How to be Safe in the Abyss—The Work of Byron Katie

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Iñaki describes to Byron Katie how he becomes fearful when he understands that thoughts create his world.

“Walking down the street,” Iñaki says, “I understood that my thoughts create the world I experience. Then it felt like an abyss was opening around me, like a pool of nothingness. With this feeling came fear. Fear of nothingness, of dissolution, of disconnection, fear of being alone in a cold and unfriendly universe, like an astronaut cut off from his spacecraft and the world, lost in the nowhere.”

“The moment you fear what you perceive as the abyss,” Katie says, “you frighten yourself back into this false world that you see as safe. So there’s nothing enlightened about it; it’s just one more terrifying thought. No different. But it’s enough to keep the ego strong and identified. So let’s prepare for that unfriendly universe. Get still, and imagine yourself as that astronaut. There’s no way back, no help. You’re drifting away. You’re never going to see another human being or get help. And you’re not even going to die. This is forever. What do you want in that moment?”

“I want to feel safe.” Iñaki says.

“Other than what you’re thinking and believing, are you safe?” Katie says.

“Yes,” Iñaki says, laughing in recognition.

“Someone said, ‘Imagination is everything.’ Your imagination frightened you, not the abyss. The abyss has a terrible reputation. It’s so beautiful. And what I love about the abyss is that it’s an opportunity to do The Work. What is truer: “I shouldn’t trust this?” or “I shouldn’t trust my thoughts about this?” Whenever we believe our thoughts, we’re out there in the abyss. ‘The abyss is cold, terrifying, empty, forever, disconnected.’ One turnaround is: your thoughts are cold and terrifying; they would keep you from such a beautiful experience. The next time you’re in the abyss and frightened, capture what you are thinking and question it. After questioning it, the abyss just becomes another place to be still. All you’re going to discover when you’re alone is yourself. With people—without people—fear is fear. You know how to question it. And people, like the abyss, are your imagination. Just like the abyss, we are not who you believe us to be.”

The abyss is the same as the earth. Pure imagination. —Byron Katie

 

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