Byron Katie invites you to this walk, here with your eyes closed, or as you walk in the world. It’s a silent meditation. It’s about noticing. “It’s so lovely to just walk and not know,” Katie says, “and let the world tell you what it is rather than you telling each object. Just listen, be still, and let everything name itself, or not. Just notice and be free in that, as though nothing has ever been named. Someone called it “tree,” and you really think it’s a tree. But what if you just got still, noticed, and let it tell you? I invite you to that don’t-know mind in your morning walk.” The morning walk is a core element of Byron Katie’s School for The Work. The School is an immersion in freedom. For more about the School, visit http://thework.com/en/ultimate-inner-adventure.
A man at the 6 September LIVE—At Home with Byron Katie event reads his stressful thought to Byron Katie and the audience. “I am angry and disgusted with those who support the current administration.” This thought usually occurs to him when he’s reading an article or some comments on Facebook. Katie brings him back to the moment when he is reading. “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought, and you’re reading an Op-Ed?”
In the midst of a normal life, Katie became increasingly depressed, and over a ten-year period sank further into rage, despair, and thoughts of suicide. Then one morning, she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended. The freedom of that realization has never left her, and now in Loving What Isyou can discover the same freedom through The Work.
Susan Piver of the Daily Dharma Gathering interviews Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell. “As a busy Buddhist, it’s a delight to feel the cohesion between my Buddhist studies and The Work,” Susan says. “It feels like there’s no difference. And The Work is meditation that you can do off the cushion.”
“Yes,” Katie says, “it’s a practice that takes stillness, and we don’t have to leave meditation just because we’re walking and talking, going to work, and taking care of our children. And we don’t need that cushion once inquiry is alive in us. It’s an unceasing meditation to live in these questions. As an example, if I meet someone and hold a grudge against them, it’s what I’m believing onto them that creates that grudge. It’s like I’m slapping post-its on them as if my judgments are that person. So I’m not talking to that person, but rather to the identity that I believe them to be. So it’s no wonder we’re confused in our relationships. It’s my responsibility to meditate on and to question what I’m believing about you, so that I can see you and know you. Believing onto you doesn’t show me you. When I take my story off someone by questioning what I believe about them, I begin to experience compassion and love.”
Later they discuss Katie and Stephen’s new book, A Mind at Home with Itself, which is based on the Diamond Sutra. “A mind at home with itself is the end of war in your world,” Katie says.
“The Diamond Sutra is a text that centers on the issue of generosity,” Stephen says. “The main point is that the more you understand the unreality of the self, and see that there’s no difference between self and other, the more you naturally live a life of unfettered generosity. It came to me that this sutra would be an excellent framework for Katie to talk about her experience, because it’s so much in harmony with the spirit of The Work.”
“As Stephen read to me his translation of the sutra,” Katie says, “I wept with joy. I felt that any word I added to it would take away from its clarity. But Stephen encouraged me to speak out of my own experience, so I followed the simple directions, and we ended up with this book. We hope you find it helpfully alarming!”
The clearer the mind, the clearer the choices. —Byron Katie
For more information, free resources and a list of upcoming events visit thework.com.
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
For more information, free recources and a list of upcoming events visit thework.com
Aaron Alexander of Align Podcast spends an hour with Byron Katie. As a result of feeling unsafe, insecure, and alone, Aaron has developed a strong social media presence to create support, network, and community for these issues.
“When people are struggling,” Katie says, “inquiry is a place they can turn to. The Work is meditation. It’s a different way of getting still. In this stillness, we invite in the teacher that really matters. We invite what’s shown to us in the silence.”
Aaron asks, “How important is language in the moment? It feels to me like we create our world around our language, and with every word you’d say, ‘It’s like we’re casting a spell on those around us.'”
“We are,” Katie says. “What I’m thinking and believing is the spell that I’m casting on my life. And that spills over to other people. Is what I’m believing kind? If it’s kind, it’s wise. To live out of a kind mind is an amazing gift. We all have the power to sit in the question ‘Is it true?’ and discover that wisdom.
“Enlightenment is a trip I invite people not to miss. And I can’t claim enlightenment. What I received was a gift that I can’t take credit for. I’m just grateful that I’m out of that awful suffering, and that I can pass on–to anyone who’s open to it–a way out of depression, loneliness, isolation, addictions, and low self-esteem. There is a way out.”
Aaron asks about Katie’s January 2014 close call with death.
“Oh yes, my vital organs were shutting down,” Katie says. “I was dying, and the doctors couldn’t do anything about it. This is all detailed inA Mind at Home with Itself. Long story short, I never saw a problem. I love life. I don’t want to waste one moment of that life worrying about the future.”
“Are there any fear-based patterns that you still replay?” Aaron asks.
“I still experience images and words; there’s just no attachment to them. They’re fantasy. It’s like going to a movie, but you know it’s a movie. If I can shift to a kinder state of mind, then anyone can. I wouldn’t want anyone to live in a state of mind as crazy as mine was. Inquiry has allowed me to open my arms to what is.”
“In what direction do I point people to find out more?” asks Aaron.
“Tothework.com,” Katie says. “And for people interested in non-duality, I have a No-Body Intensive. And I invite everyone to the School for The Work. It’s a radical nine days of inquiry.”
In stillness or meditation, we invite in the teacher that really matters. —Byron Katie
Marcela from Canada asks Byron Katie, “If a body is just a projection of mind, do we still need to take care of it?”
“Absolutely,” Katie says. “Cause and effect. If I don’t eat, the body dies. That is the apparent material world. Then there’s another world. There’s a world the enlightened mind sees. Not in time, but now, as we sit in the answers that these questions can take us to.
“It’s impossible to be a physical body because the body is a projection of your mind. So take care of the mind when you’re stressed out, and clarity and love will take care of your projected body.
“Any time you feel stress, this unnatural feeling of being out of harmony, look to what you’re thinking and believing in the moment, and clear it up with The Work. Inquiry is like a constant state of meditation that happens without my help. I’m just letting it run.
“Now, get really still, and notice the times when you don’t take care of the body. Look to see the story running in your mind just before you binged, had the cigarette or drug, or got angry. The trigger is hidden in the time just prior to that. Whether something is good for me or not, if I feel guilt, I take care of it. I don’t do The Work on the thing I ate or did, I go back and do The Work on mother, father, sister, brother, roommate, or whoever the story is about.”
“Actually, I was the opposite,” Marcela says. “I was always exercising, taking vitamins, and trying to do what the latest study told me to do.”
“Yes, rather than the chocolate cake, that’s your addiction.”
“I notice that I did it for fear of being sick. It wasn’t because it was what I really wanted to do; it was done in fear of the future if I did not take care of my body.”
“Yes. It’s the ego’s fear of death,” Katie says. “The ego tells you: ‘You have to take care of this body; you can’t be too careful. Take those vitamins, run, eat right.’ Without the ego identified as the body, this material object, then who am I? As an ego, who am I?”
“After doing The Work, I actually started to notice myself stressing about these things,” Marcela says.
“Health is about right here, right now, isn’t it?” Katie says. “People may be telling me I’m sick and dying, and I could be in pain, but I’m fine in my mind. 100%. I am healthy because I’m not at war with what I’m witnessing. I’m not at war with death. I’m not at war with life. I’m well.”
It’s a beautiful thing to love what we think in this moment. —Byron Katie
Byron Katie and Armin Rott of Germany talk about how forgiveness really happens through the meditative process of The Work. This interview was part of the first German online Forgiveness Conference in 2017.
“Forgiveness,” Katie says, “is knowing that what I believed happened, didn’t necessarily happen. I can put all of these negative thoughts on you like post-its. These are my thoughts; they’re not you. And I’m blaming you for being the person I believe you to be. I’ve made you an enemy.
“I’m the one doing that to you; you’re never doing it to me. That’s forgiveness. Seeing that what I thought happened, didn’t.
“Now I can put these judgments on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and question them. With this inquiry we can find ourselves not only in a state of forgiveness, but in a state of connectedness with the person we were judging.
“You didn’t change. I questioned what I believed about you, and forgiveness happened. No one can separate me from another human being; I’m the only one who can do that. If I’m not connected, that’s on me. I look to what I’m thinking and believing.
“And if I’ve done anything out of that unkind, believing mind, I admit it, apologize, and make it right when I can, but only when I’m sincere about it. And this can be very humbling. It’s quite a turnaround for the ego.”
“The hardest part,”Armin says, “is giving up the perceived need to be right, to attack, to judge, and to not feel how much it hurts.”
“If I want to be right,” Katie says, “that’s my first clue that it’s time for me to identify what I’m thinking and believing about this other human being, write the judgments and assumptions down, question them, and turn them around, so that I can see that human being for who they really are. If I have an enemy, that’s on me, not them. So we’re talking about complete and total forgiveness.
“It can take time,”Armin says, “to do this process of forgiveness through The Work. But it can be completed.”
“Yes,” says Katie. “When we ask ‘Is it true?’ we have to get still and meditate on that question to see what meets it. And what meets it is big. It will shift you right out of your identity. What meets the question is your own wisdom.”
“Oh my God!” Armin says, with tears in his eyes. “Okay, I think I haven’t understood The Work. Oh my God! This is deep! What a relief! Thank you, Katie. Then, in that stillness, you have access to what is true. Oh! Thank you. And now I realize that there is no way to forgive unless you have access to that.”
“It’s the beginning of the end of the war in you,” Katie says. “Just now. It’s a gift, this recognition. And your tears are only the physical evidence of the recognition, this flower opening and petals falling. It’s beautiful.
Armin sits in silence, then gently begins to laugh. “Thank you…wow!” he says, wiping away a tear. “Can I ask one more question? What happened on the floor when the cockroach crawled over your foot?”
“I saw how the entire world was created,” Katie says. “The world is nothing until it’s named. And it’s still nothing until you believe that name. The Work was born on that floor. I saw that nothing was true. How do you react, what happens when you believe that thought? I saw that the entire world was created in that moment. And who would I be without the thought is me prior to believing the thought. And the opposites are as true or truer. So it’s all left up to the mind to determine.
“Many people have had experiences of realization. The difference for me is that The Work was given to me at the same time, so that the realization could be maintained and nurtured. The inquiry is alive in me. It’s alive! Everything just naturally ends in a question mark. It’s the questioning mind. For people who invite this into their mediation practice, eventually it becomes a part of their mind as well. It’s a practice until finally it takes hold of us. But that takes a very open mind. It takes stillness. It’s not about emptying the mind; it’s about surrendering to the mind, and just offering ‘Is it true?’ to the mind.”
“I’d say that’s discipline in the best sense,” Armin says.
The enlightened mind has nothing to forgive. — Byron Katie
Jo-Jo from Hercules California asks, “What if the Santa Barbara shooter had had the chance to do inquiry, to challenge the thoughts that led him to kill people? Perhaps he wouldn’t have done what he did.”
“If I have no cause to kill. why would I kill?” Katie says. “Every time we do The Work and question the thoughts that cause anger and separation, we lose the ability to do harm, because we are taking care of original cause, which is the mind and what it’s believing.”
“Is it possible to do The Work as a community for Elliot and for kids who are not able to discover the questioning of their minds, so maybe they won’t harm people?” Jo Jo asks.
“If that shooting is of concern to me,” says Katie, “then I’m going to do The Work on that shooter. I’m going to question every judgment I have about that shooter from the moment I first heard about him. I’ll put those judgments, what I’m thinking and believing, onto the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. And then I’m going to give myself what I want the community to have. And if I don’t find peace with it, I’m going to do another Worksheet. I’m going to call a Certified Facilitator of The Work, I’m going to call the Do The Work Helpline. I’m going to go to the School for The Work. I’m going to go to thework.com and follow the simple directions. I’m going to give myself everything I want the community to have. Then I’ll call the community together and invite them to do The Work. Some of them will come, some of them won’t, but you’re serving the community just through the invitation.”
“Is it possible to do The Work for Elliot and other mass murderers, even though they’re gone?” Jo Jo asks.
“To do The Work on him is to shift that,” Katie says. “Do The Work as him. Put yourself in the place of someone who is so bitter, so angry at women, and what he might have been thinking and believing in order to do such thing. You’ll recognize thoughts there, whether they were his or not; you’ll be sitting inside the mind of a murderer. That’s in all of us.
“When you do The Work on him, you’ll find the murderer in you, and when you do The Work as him, sitting in that car just before he went in to do the deed. By doing that you’re going to clean out everything you don’t want in this world. Once that’s cleared out, there will never be a mass murder that will upset you again. When you’re really clear, he could be aiming at you or at your nieces and nephews, and you will not be alarmed. You will be of service instead. There’s nothing more powerful than peace. And it’s so exciting.”
In the clarity of awareness, you’re unlimited. —Byron Katie
In this fascinating discussion between Byron Katie, John Tarrant, and Stephen Mitchell, the three take a deep dive into similarities between The Work and Buddhism, and how these were woven into “A Mind at Home with Itself.”
John begins, “In Katie and Stephen’s new book, Stephen translates and makes very accessible one of the great wisdom texts, the Diamond Sutra, while Katie responds to this text from her inner quiet. Deconstructing your thought forms and what mind is believing is a practice common to Zen Buddhism and The Work, with its four questions and the turnarounds.”
“I loved interacting with the Diamond Sutra,” Katie says. “Stephen would read me a chapter and then ask me to respond. After hearing it, I always felt that I wouldn’t add anything or subtract anything. Stephen encouraged me to respond by asking me questions. It was such a beautiful experience.”
Stephen explains, “My intent was to make the Diamond Sutra text transparent so that the Buddha mind could shine through; accessible, here and now, and radiant. My intent was also to bring Zen and The Work together, because we’ve found that each practice enhances the other. For people doing Dharma practice to learn to question specific thoughts that are causing impediments is of enormous benefit, and likewise, meditation practice, deepening one’s stillness and ability to focus, has great benefit for people practicing The Work.”
“Yes,” says John, “and there are similarities between the Dharma and The Work as transformational practices. One is the understanding that reality is more profound and beautiful than my maps or thoughts about reality.”
“Inquiry is a way to test that over and over and over,” Katie says. “Through the four questions and the turnarounds, we begin to wake up to the mind as creator of all. That all of the apparent outside really is inner.”
John quotes an ancient Chinese Zen master: “‘Zen directly points to the human mind without reference to words or scriptures.’ And of course, scriptures like the Diamond Sutra say that. So inquiry into the nature of mind becomes a practice. There’s really nothing wrong with having a thought, but you can be curious as to whether it’s true or not. So there’s a question mark that happens with it. You’re not trying to get rid of it or contradict it; you’re just wondering about it.”
“Yes,” Katie says, “there’s an excitement about it when each thought ends in a question mark. It’s ‘Is it true?’ without experiencing the actual words. It’s that open, brilliant, fearless state of mind where you come to understand and appreciate the true nature of everything.”
“In a way, that’s a practice,” John says, “because as soon as I start believing something, I can be pretty sure that it isn’t true, because our thoughts are hypotheses about reality. Mainly we think we are our thoughts in a naive sense. We think the world we’ve made of our thoughts is something we’re compelled to live in.”
Any reaction I experience is an invitation to inquiry — an invitation to experience the questioning of thought. — Byron Katie
John Tarrant, Roshi, teaches and writes about the transformation of consciousness through meditation on Zen koans (existential questions than can’t be answered through rational thinking).
Byron Katie shows us how to question the thinking that causes all the suffering, revealing the peace and wisdom within every one of us.
Tori from France says, “I’m upset because I’m too young to have children” and “I want to accept what’s going on.”
She recalls a moment when she was younger, sitting alone in her studio. This is the situation she will meditate on as she questions her thoughts.
“So, “You want to accept what is going on”—is it true?” asks Katie. “Or do you want to argue with reality? Other than what you’re thinking and believing, there’s nothing to accept. There’s just the grace of reality. You have everything you need. And how do you react when you believe the thought ‘I want to accept what is going on,’ and you really don’t accept it?”
“I feel incapable,” says Tori.
“Yes, because you see images of past and future, so you’re sitting there, lost in the dream,” Katie says. “You’re believing everything you think about those images. The story you place on those images in your head costs you your life. Who would you be without the thought? You would be what is going on. Chair, ceiling, walls…reality. Now can you find an opposite of this thought?”
“I don’t want to accept what is going on,” Tori says. “Do I have a choice to accept or not accept?”
“Not as long as you’re believing your thoughts,” Katie says. “You can trust reality. It’s not going to shift or move for you. Once you know the nature of the universe, that it’s kind, giving, and one hundred percent for you, in service to you–once you understand that, there’s no fear of just noticing what’s going on. The mind is like a child that hasn’t found its way home yet. It doesn’t know how to be or rest in itself. It doesn’t know how to question itself, so there’s chaos. And the feelings that come with that can be terrifying. I invite you to complete a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, question your thoughts, and wake yourself from the dream.”
The story you place on the images in your head costs you your life. — Byron Katie
Byron Katie does The Work via Skype with a woman from Virginia who struggles with her belief that “God should help me pay the rent.”
“Notice what happens when you believe this thought,” Katie says.
“I get very angry,” says the woman, “and I wonder what I did wrong. Am I being punished?”
Katie says, “If I believed that thought, I would become a beggar. I’d become guilty. I can see how I would put it all on God, telling God what to do, what’s best, and dictating where God’s money should go. I’d be out of my business and into God’s bank account. So, right here, right now, who are you without the thought?”
“That’s a scary one,” says the woman.
“It is, but only if you put a future onto it,” Katie says. “So just right here, right now: who would you be if you weren’t that dictator?”
After meditating on the question, the woman says, “I would be somebody who likes God. I’d be at peace. I would not be afraid to look at more opportunities and find more ways to pay the rent.”
“Notice that you’re sitting with a roof over your head,” Katie says. “You don’t look too hot or too cold. Right here right now. This is where the gift is. We forget about the grace of what’s given now if we’re busy projecting onto the future. So now imagine yourself at a homeless shelter. Other than what you are thinking and believing, are you okay? The worst that can happen is what you’re thinking and believing, with or without your rent paid.”
“Yes!” the woman says. “Other than what I’m thinking and believing, I’m okay.”
“I’d love that you understand this beyond all apparent conditions in your mind,” Katie says. “It takes sitting in the silence and listening. Notice how the false images of a future will come like a tidal wave to wipe away your peace. You understand where that peace is. You understand how to find it.”
Being homeless is when I’m not present with myself.—Byron Katie
For more information about The Work, visit thework.com.
A woman from Denmark asks, “How do you know when it’s time to make changes? You get to love everything as it is, but still, Katie, you make changes, for instance, you left Paul, your ex-husband. So I’m confused, because I am happy and content, but I still feel a need to change my life. I can always find a way to love what is, but then am I not being true to myself?”
Byron Katie answers, “I didn’t change my life; I lived a yes to my own heart’s desire. Even though I was married to Paul, I found a deeper marriage: to my inner voice. So I became only answerable to that. The only thing that could stop me from living out of that was fear. Love is a fearless state of mind. I had no other reason except that yes to leave Paul. I began to travel and was very rarely home. That was too much for him. He naturally began to make another life for himself, and I’m grateful for that. So the change came from inside. If you’re afraid to make a change, write your fearful thoughts on a Worksheet and set yourself free to make change, or not.
“There are no do’s or don’ts. Inquiry is about the end of suffering. It’s freedom to ask anything of anyone, and then trust that they’ll say yes or no. Freedom doesn’t look the way we think. It’s just a natural flow of words, and humor, and life. I know there is this precious place of no past and no future. The Work can open us to that. This precious place is always there. It’s always to be trusted, unfailingly.”