Fear of life and the Looking

The way it is happening for me is that two years ago I had the recognition on a morning walk that the only problem there is, is fear. With that recognition, much (not all) of the seeking energy dissipitated–I was no longer interested in finding the next secret to awakening. I understood the problem and I had confirmation about it from Jed Mckenna, Eckhart Tolle, Buddha, Anthony de Mello and others. I had a really, good year and I was beginning to re-engage in life after many years of escaping in spiritual compulsion.

But I had only recognized the problem; not solved it. A few months later I stumbled upon John Sherman’s site. I resonated with what he said about fear. So he had some credibility with me, and what he said about the looking is the same thing Nisargadatta and Ramana say, except I think John Sherman is simpler and clearer.

I did the looking. I wondered, as I think many people do, if I was doing it right. But I can assure that if you are doing this looking you are doing it right. It is self-correcting. About three months later, the urge to look went away. And the recovery began.

The recovery was difficult at first. I was coming into a difficult period after a really good year, so it was very disappointing. I felt as if I was falling back into some of my older issues of anxiety, depression, insomnia, weight fluctuations, apathy, confusion, isolation, self-recrimination, over-anlayzing–all of these worried me that I was slipping, not moving forward. For a while, I had the idea in my head that someday I will be “done.” Then I realized it was this very expectation that was causing mental conflict, and I tried to drop any expectation I might have had about what should happen. I went through periods of doubt. I considered exploring other paths–maybe getting into Advaita.

And strangely, a feeling of shame came up. It’s hard to describe–it’s a context that I have done something wrong, I don’t belong here, I feel like a stranger. My theory is that this feeling comes about from the feeling of separation caused by the fear of life. Separated, I felt like I’ll be found out that I am not who I am. My guess is this feeling must be very common–most of us suppress it or learn to live with it.

But recently, something has shifted. I feel more settled. More at home. I am more satisfied with life, less resistant, and I have the understanding that this has nothing to do with the content of life or mental states. Happiness and unhappiness come and go, according to what happens in life and according to our particular mental states. These come and go, and have no effect on being alive, just being–satisfied, human.

So now I recommend to people to understand that the basic problem is the fear of life. The solution is the do the looking, as John Sherman suggests.

And during the recovery, use whatever tools you want to handle it. I like the release technique I talk about here, so that’s what I recommend. It has been very useful to me. But whatever it is that you prefer is good. Meditation, yoga are good. Observing thoughts is good. Allowing, letting it be, letting it go, acceptance–all good.

And so, after six years of seeking, I’ve circled back to see that it was always about just being a natural human being.

If you’re interested in this, here are the simple instructions on how to look from John Sherman’s site:

 Now move the focus of your attention inward to what it feels like to be you.

What you are looking for is the feel of what you would call me. You are looking for exactly what you refer to when you say the word ‘me.’ You are looking for the me-ness of you.

Here’s a way to see what I am speaking about. Many people have found this helpful. Try to evoke a moment in your childhood. It can be anything, really. See if you can remember what it felt like to be you then.

That’s exactly what it feels like to be you right now, isn’t it? Look and see. It’s the same sense of me. Exactly the same me-ness.

Try to put your attention on that subtle feeling of me for just a tenth of a second.

It may be helpful to know that as you do the looking you might recognize that you have looked before. The feel of you is the same now as it was five minutes ago, five years ago, or when you are a small child. You might be able evoke a memory of when you had looked at you.

It may be helpful to know that doubts will come up. You might wonder if you’re doing it right or if it’s really working. Don’t worry, the technique is self-correcting. And confirmation of it seems to come in retrospect; you might not recognize for a while that the effects of the fear are falling away.

13 thoughts on “Fear of life and the Looking

  1. Nitin

    Namaste Kaushikbhai,

    Secret of all these findings seams to be endless, satisfactory answer is different from one to other, depend on the person ability of understanding & care-ness. People like us want to find out by self experience, where you have done great job & made lots of discovery which help you & most of us in this path. And during that discovery fear became the Hero in film of life & we became spectators but same time we became part of film instead of spectator. If looking at you(me) stay together 24, 7 (I called it 31) then most likely & most of the fear will disappear. (my assumption only) Is that will gives us Joy of life or will we have new finding ? ! !..
    Not finding the finding is heart beat of this finding ? If finding became found then new finding will appear.
    I have long time urge, which I have been postponing, Urge is that for 7 days Do Not read, write or listen about any thing, minimize thinking, be human, be natural, do not attempt to do, let it happen by self, surrender to time and situation. ( I am not saying to be lazy, keep to your regular routine with out any of your intervene)
    I don’t have patience, but i am trying to keep it kool, not to suppress the emotion , get over it. I have some success in it but the link is keep breaking it.
    Just to look at you(me) is not easy at all for me and goal is to recognize subtle, and that is why it’s so interesting. May be dropping the expectation of finding help us to find the way.
    Am I back to square one or lost in my own, I think so.


    1. Bill Cass

      Nitin…. I agree that just stopping the effort for awhile is good like the eagle landing on the tree branch resting. In your heart of hearts you are an explorer and that need won’t be denied so the journey continues. The less expectations the better. Putting pressure on yourself is counterproductive and doesn’t help. Relax and let it happen because it will. Falling short is the normal for we humans. The journey is the point of this life and beyond that there is little anyone can do to help themselves grow faster. If we were able to see the beginning to the end it would most likely spoil the ending. My advice would be to stay relaxed and keep the thoughts elevated as much as possible. We are blind and deaf when it comes to the spiritual and we all are in the same boat. The Presence makes the occasional visit and the ego dissappears as the Presence fills our beingness the we return to normal and the ego is still there yet the visit raises the confidence that we must be doing something right.
      What I say here is my own experience and not intended for anyone else other than an attempt to uplift. Thanks for you inspirational posting…Bill

    2. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nitin,

      Square one is good place to be.

      To clarify, you don’t have to look 24/7. You don’t have to try make the looking abiding. You don’t need more focus or more discipline. Look once. Look whenever you remember to. The urge to look will go away at some point. Also, the looking in to subtle or mysterious. You are just looking at you, what it feels like to be you.

      If you have the urge to quiet down life for seven days–well, that’s good, try it. And what you say about emotions is also reasonable: allow them, watch, and in the allowing the energy behind the emotioin will often dissipate.

      It’s good to hear from you again, Nitin.


      1. Nitin

        Thank you Bill & Kaushikbhai,

        I prefer to choice forget over remember…in my experience it help me move over the emotions & time, but at other hand few things need to be remembered like forgetfulness…..always a battle what to remember & what to forget ?
        I felt good when I have raised the question, could be my ego became actor. Today I have watch Hindi Movie ” OMG” It has lot in it in simple manner. I like it very much.


  2. Rob

    Everyone please take a minute to watch this video. It has the late great Terence Kemp McKenna (November 16, 1946 – April 3, 2000) who was an American ethnobotanist, philosopher, psychonaut, researcher, teacher, lecturer and writer on many subjects, such as human consciousness, language, psychedelic substances, the evolution of civilizations, the origin and end of the universe, alchemy, and extraterrestrial beings.


    I can tell you this: Following this school of thought I have healed beyond what I thought was possible. I am inspired to share this knowledge with everyone I can. Please watch the video and tell me what you think. DMT changed my life. It facilitated the release of what was causing me so much suffering and pain. I wish I could go into more detail about just how amazing this stuff is. It saved me. It’s like holy water for the zombie apocalypse.

  3. Jen

    Hi Kaushik and everyone else,
    its been a little quiet here, so I was wondering how everyone is doing? I’ve been doing the best I can with acceptance, letting go, looking and releasing, some days easier than others.

    Here is a humorous video from puppetji about 12-21


    … it made me smile 🙂

  4. kim

    “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” Danielle LaPorte


    Feel this quote resonate a lot with what you are saying .

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