An Extraordinary Experience
The false belief I had about what I am was the belief that I am my life. It wasn't just me. Almost everyone is plagued with that belief. I believed I was my thoughts, my mind, my story, my history, my dramas, my desires, my goals, my achievements, my failures, my hopes, my dreams, my loves, my fears, etc., etc., etc., The belief acted as a lens through which I was seeing everything that was going on in my life, causing me to be very concerned about my life, desperately trying to understand it, fix it, accept it, control it, improve it, exploit it, strengthen it, enhance it, insure it, protect it, refine it, guard it, judge it, empower it, develop it, finance it, promote it, outsmart it, transcend it and so on. It was awful. Even though I always worked very hard, almost all of my endeavors eventually failed. And I frequently felt frustrated, disappointed, hopeless and depressed. But fortunately, all that has now changed.
The day my life began to change was the day I first heard John Sherman teach. Within 30 minutes I knew that what he was teaching was right, and that most of what I had learned throughout my life was tragically wrong. For a short while I became furiously enraged. Almost my entire life had been ruined because I was lied to and deceived almost everywhere I turned. As a result, almost everything that I thought to be valuable and true, I found out was actually worthless and false.
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As soon as I released my rage, the first thing I did was to start getting rid of the garbage. I dumped everything I was taught I should be, I dumped everything I was told God wanted me to be, I dumped everything anyone expected me to do. I dumped most of my spiritual teachings, I dumped everything I feared I might be, and dumped all I hoped to become. Those are only a few examples, but you get the idea. I can tell you that dumping garbage is a very liberating experience. I recommend it to everyone, though few take the suggestion.
I then began to practice John Sherman's Method. I've listened to him for over a year now, and I still listen, but I learned his method in the first teaching I heard.
I remember at the beginning of that teaching how eager I was to hear what he'd say was the truth about me. Would he say I was infinite consciousness? Or perhaps an individuation of Infinite Mind? Maybe the living Presence of God or the Presence of Love. Maybe he'll say that I'm Absolute Truth. He might say I'm a facet of Infinite Beingness, that's a good one. Maybe he's done the Course and will say I'm a holy Son of God. He could have a Christian Science background and will say I'm an idea in the Mind of God. I thought to myself, anything that would be the truth of what I am surely must be one of these. Well guess what? John didn't say that the truth about me was anything like any of those things at all.
What he said was this:"Look and see for yourself what it is that you really are, that never changes, that's never absent, that's always here, and that's always true."
And then he said something that became for me then, and still is for me now, the phrase I most prefer for practicing the method; because it's short enough to use, and clear enough to embrace whatI'mafter. Here it is.
"Look at this feeling of presence that is always the same."
Now, to be asthorough and precise as possible, what I'm after is to notice thedirect, immediate, pure, silent, continuous, obvious, certain, unchanging, invisible and everpresent experience of hereness, presence, awareness,being or existence. But while all of that is true, it's far too cumbersome. The brief phrase says the same thing much more effectively, because beingness is simple, not cumbersome.
Now I'm going to change gears a bit and share with you something that helped me to have a clearer experience of this feeling of presence that is always the same. This isn't anything that John teaches, but it's helped me a great deal. So I thought it might possibly be helpful to others as well.
What I wanted to do was to test and see for myself whether this feeling of presence was truly always the same. I was sure that it was, but I wanted to discover that for myself. So what I did was this. I would lay on my bed and scan every conceivable event in my life that I could think of, trying to dig up as wide a variety of events as possible. I dug up events involving fear, guilt, suffering, meanness, praise, success, cruelty, pride, love, trauma, pleasure, happiness, joy, achievement, failure, tragedy, contentment, lust, hatred, grief, delight, shyness, discomfort, passion, shame, illness, cowardice, arrogance, skill, deceit, and so on and so forth.
One thing I didn't expect was that I'd enjoy doing this as much as I did. I thought it was going to be something I'd have to discipline myself to work at. But instead I found it to be extremely interesting, lots of fun, very easy, and gently energizing in a way I don't yet understand.
There was one scene as a young child where I was terribly humiliated and severely punished because I had done something that seriously injured a cousin with whom I was playing. I had always thought of that memory as something quite awful. But now it was simply fun to notice the feeling of presence that was perfectly intact in that little kid's awareness, yet I was also still aware of the whole drama as I always remembered it, only now I was totally free and unaffected by it.
It was fun to see that no matter how wonderful or how horrible each memory happened to be, the feeling of presence was unquestionably there, completely unperturbed and always exactly the same regardless of my age or the nature of the drama involved.
I also found it helpful to alternate between distant memories and my current, present self; and in so doing I found it encouraging and fortifying to see how clear it was that there truly is a sense of self that's exactly the same in five-year-old-Ben as in 59-year-old-Ben, and that this permanent, changeless, and untouched sense of self most certainly is the truth of what I am.
Go ahead and try this yourself. It's a good way to discover a greater depth inyour experience of the method. No matter where you've ever been, or when you've ever been there; no matter what you've ever been thinking or feeling or doing; no matter what has ever been happening to you, you'll see that the one thing that will always remain the same for you throughout is this feeling of presence that's always the same.
Ok now watch this. We're now going to get into something that you might find exciting, and that I always think is quite profound.
As I practiced this method, it was evident from the very beginning that regardless of what I might ever be experiencing, my presence or existence was always absolutely certain. It wasn't long before I also saw that it is in factthe only thing about me that is absolutely certain.And soitbecame clear to me that there is nothing that's more certain about me than the fact that I exist.
And thenone day ithit me like a ton of bricks, spiking my awe and amazement way off the charts. Here's what it was that I saw.
Since there's nothing more certain about me than the fact I exist, then the fact I exist is most certainly what I am. So beyond the mere fact I exist, is the profound and awesome fact that existence itself is what I actually am.
This clearly was huge. I was overwhelmed. And stunned. Yet I knew my experience of it only scratched the surface. So I invented the following exercise to deepen my experience. After listing the following five sentences I then spent time with each one until it's meaning became more vivid and clear.
You're not something that's existing; you are existence itself.
You are not something that's being; you are beingness itself.
You are not something that's present; you are presence itself.
You are not something that's aware; you are awareness itself.
You are not something that's True; you are Truth itself.
It's been some time now since all of this happened. My awe and amazement have now quieted down. What's most prominent now is how deep a mystery all of this really is. What you are, is that you exist. That is as incomprehensible as it is certain.
One of the reasons why all this has touched me so deeply is because I have long been in awe of how profoundly mysterious it is that existence ever occurred in the first place.How could that have possibly happened? It truly is the greatest mystery of all time.In point of fact, existence is the most incomprehensible, most essential, most awesome, most unfathomable and most universal phenomenon that there is. Can you catchjust a whif ofwhat a tremendous fact it is that this awesome phenomenon called existence is what you actually are?
Ok, returning to Planet Earth, if in spite of my ranting none of this seemsvery awesome, that's perfectlyalright. It doesn't have to seem awesome in order for itto work. When Edison invented the lightbulb he was so awed byhis invention that he just stared at it, motionless,with no regard for time until finally his wife shouted, "Tom willyou please turn off that light and come to bed." A lightbulb works just as well whether we're awed by it or not. So does beingness.
One final but very important note. I'd be most remiss if I did not tell you that this essay will be totally worthless unless you engage the practice of John Sherman's method and make it a part of your life. Don't wince. It's not a burden. Nothing could possibly be easier. Practicing the method consists simply of this, and nothing but this:
"As often as it occurs to you to do so, just stop for a second and look at this feeling of presence that is always the same. Just look at that."
As you practice this, over time, the belief that you are your life will dissolve, suffering will stop, intuition will increase, drama will weaken, problems will diminish, falseness will vanish, and your life will fall into peace, harmony and ease. I'm not making any of this up. This is precisely what has happened to me.
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Posted in Community Post Date 11/03/2017