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.

Come in order to leave


Byron Katie says that things come to pass, not to stay.

One way of understanding that is in the usual impermanence way, that the world of form is in flux. The world of form is flux. Things come and then pass. Whatever is within content of awareness is already gone as soon as we try to capture it. Whatever arises is always fresh, new, different. God does not repeat itself. (All of this, the whole appearance of flux and change, only arises within the realm of thoughts… memories, projections, ideas of continuity.)

Another way of understanding it is that things come in order to leave. Their reason for happening is to leave, so that we can see our attachments, our beliefs around it saying they should stay longer.

Expanding it a little, we can say that impermanence is an invitation for us to see each of our beliefs from many different angles. We get to see our beliefs that something should not happen even as it is. That things should go away even as they stay. That things should come even as they don’t. That things should stay even as they go away.

Impermanence is an invitation to notice and investigate those beliefs, revealing that which does not come and go, this awakeness that the world of form happens within, to and as.

Inquiry: inquiry is annoying


The Work can be pretty annoying when it becomes another ideology, another guideline for how to respond to situations and how to see the world, another set of rules for what is OK to say and do, another source of information for what is “politically correct”, another way to squish what I really feel, and so on. I see this quite a bit in the BK inquiry world, although not in Byron Katie herself.

As usual, when something just becomes a belief things go out of whack. But when it is really explored, really taken as a practice, it can free us.

Statement: Inquiry is annoying. Read More

Myth of the Given and The Work


I read through the thread on Myth of the Given and The Work at the Integral Naked forum, and learned something more about the myth of the given.

Apparently, working with and seeing through the myth of the given goes beyond the simple version of it: recognizing appearances as just appearances, filtered in numerous ways, conditioned by infinite causes. It also includes a specific way to analyze why it appears as it does through bringing in the intersubjective, and the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st person perspectives.

I guess we have do it one that one specific way for it to count 🙂

So does The Work do it in that one particular way? Let’s see…

  • Intersubjective. Well, The Work is intersubjective in one way (I know this one doesn’t count), in that it is often done with a partner, and also shared with others. Also, it is intersubjective in that many of the subquestions (under question no. 3) specifically helps us look at how our beliefs are created in community, and appears real because they are shared by community. Questions no. 4 and the turnarounds helps us see how they are not absolutes, and that different communities indeed see and filter things differently.
  • 3rd, 2nd and 1st person perspectives. As with the 3-2-1 process, the initial statement and subquestions to question no. 3 is an exploration of the 3rd person perspective (he/she/it). The second person perspective (you) comes in mostly when we work directly with another, reading our inquiries on statements on them while they listen, and we then talk about it afterwards. And the first person (I) comes in throughout.
  • The filter of context. For me, and also others it seems, an analysis of the role of context follows from some of the subquestions for question no. 3, as outlined under the first point. For instance, when we look at the question “when did you first have that thought” it is often clear how it came through culture, family, religion, or some other influence.

This isn’t to say that The Work completely addresses the Myth of the Given, nor that it has to. Also, maybe some additional subquestions, and different configurations of doing it, would make it more aligned? (One question could be “where did the belief come from”, although the answer to that one usually comes through the question “when did you first have that belief”.)

And even if The Work already addresses the Myth of the Given, through many of its subquestions and the turnarounds, why make it explicit? Why not let people discover it for themselves? If it is made explicit, it can too easily just be another myth, another belief, another “should”, another way to blind ourselves.

I also see that the Myth of the Given seemed so obvious to me initially, that we filter the world in innumerable ways, and that these filters are created by infinite causes. But it is apparently not that simple. I still don’t quite get how KW and others use it…

Read More

Inquiry: The Work is blind to the myth of the given


I found these beautiful inquiries by someone who, like me, appreciate the work of Ken Wilber and The Work by Byron Katie.

Here are a few excerpts:

Belief: The Work ignores intersubjectivity. I can turn this around right away.


  1. The Work considers intersubjectivity. I do the Work with my partner. I listen to her Judge your Neighbor worksheet on me and facilitate her doing the Work on me while I listen with an open heart. She does the same thing for me. I couldn’t ask for a better mirror and if that isn’t intersubjectivity what is? The Work can be done with family, friends, colleagues, enemies, anybody. I learn an enormous amount when I facilitate another – about them and me.
  2. I ignore intersubjectivity. When I defend myself against criticism as a knee jerk reaction. As Katie often says, Defense is the first act of War. When I believe my thoughts about others without enquiry. When I do not question my thoughts about me (my multiple selves – parent, child, adult).


Turnarounds to “The Work does not take into consideration the evolution of consciousness”:

  1. The Work does take into consideration the evolution of consciousness. The Work questions the lies/pathologies that surface at every structure stage of consciousness. In the process, the untrue beliefs are left behind and I am freed to evolve or not. As Katie says, there are only 3 kinds of business; my business, your business and God’s business. Eros is God’s business.
  2. I do not take into consideration the evolution of others’ consciousness. I believe that others can’t evolve, that they are blocked or stuck believing their myths. I believe this about my partner, my friends and work colleagues. I tend to believe the worst about them. And yes, I believe that of some of the Greens in this forum! Sorry guys, my bad.
  3. I do not take into consideration the evolution of my consciousness. I often consider my problem to be hopeless. My understanding won’t get better. My fear won’t get better. My relationship won’t get better.


Turnarounds for “The Work is limited by the Myth of the Given”.

  1. The Work in not limited by the Myth of the Given. The Work (4 questions) investigates any myth (beliefs) that I take as given (true). For example I believe the myth that my father is dead when his genes are alive in me, his memory is alive in me, his image is alive in me. By investigating every story, the Work leaves me as what I am (truth) in the moment. As Katie says, the Work takes nothing away and gives nothing. It’s only 4 questions.
  2. I limit myself by the Myth (lies) that I take to be Given. There is no question in my mind that I was suffering from the myths that I believed. The energy that I use in holding on to beliefs that conflict with reality limits my creativity and action.
  3. I believe the myth of the other/(s) to be given. I project my thoughts (myths) on to others and think that my image of them is real (given). Who is an Other without my story?

Cult? Yes, and also differentiate


I read ~C4Chaos‘ post on cults, which is a topic it is good for people with weird interests (like myself) to explore.

I remember that even back in high school, I realized that I belonged to different cults, and always would.

As Byron Katie says, a cult is two people agreeing.

So yes, I am in lots of cults… some of them are called integral, Buddhist, Christian, people who think Arvo Part is great, people who like strawberries, people who like a clean house, people who think people shouldn’t lie, western culture, and the human cult (I am sure other species could easily see us as a dangerous cult, if they had stories going the way we do).

Some of the trademarks of a cult is (a) people within it agree and think they are right, (b) others believe other things and see them as misguided, and (c) they potentially harm themselves and others.

On each of these points, all of the ones I listed above are cults. And we all belong to lots of cults.

  • All the ones listed, and many others, consist of people who agree. Who believe a certain thing, and support that belief with all sorts of evidence, including others agreeing.
  • All are contrasted by other groups of people who disagree and see them as misguided, at best.
  • And any belief is stressful, at best, and harm ourselves and others in different ways.

This is true of integral, Buddhist, people who like a clean house, and even people who like (something as apparently innocent as) strawberries.

In short, they are cults.

So that is why I am in a cult. But the reversal is also true, and equally important to explore.

I am not in a cult, since I am (sometimes) open to explore my beliefs… to lighten the hold on them, even to let them go when I see clearer what is going on. And few of these are groups that, at least intentionally, harm others (with the exception of the human cult, which often is quite dangerous to itself and other species).

And I am also of course free to explore and play around with the conventional definitions of cults… Buddhist and Christians are not, because they are too mainstream (they were cults when they were smaller, and still may be seen as cults when they are in a significant minority… such as Zen in Utah). People who like strawberries are not because it is (appears!) too innocent. Humans… well, maybe they are, from the view of many other species.

So I can explore and go along with, to different extents, all these conventional ways of looking at cults… but now, with less need to protect or defend particular beliefs and identities around them. I can be more fluid with it, seeing the (limited) truth in any of the ways we can play with the story of cults, including free to see the truth in how I am in lots of cults, and also how I am not.

Enlightened to a thought


The definition of enlightenment is quite simple, although can be put in different ways:

  • Ground awakened to itself (emptiness, awake to itself)
  • Realized selflessness (no separate self anywhere, just awake emptiness and form, and form as no other than awake emptiness)
  • Differentiation of the absolute (awake emptiness and form, as is), and the relative (any stories about it, filtering the absolute through stories)
  • The timeless now (awake emptiness) awake to itself, that which time/space unfold within, to and as.
  • The complete allowing of any forms (inherent in Ground) awake to itself.

Of anyone, I appreciate the most how Byron Katie talks about this… as usual, it is simple, clear, and uncompromising in a kind way.

No one is permanently enlightened. That would be the story of a future. There’s only enlightenment in the moment. Do you believe in a stressful thought? Then you’re confused. Do you realize the thought isn’t true? Then you’re enlightened to it. It’s as simple as that. And then the next thought comes, and maybe you’re enlightened to it as well, and maybe not.

This way of looking at it explains why people who are not “officially” enlightened still can be very enlightened in some situations and areas, and people who are officially enlightened sometimes are not… still stuck in rigid beliefs (I certainly saw that a lot during my time at the Zen center…!)

The quote is from chapter 13 of A Thousand Names for Joy by Byron Katie, edited by Stephen Mitchell.