A response from Byron Katie to a letter after the last US election:
Now that Obama has won, I’m noticing friends of mine are going to the gun store and buying more guns and ammunition. This seems ridiculous to me, but when I ask them why, they reply, “because Obama will take away our guns.”
What is wrong with these people? I don’t know how to wake them up, Katie. I tried to talk to them about racism and their feelings before the elections, but nothing would change their minds. I’m sad and upset that these “friends” of mine are so narrow-minded and racist.
What can I do to change them? They are normal, decent people in most ways, except when it comes to politics.
Let’s start with you offering your friends the one-liner “Obama is going to take away our guns—is that true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” Etc. But only if they are open to it.
And for your sake, I invite you to personally work with “Obama is going to take away our guns” and see what it might be like to walk in your friends’ minds, world, and internal life and fears. I invite you to look at taking away the gun that you are aiming at your friends, the judgments that you are shooting at them inside you. Also, try working with “There is something wrong with these people,” “They need to wake up,” “I need to do something to change them,” and “They are not decent people when it comes to politics.” For now, let’s look at “These friends of mine are narrow-minded and racist.”
Is this true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true? Can you absolutely know that it’s true that your friends are narrow-minded and racist? Notice that your mind wants to defend your position, to justify, to show proof of why it is true. Notice this and return to a simple yes or a no. Commit to one answer or the other. The Work stops working the moment your mind moves away from the questions and into its old pattern of justification and defense, winning and losing. Just notice these tendencies and continue to answer the questions. Give them a respectful amount of time; you are worth it. There is wisdom beneath the the surface answers, there are answers that are pure gold to you, and they offer freedom that you cannot imagine. When you have given the first two questions plenty of time and answered them, please gently move to the third question.
How do you react when you believe the thought “My friends are narrow-minded and racist”? Do you feel sick to your stomach, disgusted, sad, even frightened for them? For you? Do you see images of them using the guns? Notice how you react when you believe that thought. Do you see yourself as superior to them? How do you treat yourself when you believe this thought, how do you treat them? Give this question some time, be still with it for a while.
Who would you be without the thought “My friends are narrow-minded and racist”? Would you be less frightened, less separated from them, lighter, easier of mind, less judgmental? Would you be happier thinking of and being with your friends, a closer listener, really hearing their minds, hearts, and fears without separating yourself from them?
Now turn it around. Are you being narrow-minded, sweetheart? Have you ever experienced yourself as racist, even a tiny bit? Have you been prejudiced against prejudiced people? Are you seeing these friends of yours as less enlightened than you, less rational, less wise, less open?
Another turnaround: My friends are open-minded and (what is the opposite of”racist”?) open-hearted. Let’s try that one. Where have these friends been more open to you than you were to them? To yourself? How narrow-minded are you when it comes to self-judgments? Where are these friends more open in other areas in life than you are? Find at least three examples of each turnaround, and continue with the next turnaround, and/or begin to work with another judgment that you are holding on to. Because until you do, you are the cause of the separation that is happening in the human race and that separation in the world is what you are putting out there, it is what you teach those in contact with you.
Help yourself. Understand your stressful thoughts. I cannot teach others until I have taken on my own narrow mind and my own racism. And if you need to make new friends, look to yourself. You may consider yourself a much better friend to wake up with after you have taken yourself where you really want to go. For me, I want to deal with anything within me that would separate me from anyone or anything. This is intimacy, oneness, love.
Loving what is, and that would be you,