Unperturbable Byron Katie

I have been reading some of the works of Byron Katie. Her main process is simply called “The Work”, or “inquiry”, which, by name, is reminiscent of Ramana Maharishi’s “self-enquiry”, but has a different approach and format. In her books, A Thousand Names for Joy (a discussion of The Tao Te Ching) and Loving What Is, Katie explains her main process which involves questioning thoughts we hold to be true, and effectively deconstructing our beliefs so we realise nothing is inherently true.

I admit that I was slightly blown away by reading A Thousand Names for Joy. Katie’s way of describing the world is so unconventional that I could only read a bit at a time. But I always wanted to come back. Katie confesses she had been depressed and suicidal for many years. She describes a moment of transformation in which a cockroach crawled across her foot, and she realised she no longer needed to suffer by believing these things that went through her mind, called thoughts. She doesn’t believe in mind-control; she speaks of accepting whatever comes up, be it anger, remorse, loss, death, birth, or whatever, and advises questioning our beliefs around these occurrences.

Poetically written with sensual turns of language, her ideas resonate deeply with the philosophies of Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism. But she had never been exposed to any eastern teaching: she didn’t even know what “namaste” meant and thought that when people greeted her with the Sanskrit word (meaning “the god in me sees the god in you”), they were actually saying “no mistake”, because according to her awakened way of living, reality makes “no mistake”.

The book has excerpts from her work with different people suffering with different issues. One man she writes about was a prisoner who held a great deal of anger. He wrote down the reason for his rage, which was that he could not forgive his wife for burning their house down, which resulted in his daughter losing her life. Deeply traumatic to read about, Byron Katie described how this man was able to do The Work or inquiry in order to see that he didn’t need his daughter to be alive, and he could not know for sure that she was truly gone. There are many other excerpts relating to people’s issues with jealousy, fear and possessiveness.

Katie also describes a moment when her bag was stolen. She says she felt a great joy at wondering about the treasures the thief would find in her bag, that were no longer meant for herself. Another incident she describes is being held at gun point by someone who wanted to kill her. She felt little fear, knowing that the attacker could not have done anything other than believe his thoughts.

I found it wondrous to read Katie’s book, and I think she is a great example of someone who is living the truth of spiritual oneness. In Ramaji’s book, 1000, he lists the levels of consciousness of current spiritual teachers, and he has ranked Byron Katie as enlightened. I agree that only someone with an enlightened awareness could have written such a book.


How can all souls be equal?

I contemplated this question last night, and came to some strange conclusions… This is what I wrote down in my diary…

Everything is consciousness and all consciousness is equal. The more concentrated the energy of consciousness, the more individuated a creation becomes. The Source of all consciousness is the one and the same, but by becoming individuated into different forms, some forms of consciousness travel very far away from the Source. They lose connection with their true identity. Such concentrated forms of consciousness (or ‘souls’) may experience a very long journey through creation. It may be difficult to endure at times, but their sense of reunion when they come back to the Source will also be greater.

The end is destined for each soul, but the journey varies. In some ways, the journey is everything because it is your creation. In other ways, the journey is nothing because we all come back to the Source as equals. Even a grain of sand is made from the energy of the Universe, although it is less concentrated than a person, an animal or a plant. Because of this, the grain of sand does not deviate too far from the Source. It does not make a great journey but it is nonetheless divine. It is equal to a man who may stray far from the Source and then make a mighty effort to come back to his truth. To such a man, coming back is a momentous joy, whilst for the grain of sand, there was no ignorance or suffering in the first place. Both are equal; both have a balanced experience which is resolved continuously by karma.

So, a person who is ignorant and harmful is not evil, although it appears that way. Such a person would have to make a huge effort in order to redeem themselves. But they WILL do it because their essential nature requires them to balance their actions and return back to the Source. The darkness and ignorance in such a person will need to be balanced by the painful process of coming to knowledge and giving back as much light into the world as they previously took. It is possible, after a long and arduous journey, for an ignorant ‘sinner’ to become a saint. They must repay all those they hurt. Reincarnation facilitates the journey of very individuated souls.

Everything in the Universe is equal. Everything in the Universe is energy in varying degrees. Each thing balances itself and everything else that exists in relation to it. If you give darkness to the world, you will have to one day give it light; if you give only light then you will receive light from others (pleasant experiences). If there is ignorance in the world, an equal amount of knowledge will be existent elsewhere in creation.

Balance does exist on a fundamental level, but seeing all the opposition in the world overwhelms us. If we see past it, we see that the Universe has designed a self-created pattern so that it can know itself. We are all creators in this.

Opposition and contrast create forms and identities, but these are temporary identities. Eventually the two opposites merge, they lose their individuation and become harmonised. This totality of harmony between all things is God, it is Source. This is the place from which we emerge and to which we return. When the individuated being loses its temporary identity and merges into the absolute energy, it returns back to the Source. The play repeats over and over again so that conscious energy can create and realise itself through its contrast with varying forms. So, if you want to be happy then don’t look for temporary pleasure. Pleasure exists as a contrast to pain, and opposite values invariably come together. Don’t look for rest instead of work, light instead of dark, order instead of chaos. Instead, look for the balance between the two. The point where the two opposites merge is real harmony and happiness. That is why you will see that the most beautiful times of the day are sunrise and dusk, because light and dark are perfectly harmonised at those times.