Lera: On Just One Look


You might say, I found my way to John Sherman because of a dream: This dream occurred 10 years before a friend directed me to John's website.

I'm walking in some woods alone, following a mountain road that turns and twists and doubles
back and I'm feeling discouraged. It's taking way, way too long. Then I hear a loud male
over-voice say: Next time, cut through the woods and don't take the long way around.

Knowing this dream related to my spiritual journey, I went from one spiritual venue to another; moving on, when each seemed to be the long way around.

In late 2007, I heard John's concise message: Look at Yourself. I was in. This simple action seemed to be the cut through the woods I had been looking for. It made sense to me. John suggested that, instead of forever turning my attention outward to evaluate life, I just try with all my heart to turn my attention inward to get a felt sense of me. My most effective method for looking at myself was to recall a simple memory from childhood, one with little emotional impact, and notice that the me then is exactly the same as the me now. Instructions in Just One Look.

Looking at yourself is a human capacity, requiring no spiritual knowledge or preparation. John isolated and tested this act over many years of exploration with himself and others. He promises that if you sincerely make the effort to try look at yourself, you will successfully end your dissatisfaction with life, what he calls your fear of life. Then, over time, conditioned habits of defense will drop away resulting in your feeling safe and sane, fulfilled and satisfied in your life, just as it is. (This is the default human experience, normally referred to as the natural state.)


Trying to get a look at yourself produces no immediate gratifiction, so I didn't notice any changes for a long time. Still, I continued looking because I couldn't find any reason not to: looking at myself couldn't harm me; it didn't cost any money; and it took just 1/10th of a second whenever I thought of it. I wanted to see if it would work as he promised. I came to this work with a lifetime of deep resistance and angst; a lifetime of constantly looking for a better experience out there. If there was the slightest possibility I could be free, it would be worth it. I listened to John's podcasts for encouragement.

In my fourth year, I began to see how my life had rearranged itself. Here are a few changes I notice now: I notice how the delay I had inserted between me and my life to evaluate everything is sometimes absent and I can experience directly. I am more spontaneous and more expressive. Events happen, some pleasant, some unpleasant, but they don't mean anything good or bad about me. I no longer see myself or my life as a problem I have to solve. Stubborn defense patterns are still active but they are losing credibility and power.

The direction and degree of the differences in my life are continuing to be a wonder for me. Each day, I find more and more value and satisfaction in just being here, regardless of what is going on.


We have a powerful and almost unseen inclination to turn ourself into an abstraction, such as the one who is looking, witness, awareness, love, heart, emptiness, consciousness, and the like. That tendency to abstraction actually poisons the spiritual teachings themselves and transforms them into yearnings that must be dealt with within the context of fear, in service to the never-ending project of trying to protect and perfect the apparatus of personality.

The only goal of this movement into abstraction is to keep me distant enough to be safe from my own life. At the bottom of it is always the unseen assumption that life is dangerous, that I am in grave danger here.

John Sherman

Contact: Lera Chacon