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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Byron Katie - The Work - No one can give you freedom but you

No one can give you freedom but you.
- Byron Katie


I have been asked what events or revelations played crucial roles in my life. Today, I would like to share one of them. In August 2003, I spent a week in Brussels Belgium at Byron Katie's School for The Work. Katie's methods and the events of that week were one of the major turning points in my attitude toward life and toward myself.

I gained a new appreciation for how self-important I was and the extent to which that self-importance caused me to suffer. I had thought that I knew how things should be, relationships, religion, politics, world affairs, and much more. I discovered that I had my own opinions, and that was all. I had thought that I was open minded and acceptive of all people. I discovered how prejudiced I was.

In one amazing week I came to know myself far better than ever before, and to gain a far greater ability to choose happiness regardless of circumstances.

Katie calls what she does "The Work," and central to The Work is Inquiry. Inquiry is the process of analyzing a resentment until it no longer creates suffering. Here is a quick peek at Byron Katie's Inquiry: The Four Questions and Turnaround...

Focus on a specific resentment in which you are angry with another person for something, especially something they continue to do. As an example, "Paul doesn't listen to me."

Now, ask four questions about the resentment...

1. Is it true? In the example, "Is it true that Paul doesn't listen to me?"

2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? (Or is it only true from my personal point-of-view?)

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? In the example, do you become upset and suffer when you believe that Paul doesn't support you?

4. Who would you be without the thought? Imagine simply not having the thought "Paul doesn't listen to me," would you have less stress and suffering?

Now "turn around" the resentment in several ways. Possible "turnarounds" are, “I don’t listen to Paul,” “I don’t listen to myself,” and “Paul DOES listen to me.” For each turnaround, ask yourself whether is is as true or truer than the original statement (resentment).

I can't even begin to do justice to the power of The Work in this brief glimpse. If you are interested in learning more, here are some ways...

1. Buy a copy of Byron Katie's book Loving What Is. Katie has written several books since Loving What Is, but I strongly recommend beginning with her first book, Loving What Is.

2. If you want to learn a little more before you buy the book, download a free excerpt from Loving What Is as a pdf file.

3. Visit www.thework.com to learn more about Byron Katie, The Work, free resources, weekend events with Katie, The School for The Work, and more.

As a postscript, I personally have integrated Katie's philosophies and methods together with a number of others. The Work is one, but only one, of the sources of my philosophy of life.


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