Book Review: “A Thousand Names for Joy”

A review by Stever Robbins:

Mindfulness practices, and philosophies often say, “Be happy, and accept what Is. Be present.” *cynical snort* Easily to say, impossible to do. The Devil is daily life. Sure, the Dalai Lama is serene. He meditates seven hours a day, has all his physical needs provided for by others, and needn’t deal with any daily details. And he’s celibate–no spouse to help him get dressed (“Oh, Tenzin, surely you’re not wearing the maroon robes, again!”), and no teenage kids. Who couldn’t be serene with that gig?

What’s remarkable about Byron Katie is that she’s serene in the midst of the modern, 21st century world. She has kids, a husband, an ex- husband, and an international business.

In this book, she attempts to put into words what it’s like, living in her world. Yeah, she talks about life and death and grand universal concepts. Yada yada yada. There are a thousand masters who’ll tell you about that.

Katie offers something infinitely more valuable: a glimpse into daily life. What is it like to get out of bed when you’re not attached to thoughts like “I have things to do?” What thoughts go through her mind? How about when she does the dishes? Or when she trips on her way to answer the front door? What if she’s mugged at gunpoint? Or her child dies? Or what if she’s struck by a degenerative eye disease while writing the book? How does that change (or not) her world?

Some of her perspectives on life are familiar. Some are vastly different from anything you’ve heard. Yet her world makes sense, and even though I’m not there yet, it sounds like an infinitely joyous, loving world worth living in.

If Katie isn’t a truly free, non-attached woman, she does the most convincing imitation I’ve ever heard. Buy the audiobook for a look into her world.

This book does NOT teach you The Work, her method of inquiring into your thoughts to reach this state of joy. For that, check out her book/audiobook Loving What Is, which includes facilitation sessions with real people using The Work.

The book is available in the BKI webstore and bookstores everywhere >>

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4 comments

  1. I do agree with this reviewer. I am an avid reader of Katie and loyal follower. Over the past year+ I’ve experienced some phenomenal perspectives of this life [is that true?]. My question is this: My husband actually does the *dishes* better than I do them. He hasn’t had that much of a taste of Katie other than through moi, but I sit back and think…hmmmmm he just *does the dishes* … he doesn’t plan ahead, he doesn’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday. However, I’m confused…I guess. We don’t have any retirement and we are near 60. We don’t have a budget, yet, our needs have never not been met. We carry car insurance only because we have payments on them…otherwise we would not have it. We have catastrophic health insurance because I insisted. I try to *do the dishes* and work *THE WORK* with the things that I think we need [do I need that…is that true?]. My question: How does Steven Mitchell feel about this *doing the dishes* when there are employees to arrange health coverage for, when there are lawyers to meet to discuss their 401ks, when Katie need travel arrangements for Europe, when the accountants need some advise in the direction for the future growth of a company? etc, etc, etc…you get my drift. I read in *A thousand names* that when Katie started losing her sight it was Steven that got on the internet, explored the options and helped her wrestle with the findings and pros and cons. OKAY… I’m Steven…I’m the one that goes out and finds the answers to the questions that require an answer. [is that true??] While I appreciate ALL that the Robbins review offers of *A thousand names…* AND all that Katie & Steven have done with the way I think…I’m left with …. yeah, BUT….

    I guess, what my question is…WHAT ABOUT THIS LIFE that takes the form of a business, and the needs, wants, desires of others? I know at some level that this plane we live on is of our own thinking [is that true], but still you both know that there are *dishes to do* that require planning…Am I confused?

    Thank you for your birthday present.

  2. Dear Katie & Steven: I wrote the insert below in response to this entry on 9.8:

    I do agree with this reviewer. I am an avid reader of Katie and loyal follower. Over the past year+ I’ve experienced some phenomenal perspectives of this life [is that true?]. My question is this: My husband actually does the *dishes* better than I do them. He hasn’t had that much of a taste of Katie other than through moi, but I sit back and think…hmmmmm he just *does the dishes* … he doesn’t plan ahead, he doesn’t worry about tomorrow or yesterday. However, I’m confused…I guess. We don’t have any retirement and we are near 60. We don’t have a budget, yet, our needs have never not been met. We carry car insurance only because we have payments on them…otherwise we would not have it. We have catastrophic health insurance because I insisted. I try to *do the dishes* and work *THE WORK* with the things that I think we need [do I need that…is that true?]. My question: How does Steven Mitchell feel about this *doing the dishes* when there are employees to arrange health coverage for, when there are lawyers to meet to discuss their 401ks, when Katie need travel arrangements for Europe, when the accountants need some advise in the direction for the future growth of a company? etc, etc, etc…you get my drift. I read in *A thousand names* that when Katie started losing her sight it was Steven that got on the internet, explored the options and helped her wrestle with the findings and pros and cons. OKAY… I’m Steven…I’m the one that goes out and finds the answers to the questions that require an answer. [is that true??] While I appreciate ALL that the Robbins review offers of *A thousand names…* AND all that Katie & Steven have done with the way I think…I’m left with …. yeah, BUT….

    I guess, what my question is…WHAT ABOUT THIS LIFE that takes the form of a business, and the needs, wants, desires of others? I know at some level that this plane we live on is of our own thinking [is that true], but still you both know that there are *dishes to do* that require planning…Am I confused?

    Thank you for your birthday present.

    I know you don’t claim to have all the answers for there are many in this life [is that true…maybe only one] however, I do believe that you and Steven have glimpse something that I and many others have. We stand with one foot in both worlds and it becomes harder and harder to ‘stand’ in both.

    I know that you believe in the ‘I don’t know’ solution/answer. I believe that might apply here. Maybe, I don’t know and why are you in my business…because I believe that also. However, your business is actually mine and mine yours…is that true? I DON’T KNOW! I believe that there are many answers [or maybe one…is that true]. I also think that this would be a good discussion.

    Anyway, since I wrote the entry I’ve thought that I had no business in your business…that is another aspect; however, I own a business also and am faced with these questions on a daily business. How do you do it?

    Thinking of you with love,
    Caryl-marie

  3. I’ve been wrestling with this very question, which is why (as I say in my review) 1000 Names was so valuable for me.

    I’m the planning extreme. I’ve got an MBA for pete’s sake; planning is so drilled into my head that it’s leaking out my ears.

    To me, being present isn’t about ignoring the future altogether. I can be fully present and notice that I’m putting money into a 401(k) or buying an insurance policy. I’m just not caught up in a story about it. I get dressed that way. There’s no thinking or story, “I must wear clothes or else I’ll get wet,” I just walk to my closet and put on clothes.

    By the same token, I notice I put money away in my retirement account, and sometimes I take money out. The stories I used to tell when taking it out (“I’m taking out $10 and will thus die alone in a gutter”) caused stress. The stories I used to tell when putting it in (“If I don’t save, I’ll die alone in a gutter”) caused stress. Now, I put money in and take it out and there’s not much thinking involved. (Auto-deposit and auto-transfer also helps in the less-thinking department :-))

    Now it’s true that I had 43 years (yes, 43) of life before encountering The Work, so a lot of these decisions and habits — such as savings — are already around in my psyche. If I were completely in the present from birth, perhaps it wouldn’t occur to me to save. It’s hard to know.

    One friend seems to live mostly in the present. “How did you save for retirement?” I asked. “Once day 10 years ago, I sat down and calculated how much to save each month. Now, I just deposit that every paycheck and go on with my life.” He made it to being Vice-Chairman of a Fortune 500 company, so somehow he balanced being-in-the-present with getting-stuff-done.

  4. First, Stever…I don’t believe in coincidences…do you? My replies were on my birthday and yours was on my husbands. Hmmmm…I had been checking back for about month to find out if anyone had had the same experiences. Since your reply is dated 9.19 and didn’t get posted until today [10.3 or so] I guess the staff is a bit behind.

    Not surprising! KT is really on to something and people know it on some level…though I really don’t think we can all achieve that state that she exists on [is that true?] Yesterday, I got her October newsletter and she extended an offer to come to her Ojai recovery home for a 30-day intensive stay. I’m not totally suicidal but ya know there are times when I would really like to achieve the state that I know exists because KT is there and I want it. Well, I got an answer…It was NO and I’m thankful that I can’t afford the $35k it would take to get to that place. I believe that there is a reason for all things…part of me is sad that it is all reduced to $$’s. However, there is another part of me that knows this is not what it is about. I am glad that I don’t have that kind of money to throw around; [is that true?] I wouldn’t know how to act or what to do with it [it that true?]

    I was raised by parents who had the idea that children were born to help/assist them make a living. Struck me as really sad at the time…but when I thought about it…that is the old thinking…the way the farmers thought. However, because of this type of upbringing, my dad taught me a type of resourcefulness and creativity which has served me well over my years. While I don’t have a million, I am totally present when this creative ability takes hold and I stand outside of myself and take the ride of a lifetime. It is that type of ‘401k’ that continues to provide for me each and every day of the year. I am thankful…not only for the $$’s that it has provided for us, but for the ‘ride.’ Hours go by when I’m on this ‘ride.’ I believe that this is the type of experience that KT finds herself on…a total presence with the present. It is inspiring, addictive and a total rush. It is a type of meditation probably. There are times that I sit outside myself and watch my hands as they do what they must. I’ve heard KT explain what she experiences in a similar way. Whatever God is…in that very moment, all is present and inspiring in that state of grace. It is awesome and I long for a time when I might be able to experience this ‘presence’ during my entire life. Why I would think that a trip to Ojai would provide me the path to that ‘presence;’ I don’t know. Ahhhh well…so be it. What will be will be. Sorry, I’ve gone on and on…more therapy than anything else. Thanx for listening.

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