Reaching your full potential is doing well whatever you are doing in the moment. It’s not about the future.– Byron Katie
Since the past is unreal and the future is unreal, all your thoughts are about nothing.– Byron Katie
For us, the past is imagined. The future is imagined. And what we call the present is our ideas about something already gone.
Since all our thoughts are about the past and future, they are about nothing.
When you fall in love with the unknown, you are free.– Byron Katie
This is not the unknown that’s outside of what we think we know. This is the unknown within what we think we know. The receptivity that comes from knowing we cannot know anything for certain. And that this applies to everything, including our own personal life and who and what we take ourselves to be.
When you walk in a dream and you know it’s a dream, that’s love.– Byron Katie
Just like a dream, our waking world is happening within and as consciousness. And to ourselves, we are that consciousness.
Also like a dream, if we believe our mental images and words about the waking world, the way it appears to us seems real and true.
Any lack of love comes from what we believe about our world. We take our mental images and words as true, that creates stress and struggle, and it covers up the love that’s here.
To the extent we recognize our world as a dream – as happening within and as consciousness, and our images and thoughts about it as not inherently or absolutely true – there is a release of the stress and struggle.
And what’s here is love. A love for our world as it is. A love for our world as one. A love for our world as what we are.
All thoughts are recycled.– Byron Katie
Our stressful thoughts are recycled. They may seem very personal as long as we hold them as true. But they are variations of very old and familiar stressful thoughts for humanity. They are variations on universally stressful thoughts.
Any thought is stressful when it is believed. No thought is absolutely true and life will remind us of that, as will our mind which already knows. Believing a thought creates a position that’s not completely aligned with reality, and that’s inherently stressful.
I should also mention that, in a strict and literal sense, it’s not true that all thoughts are recycled. There are some new thoughts within science, philosophy, and art, although these too are usually variations on familiar themes. From what I know about Byron Katie, this is not what she refers to in her quote.
The real end has no beginning– Byron Katie
I don’t know how Byron Katie sees this. For me, the real end means to come home to what I am here now. And that has no beginning since its always here. It’s always what I am.
Byron Katie speaks here from a conscious noticing of what she is. What she is notices itself as all there is. If the recipient is not in this place, Katie’s words may be impossible to understand or require a lot of mental gymnastics to begin making intellectual sense. If the recipient is in a similar place as Katie, then the words make immediate sense and points to what’s here. They are simple and straight forward.
I’m being breathed, lived, done, in a doing that is far– Byron Katie
When we see thoughts as thoughts, we also see this. We see that everything about us – our thoughts, feelings, actions, perceptions – happen. They happen on their own. They live their own life.
Any sense of an “I” doing any of it comes from identifying with thoughts, and most obviously the thoughts saying “I did it”.
We can explore this through different forms of inquiry, including The Work of Byron Katie, Living Inquiries, and also Headless experiments. The Work helps us undo the specific thoughts around this. Living Inquiries helps us explore how our mind creates its own experience of being an I, doer, observer, and so on. The headless experiments shows us all of it, including any sense of an “I” doing it, happening within and as what we are.
One of my favorite explorations around this is to take a very simple activity in my life and then find the causes for this activity. On the surface, it may seem that I chose to do it and that’s why I do it. But when I look a little more closely, I find innumerable reasons and these stretch back to the beginning of time and the widest extent of the universe. There is always one more reason. After a while, it becomes clear that the idea of an “I” doing it is not as central as it initially seemed. It’s all of existence doing it.
For instance, I just brushed my teeth. What are the causes of brushing my teeth? I can find it in…. Culture. My dentist told me to do it. My parents taught me its importance. Other people do it. I have teeth. I have arms. I have hands. I have a tooth brush. Someone had the idea for a tooth brush. Someone designed this particular one. Someone made this tooth brush. Someone brought it to the store. The store sold it to me. I had money to pay for it. The Earth provided the materials for this tooth brush. The Earth – and universe and existence – created people with teeth that decay and tooth brushes and a culture encouraging it. The universe evolved into and as this evolving Earth. The Universe formed itself into matter, solar systems, planets, and this particular living planet. There is time that allows all of this to unfold. And so on. There is always one more cause, and then another.
Life will bring us everything we need, to show us what we haven’t undone yet.– Byron Katie
What does Byron Katie mean by “what we haven’t undone yet”? I assume she specifically means stressful beliefs we haven’t examined and seen through. And indirectly, she means any unresolved emotional issues, traumas, wounds, and hangups.
How does this work? How does life brings us what we need to shows us what we haven’t undone yet?
I can find a few different ways.
We tend to perceive and act on what we haven’t undone, life responds and gives us feedback on this, and this is life’s invitation to us to notice what’s left in us and undo it.
Our mind tends to go to what’s not yet undone in us, and what’s not yet undone also tends to bubble up on its own. In a sense, our mind seeks to understand and resolve what’s not yet undone, and what’s not yet undone seeks to be met, understood, loved, and resolved.
And equally important, life is rich and brings us a lot of different things, and most of us have a lot we haven’t undone yet. So some of what life brings us will inevitably show us some of what we haven’t undone yet. If we pay attention, we may notice this daily and even in just about every situation we are in.
Is there something even beyond this? Yes, I am sure I can find more concrete examples. And I am sure there is more outside of what I am aware of.
Happiness may look entirely different from the way you imagine it.– Byron Katie
We have ideas of how a happy life looks. We have ideas about what life situations we need to be happy. Perhaps it’s health, money, a loving relationship or something else.
And yet, life may surprise us.
We may find ourselves in a very different situation than we imagined and find happiness there. We may live in a different place than we imagined. Do different type of work. Be in a relationship with someone we didn’t imagine. And find that we are very happy in that situation.
We may also find that happiness is less dependent on specific circumstances than we thoughts. We may find ourselves with an illness and perhaps without money or a partner. And still find happiness. We may find happiness in situations we imagined would be terrible and didn’t want at all, and perhaps still wish were different.
How is that possible? It’s possible through questioning our stressful beliefs about what is and what should be. Through questioning our stressful beliefs about anything in our life. And through questioning our most basic assumptions about ourselves and life.
Sometimes, this questioning is a natural and organic process and happens as part of our life. Sometimes, we can fuel it a bit through more structured inquiry and perhaps with the assistance of others who know the process.
The Work of Byron Katie is one way to do this.
A few years ago, when I was in the middle of a difficult time in my own life, I found the The Work of Byron Katie helpline very helpful.
These days, a lot of things come up for people for a variety of reasons, so I thought I would share this resource here.
It’s free and you don’t need any experience with The Work or other forms of inquiry. The facilitator you work with will help you with each step in the process. It’s a gentle process and can be – especially if you are very sincere – profoundly transformative.
How does it work? Select a stressful situation. Fill out a Judge Your Neighbor (JYN) worksheet. And take each stressful thought through the four questions and the turnarounds.
This helps us identify the stressful thoughts which, in itself, can be helpful. Sometimes, these thoughts can simmer in us without us being aware of exactly what they say or are about. It helps us see that the initial stressful thoughts may not be true or true in the way we took them. It helps us find other angles that may be as or more true for us. And through this, there is typically a sense of relief and quieting down. (If there isn’t, it’s often because there may be other stressful thoughts we haven’t identified yet.)
Through this process, we may also identify underlying – more basic – stressful thoughts, which we can then take through the inquiry.
As most or all (?) catalysts for healing and awakening, the formal steps of The Work mimics how our mind works when it is more awake and healed. It helps us find our own wisdom, answers, and what’s true for us. And if we do it regularly over time, it comes alive in us in daily life.
People ask how I can live if nothing has any meaning and I’m no one. It’s very simple. We are being lived. We’re not doing it. Are you breathing yourself? That’s the end of the story. Did you just put your hand on your face? Did you plan it? Without a story, we move quite well. Effortlessly. In perfect health. Fluidly, freely, with a lot of love. And without war, without resistance. This possibility can be very frightening for people who think that they have control. So investigate, and see how life goes on, so much more joyfully. Even in its apparent collapsing, I see only joy.Byron Katie
Being present means living without control and always having your needs met. For people who are tired of the pain, nothing could be worse than trying to control what can’t be controlled. If you want real control, drop the illusion of control. Let life live you. It does anyway. You’re just telling the story about how it doesn’t, and that’s a story that can never be real. You didn’t make the rain or the sun or the moon. You have no control over your lungs or your heart or your vision or your breath. One minute you’re fine and healthy, the next minute you’re not. When you try to be safe, you live your life trying to be very, very careful, and you may wind up having no life at all. Everything is nourishment. I like to say, “Don’t be careful; you could hurt yourself.”
You can’t make people moral. People are what they are, and they’ll do what they do, with or without our laws. Remember the p
rohibitionamendment? I hear that it was passed by well-intentioned, moral people, who just wanted to save the rest of us from the temptation of alcohol. Of courseit failed,because sobriety can come only from the inside. You can’t force people to be sober or honest or kind. You can say “thou shalt not” till you’re blue in the face, and they’ll do it anyway.
The best way, the only effective way, is to serve as an example and not to impose your will.Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy
I agree with this, and also see how it can easily be misunderstood.
It’s doesn’t mean not working towards something in life. Or creating the conditions for a happy and healthy society and life. Or being assertive when that’s needed.
It doesn’t mean that anything needs to change. Apart from one thing, and that’s the idea that we can control life, or need to, or that life would be better if we could.
So how do we arrive at this place of more clarity around control?
And what does she mean by finding real control through dropping the illusion of control? I am not sure, but for me it means that when I see through the illusion of having, or needing, or even wanting control, there is a resting in reality. I, as a separate being, don’t have control over life and never will. I don’t need it and never did. When I look, I see I don’t even really want it, and never did. And, in some ways, that’s control.
At the very least, it’s freedom from the lack of control – the instability and stress – I create for myself when I believe my ideas of needing, having, or wanting control. It’s a resting in and as what is.
You think you want your plan. You don’t. You want what is.
– Byron Katie
Byron Katie, saying it as it is since 1986.
Why do we want what is? One answer is that we get so much out of what is, often more than we would get out what we think we want, and what specifically that is depends on the specific situation. The more basic answer is because we are what everything is. Our identity is the same.
When you free yourself, you free us.
– Byron Katie
In the context of The Work of Byron Katie: When I free myself from a particular belief, I free others from me perceiving, acting, and living from that belief.
Belief here means taking a story, any story, as solid, true, and final. When we do so, we inevitably create suffering for ourselves, and we tend to become a nuisance to others. Most of us have learned – from parents and culture – to do so, and undoing it takes time. It’s an ongoing process, one belief at a time.
Also, these beliefs operate at different levels. Some, we may take as real and final in our conscious view and we may not be motivated to question them until life clearly and painfully pushes up against these beliefs. In other cases, our conscious view may be quite different from a deeper belief that still color our perceptions, actions, and life. And there are combinations of these. Read More
Anything you want to ask a teacher, ask yourself, and wait for the answer in silence.
– Byron Katie
For me, this feels like planting a seed. Set the intention for something to emerge around a question. Let it go and live life. And an answer comes within a few days or more. Even if I do ask someone more experienced than me, I tend to do this first. Then I get my own answer, and their answer may come from a different angle and be helpful for that reason. And practical pointers from others are always welcome.
Judge God, and find freedom.
– Byron Katie
This is one of the statements aimed at (a) generating curiosity about The Work, and (b) serve as a reminder or pointer for those already familiar with it.
Judge God and find freedom: Write down your judgments about God, AKA life, the world, situations and circumstances, other people. Honestly inquire into those judgments and find what’s more true for you. And find freedom. Find freedom from your own stressful beliefs. It does work.
In the A Christmas Carol episode of Doctor Who, the doctor rewrites the past of the Scrooge character, which changes his personality. Different memories, different personality.
That’s how it is with inquiry as well, and perhaps especially The Work. As Byron Katie says (paraphrased), forgiveness is what happens when we see that what we thought happened didn’t.
Through questioning our thoughts about our past, we change ourselves.
The ultimate addiction is the mind believing itself.
– Byron Katie
This is perhaps the only addiction, at least from the mind side of the mind-energy equation. The mind is addicted to believing its own stories. And from there, the other addictions are created.
The mind is addicted to believing its own stories. It uses a lot of energy and resources maintaining, supporting, and propping up its stories so they seem true to itself.
It does so because it’s familiar, other minds do the same, and it seems scary to do anything else. Who would we be without those stories? How would we function? What would we find?
Also, most minds don’t know how to release its addiction to beliefs. We are unable to, so it often doesn’t even bother trying. Until, perhaps, the pain of believing stories is so strong and obvious that we wish to find another way.
And a few words about addiction.
In a conventional sense, we can say that most addictions come from trying to deal with pain, wounds, and a sense of lack. We try to fill a hole. We try to avoid the pain. We try to find some temporary relief and comfort. And we do so through a wide range of addictions – whether it’s entertainment, relationships, nature, work, music, books, food, spirituality, drugs, alcohol, or something else.
Addiction is the mind’s safety valve. It’s natural. And yet, it can create a lot of additional problems in our lives. And it does prevent deeper healing, awakening, and embodiment.
Addiction is also how we often get on the path to healing and awakening. Eventually, the pain inherent in it is too much. We see it doesn’t work. It’s a dead end. We wish for something else.
The original addiction is believing painful thoughts. That’s how the pain is created that leads to and fuels the other addictions.
So what’s the solution? Of the many out there, here are some I am familiar with.
Rest with and allow sensations, including the uncomfortable ones. Rest with and allow any experience, including the uncomfortable ones. Make this a new habit.
Inquire into the painful thoughts. Find what’s more true (The Work). Allow the charge to go out of them (Living Inquiries).
Release the tension fueling the pain and addiction from the body. (Therapeutic tremoring, TRE).
Change your relationship to the painful stories and what they are about, and the pain itself. Befriend it. (Ho’o, tonglen.)
Release and clear the emotional issues fueling the addiction(s). (Vortex Healing.)
Train a more stable and pliable attention. This is a useful tool for any endavour.
Addiction is a universal human experience. We are all addicted to something in a conventional sense. And we are all addicted to believing thoughts as well. It’s natural. It has a function. And yet, it’s painful and unsatisfactory in the long run. So it’s also a gift that can set us on the path of healing and awakening. And there are ways to heal addictions, especially if we have the right tools and guidance, and motivation and persistence.
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.
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.
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.
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.