In Memoriam Lucie Rock

Lucie Rock, born in Montreal, Canada died on October 29 from lymphoma cancer.

She was a student of The Work and was deeply engaged in turning her stressful thoughts around. She attended the School for The Work, the No-Body intensive, and a One Year Immersion program with a Certified Facilitator/Trainer.

She did hundreds of Worksheets every year, unraveling what kept her away from freedom. She did The Work before her diagnoses, and during and after her treatment. She did The Work when declining a new experimental treatment, allowing her tired body some peace. She often, very often, did The Work at night when unable to sleep, eyes closed, in pain, continuing to grow in the perfection of her inquiries.

A few weeks prior to her death, she continued her Work with the desire to undo her fears and to find peace. As I have known her, I would not be surprised if she continued to do her inquiry during her last four days, when finding herself somewhat “nailed” to her hospital bed, completely inert, unable to communicate or to move.

This is how I explain her last facial expression: a smile on her lips and love in her eyes.

Thank you, Katie.
Thank you, The Work.
Thank you, all who partnered with Lucie on her path to peace.

Benoît Desroches

Health Sickness, and Death

Health Sickness, and Death

When you’re asleep, does your body hurt? When you’re in the worst pain and the phone rings and it’s the call you’ve been waiting for and you’re mentally focused on the phone call, there’s no pain. If you change your thinking, you change the pain – Byron Katie

Judge- Your-Neighbor Worksheet

Letter: Losing a Child.

Dear Katie

I know you are very busy and lots of people are asking something of you. I am writing to you, because ‘something terrible has happened’ – the 6 year old girl of a friend of mine had what is called a freak accident, and she died yesterday. I am very touched by her death, and am writing down lots of beliefs about death, protection, safety, danger and so on, but somehow I absolutely cannot see how I can love that this happened. The idea of loving when somebody loses their child (even if it is only they who believe that) seems cruel and cold. Please can you tell me how one can move from accepting what is to actually loving it?

With buckets of gratefulness to you,
Sylvia

Byron Katie’s Judge- Your- Neighbor Worksheet

Thought Thursday

On Health, Sickness, and Death

“It’s our beliefs about death that scare us to death” – Byron Katie

What are your thoughts?

Letter: “My Dad is not okay”

Hello, Byron Katie,

My name is Janet. It has been 18 months since my dad was killed (radiation treatment for cancer) and I just cannot come to terms with what happened to him. He is my best friend; I love him more than the universe. He wasn’t a very happy man in his later years, but was only 70 when he was killed. I let him go initially as I felt there was a hereafter, but I have not heard from him personally, nothing, no dreams of him. I cannot believe that a person I (and my mum and twin sister) can be so close to, love him so much and not know for sure he is okay. I cannot stop being in agony all the time and no-one understands. What can I do? I also lost my beautiful dog, my uncle my aunt and my grandmother all around the same time (18 months). I can cope with their loss, just, but not my dad. Thank you for your time. You are the most amazing person I have ever read about, you know the truth, see through the illusion, and I would love to hear what you have to say about my hurt. Thank you again.

Best wishes and thank you for your Work,
Janet

Dearest Janet,

I hear from you that you’re afraid your father is not okay in death. I would ask that you answer the following questions. “Your dad is not okay”—is that true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true that he is not okay? How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I hear that you are in agony, you feel that no one understands, you believe that you can’t cope, you are hurt. What else? Get as quiet as you can and trace what happens as a result of believing this very painful thought. How do you treat yourself when you believe it? How do you treat the people around you? Notice what more is affected when you believe the thought. Then ask yourself who you would be without the thought. Who would you be, living your life after your father died of cancer, if you didn’t even have the ability to think the thought “My dad is not okay”? Then turn the thought around and find at least three genuine examples for each turnaround. How is each one true? For example, “My dad is okay.” Would you like to hear two examples that I found? 1) He has never spoken up to give you any sign that he is in agony, that he isn’t okay. 2) You are guessing and don’t know. What other examples can you find on your own and without my help?

Another turnaround, a turnaround to the self, would be “I am not okay” (in the moment when I believe my dad is not okay).” Continue finding turnarounds and examples for each turnaround until you are free to think this thought, without believing it and without pain, angel. A thought unbelieved is a welcomed friend, not an agony-maker. You can take care of one of you, and that would be the one who you know for sure is suffering, and that would be you. I care deeply that you stay with yourself and give yourself the gift of freedom from agony around this unquestioned assumption, and if you want to end suffering in your family, deal with your own suffering first. If you can’t take care of your own suffering, how can you help others, “dead” or alive? Be still, angel. The answers that will set you free are within you. Ask, wait, listen, and be enlightened to what you already know. This enlightenment brings you closer to your father, much closer than agony ever could. Love is the power, and you have it within you to ignite that power.

You might also check in with yourself about the three kinds of business. Whose business is it if you are not okay? Whose business is it if your dad is not okay? If you can get only this straight, it could make things a lot easier for you to begin to do The Work.

Until we know that death is as good as life, and that it always comes at just the right time, we’re going to take on the role of God without the awareness of it, and it’s always going to hurt. Whenever you mentally oppose what is, when you think that you know what should and shouldn’t happen, you’re going to experience sadness and apparent separation. There’s no sadness without an unquestioned story. What is is, because it is. You are it.

You imagine an afterlife, and you feel devastated that your father hasn’t communicated with you, that you haven’t even dreamed of him, except as a waking dream, and it is a nightmare. No one knows what death is. Maybe it’s not a something; maybe it’s not even a nothing. It’s the pure unknown, and I love that. We imagine that death is a state of being or a state of nothingness, and we frighten ourselves with our own concepts. I’m a lover of what is: I love sickness and health, coming and going, life and death. I see life and death as equal. Reality is good; so death must be good, whatever it is, if it’s anything at all. Death is kind enough to be still and silent, and I appreciate that. Everything else is projected into that stillness by your mind.

I hope that you write down all your stressful thoughts about your father and your projected “afterlife,” sweetheart, and do The Work on them. That is the only way I know that will help you out of your misery. Whatever else I may say won’t help you, even if you believe that I am telling the truth, even if you believe that I am the most enlightened person who ever walked the face of the earth. It’s only your own wisdom that has the power to show you the way out of confusion. So I invite you to The Work. Question what you are believing about your father. It’s not your father’s death that is causing your suffering; it’s your unquestioned thoughts about him and “his” death. I invite you to question these, and set yourself free.

In deepest gratitude for your stillness and devotion to what lives in you,
bk

Letter: Grandma and the School for The Work

Greetings, Byron Katie,

This is Rwanda, just wanted to let you know that my grandmother, Mrs. Leatha Sneed, just died at the age of 96. She loved The Work. We talked of it often and she stayed on the battle field of sharing with others The Work of love and its freedom. Grandma Sneed was freed at your School for The Work in Miami and lived in freedom every day thereafter. She was freed from things that she encountered during her childhood, and the prominent days of racism in the South, multiple molestations and rape because of her skin color. She talked continuously of love, love, love.

We had a family prayer call every morning at 7 a.m., and when asked how was she doing today, she would always say, “I’m blessed and highly favored.” She was the matriarch of 5 generations, the oldest of 12 children, leaving 3 siblings alive. She will be missed by her family, because there was never an event that she wasn’t present at.

Just wanted to let you know the part you played in freeing my grandmother and allowing her to live in peace within herself and to live in the purpose she was called for.

Love you always, Katie, for The Work you do and for being the one to give it to others!!!

Dearest Rwanda,

All is well and all is well, angel. Thank you for writing, and know that I am celebrating your grandmother’s life, death and her freedom. I send deepest gratitude to you for all the love and peace that you two have lived, shared, and made possible in this world. You and I and all of us who were blessed enough to encounter her at The School will continue to celebrate the life, love, and generosity of our beloved Grandma Leatha Sneed.

Blessings be to you and your family, and I am sending to you what is already yours, as I cannot do more than that, and that is love.

In joy and gratitude,
Byron Katie

Question: What does that mean, “take on the role of God”?

“Until we know that death is as good as life, and that it always comes in its own sweet way, we’re going to take on the role of God without the awareness of it, and it’s always going to hurt. Whenever you mentally oppose what is, you’re going to experience sadness and apparent separation. There’s no sadness without a story.
What is is. You are it.”

What does that mean, “take on the role of God”?
– Mark

Thank you for your question, Mark. “Taking on the role of God” means that we step into the identity of the wise one, that one who knows what should happen, and so we try to control things, out of this I-know mind.

We think that we know what is best for the people we love and for ourselves.

We oppose reality, and whenever we do, it hurts.

We believe our thought that death is a bad thing, we are sad or angry when someone we love dies, and we are afraid of dying ourselves.

This is the I-know mind, pure arrogance, the sufferer.

I invite all of you reading this to send me your stories about the pain of taking on the role of God and the experience of not taking it on. What did you notice? What was it like for you? What did you realize?

Sharing Your Turnarounds

Dear Ones,

Over the years, I’ve witnessed countless miracles as people question their thoughts and turn them around. Some of you may have heard me share these turnarounds (or have shared them yourselves) during the School for The Work or at weekend intensives, or may have read about them in my books. As many of you know firsthand, through your own turned-around lives, we exchange our war with reality for the peace that passes understanding.

The more turnarounds we experience and share, the more we open our hearts and our lives to the others who also want to wake up to who they really are.

Here’s a turnaround from a woman in Atlanta, which exemplifies what I’m inviting you to contribute:

The Man of My Dreams

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” These words, which introduce a spiritual self-study called A Course in Miracles, pierced my heart when I first read them in 1989. However, it wasn’t until 22 years later while attending the nine-day School for the Work that my mind and heart opened to their true
meaning.

At the age of 15, when most teenage girls were reading their first romance novels, I discovered the world of mystical poets and spiritual texts. My alcoholic father had killed himself when I was 12. During the years following his death, I sought comfort in the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, A Course in Miracles, and the words of poets such as Khalil Gibran, Rumi, and Hafiz. I was a spiritual-text junkie, always searching for the next fix, yet never being able to sustain a feeling of peace.

For many years following daddy’s suicide, he occasionally appeared in my dreams—always remaining distant and unresponsive when I would plead with him to not leave again. During a dream visit in 2001 (his final to date), he spoke for the first time, sending a clear and unforgettable message. As I begged him not to leave, he quietly but emphatically said, “Don’t do this to yourself,” as he gently released himself from my embrace and walked away. The dream left me reeling, yet oddly comforted.

I stumbled across The Work the following year, as I was living a typical life of balancing motherhood, career, and an impending second divorce. I began doing the four questions and turnarounds on everyone from my mother, husband, ex-husband, children, siblings, and friends to the family dog, taking excruciating care to never question the black hole of my father’s suicide. My mind began to clear through inquiry, and the truth began to reveal itself in all its glory. Yet the fear of going deeper still lurked in the background—until I attended the School for The Work earlier this year.

As the School progressed and I ventured deeper into inquiry with the support of those around me, I found myself not only questioning the thought that my father should not have killed himself, but turning that thought around to what had henceforth remained an unfathomable thought—”Daddy should have killed himself.” How did I know this was true? Because he did. Not only did I experience a spontaneous release—I burst out laughing! Could I give at least three reasons why the thought that he should have killed himself was as true or truer than my original thought? Absolutely. My father released himself from what was, to him, an unbearable life by the only means he knew at the time. Secondly, even though I loved my father with all my heart, my family and I were spared the misery of continuing to live with a depressed, out-of-control alcoholic. And finally, I realized that the pain of my father’s suicide had attracted me to a spiritual path at an early age, for which I am eternally grateful.

That same day, I experienced an equally powerful turnaround to “My father should not have killed himself”—”I should not have killed myself (over the pain of my father’s suicide).” And I should not continue to kill myself over it. The man of my dreams, my father, had already delivered this message to me years earlier. But it took me questioning my thoughts and turning them around to arrive at the truth. As The Work reminds us, there’s nothing serious about life or death, for there’s nothing that can threaten what is real. Everything becomes as clear as day because, in Katie’s words, “There really isn’t anything; only the story appearing now— and not even that.”

Kathryn, Atlanta, GA

As this woman has come to understand, peace is who we really are without our stressful, fingerpointing, unrealized stories. Through The Work, we wake up to the amazing truth that everything happens for us, not to us.

Love beyond reason,
~bk

Letter: Losing a Child

Dear Katie

I know you are very busy and lots of people are asking something of you. I am writing to you, because ‘something terrible has happened’ – the 6 year old girl of a friend of mine had what is called a freak accident, and she died yesterday. I am very touched by her death, and am writing down lots of beliefs about death, protection, safety, danger and so on, but somehow I absolutely cannot see how I can love that this happened. The idea of loving when somebody loses their child (even if it is only they who believe that) seems cruel and cold. Please can you tell me how one can move from accepting what is to actually loving it?

With buckets of gratefulness to you,
Sylvia

Dearest Sylvia,

Thank you for writing. You speak to the suffering of so many others as well.

For the sake of illustration, let’s say that my friend’s child died.

Here are a few of the reasons why I might love what is if I were in your position as a friend of someone who has lost a child:

– I love that the child will never suffer again.

– I also love that my friend won’t ever have to protect her child or worry about her, or manipulate her, or innocently teach her to fear, etc. (this is for my friend’s sake as well as the child’s).

– I love that her child had a full life (even if the child was only six years or six minutes old).

– I love that her child will never again experience anger, or the pain of hurting herself by hurting another being in any way, and be left with the guilt and the undiscovered reasons for the guilt and the suffering that the unquestioned mind’s blindness causes.

I could go on and on …. I love the way of it, and that we as true friends can hold our kind and generous insights within ourselves as we begin to wake up to the obvious, and I love that I cannot wake you or my friend up with my words, and I love that you both can do that. This child you speak of will never have to suffer what you and her mother are suffering through, and I am that child awake, inviting you to peace of mind. I died for you, and your friend is literally dying for you (it feels like that sometimes when friends are so entirely devastated), and I invite you to life, as death like life is only a creation of mind.

My beloved sister Sharon is dying of cancer now, and she is in the very painful last stages of agony. Watching my sister’s husband watch his wife in such dreadful pain would be agonizing, if not for the enlightened mind, the questioned awake-to-love mind. I see that he is helpless in the face of my sister’s pain. He has all kinds of thoughts and projections around the situation and the agony he witnesses. I consider the doctors and the hospice staff as authorities in this matter, and I watch as they do everything possible to ease the agony my sister is living in. That is all that can be done, and my job is to follow the simple directions as I watch and witness the best that can be done in the situation, massaging her swollen feet and ankles and legs as she cries like a little girl for our mommy, even at seventy-two years old. I watch as she eventually falls asleep into the abyss of the moment without moment.

Oh, how I love her, and how opposite of helpless I am. I am the power of love, and there is nothing more powerful than that as I find myself sobbing with her, for opposite reasons. Who would think that love is that grateful, that deep, that overwhelming, and tear-filled! As I sob, the joy within, the joy that is born out of my love, blind in its clarity, runs deeper than any sadness could ever begin to, and it is allowed to live at its depth, a state that fear is too shallow to explore and must always fall short in its emotion to express.

My sister’s dear husband is very afraid. “What will I do without her?” he says. I tell him that it’s simple. “Sooner or later you’ll go to the bathroom, then you will eventually eat, take a walk (he loves to walk), eventually sit down, then eventually stand up, go to bed, wake up, make your coffee in the morning. That is what you will probably do. But your thoughts along the way, your fear of the future and assumption of a past, make those simple things difficult.”

He knows that thework.com exists, and he will either Work his thoughts of not. For me, I will Work any thought that is small, petty, mean-minded, unkind, or fearful, or just doesn’t ring true. These conversations seemed very comforting to him. Also he would say something like, “I can’t stop her pain” and fall into a terrible kind of guilt. I hear how wise he is to know that he can’t stop her pain (in that moment, and he has done all that is possible under the circumstances) and he sees himself as falling short and shamefully so.

I, on the other hand, see a kind and caring man who loves his wife, has done everything possible to help her ease her pain, and wants what he cannot have in the moment, even though everything has been done short of killing her with an overdose of morphine and drugs. I see him as love in action, and he sees himself as falling short of the task. There is no suffering in my life, and when it is time for me to hurt, it is time, and it’s wonderful to understand that anyone can get through that kind of pain, since when you are in it you are getting through it, there is no choice. Also, the enlightened mind understands that all pain is on its way out and that pain never gets worse than it is in this moment now, and I invite you all to test this reality and to understand for yourselves that even physical pain is a projection of mind, as is all suffering. Everything comes or goes in its time, and everything is medicine, even a suffering sister, brother-in-law, or friend.

I hope that what I write is comforting to you and even a beginning of the possibility of your experience of gratitude, even of your joy, in what can be found within yourself. And I hope that in that your friend may follow without a word from you, other than what you so clearly live, which is that you care deeply for her and are doing everything you can do to lighten her suffering, even to end it.

My invitation is that you end your own suffering out of the goodness and dearness and mercy of your own heart. There are universes that you may be missing, universes of wisdom that lie within you, which The Work can open you up to— your own answers to the questions, and the examples of your turnarounds are the key to those universes, the key to a kinder world and all the freedom that is your unlimited birthright.

Here are some of the assumptions/concepts/thoughts taken from your email. I invite you to The Work on them, slowly, meditatively, deeply, and let what arises from within change not only life in your world itself, but the way you see life and experience the joy of what all really is, forever:

“Something terrible has happened”—is it true?

Continue with inquiry (the four questions, turnarounds, and examples) all the way without shortcuts, and continue with the following as well in the same way. The questions are always available at thework.com.

“Your friend lost her 6-year-old girl.”

“It was an accident.”

“She died yesterday.”

“We can protect ourselves and others.”

“There is danger in the world.”

“I cannot love that this happened.”

“The idea of loving that the child died is cruel and cold-hearted.”

This turns around to “The idea of loving that the child died (loving what is) is kind and warm-hearted.” I gave you a few examples above, and I invite you to find more on your own.

Here is another question: “If the universe is friendly, why is the mother better off?” Find examples, and don’t stop until these thoughts are completely downloaded out of your dearest heart. Now find examples of where you are better off, and why the world is better off, and don’t stop until you have awakened yourself to what is, the unlimited and kind. And continue to allow your open mind to join, to match, the real nature of all things, the universe and all that is kind without exception.

The way some people move from accepting what is to actually loving it is to do The Work. You asked for help and all I have to offer you is already within you, waiting to be realized, and I invite you to answer these four questions as deeply as you can and find the turnarounds and examples that lie within, the ones that matter, the ones that ring true to your heart, not your fear and resistance.

In deepest love with yours,
xoxo
kt

The Work in Rwanda

cohen1

The landscape of Rwanda is deceptive, hiding a mass grave under beautiful green grass, for example, or abject despair just beneath a smiling face.

Some of you have followed the story of Costa in Rwanda – as his family and friends have worked hard to rebuild their country. The Work that Costa is doing is making a difference, as Pamela Grace, Brenda Becker Goodell, Jon Newbill, Isabelle Stahl, Richard Lawrence Cohen, Christina Syndikus, and Paige Tuhey all found out when they visited Costa recently.

As the wounds of Rwanda heal, we are reminded that the suffering caused by our thoughts is often worse than physical suffering. The victims relive their anguish over and over again, until they are able to question their thoughts and move on with life.

The last newsletter gave us a glimpse of what the experience was like, thanks to photos and accounts from Pamela Grace, Brenda Becker Goodell, Christina Syndikus, and Richard Lawrence Cohen.

You can sign up for the Byron Katie Newsletter here >>

Letter: “My son will soon be dead”

Katie:

I am still suffering with the thought that my son, who has a brain tumor, will soon be dead. I think of reasons why that would be good in this friendly universe, like then he, who has never seemed happy to me, will be in more peace. What money I have left will be all mine. I will have no children left to worry about or see in pain or laughter. My other son (whom you did TW on with me back at my first school in Oct 2006) drowned at 18 months. In that School I looked at the worst thing that could happen, that I would lose this other son, and now it is happening. Oh yes, another good thing about the last son dying, he won’t have to watch me get old and die.

When I imagine what it would be without the thought that he will soon be dead, and turn it around, that I will soon be dead, I feel a shift. I think I love him, and I notice I love myself more and it’s myself I’m really concerned about in all this. I want him to be fixed and safe so I will be fixed and safe. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen and I’m Working on it happening…with me being fixed and safe.

I do The Work constantly and am getting peaceful off and on. Then I see he is not happy and my resistance to “what is” gives me deep pain.

I notice now that my peacefulness seems to be tied like a stock chart to his state of comfort. When he says “Mom, I’m not worth $1500 a month for chemo” I die. I can’t feel prepared yet for his death. I want to pass onto the other side of this but I don’t yet no how. Thanks for being there, Katie.

Peace and Love,
JJ

Dearest JJ,

You do “yet” know how, The Work works when your dear mind is open to “what is next”. You’re not prepared for his death yet, is it true?

It sounds like your not prepared for his LIFE yet, he isn’t dead, he is still living!!!!!! The dead or dying son in your heads image is not your son, it is an image. You are trading your sons life now, for images of death, not your sons life and it is “killing” your time with him and your life with him in joy. He has a right to believe that he is “not worth it”, listen to him, he has a right to his opinion and it doesn’t mean that he isn’t worth everything to you, you can still honor his opinion. You don’t have to agree, your opinion is your business unless you think that his life is not worth $1500. per mo and maybe you don’t sense you don’t believe that he is going to live anyway, and in an odd way it is understandable that the mind would take you there.

I love you JJ, don’t let your unquestioned mind cost you one minute with that darling, dear, dearest son of yours. Is it sadness that you are feeling or love? Isn’t it love, feel it as deeply as you can, let it live in you, allow it, let it cry you, take you over even, its okay, love is all powerful. Don’t confuse feelings that you believe to be sadness with what love feels like, my dearest. I am with you, ask him to hold you for me.

with all of my heart,
kt

A Glimpse of Stephen’s New Book

He calls it The Second Book of the Tao. The book is now available online and in bookstores everywhere.

Here Stephen reads an excerpt from the book:

Chapter 8

How do I know that loving life
isn’t simply a delusion?
How do I know
that when we’re afraid of death
we aren’t like someone
who left home as a young child
and has forgotten the way back?
How do I know that the dead
aren’t so happy that they wonder
why they once clung to life?

You may dream that you’re at a banquet
and wake up to find yourself miserable.
You may dream that you’re sobbing your heart out
and wake up to find yourself at ease.
How, in the middle of a dream,
can you know that you’re actually dreaming?
In the middle of a dream, you may even
try to interpret the dream;
only after you wake up
do you realize that you were dreaming.

Someday there will be
a great awakening, when we know
that all this was one big dream.

And when I say that we’re dreaming,
of course I am dreaming too.

COMMENTARY

How do I know? Well, I don’t. So that settles that.

But loving life isn’t a problem. Preferring life to death: that’s what causes the confusion.

It could be (if there were such a thing as departing) that death is the return to a presence the wandering mind has long forgotten. It could be (if there were such a thing as separate beings) that the dead look upon our attachment to life like fond grandparents watching a teenager’s first tumultuous love affair. It could be, in fact, that the dead are nothing but their own delight, there (if there were such a thing as space) where they know even as they are known.

We are close to waking up when we dream that we are dreaming. All the imagined ups and downs, the hubbub and reversals of fortune, are what most people call life. But before and after, at the point where the end meets its beginning, there is only what has woken up from the cycle of waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep.

As for a “great awakening”: dream on. When do you think that that someday will come, after all? Isn’t it enough just to open your eyes, feel the pillow beneath your head, and see the hands of the alarm clock pointing to this very moment (as if there were such a thing as time)?