Who would you be without your name?

Are you familiar with Byron Katie? She teaches a four-question method of inquiry for exploring and releasing yourself from suffering. She calls it The Work.

She came on my radar sometime in the past two years and although I haven’t read any of her books (yet), I have casually engaged with the free materials available on her website. And I have been listening to her podcasts and watching videos.

Fundamentally, to paraphrase what I hear Katie saying over and over in different ways is: ‘Did you ever notice that it’s not the world that causes your suffering? It’s your thoughts about the world. And that distinction means the end of suffering.’

And to quote her directly: “I discovered that when I believed 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. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”

Katie’s approach when she sits and talks with people is to directly engage with where they are at, with their specific thoughts, feelings and beliefs. I imagine it’s much like it is said that the Buddha taught: in direct response to specific suffering. As she guides individuals through the simple steps of The Work, its beauty and wisdom are revealed in the application of that inquiry. And she invites anyone to try it. To look clearly at what is going on in your direct experience, and to consider alternative interpretations.

So, since there isn’t an overall doctrine (in fact The Work functions to question ALL beliefs), I have struggled a little with what would be most useful to re-blog here. But while listening to a podcasted interview today, my mind was blown when Katie explained how she uses her method of inquiry to explore the most essential question: ‘Who am I?’ So I thought, why not go right to the deep end, I’ll write and re-blog about what excites me!

What she explores (very briefly at 30:50 minutes) that got me excited is: ‘Am I my name?’ If you’re already familiar with teachings on the selflessness of persons and phenomena — what is called ’emptiness’ in Buddhist traditions — you might really enjoy this fresh and direct approach.

If you want to play along at home, and engage in a little inquiry into your true nature, here are the four questions of The Work for you to apply to that one fundamental belief: I am [insert your name].

1. Is it true?

2. Can I absolutely know that it is true?

3. How do I react — what happens — when I believe that thought?

4. Who would I be without the thought?

The best way of engaging here is to be still and ask your heart. Sometimes you might take time to sit in meditation with the questions, and you might also gently inquire throughout your day whenever you notice the thought comes up.

There are other steps to engage fully with the process, such as filling in the Judge-Your-Neighbour-Worksheet and Finding the Turnarounds. If your interest is piqued, I recommend exploring the podcasts and videos where Katie works directly with people. That way you get a taste for how The Work works and how to work it (couldn’t help myself there). And you might see your own suffering and gain wisdom from hearing other people question their beliefs.

Everything you need to Do The Work is available for free.

Q_BurdenNeverLifeNEW

 

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Random act of lovingkindess

My heart opens when I watch this simple kindness unfold.

It’s when he goes back and gently places the hat on the man’s head that I see it is like the act of a mother caring for her child. One YouTube comment I came across reads ‘this man is surely going to heaven.’ But I think if we are this open and allow our natural innocence be our first response, this earth is heaven.

(via The Telegraph)

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Let’s make happy

‘Let’s make happy’ is the slogan over at Mochimochi Land, where Anna Hrachovec, a knitter who lives in Chicago, showcases her original designs.

I love this joyful, sweet & funky video she made in collaboration with Maureen Boyle (music by William Steffey).

Don’t be ashamed if you, too, like cute things. Have you heard about the 2012 study conducted to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance? Basically it concluded that cute improves concentration. Which leads me to conclude that you should view adorable, sweet, heart-warming things before you sit on your meditation seat.

(via Mochimochi Land on Facebook)

 

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Inspiration through myth

In this engaging podcast, best selling author and teacher Jack Kornfield reads stories from Buddhist texts and explores their meaning by asking simple questions of his audience. The result is a lyrical and thoughtful hour-long teaching, scattered with gems of inspiration and insight for anyone walking the path of awakening to their true nature.

Path on the park“Drawing from Buddhist texts, Jack tells the story of the last year of Buddha’s life, and the teachings he imparted to his followers and future seekers on the path. Guidance for practice, and instructions for building and sustaining wise relationships were the focus of these final offerings. The power of mythology is emphasized in appreciating its capacity to speak to the human imagination.”

You can subscribe directly to Jack Kornfield’s Heart Wisdom podcasts on iTunes. There are new podcasts uploaded 2-3 times a month.

(via MindPod Network)

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