I don’t let go of my thoughts — I meet them with understanding. Then, they let go of me. ~ Byron Katie
Stillness Speaks is pleased to continue our introduction of The Work, Byron Katie’s practical process of personal inquiry. The booklet, The Work of Byron Katie is available as a FREE PDF download, courtesy of Free Spiritual Ebooks. Text taken directly from the booklet is in italics.
The first post introduces The Work of Byron Katie…
The Work of Byron Katie is a way to identify and question the thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It is a way to find peace with yourself and with the world.
The second post, What Is, Is, challenges us to accept “what is.”
The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. When the mind is perfectly clear, what is is what we want.
In the third post, Byron Katie turns to Staying in Your Business.
I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s… Anything that’s out of my control, your control and everyone else’s control–I call that God’s business.
This post considers thoughts. How do we meet the thoughts that continually rise and fall, filling our mind with ongoing chatter? Katie asks us to meet thoughts with understanding.
A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It is not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it is true without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we have been attaching to often for years.
Most people think that they are what their thoughts tell them they are. One day I noticed that I wasn’t breathing — I was being breathed. Then I also noticed, to my amazement, that I wasn’t thinking — that I was actually being thought and that thinking isn’t personal.
Katie notes that thoughts appear like rain drops. Would you argue with a raindrop and take its wettness personally? Of course not. Neither thoughts nor raindrops are personal. In fact there is nothing permanent or solid about thoughts…
Thoughts just appear. They come out of nothing and go back to nothing, like clouds moving across the empty sky…. There is no harm in them until we attach to them as if they were true.
Many of us try to control our thinking, but that’s impossible… I don’t let go of my thoughts — I meet them with understanding. Then, they let go of me.
Katie states that through inquiry we make friends with our thoughts,
Once a painful concept is met with understanding, the next time it appears you may find it interesting…funny… you may not even notice it. That is the power of loving what is.
Stay tuned … more from The Work is coming soon.
One morning in February 1986, after struggling with debilitating depression for nearly ten years, Katie experienced a life-changing realization. There are various names for an experience like this. Katie calls it “waking up to reality.”
In that instant, she says,
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”
The Work, Katie’s process of self-inquiry, didn’t develop from this experience; she says that it woke up with her, as her, on that February morning in 1986. The first people who did The Work reported that it had transformed their lives, and she soon began receiving invitations to teach the process publicly.
Since 1986, she has brought The Work to millions of people across the world, at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, universities, schools, at weekend workshops, at her nine-day School for The Work, and through the Institute for The Work.