Happily at Square One

All the frantic energy of trying to figure it out, trying to understand and learn and practice–all of it left me in one fell swoop. I loved the whooshing sound it made on its way out, hehe! And here I am, empty and open, happily left with really only one insight, and it’s not a big one.

I am grateful to Eckhart Tolle. I read the Power of Now about four or five years ago, and it wasn’t my first reading of it, but at the time of that particular reading I was in emotional pain and therefore open. What I got from Tolle was that there is a way to be where life can be loving and not fearful.

The first six months after that initial insight were heady–I decided not to work, I traveled, I wrote, I had a lot of energy.

But soon I realized that Tolle cannot help me beyond the basic message. Tolle’s enlightenment was accidental. He’s good at telling me what it is to be unawakened (ego, identification with the mind, fear); and he’s good at telling me what it is to be awakened (presence, acceptance), but not very good at telling me how to get there.

I turned to others, like Nisargadutt, Ramana, Krishnamurti, Jed Mckenna, Adyashanti, and more. I learned and processed. I simplified my life down to the barest. I isolated myself.

I learned to look, to observe. I learned how to release–releasing is a beautiful, stupidly-simple way to let go, so simple that some of the people I’ve worked with refuse to try it because of its simplicity. And that was a good lesson for me–that’s it’s easy to dismiss the simple.

I had learned to rely on myself. There is no help in spirituality. Today, I understand why this is–it’s not that spirituality is good or bad, it’s that it is no different from any other human endeavor over many thousands of years–it’s no different from morality, religion, philosophy, psychology, self-improvement and the rest of it.

When there is a basic fear of life, a basic sense of unrightness, it really doesn’t matter what knowledge we gain or what practices we practice or what beliefs we fervently believe. Whatever it is, it cannot and has not succeeded, because it’s all contaminated by this basic fear of life.

But at that time I shunned spirituality for a different reason. From what I saw, spiritual people just run around in circles, adorning weird spiritual personalities, insistent on using strange words, firmly attached to their suffering. I was already pretty good at running around in circles; I didn’t see the point of learning new circles, hehe!

After four years of this I was in a relatively good place. I was at peace, I had released depression and anxiety. I had released worry.


The basic feeling of unrightness persisted. This basic fear of life was still there.

About two months ago, on a morning walk, it struck me.

It’s very simple, so simple that a ten year-old can understand this, and some day perhaps, this will be taught to all ten year-old’s.

The only difference between Eckhart Tolle and me is that Eckhart Tolle has gotten rid of his basic fear of life and I have not.

This is the only difference.

It isn’t enlightenment or self-realization because that’s already innate. It’s not the mind or ego–the ego is not real, it’s just thoughts and emotions and beliefs about the self, not inherently bad. What makes the ego troublesome is this basic fear of life I have.

This recognition–that the only problem is this basic sense of unrightness–is nothing new. It’s the first thing the Buddha said. He called it dukkha. It’s in the speakings of all the awakened. It’s not that deep, you only have to look inside to see it.

The revelation was not that there is a basic, prevalent, persistent fear in me; the revelation was that this is the only relevant revelation.

Because everything else is then uncertain. Everything else that I do, say, feel, believe, practice is uncertain, because it is driven by this basic off-centeredness.

That’s all.

In the absence of this basic fear, all there is is love. Anthony de Mello said love is the absence of fear. I didn’t quite understand it then.

How can there not be love? We all love life, we are self-aware, we can experience, we are aware that we are alive–how can there not be love and gratitude and compassion and acceptance, and all the other stuff that we love to talk about but are totally confused about because we’re tinged with this basic off-center fear?

This is simple, obvious, subtle, big.

At this point, I recognized that the only problem is this basic fear of life. I recognized it’s all about looking, observing, watching. I recognized the only thing I know for certain is that I am self-aware. I recognized I have to rely on myself. And, happily, spirituality is no longer in the way.

So the only question which remained was how to get rid this basic fear of life.

This is where John Sherman comes in. I was completely ready for him. He cleared it up instantly.

I had believed that what Nisargadutt and Ramana were saying was to perform an active inquiry, some sort of effortful figuring out to see who I truly am.

It’s not.

It’s a passive looking at my sense of what it feels/looks/listens/tastes like to be me.

I won’t say much about the actual looking, because John Sherman is much better at explaining it. And I haven’t proved to myself that this actually works yet.

But I am very happy to be back at square one, empty and open and light.

37 thoughts on “Happily at Square One

  1. Cinderella11pm

    We are all searching for answers.
    And we find people along the way who reflect what we are ready to hear, understand and relate to at that time.

    There is never complete knowledge because there is always more to learn:)

    Will go check John Sherman out and listen to what he has to say – thank you!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Cinderella,

      I know what you’re saying. It does seem that we’re ready at certain times to hear certain things. And when we do it can feel like a big insight, like “this is finally it!”

      So how do I really know where I am now, with these very basic three or four recognitions, that they are it?

      Well, honestly, I can’t know that.

      But is it really about knowledge? I haven’t found that to be the case.

      As long as I have this basic fear of life in me–which is not one thing or one belief, it seems to be wider than that–as long as I have this basic fear, anything I learn or practice or feel or think or believe or know, is tinged with this basic fear of life, and therefore all knowledge is uncertain.

      One of the questions which plagues me is why it is that awakening has had a near-zero rate of success all throughout human history. No practice or tradition can claim to have really worked. Why is that? Perhaps the answer is that when you have this basic fear of life in you, nothing you do or learn can really work.

      The only question which remains for me is how to get rid of this fear.

      I don’t know the answer to that. I’m trying “looking at me.” I’m trying that because I already know that it’s about looking, watching, observance; and I know I have to rely on myself, and the only knowledge I can really trust is the knowledge that I’m self-aware. And because Nisargadutt, Ramana, and John Sherman recommend it.

      I’ve been willing to give it a sincere go, and so far it’s encouraging. I’ve felt agitation and confusion, that’s always a good sign. I’ve also felt lightness and relief, though that might be from giving up the burden of spirituality.


  2. El.Mo

    As I lay awake experiencing insomnia, I am grateful for your post. The “fear” factor is a bite in the butt isn’t it? I remember reminding myself that my nature is not wretchedness, I would feel some sort of guilt for being happy, for feeling free, it’s because there was a base program of unworthiness I had to release. I was also afraid, I was afraid of my own shadow but in my being afraid I was closing myself off, here I was thinking I protecting myself from “life” but I was also holding myself back from living. I opened my old journals today and it was a sobering experience, I had been in the dark night for a long time and am just now emerging. Remnants still remain but that heavy load has been lifted and I am grateful.

    Give thanks!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, it’s fear. You can look at you from any level and it’s still fear.

      The reaction to this basic fear varies from person to person. In you and me, it exhibits as this dark energy of anxiety, depression, insomnia and so on. In others, it can be the drive to succeed, the need for completion, confusion, control, religious fervor, spirituality and so on.

      And, as you say, despite this fear, you, the being underneath it all is unperturbed. You are same now as you were when you were a small child.

      I’m glad you’re feeling lighter.



      1. Yvonne

        HI Kaushik,
        Although this whole article is very illuminating, what you wrote in this comment really struck me:
        “The reaction to this basic varies from person to person. In you and me, it exhibits as this dark energy of anxiety, depression, insomnia and so on. In others, it can be the drive to succeed, the need for completion, confusion, control, religious fervor, spirituality and so on.”

        Yes, it’s all fear of life. I fit into the insomnia and slightly anxious group and often look at more ‘successful’ people and think that I ought to be more like them. Yet often when I talk with these worldly successful people, it is clear that they have fear of life, it just surfaces in a different way. The fear manifests everywhere. I do have moments, sometimes several times in a day, when the fear dissolves and everything feels right – and a thought comes that creates a reaction and the fear reappears.

        As you say it’s very easy to run in circles and trying improve the ‘self’ or personality is probably a favoured way for many of us to stay in those circles. I’ve had a few instances of total confusion lately when circumstances seem so far removed from what seems ‘normal’ – or perhaps more accurately from what I expected – that my mind stops and simply loses the ability to judge. The effect has been strange, not sure where it’s leading. (Not sure either if I’ve explained that very well.)

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Hi Yvonne,

          It’s been a while–I hope you are well!

          Yes, it’s fear.

          So the question remains: Is there a direct way to be permanently rid of this basic feeling of unrightness?


        2. Elle

          Wow Yvonne, I would have thought that it was me writing your post! I was in class today thinking about how when I am feeling free and clear, there is a part of me that is so conditioned to living in fear that I reach for it again!!!! How bizarre is that?! Almost like the Stockholm syndrome 🙁 I also was inspired to examine the way I “react” to experience/situations. I “react” with fear, anxiety and nervousness, rather than “responding” with courage and inner faith. I also ask myself who is afraid? Because it certainly isn’t my true nature to be afraid it must be my conditioned self…

  3. Linda Gabriel

    Dear Kaushik,

    This is one of the best things I’ve read in ages. Thanks so much for posting it. Your words are pointing to the most profound truth – the basic fear of life. Yes! That’s it exactly. Recently I’ve had inner guidance to simply meditate on the “between space” within, even between the atoms of my physical body, and to notice and affirm they are filled with Love. The fear of life is a distortion, an overlay, but not the ground of Being. I’m checking out John Sherman too!


    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Linda,

      Yes, Love. I don’t like using that word because it’s contaminated but I don’t know what else to call it. It’s Love, the love of life, the love of being, and the only thing which obscures it is this basic fear.

      Let me know what you think of Sherman.


  4. Masi

    Dear Kaushik,

    I really needed to read John Sherman when you posted him. I was going through much darkness and found comfort in his teaching. It’s about a week now that I am emerging from suffering, and yes I see the fear of life in me, and nothing I can do about it. I find that when I accept this and surrender to it, I am not suffering. But, when I cling to the fear, suffering ensues.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Masi,
      Long time–I hope you’re doing well.

      Yes, acceptance and surrender and awareness and releasing can help allay these negative emotions. But they only help us release these feeling-states when they occur, at least that’s my experience.

      The question is, can we permanently be rid of this basic fear of life?

      Let me know what you think of Sherman.


  5. Nitin

    Namaste Kaushikbhai,

    Yesterday, I have visited nearby Temple and sat there to observe prayer and the ritual, and Same time, little kid (about a year old, my cousin’s son) keep going, climbing deity-platform & playing with it. What is happening?
    This little baby does not have any fear & knowledge other then basic needs of body. One thing per sure that FEAR & KNOWLEDGE of the things are the most obstructions to live fully without fear and experience the fearless moments. (love) One can not have fear of something which he does not have knowledge of it…..Means the Knowledge of the thing is the fear of that thing?
    I thing One can face the most dangerous moment if he does not know of it. And that is the reason, those people who are very childish in their grown-up life are less fearful.
    And now, we have more knowledge (about health, economy, natural disaster etc) that we need, we are more fearful of life and keep seeking safeguard 24-7 (health wise, Money wise etc) I am going through some bad time in life and here I am observing my 24-7 fear with me. More I tried to knock, more it’s stuck to me. (I wonder, who is first? fear or thought? both chasing each other)
    If I have choice to get ride of one…I will get ride of thought. I am tried of thought, its keep coming and coming and coming and make me crazy….I have notice that the fear of fear or thought of fear is worsen then real fear. I am sure most of them noticed that.
    Our answer could be with one, who seems to live fearless life. Could it be small baby, baby animal, some living plant or gypsy/fakir who lives day to day without gathering for tomorrow ? ? or the person who lives with lions in jungle?
    One says, “cultivate the love /face the fear to be fearless” The Basic search is same is to be fearless. Human kinds have tried all the way to reach this stage, and perhaps that is the reason we have believe in God, create an idea of after the death life, etc.
    May be we do not have trust in our self, so we afraid of the situation/moment instead of facing it. Or we have brought up in our childhood to safely…we all should have some experience of Mogli the character of the movie Jungle book.
    As always, enjoys your writing and allowing us to express our thoughts.



    1. Kaushik Post author

      Namaste Nitinbhai,

      Well, I suppose it’s possible that knowledge and thought bring about this basic fear. Or, perhaps it’s the abruptness of the birth process, or maybe we pick it up from people around us, from conditioning. I don’t really know.

      I don’t think thoughts are a problem. They are just sensations, effects. Thoughts, emotions, beliefs, ego–I think they are troublesome only because they are driven by this basic sense of unrightness.

      The fear you are feeling right now is not the basic fear I’m talking about. You are feeling fear because of your circumstances, you have thoughts and emotions and fear about your future. You are uncomfortable and insecure about your circumstances. And this is eventually brought on by the basic fear of life. But the basic fear of life is a constant hum inside of us, and it’s present even when circumstances are right and even when everything is going the way the ego wants it to go. It just manifests differently at different times.

      The dicomfort you are feeling right now can be released with the release technique.

      Can we cultivate love in the face of fear? Well, that’s what spirituality and religion and morality are all about, and clearly they have not worked in the long-term.

      So the question still remains: Is there a direct way to eliminate this basic fear of life?

      Always grateful for your comments.


  6. Dark Warrior

    Hang out with the fear. That’s all I got. I have painful muscle/energy releases in my neck that scare me sometimes, like I could get hurt permamently. Unless I relax completely and surrender deeply, the fear and discomfort remain and get worse. I have surrendered completely to life, as much as I can. I face it and relax and just practice humility. The only intimidating fear I have left is for my body and my health. It must be an ego vanity. If you don’t mind, maybe we should all share what we are afraid of in life? Or is it just a general fear toward life? I used to have that to an intense degree but pain, suffering, trauma, and intense enlightening spiritual experiences have forced me to accept life totally and learn how to learn from it and grow. Once the Universe shows you there is no reason to be afraid then you can feel confident letting it all go. I mean everything. Conscious dying is letting your mind and body and everything you think, feel and percieve just be and giving up on it while paradoxically paying attention to it with awareness, also known as conscious suffering. It hasn’t been easy. It has been humbling and has clearly been a process of breaking me open. The ego can literally live in our character and our character armor (the body’s rigid muscles. I see a lot of improvement and progress in myself and others, my co-evolving friends. We are all on the same path so just remember that all that is really required of us is that we act with kindness toward ourself and others especially when we don’t feel like it. The power of being, or at least acting all meek like that is huge. It really does pull everything toward you, even if others think you are weak or strange. The truth is that doing that is all that is ever asked of us in the first place. I strive to only relate to life in loving ways, even if it is a tough love at first it easily softens to a compassionate, accepting, non-judgemental and forgiving attitude in almost no time. With enough love fear is powerless. Just think of yourself existing as pure love, pure energy, and everything else can just burn out when it runs out of momentum. Watch out for the doubts that the ego will chuck at you, and the worrysome thoughts and feelings. As we get closer things get harder, its just the way it is. I use everything that makes me afraid as a practice in conscious dying. It can become enjoyable to observe closely what happens inside of you during intense fear, although not at first. In my experience fear dissapears as soon as you get used to it. This is not something most people would choose to do, because it requires that you are so sick of suffering and being afraid that you just say fuck it I am going to become one with my pain and my fear and allow them to kill me. To me , that has always made sense but I couldn’t withstand the pain and fear and they weren’t changing. It wasn’t until they chased me down and I had no choice to surrender that I finally had the courage to live my life in a way that would force me to be transparent and open and learn how to see everyone as equal and to see past convincing appearances. Another thing, perception and how consciousness feels to us can change radically and be very disorienting. Treat every scary and agonizing part of this process like it is a ride. Sit back and relax, there isn’t much you can do. Deep breathing. It is going to hurt and be sickeningly scary. Is it worth it? Of course it is. Every single iota of peacefulness and love that enters into the world has such a huge impact. I have both seen and felt just how much this matters. Give up the hope that everything is going to be alright and just live where you are at now, breath and relax and really just let go into into the arms of a god that we can’t always feel the presence of. If you are afraid of being insulted then that is what you need to experience. Be insulted by someone, badly, and then do nothing essentially. Freedom through self suffering. It is better than being apart of the drama, the illusion. And it brings you closer to the truth, closer to enlightenment. I accept all insults, I don’t care. Once you do that for a while then you can understand just what is happening and see that it doesn’t matter. Someone else has an impersonal ego and fired at whatever tiny bit of ego you have to set you back on spiritual path. Trust me, when you are free, nobody would bother to insult you because its like their consciousness knows that they can’t touch you in the slightest so most wont even try. When we are relaxed enough we don’t recieve many insults, and we also don’t make many mistakes, if we are relaxed enough we don’t even care if we live or die. To me that is enlightenment and total freedom from suffering and from fear. The desire for existance, or specific conditions of existence, has to be relinquished. We all have to do it when we die. Are we willing to do it before we die? Die before you die. All I really know is that it is worth it to be relaxed, even if it means not fitting in with the majority of the world. Keep reaching out because there are many others who are doing this stuff and forming groups of people are reading the same stuff and meditating and oming is pure enjoyment and gives us energy to sit under the bodhi tree ourselves, on our own. Alone. Ooh… alone. Is there anything more terrifying than that? Alone. The biggest fear of all, the fear of absolute aloneness. Only when you are alone is there the chance of seeing that god is and you are not. We need a lot of strength and courage and perseverance to make it all the way. Hope you found something useful in my ramblings. I have a peculiar way of seeking and I can be passionate and eccentric. And foolish. The wise fool. The ego will feed you all kinds of convincing, false, negative garbage that it wants you to believe in order for it to propogate its survival. Once you commit to relaxing and allowing the stuff the ego is sending, then you can choose to believe something a little more hopeful or possibley let go of the need to believe anything about your present or future reality. It might throw the fear of bodily death at you, or insanity. You have to retain your awareness and your absolute resolve to be fearless by overcoming convincing fears. It is a difficult stage to go through. So lets all work through it together so it will be easier, that is how consciousness works. Love you all, I hope you all find relief and everything you truely need to embrace life. Even the dark parts of it we all share.

  7. Matt

    Kaushik, I’ve just discovered your wonderful blog! Your writing shimmers with wisdom and simplicity. Thank you.

    Warm wishes,

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks, Matt.

      I write here about my own experience with as much authenticity as a I can muster up. At this point I feel relief. With the recognition that the only problem there is, is this basic, low-level, subconscious, constant fear, or resistance, or dread of life. It’s a simple thing, but the very thing also drives us to complications so we don’t see easily that this is the only problem there is.

      That’s the problem–as far as the solution, I don’t know yet. I have confidence in this “looking at me”, looking at the sense of I AM. We’ll see how it pans out.


  8. Philip

    Invite yourself to look into the possibility that everything within and without, ie the whole universe at this moment is as it should be. Everything that is happening is nothing but absolute perfection, there is nothing wrong with anything anywhere. There is nothing to achieve, nothing to get, nothing to complete nothing to fix, nothing to uncover or reveal. There is no such thing as liberation or sprituality and so on, there is only this and that is all there is. If you truely surrender to this, see it directly that everything is life and you are life in the knowing-ness of seeing what appears to be happening…. thats all.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, true.

      And yet, most of us are not able to do this. And so, as a practice, surrender is not very helpful. In fact, the practice of surrender just takes us farther away from this simple truth that everything is just as it should be.

      There is nothing at all wrong with life, right now, just as it is. What’s wrong is that we have the feeling that something is wrong. This is only thing that’s wrong. There is always just one problem. And to do away with this feeling that something is wrong, well, that’s not very difficult, when you know that this is only thing you ever had to know.

      The looking at you does away with this feeling. But it’s my untested hypothesis that when the realization hits that there is nothing at all wrong, and the only thing wrong is this feeling that there is something wrong–when that realization hits, everything works itself out. I’m not sure about this–it’s just a hypothesis.

  9. Philip

    Hey Kaushik

    Even the feeling thats something wrong is not wrong, just keep going until there is nothing left. There is nothing wrong or sick with the anxiety or the frustration, life is everything not just the good stuff.

    1. Kaushik Post author


      Hehe, I’ve edited the comment several times. It’s clear in my head, but I don’t have the articulation just yet.

      There’s no need to wrap ourselves up in a spiritual pretzel.

      This is imminently practical. This about you, and life right here and now, on earth, as a human being, and not on some high mystical plane.

      The only thing wrong is the persistent feeling that something is wrong.

      And it’s simple and easy to get rid of that feeling.


  10. Ajay

    Dear Kaushik,

    I just discovered your blog today – interesting, well written and ‘from the heart’.

    While each person’s path to satisfaction/fulfillment/nirvana would be unique, it would probably encompass some form of awareness, acceptance and surrender. It is easier to arrive at the intellectual understanding – it takes time and persistence to live that path. It’s so much easier to preach than to practice and live. Spirituality helps but it can only provide hints, not solutions.

    I was not sure what you meant by fear of life? Is it a projection of fear of death?

    Keep discovering and spreading the wisdom, and living life!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Ajay,
      Well, the fear of life, yes. We don’t have to complicate it. It’s a feeling which has always been with us, this feeling that something is wrong.

      And we’ve had this small but persistent feeling of unrightness from the beginning. We get used to it, and as you can see, we learn to live life in the presence of the feeling that something is wrong. We embark on a program of control.

      It drives us to seek awareness because we feel that there is something wrong with our thoughts. It drives us to seek acceptance because it brings about resistance. It drives us to seek surrender because we are tired of the subtle but constant feeling that there is something wrong.

      So the question is, is there a way to do away with this feeling which has always been with us? Nisargadutt and Ramana and John Sherman say that looking at you does away with the feeling. So I am trying that, and I feel that it is working.


  11. Philip

    Hey Kaushik,
    Its always nice to come to this site the judgement is gentle.
    I would like to share with you a few excepts from some poems written by my favourite Australian (local) non-dual teacher Peter Marjason.

    “If you scoff because Advaita
    Is used to sell vacuum cleaners
    Think again
    Selling is it
    And think again
    Scoffing is it”

    ‘Life is perfect as it is
    Trying to do better is
    Not even a mistake”

    ‘When a freight train rumbles past
    What can be done about that?
    When you burn the toast
    And toss it in the bin
    What can be done about that?
    Life is already completely
    Full of what’s happening’

    Cheers Phil

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hey Philip,

      No, no judgment here, and when there is judgment, no judgement about that either, hehe.

      My mind is delighted with itself right now. It’s delighted that it’s figured out something basic. It’s also angry, angry at the general world of spirituality, because it took five years to arrive at something very simple and basic, and that’s only because of the molasses of spirituality.

      I let these thoughts have their play–they will pass–and I also know not to trust any conclusion I come to right now.

      Life is indeed perfect. We think it is not, and we have always thought it is not, and that’s the only problem.

      I’d rather be sensible than spiritual. I don’t see any reason to get bound up in spiritual complexities. I don’t see any reason to be afraid of ordinary English.

      There’s a basic problem. There’s a solution to the basic problem. I feel it’s sensible to solve the basic problem. That too is allowed.


  12. Janice

    Hi Mr. K.,
    I have been “looking” at myself and John Sherman’s writings lately. Hmmm….. It has only been a short time however, what I am noticing is that the situations that would scare me stiff in the past, do not seem so scary to me today. Interactions with my family, when I would be afraid to give my opinion (fear of abandonment or disappproval) I now find, without being rude or mean, I can express myself more honestly. Big move to truth for me.

    What I am curious about is the element of -I am so ordinary and uninteresting that it would be very easy to over look the REAL me. can you speak to that piece?

    Also, I was so glad to see Masi on here. I have always had a soft spot for her.
    Hope you are well.

    Thanks for any consideration to these questions.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      Good to hear from you.

      It’s good that you are experiencing what you are with the looking, but I wouldn’t pay much attention to the effects right now. Keep looking.

      On the second thing, try not to think in spiritual terms. It’s not about the REAL me, or the true me or false me or ego or awareness or mind. It’s all just me.

      Look at you, and a good hint is that the sense of you has never changed. Check back with a memory, and you’ll find the sense of you is the same now as it was last week or when you were 5 years old. You are here.

      Yes, Masi is great!

      Take good care,

  13. Alex

    Hey Kaushik,

    in my experience fear is a doorway. It is always there, sometimes dense sometimes at ease, but always present. The interesting part is that this fear is me, I can’t get rid of it because
    I am that. When I feel it more dense I can feel mySelf even better and I lovingly go with it. It’s a wonderful doorway. Fear is not what we learned to think it is, when we skip the thoughts about fear we discover that it is something beautiful nothing to be scared of. I would even say it is the engine of all activities and it holds the power to find out what we really are.

    Namaste, Alex

    1. Masi

      I agree, Alex, as it’s been my experience as of late that when I welcomed fear openly it transformed and gave way to beautiful revelations. In addition, the feeling of fear itself is even evolving – it’s no longer life-threatening, no longer hysterical, frantic, and not as nagging either anymore. Just earlier today my inner voice whispered perhaps fear does not drop all at once, at least not for me. My experience asks me to allow myself to be re-born and die to myself. Its showing me that as I face my fears, they begin to lose power an I begin to let more and more light in. truly, I am starting to see the power of transforming fear.

      And, Sherman helped a LOT! “To look at yourself just once, and then again, and then again- is to move from the endless work of self-definition to the endless adventure of self-discovery.” ~ John Sherman

      Janice & K you are great, I have a soft spot for u too! wouldn’t it be great if we all met in person someday?! maybe Kaushik will throw a party for us all ;-))

      1. Kaushik Post author

        Hi Masi,
        Yes, John Sherman, brings an incisive clarity to all this. That’s a good quotation.

        I had the insight that the only problem with life is that I think there is a problem with life, and I have always had this sensation that something is wrong, and everything else that I know and feel and believe and say has sprung from this foundational delusion. That insight was very cleansing for me–I let go of the frantic energy of the last five years–the energy of trying to figure out what life is about. And everything changed.

        I discovered John Sherman soon after that, and I’m thankful to him for his clarity and his use of simple and ordinary English words to communicate.

        I hope you’re well, Masi!


    2. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Alex,

      I see what you’re saying, but I see it a little differently. I don’t see fear as a doorway; it’s just a reaction, an effect.

      The acceptance you talk about–yes, that’s essentially the release technique and “observing thoughts” technique which I talk about here. These can help release fear and anxiety, and that in turn can bring about some psychological comfort.

      Is fear motivating? Well, it seems to be. But it’s not the only thing that can motivate us. Desire motivates. Love, creativity, the absence of fear–all of these can motivate us as well, and probably more effectively than fear.

      I look at things much more simply and try to use ordinary terms. The basic problem is a fear that we’ve always had. I haven’t seen or felt this fear directly so I can’t be sure, but I know the effect of the fear. The effect is the sense that life is a problem, that life is antagonistic, something to control and understand. This sense of separation has been with us since childhood, so everything else is very uncertain.

      It’s hard to figure out what the specific effects of this sense of separation are. For example, I had anxiety and depression, and I am not really able to, or motivated to, to trace back how anxiety and depression came about from the original problem of the sense of separation.

      There is and always has been a sense of separation. And there is something we can do about that.

      Thanks, Alex.


  14. Janice

    Hi Masi, I am so glad you are doing good. I think about you and wonder how you are. Fear is a strange bedfellow. It can create anxiety and create the motivation to get up and get important things done. I have always been afraid of my fears and fearful feelings. Seeing that fear is only a movement of energy like passion, excitement or anticipation is becoming clearer (at times) to me. The physical sensation to each of these feelings is a chemical reaction inside my body. I have know this for a long time but unwilling or not ready to learn them.

    K., what I was trying to say is that when I settle myself (and that is getting easier and more natural) and look into myself, I don’t mean my real self in the sense that it is spiritual or imaginative but the actual me, the me that has been there for ever and ever. My question or comment is you know how John Sherman explains that that spot for us is easy to overlook because it is so ordinary and uninteresting that we often do not notice it….well I wonder what we are supposed to look at in that space? I am not sure I am explaining this question very well. Some literature says to rest in that space… I say, that space is constantly disappearing. Do you ever experience that? I think I have a difficult time verbalizing my questions.
    I have gained so much silence and peace from the John Sherman, or Look At Yourself exercise. According to my interpretation of the material even if you think you are doing it wrong, relax, keep doing it. You actually cannot do it wrong. Thank you so much for sharing John’s material to me. Looking is actually peaceful and relaxing. If I could only release the desire to be awakened the practice of looking would be really awesome.
    Will this search in me ever cease and rest? I have no idea.
    Love ya,

    1. Kaushik Post author


      You’re doing great. Keep looking.

      These questions will surface. They’re not important–they are just effects, reactions.

      I had already had the insight that John Sherman talks about when I discovered him. He is far more articulate and clear than I can be. I saw it as “the only problem with life is that I have always thought there is a problem with life.”

      So when I discovered John Sherman, I was completely ready for him. I understood the looking. My experience with the looking was that for a few days I felt agitation. Then I felt doubt, and silly. Questions came up, just like they are for you. And then the questions disappeared.

      I hope this helps.


  15. Alex

    Hi Kaushik,
    what I try to say is that the very sense of my own being is combined with this sense of fear. When I go into that sense of fear I find myself there. When I am deeply routed in myself this fear turns out to be love, when I am not this feels like fear in the common sense. So my conclusion is love is fear and vs. depending of the state os xonciousness

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yeah, I kinda see what you mean. I really don’t have the clarity in words just yet. I see it a little differently. This fear we talk about–this basic fear of life–I don’t see this fear directly. As I child I did. I felt the fear then, but it’s been long gone or submerged. What I do and have felt is the first effect of this fear, and that is the alienation of life, where I have felt/believed/sensed that life is a problem, and I’ve always had this alienation. The looking does away with that.

  16. El.Mo

    “All the frantic energy of trying to figure it out, trying to understand and learn and practice–all of it left me in one fell swoop. I loved the whooshing sound it made on its way out, hehe! And here I am, empty and open, happily left with really only one insight, and it’s not a big one.”

    Woooooooow, it’s amazing I read this post before and got one thing which I posted about but now I COMPLETELY resonate with your opening paragraph!!! I am a bit burnt out.. I almost feel guilty as though I missed some great “I am that I am” enlightenment but O well… examining what arises in me is where I am right now, I don’t care to answer all the “But who is you or me” questions at the moment…

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