The ego’s job is to kill everything but itself


The ego’s job is to kill everything but itself.
Byron Katie

Love will kill anything that’s not like itself.
Byron Katie (37:20)

The ego’s job is to kill everything but itself. What’s the ego? It’s what happens when a thought is taken as true, the dynamics around a belief. It’s what shows up from question #3 in The Work. When a story is taken as true, only what fits the story is allowed so the mind “kills” everything else. It (temporarily) kills reality.


Poverty is internal


Poverty is internal. Every time you think you know something, you’re experiencing poverty.
– Byron Katie on FaceBook

When I think I know something, my mind is in service of that belief.

It finds evidence to support the belief. It sets aside what doesn’t fit.

It allows only ways of acting and being in the world that fits the belief, and overlooks other options. It limits creativity.


The School for The Work


I just returned from The School for The Work with Byron Katie in Germany, and am very grateful I was able to go.

For now, here are some adjustments to how I do inquiry:

When write a Judge Your Neighbor worksheet and do the four questions and a turnaround, do it with a specific situation in mind. Keep it simple, focus and go back to one specific situation.

When working with the questions, be still and wait for answer.

For #4 – who would I be without the thought? – again go back to the situation and be specific. What other options are available to me when I don’t have that thought?

Use simple and real turnarounds. Use the original sentence, turn it around to the self, other or the opposite, and repeat. Sometimes there is just one turnaround and that’s OK.


Byron Katie: The Gift of Criticism


The Gift of Criticism by Byron Katie.

When we understand what criticism is really about, we find that it is one of the most powerful tools for self-realization and growth – if you really want to know the truth.

Here are some steps on how to use and understand criticism for your highest benefit:

When someone says you are wrong, unkind, unclear, uncaring, etc., feel it. Settle into it before you strike out; experience it, even invite it. Ask yourself, “Is it true? Could they be right?” Wait for the answer.

No matter what anyone says to you, or about you, if you experience stress, then you are the one who is suffering from your hidden secret – the secret you hide even from yourself in the moment – and the mind will do its job at this point which is to attack. Your own mind’s attack is the cause of stress. Stress is the signal that it is time to ask you, time to inquire, an opportunity for you to know the truth. Stress is always an opportunity to experience forgiveness with the people you judge and those who judge you, and to end stress within you. Forgiveness cannot be found anywhere else. Forgiveness is when you realize that what you think happened didn’t.

Being honest with yourself and being vulnerable can be the end of the illusion of being manipulated in any way. When you are genuinely humble, there is no place for criticism to stick. This is where clarity takes on life as effective, kind action.

Inquiry is a direct internal path to freedom from the lie and from deep secrets, and therefore, freedom from the fear of your lies being discovered.

Via Janey from Korea.

Byron Katie: A Thousand Names for Joy


No one knows what’s good and what’s bad. No one knows what death is. Maybe it’s not a something; maybe it’s not even a nothing. It’s the pure unknown, and I love that. We imagine that death is a state of being or a state of nothingness, and we frighten ourselves with our own concepts. I’m a lover of what is: I love sickness and health, coming and going, life and death. I see life and death as equal. Reality is good; so death must be good, whatever it is, if it’s anything at all.
– from chapter 33 of A Thousand Names for Joy

We can only be afraid of what we believe we are-whatever there is in ourselves that we haven’t met with understanding. If I thought you might see me as boring, for example, it would frighten me, because I haven’t questioned that thought. So it’s not people who frighten me, it’s me that frightens me. That’s my job, to frighten me, until I investigate this fear for myself. The worst that can happen is that I think you think about me what I think about myself. So I am sitting in a pool of me.
– from chapter 46 of A Thousand Names for Joy

Two excerpts from Byron Katie’s this modern-day commentary on Tao Te Ching. Highly recommended, especially as inspiration for own inquiry.

Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie


I am listening to Your Inner Awakening by Byron Katie, and this is another audio book I can highly recommend.

This is a great overview of The Work. Katie talks about her own story, the ins and outs of the process, how it may look when applied to the main areas of our lives, and with examples of Katie leading people through investigations of our universal stories such as I need more money. Always with an invitation to the listener to find their own answers and get a taste of the process that way.

Live up to your attainment with care


Live up to your attainment with care.
Sixth Patriarch

In this koan (see the full text below), Myo awakened. (Reality awakened to itself, awakened from temporarily taking itself to be Myo.)

And after awakening, there is the process of living from it with care. It can easily be obscured, and that happens as soon as we take any story as true or identify with any viewpoint.

As Byron Katie says, we are awakened – or not – to a thought. The thought that is here now.


Getting up


A simple little practice suggested by Byron Katie. 

When I wake up in the morning, I can wait and be curious about when the body gets up. I find that it always does get up, and gets up in time if I have something scheduled. And it is completely without drama since the “doer” is out of the picture. (Or at least occupied with observing.) I may even notice some of the process behind getting up, such as a thought of getting up immediately preceding my body actually getting up. 

It is a great practice for a few different reasons.

It helps me see that choices can be made and actions done without a “doer”. I may notice something about the process behind choices and acting on them. I notice that without a “doer”, choices are made and actions happen simply and without drama. I may notice concerns about choices not being made and actions not being taken without a “doer”. (There may be a little drama around this, especially in the beginning.) And maybe most importantly, as I notice this over and over, I learn to trust it and allow for it to happen in other situations in daily life. 


Enlightened or not to a thought, and never know in advance


As Byron Katie says, we are either enlightened to a thought ot not. And we never know in advance.

When I am not enlightened to a thought, I take it as true and act as if it is true.

When I am enlightened to a thought, I see it as a story with limited truth, I recognize the truth in its reversals, I see it as a tool of temporary and practical use only, and I recognize that it doesn’t even begin to touch what is really going on – whether in a conventional sense (the world is always more than and different from any story) or in the context of what I am and everything is (the play of Ground, God).

And I never know in advance if I am going to be enlightened to a thought or not. I may have been in the past, but not now. I may be now, but not in the future.

That is OK, and more than OK. Whenever I notice the signs of taking a story as true, I can take it as a reminder for inquiry, for finding what is more true for me than the initial belief.

And this goes whether I am “generally enlightened” or not. My center of gravity may be as a separate I, a doer or observer. My center of gravity may be in what I am, that which all experience happens within and as. And in either case, I may be enlightened or not to any particular thought that comes up.




In exploring beliefs, I come to see that whenever I take a story as true, I act as if it is true. Pretty obvious, but it is different to see if over and over, and allowing it to sink in.

And this is also a simple way of exploring regrets.

I go back to a situation I experience regret over. Look at the beliefs I had then. And ask myself, did I have a choice? Given those beliefs, could I have acted differently?

It is a way to help us see the innocence in it, find some compassion for ourselves, and allowing regrets to fall away. (more…)

Expectations = plan


M: … but in reality if he went out and used again, it could be tough for me.

Byron Katie: Oh, there’s a plan. “I think I will plan that.” [M laughs.] If you want to know your plan, look at your mind. It will show you. “That will be tough.” There’s a plan.

On my way through PDX to San Francisco, I read short sections of Who Would You Be Without Your Story and then stayed with it for a while, letting it work on me.

The quote above especially made an impression on me, maybe because it is something I have explored on my own lately.

When I have an expectation, I have a plan. I have a plan for how it will turn out, and I may either interpret what happens so it fits my expectation, or act so it is more likely to happen – to the extent it can at least.


Generating statements


Byron Katie has a very effective way of finding beliefs and generating statements for inquiry:

Write down one of the things you are most ashamed of in your life. Something you like the least to share with others and yourself.

Then, write down a list of what this means.

Say the initial statement is that I lied to a friend. And that means that I can’t be trusted, I betrayed our friendship, I am a lousy friend, he wouldn’t want anything to do with me if he knew, I am a bad person, I am confused, I put myself ahead of others, and so on.

Then select one or more of these that have the most charge, or do all of them one at a time, and take them to inquiry. Is it true? Sure? What happens when I believe that thought? Who would I be without them? What are the reversals, and the genuine truths in each of them?

If the universe is friendly


Byron Katie had a good additional question during the workshop on Saturday:

If the universe is a friendly place, why would ….? (Fill in with the topic of the initial belief.)

This is quite similar to Joanna Macy‘s exercise called My Choices for This Life, or the Bodhisattva Check-In, where we explore why we chose to be as a human being in this moment of history, and then explore this more in detail with the particulars of this human life. How does it all contribute to this life, with its particular insights, gifts, opportunities?

Both are of course just thought experiments, a way of framing our experience in a different way.

And at the same time, both mimic how it appears when Big Mind, and especially Big Heart, awakens to itself. When Big Mind/Heart is awake to itself, we naturally see the life of this human self in the context of the universe as friendly, and the particulars of our life as gifts to open our heart and mind.

But there is no need to make it into a belief. If it is not alive in immediate experience, it can be explored as just a thought experiment. A what if, and then see what comes out of it.

As a subquestion in The Work, it may fit immediately before or after the turnarounds when our view is already quite open and receptive.

How I got into The Work


We went to a workshop with Byron Katie in Ashland this weekend (9 inches of snow Sunday!), and I appreciate how she goes right into The Work without any introduction or talk about philosophy. She asked how many had never tried it before, then asked us to fill out a “what I complain about” worksheet, did the process with a few participants, and then had us facilitate each other.

Someone asked me about The Work earlier tonight, and I told her the story of how I got into it.

A couple of years back, I visited a friend of mine in Salt Lake City that I hadn’t seen for a while. He has had chronic fatigue syndrome for as long as I have known him, and had always looked tired, worn down, exhausted. This time, when he opened the door, he was radiant. I asked him if the chronic fatigue was gone and he said “no, but I am not bothered by it anymore”.

He had found peace with the symptoms, and instead of working against the symptoms was now working with it. He would rest when he needed, work when he could, and the drama had gone out of it.

I thought that if it had worked so well for him, who had decades of experience with Buddhism and other approaches, it would be interesting for me to try it as well. He gave me some worksheets, I tried it without much initial success, he facilitated me so I could get a taste of it, and I have stayed with it since.