On July 22nd I hastily posted a Secret entitled: Prayer for an Open Heart and Mind and I mentioned that I would like to share some quotes from authors who addressed this idea that “we are not our stories.”
First off, I apologize to everyone for posting such a poorly written piece. I wrote it in the period of about ten minutes when I realized that midnight was approaching and that I had not posted yet.
I was working on the house, all day, trying to get ready for carpet, and had let the time, for writing, slip away. I proofed the short writing, but I missed three or four glaring errors. Sometimes when I proof, my own writing, I read what I was trying to say instead of what I typed. This is why I typically proofread my posts five to six times. I did not take that time, on the 22nd, and the writing reflected my lack of attention.
I have since improved the piece, but it is still in need of work. What is interesting, to me, is that I seldom receive many comments on my writings, yet these poorly assembled thoughts generated no less than six kudos and suggestions. One of these comments was a request for me to share some of the quotes, I had suggested.
I had promised that I would discuss some of the quotes I had in mind, but then my laptop quit and I did not post any writings for the whole following week. Today, I want to share one writer’s reflections concerning our stories.
For now, I want to talk about “The Work” by Byron Katie. If you are familiar with any of her books, Loving What Is, I Need Your Love – Is That True?, A Thousand Names for Joy – Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are or Who Would You Be Without Your Story – Dialogues With Byron Katie, then you have been exposed to what she calls The Work. Byron also has another paperback, Question your Thinking, Change the World: Quotations from Byron Katie and a CD Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life but I have not read or listened to these two.
Before I explain Byron Katie’s “The Work” I want to say that if I were to make one suggestion for “reading and practice” that I thought should be mandatory for every human being, it would be one of these books. Even a simple, one time, reading of this material, forever changes the reader’s perspective on living life without the pain created by the insistence that we “are” our stories.
Following a deep, dark depression, Byron Katie, discovered that when she believed her thoughts, she suffered, but when she didn’t believe them, she did not suffer, and she concluded that this Truth applied to every human being. She realized that suffering was optional. She wrote, “I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment.” And “That joy is in everyone, always.”
Katie’s work consists of asking four questions about every “truth” that makes up our “story.”
- Is the story true?
- Can you absolutely know that this story is true?
- How do you react when you believe your story is true?
- Who would you be without the belief that your story is true?
According to Byron, “Without your story, you’re perfectly fine.” On her blog, she shares this excellent worksheet for walking through the four step process for turning around any thoughts which we no longer wish to own: Worksheet for reversing judgment.
According to Ms. Katie, we suffer because we have stories which create suffering when we believe them. Consider these words: “A lover of what is looks forward to everything: life, death, disease, loss, earthquakes, bombs, anything the mind might be tempted to call “bad.” Life will bring us everything we need, to show us what we haven’t undone yet. Nothing outside ourselves can make us suffer. Except for our unquestioned thoughts, every place is paradise.”
Any time we are tempted to tell our stories, be it “My father was a critical perfectionist and I was never good enough to please him. My mother was jealous and competed with me. My father is an alcoholic. My mother beat me. My children don’t respect me. My ex is a jerk. I’m too fat. I was a bad mother. I’m not living up to my potential. My boss is a tyrant. My spouse nags and doesn’t show any love and affection.” “I don’t have enough money.” or “My lover rejected me and I’ll never love again. I’m stupid.” life is showing us an area where we are in need of healing.
I will leave you here for today, as I really think this is enough to consider. Tomorrow, we will look at some of the teachings of Gangaji, another of my favorite authors, and I will share some of her teachings concerning our stories, their significance and the dangers in believing in them.
Until then, ponder the Truth in this statement from Byron Katie and know that our continued telling of and belief in our stories creates all of our suffering: “When you don’t believe your own thinking, life becomes effortless.*”