One time I came back from a trip and everything was stolen.

I loved it.

I couldn’t find one true thought about needing anything.

As I stood there, Paul, my husband at the time, was very upset. He still believed these things were his, although they already belonged to someone else. He suffered and suffered.

Dying on Time

Dying is just like living. It has its own way, and you can’t control it. People think, “I want to be conscious when I die.” That’s hopeless. Even wanting to be conscious ten minutes from now is hopeless. You can only be conscious now. Everything you want is here in this moment.

I like to tell a story about a friend of mine who was waiting for a revelation just before he died, saving his energy, trying to be completely conscious. Finally his eyes widened, he gasped, and he said, “Katie, we are larvae.” Profound awareness on his deathbed. I said, “Sweetheart, is that true?” And the laughter simply poured out of him. The revelation was that there was no revelation. Things are fine just as they are; only a concept can take that away from us. A few days later he died, with a smile on his face.

from A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

Hearing the Truth: Literal Listening

Practice listening to others in the most literal sense, believing exactly what they say without attaching a future to it, and do your best to resist falling into your own interpretations about the information they share with you.

For example, someone might give you a compliment, and you interpret that to mean that the person has ulterior motives. Our interpretations of what we hear people say to us are often far more painful or frightening than what people actually say. We can hurt ourselves with our misconceptions and our thinking for others.

Try trusting that what they say is exactly what they mean: not more, not less. Hear people out.

Catch yourself when you want to finish a sentence for someone, either aloud or in your mind.

Listen. It can be amazing to hear what comes out when we allow others to complete their thoughts without interruption. And when we are busy thinking we know what they are about to say, we often miss what they are actually saying.

You might want to consider these questions:

– What can be threatened if I listen and hear literally?
– Do I interrupt because I don’t want to really know what people have to say?
– Do I interrupt to convince them that I know more than they do?
– Am I attempting to convey an image of self-confidence and control?
– Who would I be without the need to possess those qualities?
– Do I fear appearing unintelligent?
– Would people leave me if I heard them literally and no longer engaged in manipulative games?


If you want to see who you are not, look in the mirror.

Use the mirror once a day only. Who would you be without your mirror?

Dealing with Fear and Terror

Practice reporting events to yourself as if a circumstance you find yourself in were actually a news story and you were the roving reporter.

Announce exactly what your surroundings are and what’s happening “on the scene” at that very moment.

Fear is always the result of an unquestioned past imagined as a future.

If you’re afraid, find the core belief and ask yourself, “Is it true that I need to be fearful in this situation? What is actually happening right now, physically? Where is my body (hands, arms, feet, legs, head)? What do I see (trees, walls, windows, sky)?”

Impersonalizing our stories gives us an opportunity to look at circumstances more objectively and determine our responses to what life brings. Believing our untrue thoughts is a good way to scare ourselves to death.

Taking Action in a Perfect World

The world is perfect. As you question your mind, this becomes more and more obvious. Mind changes, and as a result, the world changes. A clear mind heals everything that needs to be healed. It can never be fooled into believing that there is one speck out of order.

But some people take the insight that the world is perfect and make it into a concept, and then they conclude that there’s no need to get involved in politics or social action. That’s separation. If someone came to you and said, “I’m suffering. Please help me,” would you answer, “You’re perfect just the way you are,” and turn away? Our heart naturally responds to people and animals in need.

Realization has no value until it’s lived. I would travel to the ends of the earth for the sake of one person who is suffering. The desperate, the hopeless, are unenlightened cells of my own body. It’s my own body I’m talking about—the body of the world is my body. Would I let myself drown in water that doesn’t exist? Would I let myself die in an imagined torture chamber? My God, I think, there’s someone out there who really believes there’s a problem. I remember when I used to think there was a problem. How can I say no when that person asks for help? That would be saying no to myself. So I say yes and I go, if I can. It’s a privilege. It’s more than that: it’s self-love.

People are perfect just the way they are, however deeply they’re suffering, but they don’t realize that yet. So when I meet someone who’s suffering, I don’t say, “Oh, there’s no problem, everything is perfect.” Though I can see that there’s never a problem, and I’m available to help him see that, telling him what I see would be unkind. That part of my body is suffering, everything is not perfect for him, because he believes it’s not. I, too, have been trapped in the torture chamber of the mind. I hear what he thinks he needs, I hear his sadness or despair, and I’m available. That’s full-blown activism. In the presence of someone who doesn’t see a problem, the problem falls away—which shows you that there isn’t a problem.

People ask me, “How can you listen to all these problems, day after day, year after year? Doesn’t it drain your energy?” Well, it doesn’t. I’ve questioned my stressful thoughts, and I’ve seen that every single one of them is untrue. Every thought that used to look like a poisonous snake is actually a rope. I could stand over that rope for a thousand years, and never be frightened of it again. I see clearly what some people don’t yet see for themselves. Everyone in the world might come upon that rope and run screaming the other way, and I wouldn’t be afraid for them, feel sorry for them, or worry about them at all, because I realize that they’re not in danger, they’re absolutely not in harm’s way. As they cry snake, I see only rope.

If you have a problem with people or with the state of the world, I invite you to put your stressful thoughts on paper and question them, and to do it for the love of truth, not in order to save the world. Turn it around: save your own world. Isn’t that why you want to save the world in the first place? So that you can be happy? Well, skip the middleman, and be happy from here! You’re it. You’re the one. In this turnaround you remain active, but there’s no fear in it, no internal war. So it ceases to be war trying to teach peace. War can’t teach peace. Only peace can.

From A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

A Note from Phoenix

A beautiful note from a friend in Phoenix:

“Kent and Carol in Phoenix are 84 and 80. They recently discovered The Work and are as excited as anyone I’ve met about it. They purchased the first two seats at the Phoenix event and were there in the front row. Kent has asked his daughter and son-in-law, who have done the School, to do The Work with their family at an upcoming family reunion. They had over 35 family members in attendance at the Phoenix event. Kent carries Loving What Is with him and quotes from it. At a recent family gathering, he read aloud the several pages regarding “my business, your business, and God’s business.” He loves that!! He also loves the story of Katie and her children’s socks. He was so inspired by it that he decided to stop mentally complaining about his neighbor’s overgrown lawn and go over and mow it. Which he did! He just giggled as he told us the story. At 84, he is discovering “Loving What Is” and I am not just talking about the book.”