't see it that way any longer and it is, in a sense, a kind of loss and an existential death but made bearable by the accompanying knowledge that what you lost was really never there in the first place as anything but a set of thoughts and emotions woven into a story.
Then the mind, because that center around which it was used to clinging is gone, sometimes goes apeshit trying to recapture it -- but you see that too and allow it do it's emoting/thinking/excuse making thing while you tread lightly through the minefield of a former "self" and hope to avoid as many explosions as possible by gently unearthing the mines and defusing them with your newly acquired ability to see things as they are without without being skewed by a false center.

It isn't always easy but it has such an underlying sense of peace to it that you know it's just a clean up job that had been put on the back burner for way too long and now has to be done.
Look deeply inside yourself and try to find yourself.
The ensuing failure is the true finding
---- Wu Hsin

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Re: John Sherman - Just One Look

Post by Onceler » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:39 pm

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......
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