“I am a lover of what is… because it hurts when I argue with reality.” ~ Byron Katie
Stillness Speaks is pleased to introduce The Work, a powerful process of personal inquiry, created by Byron Katie. The booklet, The Work of Byron Katie, which we are previewing in a series of short posts, is available as a FREE PDF download, courtesy of Free Spiritual Ebooks. This free booklet presents the essence of The Work. Italicized text below is taken directly from the booklet.
The previous post introduced The Work of Byron Katie, giving a brief overview of what is possible if you chose to do The Work..
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. Anyone with an open mind can do this Work.
This post 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. If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try and in the end the cat will look up at you and say “meow.” Wanting reality to be different than it is, is hopeless.
And yet if you pay attention, you’ll notice that you believe thoughts like this dozens of times a day. “People should be kinder.” “Children should be well-behaved.” “My husband (or wife) should agree with me.” … These thoughts are ways of wanting reality to be different than it is…. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing with what is.
People new to The Work often say to me, “But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I’ll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act” I answer the with a question:
Can you really know that that’s true? Which is more empowering? — “I wish I hadn’t lost my job” or, “I lost my job, what intelligent solutions can I find right now?”
I am a lover of what is, not because I am a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. We can know that reality is good just as it is because when we argue with it we experience tension and frustration. We don’t feel natural or balanced. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple fluid, kind, and fearless.
Stay tuned … more about 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.