Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jan.5: The Byron Katie Work


We have many habits in this human life of ours, and one of the most deeply embedded, and thus hidden from us is the habit of thinking that, “If only so and so would change, then I’d feel so much better.” So and so can be a spouse, a friend, a parent, a child, a co-worker. Almost anyone can “push our buttons” in such a way that we are positive that they need to fix themselves and then we’d be much happier in life. A woman named Byron Katie came up with a system for getting out of this trap when she “woke up” in 1986 after over a decade of depression, alcoholism, overeating, chain smoking and bitterly fighting with her family.

When she “woke up,” she came to a serene place that she discovered only left her when her thinking got into war with the way things were. She discovered that it wasn’t her husband or her children or her mother that were driving her crazy, it was her thinking about them. Living in the town of Barstow, and having no spiritual tradition, she didn’t go to any path of “giving up thinking,” or “letting go.”

She took a new/ancient approach of looking at her thinking in a way that allowed her to accomplish the old and seemingly impossible advice: love your enemy. (In the bible, Jesus is quite clear on this: anyone can love someone who is treating us well; the real test of love is when they don’t.). Her method, called the Work of Byron Katie ( see, has four parts and four questions. The four parts are, judge your neighbor (spouse, co-worker, etc.), write it down, ask four questions, turn it around.

Why judge? Because we do. The first step out of a habit is to be honest about it, to realize it. So, writing it down helps this. Instead of just buzzing around in mental obsessions about how troublesome so and so is, write down their crimes. Like this: “So and so should stop talking so much.” Or , “so and so should listen to me more.” We judge, so stop pretending. Write it down to slow down thinking and see clearly, this is what our mind is doing.

Ask four questions goes like this: 1) IS IT TRUE? Is it true that so and so should listen to me more? Well, I think so. I feel so. But can I really know what so and so should be doing, or is capable of doing.

2) CAN I ABSOLUTELY KNOW IT’S TRUE? Can I absolutely know it’s true that can and so should listen to me more? This pushes me into realizing things.

3) HOW DO I REACT WHEN I ATTACH TO THE THOUGHT? When I attach to “so and so should listen to me more,” how do I feel? Usually bad, or victimized, or frustrated, or angry. How do I treat them as part of my reaction to the thought: maybe avoid, or attack, or nag, a withdraw. How do I act in life? Gossiping about them. Thinking about them in an obsessive, tormented way. It’s different for all of us, and kind of the same. Our reactions are not pleasant , and strip us of ability to be present and peaceful.

4) WHO WOULD I BE WITHOUT THE THOUGHT? If I think of so and so, but leave behind my inner yap/yap about how they should be, I just see them as they are: worried, or distracted, or frightened, or whatever.

That’s the four questions, and then comes the fourth part of judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. Turn it around. This means to see the judgment as medicine that we need to take. So and so should listen to me more “turns around” to: “I should listen to so and so more.” It also becomes self-healing: “I should listen to me more”, which would solve the anguish. If I’m hearing myself, truly and with the respect and understanding I want from so and so, then I’m secure, whether or not they listen.

This seems too simple to be effective. It does work, but you have to do it, not think about doing it. It’s called the “Work” of Byron Katie, because, like any shifting out of the trap of habit, it takes real effort (work). And like real work, it can create enormous changes, liberating enormous amounts of stuck energy. Try it and see, if you are interested.

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At 3:11 AM , Blogger nachiketa said...


Lots of things to learn and practice where possible
can you just say about change
you have to bring `within`will always be in harmony with `out side`( always )!
Pl be in touch as we share some common interests


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