Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Byron Katie - Being Without Your Story

Byron Katie has created an empire with her four simple questions for self-exploration - and her goal is to help each of us end our suffering. I haven't really gone deep into The Work, but I find some of her stuff very useful as dharma teachings.

Here is a brief description of the work from her site:

In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and a turnaround. For example, the first thought that you might question on the above Worksheet is "Paul doesn't listen to me." Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought, and let's do The Work. "[Name] doesn't listen to me":

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know that it's true?

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

Who would you be without the thought?

Then turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don't forget to find three genuine examples of each turnaround.

Turn it Around

After you've investigated your statement with the four questions, you're ready to turn it around (the concept you are questioning).

Each turnaround is an opportunity to experience the opposite of your original statement and see what you and the person you've judged have in common.

A statement can be turned around to the opposite, to the other, and to the self (and sometimes to "my thinking," wherever that applies). Find a minimum of three genuine examples in your life where each turnaround is true.

For example, "Paul doesn't understand me" can be turned around to "Paul does understand me." Another turnaround is "I don't understand Paul." A third is "I don't understand myself."

Be creative with the turnarounds. They are revelations, showing you previously unseen aspects of yourself reflected back through others. Once you've found a turnaround, go inside and let yourself feel it. Find a minimum of three genuine examples where the turnaround is true in your life.

As I began living my turnarounds, I noticed that I was everything I called you. You were merely my projection. Now, instead of trying to change the world around me (this didn't work, but only for 43 years), I can put the thoughts on paper, investigate them, turn them around, and find that I am the very thing I thought you were. In the moment I see you as selfish, I am selfish (deciding how you should be). In the moment I see you as unkind, I am unkind. If I believe you should stop waging war, I am waging war on you in my mind.

The turnarounds are your prescription for happiness. Live the medicine you have been prescribing for others. The world is waiting for just one person to live it. You're the one.

Examples of Turnarounds

Here are a few more examples of turnarounds:

"He should understand me" turns around to:
- He shouldn't understand me. (This is reality.)
- I should understand him.
- I should understand myself.

OK, so that is the foundation of her project, and a useful one it is.

Reading Question Your Thinking, Change the World this morning, just a random selection, I came across this quote, which I then meditated on for 20 minutes in my Big Sit session.
The reality is that without a story you're genderless - not male, not female, not even human. You're not anything. It is not anything, it's more than that. It's all inclusive; it doesn't even question. There are no questions in the void; there is only the experience of it. And not even that. (p. 38)
OK, so my rational mind is getting a little perturbed by this, thinking I have a body, which is gendered, so no, I am not genderless. But she is pointing beyond the mere body. I can see that.

However, I do not like to make that separation, because as long as I am here, I am grounded in this body and it is a part of who I am.

BUT, I am also that void - that emptiness - that she describes, and not even that. It reminds me of the Zen thing about, "What is your original face, before your parents were born?" I like that one, so I go there a while, before bring myself back to the question.

There was much more, but I need to go workout. It was a fun 20 minutes on the cushion.

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