Who is The Work for? It’s for everyone who wants to end their own suffering and whose mind is open to questioning what they believe to be true. If you’d rather be free than right, I invite you to The Work of Byron Katie.
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Not wanting to change what is comes a state of mind that is literally unimaginable. There’s no sacrifice in it, no deprivation— quite the opposite, in fact. It means to gain everything, the everything that is already yours, and the effect is peace. People who use The Work at home as a practice tell me that they find their own freedom. There is such joy in that, such peace, and it’s a story that can’t be told.
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The enlightened mind is the mind that you can find no valid reason to shut down.The mind is a seeker. It just wants to know what is real and what isn’t. It’s fascinated by itself. So if you love everything you think, you love everything everyone thinks, and you love everything people say. It’s all mind.
So if someone says, “You’re unkind,” I might say, “Oh my goodness, really? Tell me specifically where I was unkind” (if I haven’t already noticed it, I want to hear what I have missed). I apologize and make it right with that person and to myself where I’m able to. And here we both are, working on my problem, both working on me and not separate. The enlightened mind is never separate from another mind, as there really is only one mind (if any). Not ever. The open mind always understands its own nature and is always open to more understanding, in the ever-shifting expansion of its own creation.
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To understand our own thinking is to understand all thinking.The mind falls in love with itself, and this amazing love affair is not just the end of war, it’s the beginning of a whole new paradigm. It creates out of a space that is so unlimited in its self-love that it doesn’t ever have to be told or proven or seen. It is its own experience. And it’s happy—in that all.
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Let’s say someone you love dies. If you’re doing The Work and feel any sadness about it, you may want to ask yourself, “Why is that death a good thing for him or her? Why is it a good thing for me? Why is it a good thing for the world?” But if you don’t question your thinking, someone dies and it’s all about you. You may think it has to do with them and with how much you love them, but if you look more closely, it’s really pure ego. I love to say, “No one can leave me. They don’t have that power.” .” If you are fearful, you’re living in the future, if you are depressed, you’re living in the past When your mind is clear, no one lives beyond identity and that is the end of what has never lived. It is the end of “death.”
Does stress follow you around the Workplace? And do you bring it home?
A man is afraid that no one will come to his event because he has given it the wrong name. He's made the "wrong decision."
Is it true?
Watch as he imagines the worst thing that could happen at his event and discovers the possibility of freedom, right here and right now.
He hasn't paid child-support in six and a half years. Is it true? Watch as a wife and mother finds that she has the perfect husband and father of her children, if only her mind wouldn't tell her otherwise.
Learn more about The Work >>
Across the world, many of you have written me recently about money and finances and told me how worried you are about your jobs, your income, and the state of the economy in your country.
Here are two articles that may help:
How do you react, what happens, when you believe the thought "the stress is unbearable"?(All anger and frustration best belongs on paper!)
Find a situation, a moment in time, when you were thinking, “The stress is unbearable” about your finances, a lost job, or anything else in your life. Download a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet from thework.com and, without moving from that situation in your mind’s eye, fill in the Worksheet. Then, as you begin to question the thoughts identified on your Worksheet, notice the emotions you are experiencing, and the images that flood your mind. Do you see yourself as never working again, as unable to support yourself, as destitute, as a homeless person pushing a shopping cart on the street? How do you treat your loved ones when you believe that thought? How do you treat yourself? Does the thought bring peace or stress to your life. When you believe the thought, can you feel any addictions starting to form? Do you act on them?
Notice and identify the emotions that you feel when you believe the thought you are investigating. Anything else? Be still. Watch, notice. (If you can’t identify the emotions, look at the emotions list on thework.com)
Now spend time in the fourth question and experience who you would be, in that same situation, without the thought. Who would you be if you didn’t even have the ability to think the thought?
Then turn around the concept you are investigating, finding at least three specific, genuine examples for each turnaround.
What other stressful thoughts and situations come to your mind, if any, around jobs and finances? Do any of the following situations seem familiar? Do any of them need to be investigated on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet?
“I’m angry at my boss because he fired me.”
“I’m devastated because we’re going to lose our home.”
“I’m depressed because I’ll never find a well-paying job again.”
“I’m disappointed because I’m a failure.”
“I’m (emotion) because without a home, I can’t survive on the streets.”
“I’m (emotion) because without a job I can’t survive.”
“I’m (emotion) because without a job, my family will leave me.”
“I’m (emotion) because without money, everyone will lose respect for me.”
Do you see other situations to write about?
I invite you to write down your stressful thoughts on a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, as they occur, on each line within the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet and investigate them one by one. Use the four questions and the turnarounds, with examples for each turnaround and how they are true.
I invite you to Work through your own real-life situations, thought by thought, as written on each line of your Worksheets, in the name of peace. I also invite you to locate a moment in time when you believed that you were not okay. Then, with your eyes closed, do The Work on that thought, in that situation. Going back into that situation, ask yourself, “‘I’m not okay’—is it true?” and continue inquiry until you find turnarounds and examples for each turnaround. Also, please thank yourself when you have completed this meditation, in the name of peace.
I love that you come to see that on the other side of these stressful thoughts freedom is, was, and will always be waiting to be discovered from within you. That freedom is, after all, your birthright.
I receive a lot of email about my relationship and marriage with Stephen. Here is a typical moment. We are very quiet together most of the time, and I appreciate the ease and yes, the bliss that meets with that silence.
Stephen: "Here’s the salad. Let me know if it needs more vinegar."
A few minutes pass.
Katie: "How was your morning?"
Stephen: "Excellent. Hector was just killed."
Some of you know Stephen as a poet, scholar, and translator of great works (all of which would be on my reading list, if I had one). He had just finished his verse translation of Homer’s Iliad, to be published in October.
Katie: "Imagine if they had just done The Work, instead of fighting for all those years."
Stephen: "Of course that would have been better for them, but we wouldn’t have the Iliad. Personally, I’m opposed to violence, except when it happens in great poetry." (Pause) "And how was your morning?"
Katie: “This is the best salad I’ve ever had in my entire life!”
And that’s about it. Life with Stephen? Soooo exciting!!!!
I know you are very busy and lots of people are asking something of you. I am writing to you, because 'something terrible has happened' - the 6 year old girl of a friend of mine had what is called a freak accident, and she died yesterday. I am very touched by her death, and am writing down lots of beliefs about death, protection, safety, danger and so on, but somehow I absolutely cannot see how I can love that this happened. The idea of loving when somebody loses their child (even if it is only they who believe that) seems cruel and cold. Please can you tell me how one can move from accepting what is to actually loving it?
With buckets of gratefulness to you,
Thank you for writing. You speak to the suffering of so many others as well.
For the sake of illustration, let’s say that my friend’s child died.
Here are a few of the reasons why I might love what is if I were in your position as a friend of someone who has lost a child:
- I love that the child will never suffer again.
- I also love that my friend won’t ever have to protect her child or worry about her, or manipulate her, or innocently teach her to fear, etc. (this is for my friend’s sake as well as the child’s).
- I love that her child had a full life (even if the child was only six years or six minutes old).
- I love that her child will never again experience anger, or the pain of hurting herself by hurting another being in any way, and be left with the guilt and the undiscovered reasons for the guilt and the suffering that the unquestioned mind’s blindness causes.
I could go on and on …. I love the way of it, and that we as true friends can hold our kind and generous insights within ourselves as we begin to wake up to the obvious, and I love that I cannot wake you or my friend up with my words, and I love that you both can do that. This child you speak of will never have to suffer what you and her mother are suffering through, and I am that child awake, inviting you to peace of mind. I died for you, and your friend is literally dying for you (it feels like that sometimes when friends are so entirely devastated), and I invite you to life, as death like life is only a creation of mind.
My beloved sister Sharon is dying of cancer now, and she is in the very painful last stages of agony. Watching my sister’s husband watch his wife in such dreadful pain would be agonizing, if not for the enlightened mind, the questioned awake-to-love mind. I see that he is helpless in the face of my sister’s pain. He has all kinds of thoughts and projections around the situation and the agony he witnesses. I consider the doctors and the hospice staff as authorities in this matter, and I watch as they do everything possible to ease the agony my sister is living in. That is all that can be done, and my job is to follow the simple directions as I watch and witness the best that can be done in the situation, massaging her swollen feet and ankles and legs as she cries like a little girl for our mommy, even at seventy-two years old. I watch as she eventually falls asleep into the abyss of the moment without moment.
Oh, how I love her, and how opposite of helpless I am. I am the power of love, and there is nothing more powerful than that as I find myself sobbing with her, for opposite reasons. Who would think that love is that grateful, that deep, that overwhelming, and tear-filled! As I sob, the joy within, the joy that is born out of my love, blind in its clarity, runs deeper than any sadness could ever begin to, and it is allowed to live at its depth, a state that fear is too shallow to explore and must always fall short in its emotion to express.
My sister’s dear husband is very afraid. "What will I do without her?" he says. I tell him that it’s simple. "Sooner or later you’ll go to the bathroom, then you will eventually eat, take a walk (he loves to walk), eventually sit down, then eventually stand up, go to bed, wake up, make your coffee in the morning. That is what you will probably do. But your thoughts along the way, your fear of the future and assumption of a past, make those simple things difficult."
He knows that thework.com exists, and he will either Work his thoughts of not. For me, I will Work any thought that is small, petty, mean-minded, unkind, or fearful, or just doesn’t ring true. These conversations seemed very comforting to him. Also he would say something like, "I can’t stop her pain" and fall into a terrible kind of guilt. I hear how wise he is to know that he can’t stop her pain (in that moment, and he has done all that is possible under the circumstances) and he sees himself as falling short and shamefully so.
I, on the other hand, see a kind and caring man who loves his wife, has done everything possible to help her ease her pain, and wants what he cannot have in the moment, even though everything has been done short of killing her with an overdose of morphine and drugs. I see him as love in action, and he sees himself as falling short of the task. There is no suffering in my life, and when it is time for me to hurt, it is time, and it’s wonderful to understand that anyone can get through that kind of pain, since when you are in it you are getting through it, there is no choice. Also, the enlightened mind understands that all pain is on its way out and that pain never gets worse than it is in this moment now, and I invite you all to test this reality and to understand for yourselves that even physical pain is a projection of mind, as is all suffering. Everything comes or goes in its time, and everything is medicine, even a suffering sister, brother-in-law, or friend.
I hope that what I write is comforting to you and even a beginning of the possibility of your experience of gratitude, even of your joy, in what can be found within yourself. And I hope that in that your friend may follow without a word from you, other than what you so clearly live, which is that you care deeply for her and are doing everything you can do to lighten her suffering, even to end it.
My invitation is that you end your own suffering out of the goodness and dearness and mercy of your own heart. There are universes that you may be missing, universes of wisdom that lie within you, which The Work can open you up to— your own answers to the questions, and the examples of your turnarounds are the key to those universes, the key to a kinder world and all the freedom that is your unlimited birthright.
Here are some of the assumptions/concepts/thoughts taken from your email. I invite you to The Work on them, slowly, meditatively, deeply, and let what arises from within change not only life in your world itself, but the way you see life and experience the joy of what all really is, forever:
- "Something terrible has happened"—is it true?
Continue with inquiry (the four questions, turnarounds, and examples) all the way without shortcuts, and continue with the following as well in the same way. The questions are always available at thework.com.
"Your friend lost her 6-year-old girl."
"It was an accident."
"She died yesterday."
"We can protect ourselves and others."
"There is danger in the world."
"I cannot love that this happened."
- "The idea of loving that the child died is cruel and cold-hearted."
This turns around to "The idea of loving that the child died (loving what is) is kind and warm-hearted." I gave you a few examples above, and I invite you to find more on your own.
Here is another question: "If the universe is friendly, why is the mother better off?" Find examples, and don’t stop until these thoughts are completely downloaded out of your dearest heart. Now find examples of where you are better off, and why the world is better off, and don’t stop until you have awakened yourself to what is, the unlimited and kind. And continue to allow your open mind to join, to match, the real nature of all things, the universe and all that is kind without exception.
The way some people move from accepting what is to actually loving it is to do The Work. You asked for help and all I have to offer you is already within you, waiting to be realized, and I invite you to answer these four questions as deeply as you can and find the turnarounds and examples that lie within, the ones that matter, the ones that ring true to your heart, not your fear and resistance.
In deepest love with yours,
(freely translated by Stephen Mitchell)
Mind creates the world;
what you see arises with your thoughts.
If you speak and act with a confused mind,
trouble will follow you as certainly
as a cart follows the ox that pulls it.
Mind creates the world;
what you see arises with your thoughts.
If you speak and act with a clear mind,
happiness will follow you as certainly
as your own shadow in sunlight.
"It’s his fault." "She shouldn’t have done that."
Believe such thoughts, and you live in resentment.
"It’s his fault." "She shouldn’t have done that."
Question such thoughts, and you live in freedom.
Anger teaches anger.
Fear results in more fear.
Only understanding can lead to peace.
This is the ancient law.