By Byron Katie
“I am an old man who has known many troubles, but most of them never happened.” This quote, often attributed to Mark Twain, tells a simple truth: most of our troubles are in our heads. These words also hint at a path to freedom from those very same troubles, a freedom Bryon Katie aims to help you find.
In Loving What Is, Byron Katie details this path to freedom in what she calls “The Work,” a method of self-inquiry which centers on asking simple questions about the thoughts we have regarding difficult people, events, and life circumstances. The method itself is simple and to the point – simple to the point that it may be difficult to swallow.
While Katie does explain her method, much of “The Work” is illustrated by dialogues between Katie and a series of participants. The themes of the dialogues vary, ranging from common issues such as shyness and infidelity to difficult topics like rape and death of loved ones. The plausibility of the transformation found in the dialogues varies, but more than anything, the dialogues show that “The Work” can be done on anything, even the most difficult people and circumstances.
Katie’s self-inquiry work consists of asking half a dozen questions which always have similar answers. The uniformity of the answers may be off-putting for some, but the questions are not about getting into the details of our anxious narratives. Indeed, the point of the questions is to break through the details, to drive home the understanding that most of our pain is caused by thought. This lesson is easily lost when we get caught up in the details of the stories we tell ourselves, but the plot-holes in our narratives are easily torn apart by the inquiries Katie provides.
Loving What Is is a beguilingly easy read with a simple teaching that is more than meets the eye. This is a book of tough love which is not for everyone, but the opportunity for radical transformation awaits anyone willing to undertake this difficult Work.