March 3, 2008

"Loving What Is"

Four Questions
That Can Change Your Life
by Byron Katie

Book Review:
I the last six years, I have read a lot of books on Buddhism, spirituality, and self-help. But I think this book has given me the best and most practical way of dealing with the world compared to everything I've read. It's so simple, yet so profound. I have to give Loving What Is my highest recommendations.

Book Description:
In the midst of a normal life, Katie became increasingly depressed, and over a ten-year period sank further into rage, despair, and thoughts of suicide. Then one morning, she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended. The freedom of that realization has never left her, and now in Loving What Is you can discover the same freedom through The Work. The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light. As Katie says, 'It's not the problem that causes our suffering; it's our thinking about the problem.' Contrary to popular belief, trying to let go of a painful thought never works; instead, once we have done The Work, the thought lets go of us. At that point, we can truly love what is, just as it is. Loving What Is offers everything you need to learn and live this remarkable process, and to find happiness as what Katie calls 'a lover of reality.'

Memorable Quotes:

“Step aside from all thinking and there is nowhere you can't go.”
Seng-ts'an

I am a lover of what is, not because I'm 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.

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We're both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn't work.

Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your own thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts.

When you're operating on uninvestigated theories of what's going on and you aren't even aware of it, you're in what I call “the dream.”

A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It is not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it's true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we've been attaching to, often for years.

It is easy to be swept away by some overwhelming feeling, so it's helpful to remember that any stressful feeling is like a compassionate alarm clock that says, “You're caught in the dream.” Depression, pain, and fear are gifts that say, “Sweetheart, take a look at your thinking right now. You're living in a story that isn't true for you.”

Inquiry: The Four Questions & Turnaround
1.Is it true?
2.Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3.How do you react when you think that way?
4.Who would you be without the thought?
and Turn it around.

There's nothing more exciting than discovering the don't-know mind.

Everyone is a mirror image of yourself—your own thinking coming back at you.

I realized that I could be right, or I could be free.

It makes sense that no one else can cause your pain. That's your job.

None of us would ever hurt another human being if we weren't confused. Confusion is the only suffering on this planet.

Reality is always kinder than the stories we tell about it.

Reality...is what is true. The truth is whatever is in front of you, whatever is really happening.

Without our stories, we are not only able to act clearly and fearlessly; we are also the friend, the listener. We are people living happy lives. We are appreciation and gratitude that have become as natural as breath itself. Happiness is the natural state for someone who knows that there's nothing to know and that we already have everything we need, right here now.

The goal of inquiry is to bring us back to our right mind, so we can realize for ourselves that we live in paradise and haven't even noticed.

Without a story, without an enemy, action is spontaneous, clear, and infinitely kind.

If you really want to know the truth, allow the truth to reveal itself to you.

The getting, the receiving, is experienced in the moment you give something away. The transaction is complete. That's it.

...life is a very nice place to be, once you understand it. Nothing ever goes wrong in life. Life is heaven, except for our attachment to a story that we haven't investigated.

Humility is the true resting place.

The stress and weariness you feel are really mental combat fatigue.

The only future you want is peace and happiness. Rich or poor—who cares, when we're secure in our happiness? This is true freedom: a mind that is no longer deceived by itself.

The world is as you perceive it to be. For me, clarity is a word for beauty. It's what I am. And when I'm clear, I see only beauty. Nothing else is possible. Nothing else is possible. I am mind perceiving my thoughts, and everything unfolds from that, as if it were a new solar system pouring itself out in its delight. If I'm not clear, then I'm going to project all my craziness out onto the world, as the world, and I'll perceive a crazy world and think that is the problem. ...when you meet your thoughts with understanding, the world changes. It has to change, because the projector of the entire world is you. You're it.

We are really alive when we live as simply as that—open, waiting, trusting, and loving to do what appears in front of us now.

The truth sets us free, and freedom acts.

When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100 percent of the time.

There is no thought or situation that you can't put up against inquiry. Every thought, every person, every apparent problem is her for the sake of your freedom. When you experience anything as separate or unacceptable, inquiry can bring you back to the peace you felt before you believed that thought.

Until you can see everything in the world as your friend, your Work is not done.

Nothing outside you can ever give you what you're looking for.

We've been attempting to heal bodies for thousands of years, and they still get sick and old, and they die. Bodies come to pass, not to stay. No body has ever been healed ultimately. There is only the mind to heal if it's peace you want, whether you're sick or well.

The bottom line is that I just can't know anything. I watch the way things are in reality. This leaves me in a position to act sanely and lovingly, and life is always perfectly beautiful.

Everything happens for me, not to me.

Nothing terrible has ever happened except in our thinking. Reality is always good, even in situations that seem like nightmares. The story we tell is the only nightmare that we have lived.

I love reality, not the way a fantasy would dictate, but just the way it is, right now.

We're all looking for love, in our confusion, until we find our way back to the realization that love is what we already are. That's all. We're looking for what we already have. We're guilty of seeking love, that's all. Always looking for what we already have. It's a very painful search.

I am very clear that the whole world loves me. I just don't expect them to realize it yet.

I'm a lover of reality, not because I'm a spiritual woman, but because it hurts when I argue with what is. And I notice that I lose, 100 percent of the time. It's hopeless. We take these concepts to the grave with us, if they're not examined. Concepts are the grave we bury ourselves in.

Reality rules. It doesn't wait for our vote, our permission, or our opinion—have you noticed? What I love most about reality is that it's always the story of a past. And what I love most about the past is that it's over. And because I'm no longer insane, I don't argue with it. Arguing with it feels unkind inside me. Just to notice what is love. That's reality. It hurts to fight what is. And doesn't it feel more honest to open your arms wide to it?

In the fall, you don't grieve because the leaves are falling and dying. You say, "Isn't it beautiful!" Well, we're the same way. There are seasons. We all fall sooner or later. It's all so beautiful. And our concepts, without investigation, keep us from knowing this. It's beautiful to be a leaf, to be born, to fall, to give way to the next, to become food for the roots. It's life, always changing its form and always giving itself completely. We all do our part. No mistake.

There is not mistake in nature. Look how painful it is to have a story that won't embrace such beauty, such perfection. Lack of understanding is always painful.

Through self-inquiry, we see that only love remains. Without an uninvestigated story, there's only the perfection of life appearing as itself. You can always go inside and find the beauty that's revealed after the pain and fear are understood.

Nothing lives but a story, and when we meet these stories with understanding, we really begin to live, without the suffering.

Inquiry doesn't have a motive. It doesn't teach a philosophy. It's just investigation.

A teacher of fear can't bring peace on earth. We have been trying to do it that way for thousands of years. The person who turns inner violence around, the person who finds peace inside and lives it, is the one who teaches what true peace is. We are waiting for just one teacher. You're the one.

When you run in fear, it's square into the wall. Then you look back at where you were, and you see that it was much safer. You can find everything you need to know right where you are.

...fear isn't so efficient. Fear is blind and deaf.

You move totally away from reality when you believe that there is a legitimate reason to suffer.

Suffering is caused by attachment to a deeply embedded belief. It's a state of blind attachment to something that you think is true. In this state, it's very difficult to do the Work for the love of truth, because you're invested in your story. Your story is your identity, and you'd do almost anything to prove it's true. Inquiry into self is the only thing that has the power to penetrate such ancient concepts.

I can't meet you as an enemy and not feel separate, from you and from myself. So how could I meet a thought within me as an enemy and not feel separate? When I learned to meet my thinking as a friend, I noticed that I could meet every human as a friend. What could you say that hasn't already appeared within me as a thought? The end of the war with myself and my thinking is the end of war with you. It's so simple.

Inquiry appears to be a process of thinking, but actually it's a way to undo thinking. Thoughts lose their power over us when we realize that we are doing the thinking anyway. Thoughts simple appear in the mind.

Experience is just perception. It's ever-changing. Even "now" is the story of the past.

"Don't be spiritual—be honest instead." What I mean is that it's very painful to pretend yourself beyond your own evolution, to live a lie, any lie. When you act like a teacher, it's usually because you're afraid to be the student. I don't pretend to be fearless. I either am or I'm not. It's no secret to me.

Accepting reality doesn't mean that you're going to be passive. Why would you be passive when you can be clear and have a wonderful, sane life? Accepting reality means, in fact, that you can act in the kindest, most appropriate, and most effective way.

Without the story, I have everything I need. I'm complete...

The world is your perception of it. Inside and outside always match—they are reflections of each other. The world is the mirror image of your mind. If you experience chaos and confusion inside, your external world has to reflect that. You have to see what you believe, because you are the confused thinking looking out and seeing yourself. You are the interpreter of everything, and if your chaotic, what you hear and see has to be chaos. Even if Jesus, even if the Buddha, were standing in front of you, you would hear confused words, because confusion would be the listener. You would only hear what you thought he was saying, and you'd start arguing with him the first time your story was threatened.

...love is kind; it doesn't stand still and do nothing when it sees its own need.

I don't need stress to do what I know to do; that's not efficient, the way peace and sanity are. Love is action, and in my experience, reality is always kind.

Do you really want to know the truth? All suffering begins and ends with you.

All so-called truths eventually fall away. Every truth is a distortion of what is. If we investigate, we loose even the last truth. And that state, beyond all truths, is true intimacy.

People talk about self-realization, and this is it! Can you just breathe in and out happily? Who cares about enlightenment when your happy right now? Just enlighten yourself to this moment. Can you just do that? And then, eventually, it all collapses. The mind merges with the heart and comes to see that it's not separate. It finds a home, and it rests in itself, as itself. Until the story is met with understanding, there is no peace.

Inquiry naturally gives rise to action that is clear, kind, and fearless.

You become the wise teacher as you become a student of yourself. It stops mattering if anyone else hears you, because you're listening. You are the wisdom you offer us, breathing and walking and effortlessly moving on, as you make your business deal, buy your groceries, or do the dishes.

There is no peace in the world until you find peace within yourself in this moment. Live these turnarounds, if you want to be free. That's what Jesus did, what the Buddha did. That's what all the famous great ones did, and all the unknown great ones who are just living it in their homes and communities, happily and in peace.

So I invite you to look at the nightmares that you've suffered through and survived, and to see that freedom really is possible in your everyday life. Your story is the only thing that's painful, and life has to mirror back to you what you believe is true. There's no exception to that.

I love that I'm free to walk in the world without fear, sadness, or anger, ready to meet anything or anyone, in any place, at any time, with arms and heart wide open. Life will show me what I haven't undone yet. I look forward to it, and I look forward to see you walk with me.