This blog contains writings by John Trimpi.
It tells the story of one man's continuing experience in the adventure of looking at himself. He writes of his meeting with John Sherman, his initial skepticism and doubts about the practice, and his eventual conviction arising from his own experience that everything John says about the effectiveness of this practice is true. In John Trimpi's words, "The rocks and boulders of misidentification are disintegrated (...) until nothing remains to block you from the present experience of life. The energy of fear dissipates... "
Through captivating poetry and fine prose, his clear seeing and deep reflection on his own experience are gift to us all.
The elimination of suffering will not be accomplished by political or social action. It’s never about how things can be for any individual, and it’s not about how things are. How things are is incidental to the fact of the separate reality of you. Suffering is contextual; you are not. Circumstances are experienced in context, but you are not those circumstances. What you are is an open question which may have no or many answers, but the knowledge or understanding of any answer is unavailing to end suffering. If it was we would have done it by now. Instead, it feels like suffering is on the increase, although that may be the result of effective communication and not the general state of the human condition.
Everyone, including this writer, seems to have a way to eliminate suffering. Understanding, acceptance, denial, faith, expression and confession, drugs and alcohol, change of circumstance, suicide, meditation, yoga, therapy, sex, right action and surrender are the ones I’ve heard about. There are no doubt more. All of them are temporary fixes and often produce more trouble than they’re worth.
When I awoke one morning not too long ago, I had a clear appreciation that suffering has in large part been eliminated from my diet. No state of mind I’ve had of recent has been significantly infected by dread or anxiety, and fear has definitely been minimalized. What John Sherman has been saying is true. Everything he has said in the last few years (maybe with the exception that we are all in this together and there is only one mind, which I have trouble grokking) is true, and I have found it to be so.
Some teachers are masters of the art of present living and can encourage us to consider every hardship as an opportunity to be more fully conscious and less hooked into the circumstances of our lives. But following that recipe takes so much more time and commitment to presence – it’s like a gradual seeping effect instead of a rock and boulder removal – than John Sherman’s formula. His teaching names fear as the energizing force, misidentification the cause and suffering the result.
By looking at you, you are not misidentified. The rocks and boulders of misidentification are disintegrated. There are a lot of them to be sure, reinforced over time and cultivated by culture, but the process is irreversible. They are chipped or blown away until nothing remains to block you from the present experience of life. The energy of fear dissipates. You are no longer driven to get it right so you will suffer less. You’ll still be inclined to get it right, but you won’t need to. You’ll do it by choice.
I can’t tell you how excited I am by this practice which I once found to be mysterious. There is a lasting effect each time you look to see (without finding) the actual reality of you. Often for me a good dose will take me hours and sometimes a couple of days where my state of mind will be just right. I know how passing those states of mind are, so I hasten to add that those benefits are transitory. The long-term effects hold the real worth.
There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be where I am now without acknowledging who I have become over the years of my life. I am uncertain about this, but identifying all my lifelong incarnations (carefree child, insecure youth, thief, sex maniac, strategist, devoted father, wordsmith, etc.) probably has kept the door open to the present moment and thus the best (and only) time to look within. In fact, I may not have gotten to John Sherman’s teachings without coming in stripped down. That makes sense since I think his community of followers are those of us who were at the end of our spiritual ropes or who, like me, couldn’t find the magic bullet to shoot into our brains.
I think I’ve always thought it would take a magic bullet, and I think I’ve always known it would come from within and not from the outside. Little did I realize the answer was so much simpler than I could imagine. I think because I was looking for an answer – an understanding – and couldn’t stay in place long enough to realize that what I was doing anyway was the solution for that which I had been seeking. I had passed over what has now become obvious. Now I could do what I was always doing anyway, except I could pay attention to my looking when I thought to do so.
So that bullet to the brain has enabled me to destroy the blocks, the obstacles, the hooks, however you want to describe them. Maybe a better metaphor would be magic bullets. With each shot comes a further disintegration. Each time I look to find the actuality of my existence – that I am here – the bullet of my looking destroys the notion or belief I am something else, including a person dependent upon his circumstances. Eliminating or reducing my identification with the circumstances arising in my life directly impacts the current of fear. To the extent fear goes, so does suffering.
Written by John Trimpi.