A kind universe?

 

The universe is a friendly place.

That’s something Byron Katie says, and it’s sometimes repeated by her followers.

It can be understood in a few different ways.

Life unfolds as we like it. When life unfolds as our personality and human self (conditioning) likes it, it’s easy to see it as kind and feel that the universe – in this case – was friendly.

Life is challenging. When life is challenging, we can see it as an invitation for clarity, healing, maturing, and awakening. Specifically, we can question our stressful – and unkind – beliefs and find what’s already more true – and kind – to us. We discover that when we go deeper, we find more true and kind stories. Here too, we can see how the universe is friendly even when life goes against our very human preferences.

Anything at all. Independent of what happens, it all happens within and as Spirit. When we see this, we see that the universe is inherently kind no matter what happens. The universe is inherently friendly.

The first opens us up to gratitude in an ordinary way. The second is a path to deeper seeing and deeper healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment. And the third is revealed to the extent the “veils” have gone, the identifications with and as particular content of experience creating a belief in stressful stories (any story is stressful when believed) and sense of being a separate being.

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Byron Katie: Anyone who is angry is fearful

 

Anyone who is angry is fearful.

– Byron Katie

That’s my experience as well. Behind anger is fear. Fearful stories create anger, fear, compulsions, and much more.

Stressful stories that we hold as true lead to fear – which can take the form of anger, sadness, or compulsions. The answer is to question these stories and hold all of it in kindness and presence.

Byron Katie: We use other people to feel okay

 

We use other people to feel okay.

– Byron Katie

Yes, we use other people to feel OK.

We medicate ourselves with their love, their attention, their affection, their admiration, and through touch and sex. (We can even medicate ourselves through drama since it’s a distraction from more uncomfortable feelings and thoughts.)

And all that is OK, although it sometimes comes with a lot of struggle and suffering. We hold on for dear life when it looks like we may lose it. We experience withdrawal when we lose it. We seek it when we feel we don’t have it. We wish what we have is different and better at making us feel OK.

We use others to fill that hole or void in us that many of us experience. We use others to cover up or compensate for a sense of not being good enough, and any other ways we feel deficient.

There is another way. And that is to meet our own experience with kindness, and gently explore how our mind creates these experiences of void and deficiencies. That’s where we can find a more real and thorough resolution and a more genuine and ultimately satisfying relationship with ourselves and others.

When we use others to feel OK, we create a sense of separation between us and them. And when this softens or falls away, what’s left is a sense of intimacy.

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Byron Katie: What is suffering?

 

What is suffering?

The imagined not-now.

– Byron Katie

The imagination of what was. What may be.

The imagination of this moment lasting forever.

With added stories that this – what’s here now, including these stories – is not OK.

How does the mind do this?

By associating sensations with these images and words, so they have a charge, and seem solid and real.

Or, said a few other ways, by identifying with the viewpoint of these words and images. By taking itself as this viewpoint. By believing these stories. And it does so by associating sensations with the words and images, the viewpoints, the stories, making them appear to itself as solid and real, and sometimes even unquestionable.

Any not-now is imagined. It’s made up of words and images, which are placed on an imagined timeline. This is very helpful, and we couldn’t function without it. At the same time, it is all imagined, and it’s good to notice. Even the stories about the present, and the idea of a present, are imaginations, made up of words and images, sometimes associated with sensations.

Katie: Would you like to know the secret to happiness?

 

Would you like to know the secret to happiness? Kindness and Gratitude. Nothing else is required.

– Byron Katie

Yes, and that includes kindness and gratitude towards everything in our experience. The whole field of experience. Any image. Any word. Any sensation.

Since most of us are trained to not do this, at least not consistently or universally, it can take time. We are retraining ourselves. We are forming a new habit. A large oil tanker needs time to slow down and turn, and that’s how it often is with us too. But with intention and dedication, it is possible. It can be done.

Byron Katie: The body is the ego’s greatest ally

 

The body is the ego’s greatest ally.

– Byron Katie

Yes, in so many ways.

I am this body. I will die. I don’t want to die.

My body is sick. It will get sick. It’s not good looking enough. It’s too old. It will get old. I won’t be attractive anymore. They won’t like me. I am wearing the wrong clothes. What will people think about how I look? Am I good and impressive enough looking to find a partner?

I am this body. The rest of the world is not me. It’s something that can help me or hurt me. It’s a precarious situation.

And more basic:

These sensations are connected to these images and words, and means these images and words are real, solid and true.

The mind is great at coming up with thoughts related to or relying on the body. And there is no end to how much stress can be created by these thoughts when they are unexamined and held as true. (Even if just a part of us hold them as true.)

Byron Katie: Pleasure is pain

 

Pleasure is pain.

– Byron Katie

Yes. Pleasure is pain because……

Pleasure and pain are both sensations + images + words. The only difference is the meaning my mind attaches to the sensations. (One example is fear. If I experience fear while watching a good movie, or while on an amusement park ride, I may interpret it as pleasure. If I experience fear while alone in a dark alley, or after getting a diagnosis from my doctor, my mind may interpret it as pain.)

Pleasure is pain when I attach to the idea of needing pleasure. When it’s compulsive, pleasure seeking is painful. Trying to get it is painful. Anticipating it going away is painful. Having it go away is painful. Anticipating not finding it again is painful. Realizing that pleasure seeking is inherently unsatisfactory, while still being caught in it, is painful.

Hell, heaven, purgatory

 

If in heaven you believed everything you believed here on earth, where would you be?

– Byron Katie

Hell, heaven, even purgatory are states of mind, and we experience them here and now.

Hell. In a way, it’s true that people who hurt others go to hell, because hurting others comes from a hellish mind state. It comes from believing painful thoughts. It often comes from unhealed trauma.

People who Christians traditionally thought would go to hell often already are in hell. Their actions comes from a hellish mind state.

And when I say “people” I mean (just about) all of us, including myself. I sometimes experience and act from a hellish mind state. It may not always be as extreme as it sometimes is for us humans, but it’s still a hellish mind state, and it can lead to actions that sometimes hurts others (in an ordinary, everyday sense).

Heaven. Similarly, we all sometimes experience heaven. We find ourselves in heavenly mind states. These come about in three ways.

(a) When things go our way. When life conforms to our shoulds.

(b) When we find peace with what is, as it is.

(c) When we meet our experiences and our world with heaven, with love, kindness, noticing, feeling, allowing (the content of our current experience).

The first of these is somewhat outside of our control. We are dependent on life circumstances for this form of heaven to happen. The third comes from intention, practice, and creating new ways of relating to our experiences and our world. We create our own heaven, by relating to our world in a heavenly way. (It’s much simpler and more ordinary than that may sound.) It doesn’t just happen, we make it happen in an active and engaged way. And the second comes from the third.

Purgatory. This is what happens on the way from hell to heaven, on the way from a hellish mind state to a heavenly mind state. It may happen in inquiry, when we look at and feel hell as part of the exploration, eventually leading to finding more peace with it. It may happen in TRE, when trembling releases old and previously unresolved emotions and memories. It may happen just as part of life, when old unresolved things surface with an invitation to see it, feel it, find love for it as it is (to meet it with heaven).

I usually don’t use these words, since they belong to a different worldview than the ones I am more comfortable with. But it’s sometimes helpful to use terminology from our mainstream culture to bridge and explore. (It also bridges something in me.)

And yes, I know that the ideas of heaven and hell come from Christianity and not Jesus. They are not found in the New Testament in the way they later came to be understood. They are created by the Christian tradition. And even within that tradition, there are many ways to understand these words.

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Byron Katie: There is no other

 

There is no other. There is nothing that isn’t born out of you.

– Byron Katie

My world is my own world of images, words, and sense experiences. My world is what I am. It all happens within and as this field of awareness. In that sense, there is no “other”. It’s all born out of me. And “me” here means this field of awareness it’s all happening within and as.

What’s more accurate is that “other” is unfindable. I cannot find others – or the world, or me, or anything – outside of my own images, words, and sense experiences. And unfindable doesn’t mean doesn’t exist.

In any case, for practical reasons, it makes sense to assume that there are others, and a world, and me, and the rest. It helps me orient, navigate, and function in the world. One doesn’t exclude the other.

Byron Katie: Your body is nothing more than a metaphor for your thinking

 

Your body is nothing more than a metaphor for your thinking, mirrored back at you.

When you believe that you are this body, you stay limited, you get to be small, you get to see yourself as apparently encapsulated in one separate form. So every thought has to be about your survival or your health or your comfort or your pleasure, because if you let up for one moment, there would be no body-identification. Every thought has to be about “I” – that’s how you survive.

Without a story of being limited, you’re infinite. People think that limitlessness is terrifying- the ego does everything not to let an experience like that happen. But if inquiry is alive in you, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Katie or a bird or a galaxy or a rock or tree or grain of sand.

Eventually there is no fear. You come to feel total acceptance: “I am this, for now.” You realize that you’re nothing; you’re prior to thought, not a woman or a bird or anything but awareness: a completely silent mind looking at itself. It is limitless. It’s still. It’s aware of itself, delighted with itself, as all things.

– Byron Katie

The love of your life

 

Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.

– Byron Katie

This may seem as a nice thought, and yet we know that it’s not true, right?

It may not feel true. And the reason it doesn’t feel true is that we are not quite there yet.

If we have spent a lifetime being lukewarm to ourselves, or even ignoring or battling ourselves, it takes some intention – and perhaps time – to turn it around.

How do we love ourselves?

The answer comes in two parts. First, what do we mean by “ourselves”? Is it just the image I have of myself? No. The answer is more radical than that. It’s all of our experience. It’s all that I am experiencing, here and now. What I am experiencing happens within and as what I am. It is what I am, in the moment.

Then, do I love it? Typically, we find that we like some parts, dislike other parts, and are neutral towards some parts. Loving it is different. It means kindness to our experience, no matter what that experience is. Kindness towards sadness, anger, joy, exhilaration, grief. Kindness towards resistance, discomfort, contractions. Kindness towards joyful and scary thoughts. Kindness towards physical pain. Resting with it, in kind presence. Even finding love for it.

That’s how we love ourselves. Finding love for my experience, as it is, here and now.

It’s a tall order. It’s radical. And it’s how we discover that we are the love of our life.

I, as all of my experience in the moment, is the love of my life, when I have found how to meet it with genuine love.

Byron Katie: If in heaven you believed everything you believed here on earth

 

If in heaven you believed everything you believed here on earth, where would you be?

– Byron Katie

I would be where I am now. If I believe what I do now – I did something wrong, something terrible may happen, I am unloved, I am missing out – then I would experience the same stress and discomfort as I do now. It’s a good and illuminating thought experiment.

Byron Katie: Pain is in the moment

 

Can you notice how pain is in the moment? It’s not forever even though the mind would lead you to believe it is.

– Byron Katie

It’s very easy for the mind to project the pain that’s here now into the future, and make it seem very real. And very hopeless.

When I notice that’s happening, I sometimes ask myself:

Is it true it’s too much? It is true I can’t take it? Is it true it’s overwhelming?

Is it true it will always be this way? Is it true it will never go away?

Is it true it has to go away? Is it true it would be better if it goes away?

Byron Katie: Heaven, too, is just a beginning

 

As you begin to wake yourself up from your dreams of hell or purgatory, one by one by one, heaven begins to dawn on you in a way that the imagination can’t comprehend. And then, as you continue to question what you believe, you realize that heaven, too, is just a beginning. There is something better than heaven. It’s the eternal, meaningless, in?nitely creative mind. It can’t stop for time or space or even joy. It’s so brilliant that it will shake what’s left of you into the depths of all-consuming wonder.

– Byron Katie

Byron Katie: Life without a future

 

Life without a future is magical.

– Byron Katie

It doesn’t mean having no images or thoughts about the future, or believing there is no future.

It means seeing clearly, through curiosity and investigation, that any images I have about the future are just that, images.

They are images and words, with perhaps sensations associated with them. If unexamined, the sensations will lend a sense of reality and solidity to the images and words. They will seem real, as if they reflect a real future. If examined, I see images as images and words as words, and feel sensations as sensations. It’s clear they are all happening here and now. I cannot find a future outside of these, happening here, and being images, words and sensations.

Byron Katie: Welcome to the movie of who you think you are

 

Welcome to the movie of who you think you are. Pass the popcorn.

– Byron Katie

It’s a commonly used analogy: our life is like a movie.

It has a main character (me). It has drama. It has ups and downs. It has other characters that come and go, some more central than others. It has challenges. It has joys. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. The story has an arc. It’s messy at times. It’s at times fascinating, scary, amusing, funny, tragic, suspenseful, surprising, exciting, predictable, boring and more.

The difference is in identification. Movies are entertaining because we are only mildly identified with the main characters. In contrast, our life can be experiences as a life-and-death matter, and hold onto very tightly, if we are strongly identified with the main character(s). And it can be entertaining and amusing if there is a softer identification.

Also, we can say that just like a movie is projected on a screen, our life – and it’s word – is “projected on awareness”. Or, rather, it happens within and as awareness itself. And just as a movie projected on the screen doesn’t impact the screen, the content of awareness doesn’t impact awareness itself. It doesn’t impact what we more basically are.