The Work

I have explored The Work by Byron Katie lately, and discovered that it is made up of components I have explored in the past – although here put together in a way that seems particularly effective.

It starts with a statement. One that has a charge for us, that we may be attached to in some way, and that involves a judgment of ourselves/others. It is a thought/idea/belief that we on some level believe in – otherwise, it wouldn’t have a charge. And it can be helpful to phrase it as a “should” or “shouldn’t”, to get to the emotional component of it.

Then, we examine the statement for truthfulness. Can I absolutely know it is true? At this point, it may already loose some of its solidity for us. We see that it is an idea, not reality itself. It starts to dissolve and loose some of its reality. Through this process, we get to the difference between the terrain and the map – existence is more than and different from any idea/model/thought. Although here, we go beyond an intellectual understanding. We sincerely examine this particular statement – we look into it openmindendly and with interest. What is really true here?

Then we look at the effects of the statement. When I think – and believe – the statement, what does it do to me? What happens physically? Emotionally? Cognitive? In my relationship to myself and others? How do I behave?

No Statement
If I did not have the thought, how/what would I be? I visualize myself in a situation that in the past have triggered the thought, and see myself as what I could/would be without it. Here, we look at awareness as it is when it is not attached to its content – spacious, clear, responsive. We get a glimpse of how/what we would be if awareness is not attached to its content, in a situation that in the past has triggered just that attachment.

How many ways can the statement be turned around? I can turn it around in many ways – to whom it points and what it expresses. For each of these new statements, how are they as true as the original statement? Here, we see that reality is far more than any one statement can cover. The original statement becomes one of a larger set of statements, each one having validity in its own way. This opens a glimpse of a more transdual way of experiencing the world.

In this process, we also get a good gage of where we have been stuck. Whenever we have trouble seeing or accepting the validity of one of the new statements, it tells us where we were stuck. What we have not been seeing.


A summary of the phases.

  1. Statement
    A single-perspective view, dualistic.

  2. Truth?
    Dissolving the apparent substantiality of the statement. We cannot for certain know it is true – that it accurately reflects existence.

  3. Effects
    We see that the effects of believing the thought/idea/belief are exactly those we are trying to avoid. It brings constriction, separation, isolation, suffering.

  4. No Statement
    Here, we follow the Dzogchen pointing-out instructions. What/who is awareness without attachment to the thought? What is awareness when it is not identified with its content? What comes up may be variations of space, clarity, bliss, fluidity, responsiveness.

  5. Turnarounds
    Turning the original statement around in all ways possible, we explore how each one is as true as the original statement. We see that they all have validity – and together gives a more comprehensive picture than the original single statement. This opens up for a more transdual view, and it allows awareness to be less attached to any single limited/limiting idea/belief.

The beauty of this process is that it works with awareness. There is no trying, only allowing a shift to happen (or not) through bringing the details of the situation into awareness. The clearer we see what is going on, the easier it is for the shift to happen. As Byron Katie says, I do not let go of the thought, it lets go of me.

This is a similar process as used in other tools, such as the Money or Your Life program. Through bringing the details of it into awareness, a shift happens that is not dependent on conscious effort or trying.

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