(Welcome to my island of sanity and serenity. I'm Sandra Pawula - writer, mindfulness teacher and advocate of ease. I help deep thinking, heart-centered spirits find greater ease — emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Curious? Read On!)
Who Is Byron Katie?
Who Is Byron Katie?
17 Byron Katie Quotes to Help You Let Go of Emotional Pain
1. On Stressful Thoughts
If I can teach you anything, it is to identify the stressful thoughts that you’re believing and to question them, to get still enough so that you can hear your own answers. Stress is the gift that alerts you to your asleepness. Feelings like anger or sadness exist only to alert you to the fact that you’re believing your own stories.
- The first question in The Work then is: “Is it true?” Is your thought true? The answer is a “yes” or “no.”
Approach this process of inquiry as a meditation. When you ask one of the four questions, go into yourself, recall the situation that gives rise to the question, feel into it, and get an internal sense of the answer. If you only do the work on an intellectual level, it won’t take you far.
- And the second question: "Can you absolutely know that it’s true?" The answer again is a “yes” or “no.”
2. Question Your ThoughtsAs we do The Work, not only do we remain alert to our stressful thoughts—the ones that cause all the anger, sadness, and frustration in the world—but we question them, and through that questioning the thoughts lose their power over us.Once the thoughts lose their power over you, you find peace and joy in their place. But peace or joy will probably be a momentary experience - lasting anywhere for a few minutes to a few days - because another stressful thought will arise. So you do the work again.
- The Work is a practice. You have to keep questioning your thoughts again and again. As you do, the stockpile of stressful thoughts and painful emotions gradually diminishes. Joy and peace increase.
3. How Stressful Thoughts Impact YouAs we question a stressful thought, we see for ourselves that it’s untrue; we get to look at the cause and effect of it, to observe in sobering detail exactly what modes of pain and confusion result from believing it; then we get a glimpse into the empty mirror, the world beyond our story of the world, and see what our life would be like without the thought; and finally we get to experience the opposite of what we have so firmly believed and to find specific examples of how these opposites are true. Once we deeply question a thought, it loses its power to make us suffer, and eventually it ceases even to arise.Now, you explore, in detail, the impact a stressful thought has on you with the subsequent questions of The Work.
As you react less to your thoughts and emotions, you gradually burn away your karma. You slowly erase your unhelpful emotional patterns and unveil more serenity, more joy.
- The third question: "How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?"
- The fourth question: "Who would you be without the thought?" And then turnaround the thought to see how its opposite is true for you.
4. On SelflessnessYou are who you believe you are. Other people are, for you, who you believe they are: they can be nothing more than that. If you realized that the mind is one, that everyone and everything is your own projection (including you), you would understand that it’s only yourself you’re ever dealing with. You would end up loving yourself, loving every thought you think. When you love every thought, you love everything thoughts create, you love the whole world you have created. At first, the love that overflows in you seems to be about connection with other people, and it’s wonderful to feel intimately connected to every human being you meet. But then it becomes about mind connected to itself, and only that. The ultimate love is the mind’s love of itself. Mind joins with mind—all of mind, without division or separation, all of it loved. Ultimately I am all I can know, and what I come to know is that there is no such thing as ‘I.’
- This idea challenges our notion of reality as well as the idea of the self. It points to what’s called “selflessness” in Buddhism, which includes the absence of a
- If that sounds too incredible to believe, just know that you slowly can come to understand this idea - on a visceral level - through The Work. You don’t have to understand this idea - on a visceral level - through The Work. You don’t have to understand it right away. Just set aside your doubt or skepticism for now and give The Work a try. See for yourself if it helps you.
This quote also says everything you believe about anyone or anything is a construction of your own mind. It’s not an accurate representation of anything outside of yourself.For example, observers often remember a crime or an accident in radically different ways. Or you abhor someone that another person loves dearly. There is no objective reality. You are always and ever only relating to a projection of your own mind. Therefore, you can alter the world, as you perceive it, by altering your mind.
5. On IntegrityAnd…Every no I say is a yes to myself. It feels right to me. People don’t have to guess what I want and don’t want, and I don’t need to pretend. When you’re honest about your yeses and noes, it’s easy to live a kind life.If everything is a projection of your mind, then how do you relate in everyday reality?Katie doesn’t address this often in A Mind At Home With Itself. But her discussion of boundaries offers one clear example. She doesn’t like the word “boundary” because it implies limitation or contraction. But she encourages you to be clear about your yeses and noes.Katie says the greatest gift you can given to another is your truth. This is called “integrity.”She knows that your truth will change, especially as you do The Work. But to be in integrity means to be true to yourself as you are in this moment. No pretending to be anyone other than who you are. Honor what’s true for you in this moment:There aren’t any truths. There’s just the thing that is true for you in the moment, and if you investigated that, you would lose it too. But honoring the thing that’s true for you in the moment is simply a matter of keeping to your own integrity.Listen to your inner wisdom and honor what is true for you?
6. What Happens When You Believe Your Thoughts?I discovered that when I believe 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.The point isn’t to believe Byron Katie, but to find out for yourself. Try questioning your thoughts and see if it lessens your suffering.
7. What Is Empathy?Some people think that empathy means feeling another person’s pain. But it’s not possible to feel another person’s pain. What happens is that people project what someone’s pain must feel like and then react to their own projection. This kind of empathy is unnecessary for compassionate action; it actually gets in the way. Empathy, in my experience, has nothing to do with imagining pain.We can feel empathy for others. Research on mirror neurons shows that empathy is a built-in function for the vast majority of people. But can we ever truly feel another’s pain or are we just feeling our own idea of their pain mixed with our own experiences?What would compassionate action look like without projection? That’s something to ponder.
8. Suffering About SufferingThat is not to say that the Buddha is passive or that he condones unkindness. He is the essence of kindness, and he does everything he can to end the apparent suffering in the world. But his kindness arises out of the deepest sense of peace with whatever he perceives. If you see anything in the world as unacceptable, you can be certain that you mind is confused. If you think that anything is outside your own mind, that’s delusion.I don’t believe, as Katie suggests, that nothing external exists. That’s a historical debate in Buddhism as well. But I agree, whatever we perceive is a projection of our mind.The question here is this: Can you come from a place of peace when you encounter suffering? Does it help to add your suffering about suffering when you meet suffering?By questioning the belief that these things shouldn’t happen, you can end your own suffering about the suffering of others. And once you do, you’ll be able to notice that this makes you a kinder human being, someone who is motivated by love rather than outrage or sadness. The end of suffering in the world begins with the end of suffering in you.It’s not a question of whether these things should or should not happen. They have. So how do you then meet suffering?
9. A Different Way to AccomplishA past or future isn’t necessary to get things accomplished. I just do what’s in front of me, whatever appears in the moment. I watch and witness: I remain as awareness; I continue to expand without past or future, going nowhere, behind the limits of speed.Could you imagine living without goals? Would you consider it a worthwhile experiment to try?
10. On AlignmentIf your thoughts are opposed to love, you’ll feel stress, and that stress will let you know that you’ve drifted away from what you fundamentally are. If you feel balance and joy, that tells you that your thinking is more in keeping with your true identity, which is beyond identity.So simple, right? You don’t need to ask anyone else. You are your own measuring stick.