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The Byron Katie Newsletter
A happy Thanksgiving to all Americans and a happy Thanksgiving in every moment to everyone!
What am I thankful for? For reality, the reality of discovering the true nature of “I” and not identifying as the false one, of course. Our joys and our sorrows are equally precious, as they give us the opportunity to identify what we are believing and make our world a “better” place. And as we continue to do The Work we continue to wake us up from our suffering and the suffering of everyone around us. Those of you that have adopted The Work as your daily practice can easily be thankful for whatever is happening in your lives, and for the changes that take place beyond time in both yourself and your world.
You can change the world by questioning your thoughts, and change in the world will always happen out of that miracle. When mind changes, the world changes and becomes kinder and much more beautiful within your mind’s eye, where it matters.
If you ever believed the thought “I can't live without my job,” and today you question that thought, you may never believe it again, and in fact you may smile or even laugh when this thought arises again, because you have realized what is as true or truer, and be amazed that your mind cannot shift back to the old, seen-through, untrue thought again. And if someone says, “You can’t live without your job,” you might think, “Isn’t that interesting? I used to believe that too.” Happy holidays, Family. Thank you for being my reality.
In this newsletter, we meet:
a new movie about The Work—produced by the generous and very dear Jenny McCarthy—called Turn It Around.
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. This is a story for kids from one to 92, written with Hans Wilhelm, a dear friend and collaborator.
a series of reports from Rwanda including a series of letters and observations from friends of The Work and their visit with Costa.
a newspaper clipping from Malawi, where Kondwani is making a difference in the prisons.
a letter from Janey, who was the victim of identity theft on YouTube and, thanks to TheWork is no longer a victim.
And good news, the Spanish-language version of A Thousand Names for Joy has been published: Mil nombres para el gozo.
How many are the blessings we have to be thankful for! And we can also be thankful for our stressful thoughts, because when investigated, they lead us to peace.
I'm thankful for you, dearest ones, and all you do to move The Work across our apparent world, and always where it is needed.
This film shows Katie doing The Work with a variety of people:
a woman whose brother has been killed in Iraq,
a woman terrified of getting her heart broken,
a man who feels unattractive,
a woman depressed because polar bears are starving, among others.
With her humor and lovingly incisive clarity, Katie demonstrates to each of us how dramatically The Work can change your life. Pre-order the DVD >>
“This movie, like Katie, is a work of art and a gift to us all.”
— Dan Millman, author of The Peaceful Warrior
Thank You, Jenny (and Jim), for your loving patience and generosity!
Hans Wilhelm: "Tiger, Tiger"
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.
With over forty-two million books in print, Hans Wilhelm is one of America's foremost author/illustrators of children's books. Many of his 200 books have been translated into twenty languages and have become successful animated television series that are enjoyed by
children all over the world. His books have won numerous international awards and prizes.
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.
Here we get a glimpse of what the experience was like, thanks to photos and accounts fom PamelaGrace, Brenda Becker Goodell, Christina Syndikus, and RichardLawrence Cohen.
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.
In the front yard of Costa's house in Kigali
Clockwise from top left: Pamela, Isabelle, Denise, Richard, Brenda, Bernadette (Costa's wife),
Yves, Gentil, Queen (on lap), Costa (our leader; my brother), Christina, Jon.
A Note from Pamela Grace
At the March 2009 School for the Work, Ndayisabye Costa asked me, “Will you come? Will you come to Rwanda and help my people find peace?”
Just minutes before I’d heard Katie say, “When Stephen asked me to marry him, I couldn’t find a reason to say No.” When Costa asked me to come to Rwanda I couldn’t find a reason to say 'No' either, so I and six other School mates – Brenda Becker Goodell, Jon Newbill, Isabelle Stahl, Richard Cohen, Christina Syndykus, and Paige Tuhey - traveled to Rwanda in October to facilitate The Work with survivors of the 1994 genocide.
Richard Lawrence Cohen and Pamela Grace
We found loving people eager for peace, regardless of the horrific suffering they’d experienced, and The Work an easily translatable means to help them discover it. As we did The Work in Rwanda, we questioned our own stressful thoughts about suffering and genocide, and like the beautiful Rwandans we facilitated, always came to a place of peace.
Thank you, Katie;
Thank you Costa, my beloved brother;
Thank you Rwanda.
Christina Syndikus on Rwanda
In October / November 2009 a group of volunteers travelled to Rwanda to support Costa in his efforts to move The Work. We and Costa visited poor people on the countryside and did what Costa calls "The Work in your house".
Costa chose people to be facilitated by us who see him as biased because he has a similar past to theirs. Up to that point those people had refused to do The Work with him, and turned out to be open to be facilitated by a visiting volunteer.
The Rwandans were holding stories from the genocide ("Militias infected me purposely with HIV and killed all my relatives"), about taking revenge ("If they also died, I would be happy") and about family issues ("My brother-in-law mistreated me", "My husband was killed by his relatives").
Doing The Work with Nyirabarera
All of them had one thing in common: after they had done The Work on their stories their faces had lit up, they had shifted from a serious mindset to visibly serene and they expressed their gratitude by saying we had brought a tremendous gift, one woman even said: "You brought gold to my house." Another woman ended up smiling for the second time in 2009, in her own words.
To witness the people's process toward inner peace is truly amazing and hugely rewarding.
October 22, 2009 Ready to Go
I'm starting off toward Africa today and I'll return on Nov. 12.
October 25, 2009 Where Am I?
Using a German keyboard in an unpaved neighborhood outside the center of Kigali. Just gettting the machine ready with a Sim card transferred from a cell phone was a triumph, and I don't know how many minutes' credit I have. I recently awoke from 45 straight hours of travel, Austin-Minneapolis-Amsterdam-Nairobi-Kigali, which included an afternoon walking around Amsterdam. There's so much to report already that I don't know where to start, but the people are lovely, the setting is one of Third World low-rise urbanization familiar to those who know Morocco, Greece, Costa Rica, etc.
I've even now heard stories which are too chilling, sobering, to tell here in a rush. They require books.
Two more weeks -- how will I be different at the end? This afternoon I'm going to church, an English-language service, with Costa. I thnk I'm also scheduled to accompany him to talk to a woman who has HIV as a result of the genocide.If I can't describe such things fully yet, I hope that time will allow me to.
October 28, 2009 Fourth Morning in Rwanda
Over the past couple of days we've been to two different genocide memorials, one, on the outskirts of town, a very suitably gruesome setup in a church where 5,000 Tutsis were rounded up and killed in one day. On a platform, hundreds of skulls are displayed; on the platform below it, countless leg bones; across the room, a collection of rusted machetes and clubs.
The other memorial, in town, was erected by the Belgian government in honor of ten Belgian soldiers who were killed trying to protect the opposition party leader on the day the genocide began. Ten simple memorial columns in the yard; educational posters in the now-empty rooms where the soldiers took their stand; grenade fragments and bloodstains on the interior walls; fist-size bullet holes all over the exterior walls.
It's hard to imagine a nation that is more constructively aware of its problems or facing them more honestly and progressively. And not just the genocide: a nationwide anti-litter campaign has been very successful, HIV awareness is all over the media (there's one TV station, government-owned, and seven radio stations, some of them foreign), and Rwanda, with the highest population density in sub-Saharan Africa, has the second lowest malaria rate, largely due to educational programs such as the Bill and Melinda Gates' foundation's work in promulgating mosquito netting. In addition, Rwanda's parliament is 55% female, the electorate having recoiled from the violent governments that produced periodic genocides and massacres from 1959 to 1995. Rwanda has received a fair amount of international aid in the past fifteen years and has used it well. To me it appears that if the average American were as aware of our nation's problems, and as committed to solving them, as the average Rwandan is for Rwanda, in a decade and a half our inner-city schools would be graduating masses of literate, ambitious, responsible adolescents, the problems of gang violence and drugs would disappear, our health care system would care for all Americans equally, and our government would mobilize a nationwide environmental cleanup and infrastructural upgrade. In other words, we would be the nation we ought to be. A much, much poorer nation than ours is accomplishing equivalent goals. We could even do it without the need for genocide memorials.
October 31, 2009 National Work Day
Today's a national work day in Rwanda. They have it on the last day of every month. For a couple of hours in the morning, everyone does community work, cleaning the streets and so forth. This helps explain why the streets are so clean!
Meanwhile, I, the muzungu (white person), am sitting in the living room drinking excellent Rwandan mountain tea and eating chappatis and typing. Eveywhere I go, children call out, "Muzungu!" and say things like "Hello" or "How are you?" and shake my hand. The other day we walked past a long line of prisoners in orange jumpsuits -- these are men who have admited their role in the genocide and are being rehabilitated -- and a couple called out "muzungu" and I gave them the peace sign and they cheered. Have had experiences similar in the big open-air market and on the streets.
There's much more ethnology around, much more than can fit here. Just wanted to tell you that everything's going well. Next week should be more serious for us -- doing The Work of Byron Katie with prisoners and other traumatized people. We've done a little of that so far, and it honestly seemed to have led some shut-off genocide survivors to open up. I've seen people smile who, according to my host, have not done so in years, and cry at confronting things that they had hid from for even longer.
November 03, 2009 Muhanga Days
We're in the very nice small town of Muhanga -- "we" meaning our little group of seven muzungus and muzungettes -- treated with the greatest hospitality by our host Costa's brother Leopold, who bought us a restaurant meal and invited us to his home to dinner, and the mayor, who's paving our way with the prison administration, and a couple of Canadian guys we don't even know who are paying our bill at a guest house for five nights.
We're finally getting down to some serious work here, which may make me feel less like I'm sponging off people. We were supposed to do the Work of Byron Katie at the prison yesterday but the warden was away and couldn't arrange security for us. Then we were supposed to assist in mud-brick house construction in the afternoon, but we had a downpour so we sat at a protected outdoor terrace for a long time having good conversation, assorted brochettes, and the by-now-expectable great, homemade fries. In the afternoon, as a group, we did The Work with five HIV-positive Rwandan women of various ages, perhaps helping open their minds to new, less painful ways of seeing their lives, and it was moving experience -- clearly difficult for the women to think about their pain, and they expressed gratitude afterward.
Stressful Thoughts: Costa does The Work with Odette
Today we're booked to work with prisoners again and do the house construction. It feels as if my experience is shifting from travel exploration into community service, and that feels exciting and a little scary.
November 07, 2009 Gorillas in the Mist, H1N1 in the Guest House, Heaven in the Church, Mud Against the Wall
Help, I have a lot more to say! Here's a very quick recap:
I previously opined that the church service was disappointing, but the following Sunday we all went to another one, at the same church, that knocked our socks off. We'd come too late for the choir the first time, but on Sunday we were fully present and armed with the spirit. They sang beautiful African gospel harmonies, dancing to the music, passing the microphone from one section of the choir to the other; and two or three of the women, including a pair of knockout fortyish sisters (alas, I did not get their phone numbers), were possessed with the greatest joy, hopping up and down, pointing ecstatically to the congregation, and had voices to match. The visiting preacher was a visiting bishop from Kenya who oversees 500 churches, and not only the power, but the benignity, of his preaching was beautiful.
We went to work on finishing two traditional houses made of mud brick, funded by Groundwork Opportunities, a nonprofit that helps fund our host Costa's work. What we did was pick up handfuls of coarse wet mud that were poured onto the ground in heaps, and sling them hard against the handmade bricks of the wall. The mud gets smoothed down with a long horizontal stick, and after drying, is stuccoed. The owners of the two neighboring houses are families that were on opposite sides of the genocide and are now close friends. They are delighted with their new homes, into which they invited us with the greatest kindness. Among them was a six-month-old girl, Giselle, who loved to chew my index finger and thumb.
The mud brick home is finished! Clockwise from top left:
Brenda, Richard, Pamela, Gorette, Gorette, Giselle
November 15, 2009 (posted after Richard's return) Murambi Genocide Memorial Center
At Murambi, about 40 km from the Congo border, there was a vocational school with many small classroom buildings. In 1994, Hutu militia herded thousands of Tutsis into the buildings and killed them with machetes or spiked clubs. The breakage pattern produced by each kind of weapon is easy to distinguish on the skull.
The classroom buildings are now a memorial -- room after room of skeletons. The perpetrators doused the bodies with lime immediately after killing, to hasten disintegration, but the skeletons remain and some of them have patches of black hair on their heads, and even shreds of clothing.
The memorial rooms stink of death, still. On the pelvis of each skeleton there are two or three camphor balls to ameliorate the smell.
I'm including as few details as I can. I feel it is important to give you a glimpse.
A mother holding her child. The red ribbon was placed there by a visiting relative.
Learn more at Richard Lawrence Cohen's blog and Flickr >>
A Youtube user stole my videos, my Youtube identity, and is going around the Youtube community leaving nasty, racist, comments. His intention seems to be to ruin my reputation on Youtube across the globe. This is working my biggest fear of having everybody hate me, and my boyfriend (who is totally not into The Work) did inquiry with me to the point where I GENUINELY don’t fear what will happen. I found that I look FORWARD to more Youtube trolls stealing my identity because it raises awareness for SA (social anxiety) and also The Work of Byron Katie! People who have never heard of The Work are beginning to learn about it because of this amazing angel who stole my identity. He has so much love for the world, and he doesn’t even know it yet! ;)
I know you are busy, and I had one question for you: Some of us are living the turnaround “I look forward to suffering forever.” Do you have any examples of why it could be a good thing to suffer forever?
With love, Janey
Suffering right now, not just forever, is the result of living out of an unquestioned mind. I don’t have any good examples of why it could be a good thing to suffer at all, anytime, not to mention forever, other than to feel the suffering, identify the thoughts that are causing the suffering (use a Judge-Your -Neighbor Worksheet, downloadable free at TheWork.com), and do The Work on the identified concepts that are causing the suffering, and then look forward to any suffering left to show you what hasn’t been dealt with yet, and then do The Work with that.
Also, “forever” implies a future in time, and no one can know for sure what that will bring. In this moment ”now” is the only “real” piece of time available to us. And why can’t this moment be enough suffering? Why must we project this suffering now into an imagined future for more? So to answer your question, “Why could it be a good thing to suffer forever?” So you can do The Work on the idea “I am going to suffer forever” and end your suffering and fear about the future you are believing in now. To do The Work on this idea, to discover that the idea of suffering forever is the cause of your suffering now, could be the end of your fear of the future. Why would someone want to question the idea “I will suffer forever”? Because what this fear is creating is your stressful moment now.
Letter: The Work in Malawi
Kondwani continues his work in the prisons of Malawi. Here’s a short note I just received from him:
How are you doing? I am okay. I have just decided to send you this news article about Malawi Prison, where I have been helping in various ways. This is just to show you that I am still doing The Work with prisoners and the people around my community, it is my hobby now and I love doing it. Have a look onto a picture and please download the whole story.
I love THE WORK in My Life for Ever.
I love that you are doing The Work in the prisons of Malawi. I’m very grateful for you and your passion for The Work and the freedom it brings, in or out of prison. I find it wondrous that of all the people in Malawi, you are the one the prisoners speak of, you are the only one helping them, and they seem so very grateful. I am very grateful too that you are in the world for them, Kondwani.
Loving you always,
Now in Spanish: Mil Nombres Para El Gozo
La profunda sabiduría de Byron Katie no es algo teórico; es absolutamente auténtica. Es lo que hace que su libro sea apasionante. Se trata del retrato de una mujer totalmente feliz, ya sea que baile con su nieta o descubra que le acaban de robar en casa, ya esté frente a un asesino o camine hacia la cocina para prepararse una ensalada, ya se enteré de que va a quedarse ciega o se le diagnostique un cáncer. Mediante sus historias, en las que nos muestra que se encuentra cómoda en cualquier circunstancia. Katie hace algo más que describir la mente iluminada, nos lo hace ver y sentir en vivo. La clave es que nos muestra que esta mente nos pertenece.Comprar >>
The Work's ongoing 28-day program exists for the sole purpose of turning your life around. The stories of transformation at Turnaround House are spectacular, and miracles are commonplace and daily. You are invited to bring your body and your open mind to your Turnaround House experience. Your program will begin the moment that you arrive. We are here to receive you today, our arms and our hearts wide open and we are ready to say to you with all our heart, "Welcome home."