Inquiry – Terrorism and The Work

Terrorism at the World Trade Center: A Dialogue in Cambridge, September 13, 2001

I was scheduled to be in New York on 9/11/01. The morning I was to travel from Long Island, the planes hit the towers, bridges were closed and highways shut down before I could enter the city. I was free, however, to get to my event in Cambridge two days later. I worked with a woman who was terrified. She gave voice to the fears that many people were feeling. Amazingly, by the end of our dialogue, she was smiling. Her whole attitude had changed. Stephen and I wanted to include this dialogue in Loving What Is, but our publisher said that it was too hard for most people to believe. They wouldn’t accept that such a major transformation could happen so quickly.

Deborah: I’m afraid that this is the beginning of the end. Our lives will become a living hell. We’ll suffer just like all the people we’ve seen on TV. The terrorists will continue; we can’t stop them. We have too many enemies. We’ve brought this on ourselves. Everyone hates us because we’re Americans, we’re rich, we have freedom. I might lose my life, my kids, my grandkids. I might never see them again. We’re just at the beginning of the attack. Wait till they start chemical warfare.

Katie: Thank you, sweetheart. You’re giving voice to many people’s thoughts about what happened on Tuesday. Now let’s look at what you’ve written, one thought at a time. This is the beginning of the end-is that true?

Deborah: It could be.

Katie: Can you absolutely know that that’s true?

Deborah: No.

Katie: How do you react when you think the thought “This is the beginning of the end”?

Deborah: I get really scared and sad.

Katie: And then where does your mind go? Where does it travel when you think the thought “This is the beginning of the end”?

Deborah: It accelerates scary thoughts. I start thinking that I’ll never see my family again.

Katie: That’s what has to happen, because mind’s job is to prove that it’s right. When you believe the thought “This is the beginning of the end,” you have to deny everything else that you see that’s evidence to the contrary, and you have to be very selective. Does this thought bring peace or stress into your life?

Deborah: Oh, it’s a very stressful thought.

Katie: Who would you be without that thought?

Deborah: Someone who can enjoy things.

Katie: That’s really nice because there are a lot of things to enjoy. But only in reality. You hear the sounds of the people singing outside this church, you see the lights, the candle burning, the flowers in the vase, and if that’s not enough, you have the smells, your feet on the floor, the people sitting beside you. Reality right here is really fine. It feels much nicer than the trip you just took into the end of the world. So, what I am learning from you-and I see you as an expert-is that with the thought, you experience stress as though two planes have crashed into your building and you collapse, and without the thought, you stand. So, how can anything that happens be responsible for your stress or your peace? “This is the beginning of the end”-how would you turn that around?

Deborah, laughing: What happened is the end of the beginning. I’m not sure what that means.

Katie: Feel it. I see that, whatever it means, it brings laughter to your face.

Deborah: Yeah. The end of the beginning… Well, something new is happening. It’s the end of that. That disaster actually ended on Tuesday. I feel a little guilty saying that.

Katie: Of course, because you’re a traitor to the story that causes suffering. You’re not going to be very popular in the world. [The audience laughs.] You’re going to be very happy, but you won’t have a lot of friends in the government. Who would you be without the story? A vibrant listener, because there’s no terrorist attacking you from the inside. A thought appears: “This is the beginning of the end.” And without investigation, you’re terrorized, you’re war-torn. It was just a thought. We don’t know how to meet our inner terrorists. Until we can meet these thoughts with unconditional love, we’re going to suffer in the name of the world. Let’s hear your next thought.

Deborah: Our lives will become a living hell.

Katie: “Our lives will become a living hell”-is that true?

Deborah: I don’t know. So far, they haven’t.

Katie: I would go with that. It’s reality. A bomb may blow me up tomorrow, but I’m having a good life right now. Bombs are kinder than the thoughts we bomb ourselves with. How do you react when you think the thought “Our lives will become a living hell”?

Deborah: I feel despair.

Katie: Who would you be without that thought?

Deborah: I’d just be available for whatever’s and whoever’s around me.

Katie: That’s really sweet, because there are people around us who really need clarity, and there are flowers and dogs and cats and trees to enjoy, but when we’re attached to that story, we rarely notice. Can you turn this one around?

Deborah: Our lives will become a living heaven.

Katie: That’s my experience. The worst that can ever happen to me is an uninvestigated thought. That’s the worst that’s ever happened to anyone, whether they realize it or not. Let’s move to the next statement, the next terrorist tactic.

Deborah: We’ll suffer just like all the people we’ve seen on TV.

Katie: The people who have lost their loved ones are suffering more than you are-can you really know that that’s true? Suffering is suffering. For all you know, your suffering right now is greater than theirs. Take care of it. Sit with your beautiful self, the way you’re doing now. You do this very well. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: The terrorists will continue; we can’t stop them.

Katie: “The terrorists will continue; we can’t stop them”-can you absolutely know that that’s true? And for those of you who are in a lot of fear, I’m not saying that it is not true. I haven’t come here to teach you anything. I’ve come with four questions, and a way for you to take a look at your thinking and find peace inside you. This is very frightening for some of you, but just breathe and know that it’s just a question. Whatever you answer is okay. You can’t do this work wrong. “The terrorists will continue”-can you absolutely know that that’s true?

Deborah: No, I can’t.

Katie: How do you react when you think that thought?

Deborah: Hopelessness. I feel very hopeless.

Katie: In other words, your terror continues?

Deborah: Yes, yes.

Katie: “The terrorists will continue”-does this thought bring stress or peace into your life?

Deborah: A lot of stress.

Katie: Who would you be without this thought?

Deborah, crying: I’d be happy.

Katie: That can bring a lot of tears to your eyes, honey. I’ve worked with little children, five and six years old, they say “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was so simple?” You are the key to your heart. I love that you understand how to deal with the terrorists. Let’s hear the next statement.

Deborah: We have too many enemies.

Katie: “We have enemies”-is that true?

Deborah: I think it is. It seems that way if people come and blow up our buildings. People were cheering in the streets in other countries.

Katie: That’s what it seems like.

Katie: How do you react when you think the thought “We have enemies”? And I’m not saying we don’t have enemies.

Deborah: I get really scared.

Katie: Who would you be without the thought “The United States has enemies”?

Deborah: I’d be peaceful.

Katie: Yes. The wording I like for your statement is “Those people are our enemies.” Turn it around.

Deborah: Those people are not our enemies.

Katie: They are confused people. No one would ever harm anyone if they weren’t confused. Can you find another turnaround? “I…”

Deborah: I am my enemy.

Katie: I am my own enemy in the moment that I see them as my enemy. I’m deluded. The way that I know that is that it doesn’t feel right inside me. If we have an uncomfortable thought that we haven’t investigated, it throws us off balance emotionally. And if we investigate and discover what is really true for us, not what we want to be true for us, it moves us back to peace, and that’s the power of truth, your truth. If you sit with this turnaround, you can see all the things in your life that you oppose, and all the things you bomb verbally and mentally when they’re in your way. And then when you can stop being an enemy to the people in your life, just the people close to you, you’ll stop being an enemy to yourself.

Deborah: I’d like to stop being an enemy to my husband.

Katie: Yes, honey. Because it hurts you when you act like an enemy. Just stop it. You know those terrorists whose confusion led them to fly a plane straight into a building? They’ll stop when you do. Let me just deal with my family, my husband, my children. I can’t change the world, but I can begin with myself. Okay, angel, let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: We’ve brought this on ourselves.

Katie: So the United States is responsible for this-is that true?

Deborah: I don’t really know.

Katie: How do you react when you think that thought? And what happens to your love of country when you think the thought?

Deborah: I feel ashamed to be an American.

Katie: So much for love of country. We just trash it when we believe that thought. Does that thought bring stress or peace into your life?

Deborah: Stress.

Katie: Who would you be without the thought “We’ve brought this on ourselves”?

Deborah: Less guilty.

Katie: Maybe you’d be someone doing the best she can and understanding that we’re all doing the best we can. Have you done the best you could do? Go inside.

Deborah: I would say I have. It has sometimes been woefully lacking, but I have done the best I can.

Katie: Can you find a turnaround?

Deborah: Well, the obvious one is that we haven’t brought this on ourselves. But I’m not sure about that.

Katie: “We brought this on ourselves”-where’s your proof?

Deborah: I don’t have any proof, but I don’t know enough to have any.

Katie: If you don’t have any proof, how can you know that we’ve brought it on? The truth could be that we haven’t brought this on ourselves-who knows? How do I bring on my own suffering? That’s all I need to know, because that all I can do something about. I can’t change the world. I proved that. I tried for forty-three years. The world wasn’t listening. And today I’m grateful. I’m so glad no one listened. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: Everyone hates us because we’re Americans.

Katie: Is that true?

Deborah: No.

Katie: How does it feel when you think that thought?

Deborah: Horrible. Just horrible.

Katie: And where does your mind travel when you think that thought?

Deborah: I picture us being surrounded by enemies, and I feel terrible that we’re so hated. I worry that the hatred is justified somehow. If everybody hates us, we must be a bad people, a bad country.

Katie: Can you see a reason to drop this thought? And I’m not asking you to drop it.

Deborah: Oh yeah! I can sure see a reason to drop that thought.

Katie: Now give me a stress-free reason to keep it.

Deborah, after a pause: I can’t find one.

Katie: Who would you be without this thought? Who or what would you be in your life, in your job, in your home?

Deborah: I would be peaceful.

Katie: Isn’t that what you want the terrorists to do-be peaceful, leave us alone?

Deborah: Yes.

Katie: So let’s turn it around. Let’s see if some of the world can be peaceful. It’s your theory: you live it. Turn it around.

Deborah: Everyone doesn’t hate us because we’re Americans.

Katie: That could be just as true. What I know is that no one hates us. People think they hate because they’re confused. They haven’t inquired, that’s all. It’s pure innocence. Let’s look at the next statement.

Deborah: I might lose my life, my kids, my grandkids.

Katie: So there could be a war, and you would lose all the people you love-is that true?

Deborah: Well, it’s true that I might.

Katie: And can you absolutely know that that’s true?

Deborah: No, I can’t.

Katie: How does it feel when you think that thought?

Deborah: It feels scary to think that I would lose everyone and myself.

Katie: So give me a reason to keep that thought-a peaceful reason. This is your religion. “Something terrible could happen” is your religion. There’s no room for God in that because that’s what we worship. It’s okay. I’m just asking you to give me a stress-free reason to keep it.

Deborah: There’s no peaceful reason to think that something terrible might happen.

Katie: Who would you be without that thought?

Deborah: I would be peaceful.

Katie: Turn it around.

Deborah: I might not lose my life, my kids. Something terrible won’t necessarily happen.

Katie: Something wonderful could happen, like right now, finding your way through the maze of confusion. And it’s so simple. When you stay in The Work for a while, every thought you have is met with the questions. And it doesn’t sound like “Is it true?” The questions are silent, they have no words. But when every thought arises with these questions as their mate, that’s the end of it. It’s the end of seeking. Let’s look at the next statement.

Deborah: We’re just at the beginning of the attack.

Katie: Who would you be without that story?

Deborah: I’d be calm and happy.

Katie: Does that thought bring stress or peace into your life?

Deborah: It’s an incredibly stressful thought.

Katie: Turn it around.

Deborah: We’re at the beginning of peace.

Katie: That could be just as true. Why do you want the terrorists to stop? What happens to you when they stop and the world finds peace? What do you have then?

Deborah: I have peace.

Katie: Yes, sweetheart. So I say, skip the world, and find peace from where you are right now. “I’ll be peaceful after the world solves its problems.” Well, you can wait for a very long time for the world to find peace. You may still be saying that on your deathbed. The world isn’t going to listen. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: Wait till they start chemical warfare. [Laughing] It sounds kind of ridiculous now.

Katie: If someone told me, “Katie, wait till they start chemical warfare,” I would say, “Good. I can wait. I can do that” That could give me a whole lifetime to live happily. Sweetheart, what are you experiencing right now?

Deborah: Well, it’s amusing. There’s a part of this that I find really amusing.

Katie: Isn’t it wonderful that the thoughts that used to depress us and send us under the covers can seem amusing to us? The exact same thoughts. That’s the power of inquiry. That’s the power of standing with these thoughts and meeting them with unconditional love. “They’re going to start chemical warfare”-is it true? “My children could die”-is that true? Who would you be without your stories? Feel how you react when you think these thoughts. Have a little mercy.

Deborah: I get it.

Katie: It’s better than waiting for the terrorists to show the mercy. That’s why there are so many of them. They all exist for your sake. They just keep coming till you realize that you’re the terrorist you need to deal with.

Deborah: I’m really seeing that now. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to hold onto it, but…

Katie: Well, you have four questions to hold you if things gets rough. Who knows?-you could be like some people I know who get it once and for all. They understand, it’s done, and their concepts just keep unraveling. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: That’s the end of number one on my Worksheet, believe it or not.

Katie: I believe it. Let’s look at your next statement.

Deborah: I want to blow all the terrorists away.

Katie: Is that true?

Deborah: No.

Katie: How does it feel when you think that thought?

Deborah: Hateful, and not good.

Katie: Turn it around. What’s the opposite of “I want to . . .”?

Deborah: I don’t want to blow them away.

Katie: Let’s look at the next statement.

Deborah: I want to kill them…

Katie: You know, they could be just like you.

Deborah, laughing: I’m suspecting that they are.

Katie: Yes, just confused children.

Deborah: I want to kill them before they can kill me or my family.

Katie: You want to kill them before they can kill you and your family-is that true?

Deborah: No. It’s not true.

Katie: Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: I want them to go to hell.

Katie: Is that true?

Deborah: No.

Katie: Turn it around.

Deborah, laughing and crying at the same time: I want them to go to heaven.

Katie: Feel it. You know what heaven is for me? You investigate this nightmare, and if another nightmare comes, you investigate that one; it’s a gift. Until eventually you’re left with a happy life. If you have no problems, what’s left? Heaven. A happy life. A happy world. So, just work with the nightmares. And as you investigate, you come to see that all thoughts are beautiful. And eventually, when you have the thought “I want them to go to hell,” laughter could just pour out of you. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: They should understand that we’re just like them.

Katie: Is that true? How can they? They’ve never met you.

Deborah: Well, I’m supposed to understand that they’re just like me.

Katie: Good. And how many years has that taken?

Deborah: I’m not telling.

Katie: Yes. But they should understand because I say so. I can’t do it, but they should. “They should understand”-is that true? How is it even possible? How is it possible to understand chaos?

Deborah: It doesn’t seem to be making a lot of sense right now, that they should understand. I don’t know what they should understand.

Katie: How does it feel when you think the thought that anyone in this world should understand, and they don’t?

Deborah: It’s frustrating. Kind of arrogant, too.

Katie: Does that thought bring peace or stress into your life?

Deborah: It’s stressful.

Katie: Who would you be without that thought?

Deborah: I’d be more understanding.

Katie: Here’s understanding: I understand that they don’t understand. Anyone who’s violent-I understand that they are very confused. Again, no human being would ever harm anyone if they knew another way. You know, a little boy will say, “Give me that toy” and if the other child doesn’t, he’ll punch him. These children punched a building. They’re confused. You’re the parent. You’re the parent who can teach them. There are so many people who only want revenge. You’re our only hope. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: We’re not the enemy.

Katie: Turn it around.

Deborah: We are the enemy.

Katie: Get closer. Stop speaking for us. “I…”

Deborah: I am the enemy.

Katie: You wanted them dead. You wanted them to go to hell. You wanted to destroy their whole way of thinking. They weren’t the enemy; it was you. And it’s about your own world, your own peace. You can begin with your own children and grandchildren and husband. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: And blowing yourself up is not the way to get to heaven.

Katie: Can you absolutely know that that’s true?

Deborah: It doesn’t seem true to me, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s true for them.

Katie: Interesting work, isn’t it?

Deborah: I’m always accusing other people of being arrogant.

Katie: Yes, and you turned out to be just like them. [The audience laughs.]

Deborah, laughing: Especially my husband.

Katie: I love that when we do The Work on terrorists, we come to see that we are the terrorists in our own home. Once we realize that, we begin to change it. It’s fascinating that we realize it, and it changes, and we don’t have to do anything. All we’ve done is realized our own truth, and our whole life changes. That’s the power of self-realization. The more we realize, the kinder life becomes. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: I need them to leave us alone.

Katie: Is that true?

Deborah: I’m not sure anymore.

Katie: How do you react when you think that thought and you turn on the news?

Deborah: Well, it doesn’t help because the terrorists are there, they not leaving us alone.

Katie: Turn it around.

Deborah: It really could be that I need them to not leave us alone. It could be.

Katie: No one can take my peace from me. I’m the only one who can do that. And how do I know that I need a terrorist? Here he comes. What are my thoughts about that now? Just let me work with that. Because that’s what’s possible. There was a young man-a tough young man who was a gang leader-and he just came at me, put his face in my face, and said he would kill me. I was doing The Work with his gang, and he felt threatened; all his peers were watching, and he had something to prove. I didn’t have a story about it, and I’m always ready to die. He came straight at me, with his nose almost touching mine, and he looked into my eyes and tried to stare me down. And after a minute or so he began to cry. I just put my arms around him and held him like a little boy. The only thing I can work with is my own mind. What thought would keep me from loving you? Whatever thought that is, I’ll feel the stress of it. I don’t want to be separate from you any longer, or from anyone. That way, when you come to me, I can hear you. But if you’re my enemy, I’m too busy trying to change you, punish you, show you where you’re wrong. It’s all a turnaround anyway. In my arrogance I’m treating you like my enemy. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: Well, it’s more of the same. They shouldn’t ever commit acts of terrorism again. They should just go away, disappear.

Katie: You need them to disappear-is that true?

Deborah: No. They’re not even here right now.

Katie: I love it that you noticed. [Deborah and the audience laugh.] They’re not even here. There’s peace on earth for you now. Let’s look at the next one.

Deborah: They are inhuman.

Katie: Is that true?

Deborah: No. It’s really not.

Katie: Turn it around.

Deborah: They’re human.

Katie: Of course they are. They’re just confused humans. There’s another turnaround. “I…”

Deborah: I am inhuman.

Katie: I am inhuman in the moment I see them as inhuman. Feel how uncomfortable that is. The feeling will let you know that you’re in a lie. The next one?

Deborah: That’s all. That’s all I’ve written.

Katie: That’s a lot, sweetheart. You’ve done very good work for us all today. You’ve done work for the whole world.

Remember, The Work is merely four questions; it’s not even a thing. It has no motive, no strings. It’s nothing without your answers.These four questions will join any program you’ve got and enhance it. Any religion you have — they’ll enhance it. If you have no religion, they will bring you joy. And they’ll burn up anything that isn’t true for you. They’ll burn through to the reality that has always been waiting.

You may also like

13 comments

  1. OMG I’m so glad I found you and the work. This gives me so much hope. Thank you for posting this in its entirety. All I want is to be happy and to be free from suffering and for my son to be happy and free from suffering and this is our path there. I know it in my heart. Thank you.

  2. At first it seems monstrous to feel happy for those who lost a loved one in the 9/11 attack, or to fee happy for those who lost their lives. But with Katie’s help I can find that feeling. I consider that any individual person who died in the attack might have instead died in an auto accident on the evening of that same day. Had he/she died in that way, instead of at the hands of the terrorists, he/she would now be long forgotten by all except his/her relatives and closest friends, his/her name would not have been read aloud at the ceremony in New York on the 5th anniversary of the attack, his/her soul (if it survives in an afterlife) would not have experienced the outburst of love and support that the community of the world bestoyed in the aftermath of the attack, and his/her surviving family would not have received the outpouring of love, honor, and financial support that flowed in the aftermath of the attack.

    At first it seems monstrous to think the thought, “God bless you, the terrorists of 9/11, for having brought us Americans closer together as a people and for having reminded us that we have for so long taken our many blessings for granted.” But with Katie’s guidance, I can find that feeling in myself.

  3. “We don’t know how to meet our inner terrorist.”
    “Bombs are kinder than the thoughts we bomb ourselves with.”
    “No one would ever harm anyone if they weren’t confused.”
    “I can’t change the world but I can begin with myself.”
    The wisdom of the ages is distilled in these words. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

  4. Dear Katie,

    I am looking at the underlying forces that make this work so powerful and I see there is an element that drives us toward stress and suffering. It’s like we are driving ourselves away from peace. Why would anybody do that? I can think of only one answer: We don’t love ourselves. In all the work you are doing I detect your enormous volume of self love, and it is growing over the years. It appears that the 4 questions could be consolidated into one question: “If you totally and completely loved yourself, would you have this thought?” I am noticing that my thoughts arise from one of two places: From self-love or lack of self-love. I choose to love myself and that stops my unloving thoughts.

    Would you comment about this? It seems strange that as a collective consciousness we create unloving thoughts, concepts and viewpoints about ourselves.

    Sending Love and Blessings to you.

  5. I am deeply grateful to Katie for giving this transcript on The Work on terrorism. “These children punched a building” and tears come for the me that throws a mental tantrum and goes to war from an univestigated thought.

  6. Katie, this post was incredibly powerful and beautiful. Thank you for making it available.

    You mention doing the work with children who say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was so simple?” I’ve tried The Work with my kids (7 and 10), and I end up kind of preachy, like my questions are wrestling holds.

    I’ll respond to a statement with “Is it true,” and they’ll look at me with astonishment and say, “Of course it’s true.” I don’t know how to question them to help them see that it’s a story.

    Do you have examples and guidance for parents who want to bring the peace and understanding of The Work into their families?

    Thanks,
    Howie

  7. KATIE, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HELPING ME SEE THE TERRORIST IN MY MIND.DAILY I ATTACK MY SELF OR OTHERS AND THESE ARE THE PEOPLE I LOVE. I DO HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE WORD HOPE. HOPING FOR SOMETHING IS NOT ACCEPTING WHAT IS. IS THIS TRUE ?
    HUGS TO YOU

  8. Thank you for the work. I live in Denmark, but several times a week a look at this blog to read something corresponding to my actual situtaion. I first found Katis book in my mothers house after she had died. To me it is her special present for me.
    Love Kirstin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy this code

and paste it here *