Testimonial: A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie

When I first started reading , A Thousand Names for Joy, I didn’t expect to like it. But very quickly I got swept up by Katie’s simplicity, love, and clarity. It rolled out like music, like variations on a theme—the same basic realization expressed in so many ways, and under so many varying circumstances. As I read on, I found that I wasn’t being “educated” about the awakened mind, I was seeing it in action, I was feeling it. It was amazingly personal. For me it was a transmission, which is much more valuable than any explanation could be. In the end, I was blown out by this book. It is the most incredible teaching I’ve ever read.

Katie’s Work is absolutely different from anyone else’s. Most self-help books aren’t really about anyone’s “self” except the author’s. They provide you with their ideas about how you can be happy, and these ideas are supposed to work for everyone. But instead of offering a one-size-fits-all strategy, Katie has shown me how to craft my own solutions, under any and all circumstances. The value of this can’t be overstated.

In addition to helping me with problems after they’ve arisen, The Work showed me how to stop the problems from arising in the first place.  I’ve learned that the way to counterbalance difficult emotions is not necessarily to explore or analyze them, but to catch them as they present themselves, question their validity, and then simply let them go. Once I examine any thought whatsoever, I’m struck by what it really, truly is in the first place: a thought. A thought has no bearing on reality. If you’re suffering from a broken heart, for example, when you look, you see that your heart is not really broken. No matter how hard you try, you literally cannot find a broken heart. There is only the thought that a broken heart exists. The funny thing is that if you stop believing that thought, the heartbreak also stops—not because you’ve healed it, but because it was never there in the first place.

It can be difficult to believe that it’s this simple, but it is. Most self-help strategies are detailed commentaries on complex psychological or spiritual theories. But Katie’s suggestions are almost pre-psychology and even pre-spirituality. They’re about how the mind naturally works, no matter how you were raised or what you believe. She helps you step off the merry-go-round of newer, better, perkier self-help strategies and instead relate plainly and directly to your life as it is, without a lot of drama. It’s so incredibly practical.

Katie’s emphasis on self-inquiry shines a light on the present moment, something all spiritual teachers tell us we should do. However, they usually don’t tell you how. But Katie does. She taught me how to set aside my beliefs and philosophies about what is going on and instead relate to what is going on. That’s pretty deep when you think about it, but it also may be the reason you may not understand the power of her work right away. It’s so stripped down and essential. It’s not a system of belief, and we’re not used to things that aren’t assigned to a particular school of thought. But because it’s a living tool (not a system or belief), it’s always relevant and can be customized to meet any situation.

One way this has shown up for me is with my husband. Even though I don’t always succeed (ahem), I’ve learned how to separate my projections about who he should be and how I need him to act from who he really is. It actually strikes me as funny to realize that until I could do this, I was probably having a relationship with my thoughts about my husband instead of a relationship with him. I like him much better than I like my thoughts about him.

Like Katie’s self-inquiry, the Tao Te Ching is not a checklist of actions you can take that will solve all your problems. Instead, it’s an uncannily accurate description of how reality works and what the mind responds to. Just as our Western scientists have mapped and catalogued the physical world, the Tao Te Ching explains human nature. What Katie and the Tao Te Ching have in common is that both explain how to step out from behind the veil of calcified belief systems and instead meet your world directly. Both explain how the mind works when left to its own devices and that if we can just get out of the way, its natural wisdom will reassert itself and provide exactly the right solution in all cases.

 

S.P.

 

For more information and upcoming events, visit thework.com

The Work: It’s Not Reality That Makes Us Suffer; It’s Our Thoughts About Reality

Twenty-nine years ago, at the bottom of a 10-year fall into depression, rage, and self-loathing, I realized something amazing: that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, but when I questioned them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being.

It’s not reality that makes us suffer; it’s our thoughts about reality. I discovered that we can put any stressful thought up against four simple questions and a turnaround, and meet that thought with understanding. It’s the truth that sets you free — not the world’s truth, not anyone else’s truth, but your own truth.

The Work is a way of identifying and questioning the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. The first step is to write down your judgments about any stressful situation in your life, past, present, or future — about a person you dislike or worry about, a situation with someone who angers or frightens or saddens you, or someone you’re ambivalent or confused about. Write your judgments about that person down, just the way you think them. Be harsh and childish, and write in short, simple sentences. (You’ll find a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet to download and print at thework.com/do-work, along with complete instructions on how to do The Work.)

Once you’ve filled in a Worksheet, put each statement on it up against the four questions of The Work, then turn the statement around. The four questions are:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

Turn the thought around, and find three genuine, specific examples of how each turnaround is true in your life.

1 and 2 Ask yourself if the thought is true. For example, “He doesn’t care about me” — is it true? Don’t ask if the thought matches what you’ve been told or have learned. Don’t consider the way life is supposed to look. (He didn’t put down the newspaper when you came into the kitchen; he didn’t call to tell you he’d be late; he walked out the door without saying goodbye. Yes, but can you be sure that any of this means that he doesn’t care about you?) Don’t consult the part of you that knows what the answer should be. The question is, does the thought match what you know inside? Does the thought resonate with your deepest sense of reality? Can you absolutely know that it’s true that he doesn’t care about you? (Your answer to the first two questions should consist of one syllable — either “yes” or “no.” If your answer to the first question is “no,” go on to question 3.)

3. Explore how you live when you believe this thought. How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought “He doesn’t care about me”? What does it feel like to believe it? How do you treat yourself and others? How do you treat him? Take your time with this process. Do you react with sadness? Depression? Anger? Do you withdraw from him? Do you try to win him over? Do you judge yourself and feel like a failure? Do you light up a cigarette or head for the refrigerator? Be as precise and detailed as you can be.

4. Explore what life would be like without the thought. Use your imagination to give yourself a glimpse of who or what you would be if you didn’t believe this thought. Don’t look for a better thought to substitute for the painful one. Just live for a while in the space that opens up when you view your situation without the old thought. Pretend that you don’t even have the ability to think the thought. What would that be like? Look at him in your mind’s eye without the thought, “He doesn’t care about me.” Maybe you’ll simply see a man who is deeply absorbed in reading his newspaper, who loves his wife but doesn’t want to shift his attention to her right now. Maybe without the thought, “He doesn’t care about me” you’ll find it easier to take pleasure in his pleasure.

5. Turn the thought around. Consider opposite versions of the thought. If a certain turnaround doesn’t make sense to you, don’t bother with it. Turn the original statement around any way you want to until you find the turnarounds that penetrate the deepest. Turning around, “He doesn’t care about me”:

I don’t care about him. (When I feel hurt, I withdraw or I get angry, and I don’t care what he feels.)

I don’t care about me. (I don’t care about myself when I go to war against someone I love. I take away my own peace of mind, I put myself in a hostile situation, I create an enemy for myself, I give myself a lot of stress and sadness. This is when addictive behavior such as bingeing, smoking, or overeating begins to kick in.)

He does care about me. (He may love me and still speak harshly to me. He may love me and still want to ignore me or leave me.)

Ask yourself if any of your turned-around versions seem as true as or even truer than your original thought, and if they do, find three genuine ways in which each of them is true in your life.

Turnarounds can dramatically set you free from a thought, especially if you’ve loosened your belief in it by following the earlier steps.

Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. Who says that freedom has to be complicated?

Follow along on Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/byron-katie/the-work-its-not-reality-_b_7701054.html

Loving What Is by Byron Katie

The World Beyond Thought

When you’re shut down and frightened, the world seems hostile; when you love what is, everything in the world becomes the beloved. Inside and outside always match — they’re reflections of each other. The world is the mirror image of your mind.

Not believing your own thoughts, you’re free from the primal desire: the thought that reality should be different than it is. You realize the wordless, the unthinkable. You understand that any mystery is only what you yourself have created. In fact, there’s no mystery. Everything is as clear as day. It’s simple, because there really isn’t anything. There’s only the story appearing now. And not even that.

When you realize that you can only see the world as you believe it to be, you look from a new perspective. The world is an optical illusion. In the end, it’s just you, crazed and miserable, or you, delighted and at peace. Everything happens for you, not to you.

I have questioned my thoughts, and I’ve seen that it’s crazy to argue with what is. I don’t ever want anything to happen except what’s happening. For example, a man sticks a pistol into my stomach, pulls the hammer back, and says, “I’m going to kill you.” I am shocked that he is taking his thoughts so seriously. To someone identified as an I, the thought of killing causes guilt that leads to a life of suffering, so I ask him, as kindly as I can, not to do it. I don’t tell him that it’s his suffering I’m thinking of. He says that he has to do it, and I understand; I remember believing that I had to do things in my old life. I thank him for doing the best he can, and I notice that I’m fascinated. Is this how she dies? Is this how the story ends? And as joy continues to fill me, I find it miraculous that the story is still going on. You can never know the ending, even as it ends. I am very moved at the sight of sky, clouds, and moonlit trees. I love that I don’t miss one moment, one breath, of this amazing life. I wait. And wait. And in the end, he doesn’t pull the trigger. He doesn’t do that to himself.

What we call “bad” and what we call “good” both come from the same place. The Tao Te Ching says that the source of everything is called “darkness.” What a beautiful name (if we must have a name)! Darkness is our source. In the end, it embraces everything. Its nature is love, and in our confusion we name it terror and ugliness, the unacceptable, the unbearable. All our stress results from what we imagine is in that darkness. We imagine darkness as separate from ourselves, and we project something terrible onto it. But in reality, the darkness is always benevolent.

Darkness is the mind that doesn’t know a thing. This don’t-know mind is the center of the universe — it is the universe — there’s nothing outside it. And it’s the gateway to all understanding. Once the darkness is understood, you’re clear that nothing is separate from you. No name, no thought, can possibly be true in an ultimate sense. It’s all provisional; it’s all changing. The dark, the nameless, the unthinkable — that is what you can absolutely trust. It doesn’t change, and it’s benevolent. When you realize this, you just have to laugh. There’s nothing serious about life or death.

Free Your Mind

Byron Katie Free Your Mind

Free Your Mind

with The Work

Byron Katie used to suffer from severe depression with recurring thoughts of suicide, until one February morning in 1986 when she suddenly woke up to her true nature — a state of complete joy and happiness. From this new-found bliss she discovered a process that had the potential to help others find this inner happiness too.

She called this process The Work — four simple questions that have the power to free us from our illusions, and for the past two decades she has taught these questions to thousands of people, as well as sharing her insights in her bestselling books Loving What Is, A Thousand Names for Joy, and I Need Your Love — Is That True? Here she tells us her story.

Can you tell us a little bit about your own awakening?

One February morning in 1986, I suddenly realised that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, and when I did not believe them, the suffering stopped. This insight came to me after I had been in the grip of a deep depression for over 10 years, a horrible darkness like a black hole into which I had fallen deeper and deeper.

 

What finally gave you the insight you needed to get out of this darkness?

A cockroach crawled over my foot! I was lying on the floor, next to my bed – I hated myself so much that I didn’t feel I deserved to sleep in a bed – and this cockroach crawled over my foot and woke me up. As I opened my eyes I realized everything had changed. It was as if I had awakened from my sleep into a whole new reality, and I could see how my thoughts shaped my world. I completely changed in that moment, and the old Byron Katie was forever gone. Instead I was a totally new being.

 

At the beginning there was nothing, and out of this nothingness I could observe how things were born into this world the moment I identified them. I started laughing because I was struck how all those things did not exist until I named them, and it was as if I could see clearly for the first time in my life. I recognized that my being had nothing to do with my thinking, but that I could also create a ME with the thoughts I chose to have. Out of these insights The Work was born.

 

All the questions we use in The Work take us to this same insight I had in that moment of awakening – an insight that leads us to the place where all wisdom exists. My wisdom is everyone’s wisdom and your wisdom belongs to all of us too. Wisdom is available to every human being and these questions take us back to the place where we realize we are all connected because we are all one.

Diamond Sutra, Chapter 2

Then the monk Subhuti, who was in the midst of the assembly, stood up, bared his right shoulder, kneeled on his right knee, clasped his hands together in reverence, and addressed the Buddha: “How exquisitely considerate you are, Sir! You are always concerned about the welfare of your disciples, and you are generous with your teaching. Sir, when sincere men and women seek enlightenment, what should they do and how should they control their minds?”

The Buddha said, “An excellent question, Subhuti. If sincere men and women seek enlightenment, it is essential for them to control their minds. Listen, and I will explain how.”

Subhuti said, “Please do, Sir. We are all listening.”

 

Commentary

Subhuti stands up and with the most beautiful gestures expresses his reverence for the Buddha. From the Buddha’s point of view, Buddha is just a word for himself, and it is a word for Subhuti, and it is also a word for each of the monks in the audience. The dialogue that follows is between the Buddha and the Buddha. It’s the internal self meeting itself. There is no self, and the no-self meets itself. There is no other, and the no-other meets the no-self.

People sometimes approach me with that kind of reverence, and it isn’t personal. They may come up to me after an event, when they are very moved because, through The Work we have all experienced together, they have understood something that was profoundly meaningful to them. They approach me with gleaming eyes and put their palms together and sometimes even kneel or bow, whatever is their custom. I know what reverence feels like, and I love that they are experiencing it. Recognition of the apparent me is only recognition of their own true nature. There can be no me in the equation. It’s their own recognition; it came from them and belongs to them, and as that recognition, I celebrate. I am always internally bowing at their feet, and at my own feet, and I understand that anything less than that is a state of separation. When someone bows in front of me, I am what bows and I am what is bowed to. Both positions are equal. There’s nothing personal in it.

It would be no different if I bowed in reverence to a grain of sand. It’s a falling into, a merging into. The oneness, the not-even-oneness, has to be realized; there’s nothing else you can do with it. Immersing yourself in it, rubbing it on your skin, rolling in it as it merges with your hair and gets in your nostrils (I say “your,” but it’s really “its”), doesn’t get you any closer, and to say “the same” is still far away. That’s how I experience reverence. It’s the self, intimate with… I can’t even say “the self intimate with itself”; it’s simply the self, intimate. This is true intimacy, the undivided. There’s nothing outside it, and nothing inside.

Humility means showing that kind of reverence to the sand, to the dust, to the sound of whatever is heard in this moment. If we were in our right minds, we would show reverence to everything in the world as the Buddha. That’s what realization is. You can’t ever grasp what is realizing. The thought that you’re realizing anything at all isn’t true; that’s at least one thought-generation away from the truth. It’s a beautiful moment in grace, and still you’re identified as the one who has realized. Once you get past the pain and eventual joy of surrender, you recognize something beyond your ability to identify, and you fall into a state of utter gratitude.

I am always the student. I love to be in that position, at the feet of anyone and anything I see. It’s wonderful. It doesn’t require an open mind: it is the open mind. It never has to take responsibility for knowing or for not knowing. It receives everything without limit, without judgment, since judgment would cost it everything. The moment you think you are someone, or think you have something to teach, the inner world freezes and becomes the realm of illusion. That’s what it costs when you identify as the person who knows. It’s a concoction of mind. You shrink down into the teacher: limited, separate, stuck.

Subhuti talks about the generosity of the Buddha. Of course the Buddha is generous! There’s nothing he would hold back, because for him the giving is the receiving. He is always only talking with himself. This whole sutra is the self (the awareness that is more accurately called the non-self) in discussion with itself. The apparent “other” is a self-image. If I can hear a question, it’s inside me; it’s coming from inside me, not from anywhere in an imagined “out there.” It’s immediate. There’s no distance in it, and answering one’s own question is what love does, always in service to itself. The “other” is grateful, naturally, since it’s a reflection of my own self. I would ask nothing of myself that was beyond me. It’s always a refreshment. It’s the clear mind, the real thing, the beloved, always expanding, stretching, soaring as beauty and goodness and creation without limit. Not to answer would be to limit its majesty. When questions appear, the answers are effortless. But the quality of the answer depends on the student. If I’m sitting with someone who thinks he knows something, he has limited himself, and my answers mirror that limitation. But if the student asks with a mind that is truly open, the answer is free. It comes from the bottomless source. That’s why in twenty-eight years I have never tired of people asking the same questions over and over. The question is always new.

Subhuti says that the Buddha is concerned about the welfare of his disciples. That’s my experience too, though I don’t see anyone as a disciple. To me, there are only friends. And I am concerned only if they are concerned; their concern is all the concern that’s left in me. When they ask a question, I see them as my confused self. I see them as the Byron Katie I used to be, suffering, without a way out. I would give those people everything I have. The question is needed, just like the begging bowl. It’s needed for the enlightened mind; it is the enlightened mind, igniting itself. And if they don’t question me, I’m never concerned about their welfare, because I know that everyone is perfectly all right, whatever apparent suffering they may be going through.

So Subhuti asks the Buddha a question, and it’s a good one. There are men and women who authentically want to go beyond themselves. There are sincere men and women who want to be free. I was one of those without realizing it. I tested what happened when I didn’t respond to the thoughts of “I want,” “I need,” “I should.” I witnessed the world beyond those apparent requirements, and I found none of them to be true. None of the thoughts could stand up to inquiry. You could discover this even if you tested it for just twenty-four hours, with one small meal. Someone could give you a bowl of filthy rice, and that’s it for twenty-four hours, and the I-know mind would say, “This isn’t enough nourishment; I’m going to be weak; I’ll get sick; I’ll die.” But when you allow each thought to be met with “Is it true?” life will show itself to you. You discover that every thought ends with a question mark, not with a period. You’re able to rest in the never-ending enlightenment of the open mind.

When I woke up to reality, I had children in need and property in need and a husband in need and people in need all around me, and none of that was true. I tested it. I found that nobody needed me, ever. And with the loss of all this came a further loss of self. It played itself out in the world. Gone was the house, gone the children, gone the husband, and there was no “me” to lose them. Everything without exception went to a better care than I could ever give them, a higher service, a kinder way. They all became my teachers, deleting me from the process.

Subhuti’s question is a good one, but there’s something slightly confused about it, since he asks how to “control” the mind. It’s a natural question; in the dream-world, the world of suffering, the mind seems wild and chaotic, and people think that it needs to be controlled. Some people would give anything to know how to control it. But the mind can never be controlled; it can only be loved and understood. It’s like an unruly child. Thoughts come one after another to pester us and demand our attention, like unloved children. Our job is to discern, to know the difference between an internal argument and a state where we’re open to receive. Suffering appears when we try to control reality, when we think that we are the source rather than the mirror-image or that we are more or less than anything else in the mirror. But everything is equal; it’s all a reflection.

We can control the mind only to this extent: as a thought appears, we can notice the difference between an assertion and a question. The assertion comes from the I-know mind, the teacher. The question comes purely from the student. In the questioning mind we experience a flow. There’s no interruption, no limitation. Control is just a matter of noticing. It doesn’t mean imposing an order onto the mind. If you’re a true student, the thought will always end with a question mark.

 

Q: Why would you bow in reverence to a grain of sand?

A: The grain of sand gives itself entirely. Even though I may be totally unaware of it, it waits for the opportunity to show me itself and how it exists through me. It is patient, solid in its purpose, unchanging in its present identity, it doesn’t pretend, it doesn’t mind if I step on it, honor it, praise it, or belittle it; it remains what it is, without disguise or deceit, it is perfectly allowing, doesn’t resist the name I give it, lets itself be whatever I call it. Who of right mind wouldn’t bow to such a consciousness? I honor it as a teacher, and I meet its nature in everything I witness. If you throw me away, step on me, judge me as useless, overlook me, do I remain with the same constant and generous nature as the grain of sand? This is the Buddha mind. It’s what I woke up to. I also learned from the grain of sand that physical bowing is unnecessary. My bowing is now an unceasing internal experience, like the emptying I underwent in the desert for so many months, an emptying that left me with reverence toward everything I met. It left me as the student. Subhuti in the presence of the Buddha. The Buddha in the presence of Subhuti.

 

Q: What’s the difference between humility and humiliation?

A: Humility looks very ordinary. It’s hello and goodbye. Sometimes, at first, it looks like tears, sometimes like dying. It’s total surrender. The thing you were so proud of is seen as selfish; you treasured it, and it falls apart, and there is a change that takes place within you. If there’s any hint of humiliation, it means that your ego hasn’t totally surrendered; if you feel humbled, it means that your ego is surrendered, and it’s the softest, most lovely experience, and in that experience you see everyone as your teacher. You stand in what’s left of you, and you die, and you keep dying. It’s like the tree that lets go of its leaves. That beautiful clothing has fallen away, and the tree just stands there in the cold of winter, totally exposed.

 

Q: You talk about the position of being the teacher as “limited, separate, stuck.” But aren’t there teachers with open minds?

A: Yes. But the teacher who thinks of himself as teacher, the want-to-be teacher, the one who’s invested in it, is trying to teach the student what he himself needs to learn. If I identify as a teacher and see my students as any less than teachers, I’m reinforcing what I think I know. The teacher who is always a student, who lives as the don’t-know mind, is free to continue expanding his consciousness without interruption. For the true teacher (that is, the true student), teacher and student are always equal.

Byron Katie’s Solution to Your Turmoil—Work It!

“I didn’t quit drinking; I did “The Work,” and drinking, drugs, compulsive eating, smoking, anger, depression, sorrow, fear, all quit me. In my experience, the ultimate addiction is the mind’s addiction to what it is believing—the unquestioned thoughts that create and safeguard its system of denial. To question the mind is to bring the mind to sanity and alignment with a power greater and kinder than I could give a name to.”  Byron Katie

By Cathy Cassata

09/12/14

In 1986, Byron Katie found herself at the bottom of a ten-year spiral into depression, rage, and self-loathing, until one day she woke up to a state of constant joy that has stayed with her ever since. She realized that when she believed her stressful thoughts, she suffered, but that when she questioned them, she didn’t suffer. The simple yet powerful process of inquiry that was born from this experience is what Katie calls The Work.

The Work consists of four questions and turnarounds, which are a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe. When you question a troublesome thought, you see around it to the choices beyond suffering.

For more than 25 years, Katie has been bringing The Work to millions of people worldwide through public events, weekend workshops, five-day intensives, nine-day workshops at her School for The Work, and 28-day residential stays at the Turnaround House.

Katie’s six books include the bestselling Loving What Is, I Need Your Love—Is That True?, and A Thousand Names for Joy.

Katie shared some insights into The Work with The Fix.

Did you experience any alcoholism or addiction among your family and friends before developing The Work?

Yes. Two close family members. As for me, I was suffering so much that I would do almost anything to stop it, though I could never stop it. I drank a lot of alcohol. I smoked cigarettes almost nonstop. My husband at the time brought me codeine pills throughout the day, and I ate them like candy. I began overeating, and I spent more time in my bedroom, watching television, sleeping for twelve hours a day or more. Every night my husband brought me codeine and ice cream. In the end, I was obese and starving. Day after day, I would lie in bed with such self-hatred, so hopeless and suicidal, that I was beyond despair. But suicide wasn’t an option; I thought my children would blame themselves for my death, and I just couldn’t do that to them.

How do you view addiction overall?

In my experience, the ultimate addiction is the mind’s addiction to what it is believing—the unquestioned thoughts that create and safeguard its system of denial. To question the mind is to bring the mind to sanity and alignment with a power greater and kinder than I could give a name to.

You can experience the power of mind’s denial in a very simple way. Imagine biting into a big, ripe, juicy lemon. Did you picture a yellow lemon? I didn’t mention its color, but you probably imagined a yellow lemon anyway. And notice what happened in you physically. Did you salivate? Did you taste the lemon? Did you feel other physical effects? This is denial of reality and the power of mind that you are up against, as an addict: the power of your own thinking. So the stories we’re believing about the pictures of past and future that arise in our mind’s eye, pictures with meanings attached to them that aren’t even true, leave us as victims who may as well drink (we think). These mind alterations away from reality are happening so quickly that we aren’t even aware that they’re happening, and they lead us to believe in harsh realities of past and future that don’t even exist. If you consider your experience with the lemon and switch the symbol to alcohol, here’s how it happens: When we’re fearful, confused, angry, sad, etc., we’re compelled to drink (or drug, eat junk food, etc). Why? We believe that our stressful thoughts about ourselves, others, and life are true. We believe that that is the way things really are, rather than seeing the difference between beliefs and reality. So just as the mouth watered when we thought of a lemon, there’s an effect when we believe our stressful thoughts and then the image of alcohol shows up in our heads. The moment we see the image and feel the emotions, we have just had our first drink (remember the lemon?), and we begin to seek alcohol. We see the alcohol in our mind’s eye, we see where it is and how to get it, and that becomes the higher power we seek. And we can’t stop after one drink; many of us continue to binge. We lose ourselves and go even deeper into the seemingly hopeless pit of addiction.

But as drug addicts or alcoholics (or any stressed-out person) begin to question their thoughts, they begin to see clearly rather than blindly believing what their mind tells them; they begin to find answers that meet their true longing. When we discover those answers, inquiry becomes our addiction to the world of sane choices; we become addicted to discovering the truth—in other words, to sanity. And sanity doesn’t suffer, ever.

All twelve steps of recovery are included within inquiry, in the most meticulous way. Clarity is freedom, and when clarity becomes our path, we discover self-forgiveness on our own, from within, and we discover forgiveness for others and for the world. It happens without any conscious effort, as the thoughts we clung to so firmly, the thoughts that created our whole identity as victims, fall away by themselves. That leaves us with no cause to drink or use, and it leaves us as kinder, more awake human beings. The world seen through a clear mind is the greatest high; it has no low in it that can’t be questioned and dispelled. I didn’t quit drinking; I did The Work, and drinking, drugs, compulsive eating, smoking, anger, depression, sorrow, fear, all quit me.

 

http://www.thefix.com/content/work-bryon-katie-answers-our-questions-about-work

Epictetus

Stephen is always looking for precursors to The Work. He wanted to share the following with you:

Here are two passages from Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who lived from 55 to 135 CE. He was born a slave, but with the permission of his wealthy owner was able to study philosophy, for which he had a passion. After he gained his freedom, he taught in Rome; the Emperor Hadrian was one of his friends. He was known to have lived a life of great simplicity, with few possessions. The core of his teaching was that we have no power over external things and that the good we all long for is to be found only within ourselves; if we wish for nothing but what God wills, we will be truly free, and our lives will be perfectly serene.

1. Some things are in our control; others are not. These things are in our control: opinion, impulse, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever actions are our own. But these things are not in our control: the body, possessions, others’ opinion, and, in a word, whatever things are not our own actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and limitless; the things not in our control are weak, hindered, restricted, and belong to others. So remember: if you regard as free the things that are hindered by nature, and if you consider your own what actually belongs to others, you will be thwarted, depressed, and frustrated, and you will blame both gods and men. But if you realize that what is yours is really yours and that what belongs to others really belongs to others (as in fact it does), then nobody will ever compel you, nobody will hinder you, you will not find fault with anyone or accuse anyone, you will do nothing against your will, you will not have an enemy, and you will never experience any harm.

2. People suffer not because of what happens to them, but because of their thoughts about what happens. For example, death has in itself nothing terrible about it (if it did, it would have seemed terrible to Socrates as well). Rather, it is our thoughts about death that cause our terror. So when we are hindered or frustrated or upset, let us never blame anyone else for it, but ourselves, that is, our own thinking. It is the act of an unaware person to blame others for his own suffering. Someone who has gained a little awareness blames himself. Someone whose awareness is complete blames neither others nor himself.

Huff Post says, “Byron Katie Just Wants You to Be Happy.” Is it true?

When I’m working with someone, I don’t think about the outcome. I’m not concerned with whether you’re taking it in, or how deep your insight is, or what you do with it or how far you go with it, or whether you’re in total resistance or have a major awakening. What I care about is what you care about. If your answers are shallow and limited, that’s all right with me, because I see that it’s all the depth that’s required in your world right now. If you seem to make no headway whatsoever, I understand that the illusion you’re holding on to is precious for you, and if you want to keep it, that’s what I want. Or if, on the contrary, the bottom falls out as you’re answering the questions, and everything you thought you knew drops away, and you fall into the abyss of reality, I love that you’ve given that to yourself; I love the polarity you’ve entered, the don’t-know mind, where everything is surprising, fresh, and brilliant, and you’re like a child discovering life for the first time. But that isn’t my preference unless it’s yours. Why would I want to take your world from you, even if I could? Nothing comes ahead of its time.

Tiger-Tiger, Is It True?: Four Questions to Make You Smile Again

 

Tiger-Tiger, Is It True? is a story about a little tiger who thinks that his whole world is falling apart: his parents don’t love him, his friends have abandoned him, and life is unfair. But a wise turtle asks him four questions, and everything changes. He realizes that all his problems are not caused by things, but by his thoughts about things; and that when he questions his thoughts, life becomes wonderful again.

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Stephen Mitchell’s Book Tour: The Second Book of the Tao

secondTao

For those of you who have questions for Stephen, or just want to say hello to him on his book tour, you can catch up with him in the following places:

Portland, OR
2/27/09 Powell’s City of Books 7:30PM
1105 West Burnside Street

Seattle, WA
2/28/09 Elliott Bay Book Company 2:00 PM
101 South Main Street

Santa Barbara, CA
3/2/09 Mind & Supermind Series 7:30 PM
Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

San Francisco, CA
3/3/09 Berkeley Arts & Letters 7:30 PM
First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way

3/4/09 Book Passage, Corte Madera 7:00 PM
51 Tamal Vista Boulevard

Sonoma, CA
3/5/09 Reader’s Books 7:30 PM
127 East Napa Street

Denver, CO
3/6/09 Tattered Cover 7:30 PM
2526 East Colfax Avenue

Boulder, CO
3/7/09 Boulder Bookstore 2:30 PM
1107 Pearl Street, Boulder

Santa Fe, NM
3/9/09 Garcia Street Bookshop 5:00 PM
376 Garcia Street

New York, NY
3/11/09 Rubin Museum of Art 7:00 PM
150 West 17th Street

Philadelphia, PA
3/12/09 Free Library of Philadelphia 7:30 PM
1901 Vine Street

Los Angeles, CA
3/18/09 Los Angeles Public Library 7:00 PM
630 West 5th Street

3/19/09 Barnes & Noble 7:00 PM
1201 3rd Street, Santa Monica