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121 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GUIDE TO FEARLESSNESS
Katie's work is absolutely different from anyone else's. Most self-help books aren't really about anyone's "self" except the author's. They provide you with their ideas about how you can be happy, and these ideas are supposed to work for everyone. But instead of offering a one-size-fits-all strategy, Katie has shown me how to craft my own solutions, under any and all...
Published on February 6, 2007 by Susan

versus
218 of 231 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book doesn't make as much sense to me
I wrote a glowing review for "Loving What Is," so it only seems right that I give my impression of this book. I didn't enjoy it as much, and it left me with a very confused impression of who Byron Katie is, and what she actually believes.

I'm not discounting Katie's experiences, but in reading it I occasionally got a sense of contrived ingenuousness. Sometimes...
Published on October 30, 2007 by Steven J. Rickard


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218 of 231 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This book doesn't make as much sense to me, October 30, 2007
I wrote a glowing review for "Loving What Is," so it only seems right that I give my impression of this book. I didn't enjoy it as much, and it left me with a very confused impression of who Byron Katie is, and what she actually believes.

I'm not discounting Katie's experiences, but in reading it I occasionally got a sense of contrived ingenuousness. Sometimes it's innocent enough ("I trip and fall down. It must be time for a rest!") other times it's almost heartless, such as when she runs into friends of the family she hasn't seen in several years, and when they ask "how is your dear mother" she replies, "She's wonderful. She's dead." She goes on to write: "Silence. The smiles were gone. I saw that they were having a problem, but I didn't know what it was. When [my daughter] and I were outside the store, she turned to me and said "Mom, when you talk to people like that, they can't handle it." That hadn't occurred to me. I was just telling the truth."

This is a sixty year old woman writing. No matter what happened to her to change her worldview so substantially, surely she still has an idea of social mores and compassion. When my mother dies someday, and if I run into some old friends of hers, I would expect to tell them the news in a kinder way.

Later in the book she talks about the fact that loving what is can seem heartless, and says that no matter what happens -- no matter how terrible -- she rejoices in it. "When I woke up from the dream of Byron Katie, there was nothing left, and the nothing was benevolent. It's so benevolent that it wouldn't reappear, it wouldn't re-create itself. The worst thing could happen, the worst imagination of horror...and it would see that as grace, it would even celebrate, it would open its arms and sing "Hallelujah! ... It cares totally, and it doesn't care at all, not one bit...it's in love with what is, whatever for that may take."

And yet, she also talks about the fact that she would speak from a place of compassion to a woman hitting a child. But, if the mother is hitting the child, and the child is in pain, obviously this "is" and must be "the best thing that can happen." Why try to change the best thing?

I believe wholeheartedly in accepting reality, but I can't accept that just because it "is" that we are to rejoice in it. When a child is molested and thrown into an outhouse toilet to die, as happened in Colorado about 10 years ago, should I say "Hallelujah!"? I can accept that it happened, and that things like this happen, but I do not see that just because they are, that they are cause for joy. I can agree with Eckhart Tolle ("The Power of Now") when he writes that we should either accept situations completely, or take steps to change them. If I can do anything to protect the children in my family from predators, I will do so. If one of them, god forbid, is kidnapped and hurt, then I will accept that and move forward. But, rejoicing seems wrong.

Katie writes about "being lived" instead of living, about watching her hand move to "hold a cup of anything and drink it, a liquid I call tea, for example, but I can never know that either." Her job, she writes, is to delete herself.

But it sounds as if she was deleted already. She didn't do "the work" to experience her life transformation. By her own account she was in utter despair and unable to be around anyone. She woke up one day no longer "Byron Katie." "At the beginning" she writes, "in 1986, I lived in a state of continuous rapture ... if someone asked what my name was, I might say, 'I don't have one.' They would say 'your name is Katie,' and I'd say 'No, it's not.' The would say 'you're a woman,' and I'd say 'That's not my experience.' ... It's mature now. When people ask me my name, I'll say 'Katie.' I'll say, 'It's cool this evening,' or 'Come look at the clouds, sweetheart' ... if you tell me its a tree, I'll agree with you."

So, it seems that Byron Katie was obliterated one night in 1986, and some non-being, some universal "now" took her place and had to learn to communicate and live in human society. In doing so, she's now teaching anyone who will listen how to get to the same point. But, I don't want to be deleted. I like having an identity, and thoughts, and at least the idea that when my hand moves I'm moving it, not that it's being moved for me.

She implies that such behavior as inviting people to look at a sunset, giving people her name, or putting on clothing is something superficial and even silly, and something she only does because not to do so makes other people uncomfortable. She describes being in the height of ecstasy when she realizes she's been sitting for two hours without one single thought. I get the impression of a person so caught up in the spiritual world that she completely forgets about physical necessities, the sort of person who needs to be reminded to bathe, and dress, and who can't be trusted not to give away all of her money and credit cards to people on the streets; the sort of person who would've been one of those medieval saints who lived in caves and relied on donations of food from the local villagers.

But, I don't think the real Byron Katie is like that. When I've watched her in action on her website, she comes across as occasionally gently sarcastic, she obviously has pretty strong opionions, and judging from her well kept hairstyle, clothing and jewelry, she hasn't completely given up on the finer things of life and moved to the sort of ascetic lifestyle that her self-described mental state would seem to automatically create. That's fine. I believe she should enjoy the fruits of her labors. It's just seems to contradict her self-professed mental state. Maybe it's part of the "show" that she's had to learn to put on after her transformation into whatever she is now. I suppose people in modern society would be less likely to listen to a spiritual leader with matted, unkempt hair and tattered clothing.

My mindset is to accept what works for me, and hold the rest in a state of "I don't know." Byron Katie's "work" really has made a dramatic difference in the way I'm living my life; and even though a lot of what she says appears crazy to me, I also know that she's operating from a completely different viewpoint. I also know that, if what she writes is the truth, she would completely agree with me that she's insane, or wonderful, or evil, or enlightened, or completely lost, thereby allowing me to make my own conclusions and develop my own growth.

I know "the work" works because it's making my life better. As far as the rest of her philosophy, well, I guess if it's true I'll evetually come to realize the truth. If it's not, I'll forget it, and continue with what works for me as I continue to seek truth and health.

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
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121 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GUIDE TO FEARLESSNESS, February 6, 2007
By 
Katie's work is absolutely different from anyone else's. Most self-help books aren't really about anyone's "self" except the author's. They provide you with their ideas about how you can be happy, and these ideas are supposed to work for everyone. But instead of offering a one-size-fits-all strategy, Katie has shown me how to craft my own solutions, under any and all circumstances. The value of this really can't be overstated.

In addition to helping me with problems after they've arisen, Katie's work showed me how to stop the problems from arising in the first place. I've learned that the way to counterbalance difficult emotions is not necessarily to explore or analyze them, but to catch them as they present themselves, question their validity, and then simply let them go. Once I examine any thought whatsoever, I'm struck by what it really, truly is in the first place: a thought. A thought has no bearing on reality. If you're suffering from a broken heart, for example, when you look, you see that your heart is not really broken. No matter how hard you try, you literally cannot find a broken heart. There is only the thought that a broken heart exists. The funny thing is that if you stop thinking that thought, the heartbreak also stops--not because you've healed it, but because it was never there anyway.

It can be difficult to believe that it's this simple, but it is. Most self-help strategies are detailed commentaries on complex psychological or spiritual theories. But Katie's suggestions are almost pre-psychology and even pre-spirituality. They're about how the mind naturally works, no matter how you were raised or what you believe. She helps you step off the merry-go-round of newer, better, perkier self-help strategies and instead relate plainly and directly to your life as it is, without a lot of sturm und drang. It's so incredibly practical.

Katie's emphasis on self-inquiry shines a light on the present moment, something all spiritual teachers tell us we should do. However, they usually don't tell you how. But Katie does. She taught me how to set aside my beliefs and philosophies about what is going on and instead relate to what is going on. That's pretty deep when you think about it, but it also may be the reason you may not get the power of her work right away. It's so stripped down and essential. It's not a system of belief, and we're not used to things that aren't assigned to a particular school of thought. But because it's a living tool (not a system or belief), it's always relevant and can be customized to meet any situation.

One way this has shown up for me is with my husband. Even though I don't always succeed (ahem), I've learned how to separate my projections about who he should be and how I need him to act from who he really is. It actually strikes me as funny to realize that up until I could do this, I was probably having a relationship with my thoughts about my husband instead of a relationship with him. I like him much better than I like my thoughts about him.

Just like Katie's method of self-inquiry, the Tao Te Ching is not a checklist of actions you can take that will solve all your problems. Instead, it's an uncannily accurate description of how reality works and what the mind responds to. Just as our Western scientists have mapped and catalogued the physical world, the Tao explains human nature. What Katie and the Tao have in common is that both explain how to step out from behind the veil of calcified belief systems and instead meet your world directly. Both explain how the mind works when left to its own devices and that if we can just get out of the way, its natural wisdom will reassert itself and provide exactly the right solution in all cases.
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141 of 150 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tao Meets The Work, March 5, 2007
"To think that we need sadness or outrage to motivate us to do what's right is insane. As if the clearer and happier you get, the less kind you become. As if when someone finds freedom, she just sits around all day with drool running down her chin. My experience is the opposite. Love is action. It's clear, it's kind, it's effortless, and it's irresistible." - From A Thousand Names for Joy

Several years ago, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie hit the bestseller list and introduced thousands of people to The Work. Katie then took readers further into this simple, but profound, process in her book I Need Your Love--Is That True?, whereby Katie invited individuals to question everything they say, do or think in order to secure love, approval, or appreciation from others.

Now, in the book A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are, Katie provides an intimate glimpse into a subject that she doesn't normally talk about--her everyday life. From babysitting her grandchild to experiencing painful corneal blisters, sipping a cup of tea to sitting with a dying friend, Katie show us The Work in action--and how she exquisitely inhabits a fluid world without boundaries or demarcation.

Teaming up with her author/translator husband Stephen Mitchell, Katie elaborates on short excerpts from the Tao Te Ching from her own unique standpoint. At core, Katie challenges us--and our most cherished beliefs--by reminding us that unquestioned thoughts are the source of all stress and suffering. No person, lack, diagnosis, death, accident, tsunami, war, or illness causes suffering--only our unquestioned thoughts about such things.

Granted, this idea is a radical one because, for Katie, reality equals what is, and reality is God and reality is always good. A Thousand Names for Joy reveals a sweet, guileless woman who is nevertheless an equal opportunity offender. When she relates the story about a well-known Buddhist teacher describing how appalled and devastated he felt on 9/11, Katie observes that "his suffering had nothing to do with the terrorists or the people who died...[he in that moment] was terrorizing his own mind, causing his own grief."

Katie also addresses Christians and the idea of "knowing Jesus". She says, "I know what it is to enter heaven and not look back, and I know the arrogance of thinking that people need to be saved. If I can walk into the light, so can you. You can't help us with your words: `There it is, over there. Follow me.' No. YOU do it first, then we'll follow. This savior thing is lethal."

At 280 pages, A Thousand Names for Joy reads like part memoir and part devotional--but 100% contrary to almost every book lining the bulging shelves of the Self-Help section. With The Work, individuals embrace everything and resist nothing, for resistance is not only futile, but the root of suffering. Physical pain, love, success, money, abuse, death--Katie address all these topics and more by showing what happens when our thoughts about such issues are met with understanding--and inquiry.

Here are but a few of my favorite passages that I highlighted in the book:

"It's not possible to have a problem without believing a prior thought. To notice this simple truth is the beginning of peace."

"Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened didn't. You realize that there was never anything to forgive, and that's what The Work makes evident. It has all just been a misunderstanding within you."

"When you try to be safe, you live your life being very, very careful, and you may wind up having no life at all."

"People will write off even the clearest, most loving person in the world when he opposes their belief system. They will invalidate him, negate him, obliterate him, prove that he's wrong, he's a fraud, he's dangerous to society, so that they can protect what they really believe is important. They'd rather be right than free."

"If I think that I'm supposed to be doing anything but what I'm doing now, I'm insane."

"Of course, freedom doesn't mean that you let unkind things happen--it doesn't mean passivity or masochism. If someone says he's going to cut off your legs, run!"

At the end of A Thousand Names for Joy, Katie briefly describes the four questions of The Work, and provides the "Judge Your Neighbor" template from Loving What Is. She also points readers to her website, [...] for obtaining free worksheets for applying The Work to stressful thoughts.

A Thousand Names for Joy reveals what's on the other side of investigated thoughts--past the stress, the confusion, and the suffering. I am so grateful for The Work because it has helped me come to terms with my Autistic-spectrum son. Instead of meeting his "delays" with frustration and panic, I've been able to (mostly) meet him with patience, love, peacefulness, compassion and clarity.

If you have an affinity for the Tao Te Ching and would enjoy eavesdropping on Katie's wild (but entirely stress-free) world, then A Thousand Names for Joy will no doubt delight you. However, having used The Work for years--and having read all three of Katie's books--I feel that Loving What Is would serve those new to the process of inquiry better than A Thousand Names for Joy.

Why? Well, unless you're quite familiar with The Work, statements like "I see the common good. The common good looks like entire villages being wiped out by one tsunami" may seem disturbing, heartless, and repugnant. On the other hand, Katie would attest that such stressful thoughts would be the perfect time to apply The Work--but only if you want!

Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tao...the Now...and Finally, the How, February 7, 2007
By 
Carol L. Skolnick (Santa Cruz, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Eureka! Once and for all, Byron Katie has proven that enlightenment is not waiting on an oxygen-deprived mountaintop in Tibet, nor hiding in some mysterious, inaccessible cave of the heart known only to Yogis and Kabbalists. It's available right here while we're doing the dishes.

I'd describe A Thousand Names for Joy as "The Tao for Dummies," a truly useful manual for "the rest of us" who want to live a peaceful, happy life. The conversations in this book are Katie's responses to verses from the Tao Te Ching, an ancient text on the art of living by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. (Katie's co-author and husband, Stephen Mitchell, wrote one of the most highly esteemed translations of this text in 1986, coincidentally the same year of Katie's now famous "moment of clarity.") This volume is much more than that. Like so many spiritual classics, the Tao wisely tells us what we should be striving for, but not how to get it. Katie, through the alchemy of self-inquiry, always tells us how.

At the same time, this truly is a portrait of an awakened mind. We get to see life through Katie's eyes as a seemingly ordinary person who, like us, endures many of the kinds of experiences we may wish we didn't have to. We witness her as a woman whose purse is stolen, whose husband ate the snack she'd bought for herself and was so looking forward to having when she got home, who watches as the birth of a granddaughter becomes a medical emergency, who gets a diagnosis of cancer, who takes care of her dying mother, who is threatened at gunpoint, who looks into the eyes of a dead friend, having arrived "too late"...who endures a painful, degenerative disease of the cornea which leaves her largely blind and vulnerable to falling (though she's since had successful corneal transplants). Katie describes these realities with no more drama and no less joy and gratitude than in other scenarios where she plays with her grandchild, prepares a salad, speaks onstage before an appreciative audience of 350, or receives her husband's caresses.

But this is not "the lives of the saints." Katie also provides examples of people like us who have come to know, through a simple process of self-inquiry called The Work, what Katie knows...for instance, a man who, although he loved his wife, was able to celebrate her decision to leave him for another man because he had questioned his anger and fear about his marriage. He stayed in his wife's life as a best friend to whom she could tell everything. (She eventually returned to him; who wouldn't want to live with someone that clear?) In this way, Katie makes the ancient teachings of the Tao come alive for us in the contemporary world.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, helpful, full of love, February 6, 2007
By 
Daniel G. Amen (Newport Beach, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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Byron Katie's work is the wisest I've seen as a psychiatrist of 25 years. I use her work daily in my clinical practice. Her new book is a treasure, full of wisdom and practical help. If you make this book part of your daily life you will siffer less and feel more joy.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It really works, July 26, 2007
I had a kundalini awakening in 1996 but still had a lot of baggage I needed to get rid of. Everyone seems to think this type of spiritual awakening leads to a peaceful life. Like U.G. Khrishnamurti, I've discovered most of what's written about this type of awakening is a bunch of bunk. I had all the cool sensations, along with a new ability to heal, but I was still angry inside. I started on a journey to get to the source.

When I came across "The Work" I was intrigued and gave it a try. It really does work. I've uncovered alot about myself, some of it was pretty earth shattering. I'm a completely different person as a result. I would have given it five stars had it not been for the author's lack of warning as to how powerful this technique is. If a person isn't ready to unearth their hidden fears and emotions, the results can be devastating to a person who is not psychologically ready. I tried this technique with my husband. When we got to a tipping point, I stopped and told him to continue this only when he was ready to face his own truth. It wasn't my responsibility to make him see anymore than it was anyone's responsibility to make Katie see. That's the paradox.

Byron Katie is well intentioned. She offers the work for free on her website. You don't even have to read her book to learn this technique. That's what I appreciate about her. However, she's turned into another self-help guru with her own school. I also agree with some reviewers that state she leads people to their conclusions during her sessions. This contradicts her own awakening which can only come from within. The problem is that every self-help icon is eventually overshadowed by their money making enterprise. However, don't let that fool you. The Work really does work. It doesn't matter what Katie's intentions are or aren't or what her world views are. They're her own, and as she says, it's her business alone. So if you want to mind your own business, I think this is a good starting point to learn how. I think the simplicity in that message is pretty amazing...and true as well.

It is amazing as to how much this changed my life. I'm less reactive because I'm more introspective in my daily life. I only talk when it comes from my heart.

Like her or not...she has tapped into something that really works. If you are super honest with yourself, you can knock out all your demons, samskara, whatever you choose to call them, a lot quicker than with a counselor. Just make sure you are ready to face them before attempting this. Another suggestion: Start a journal when you begin this journey. Record all your emotions and then go back and write about your growth. I've started a chart where I list each memory that is brought to the surface. If this ever takes over, pshycho therapy will be a thing of the past.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow !! Where would I be without you Katie.., February 10, 2007
By 
C R Heath (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
Byron Katie's latest I think is her best work, which is saying a lot. Each chapter(about 2 or 3 pages) is a great story or learning lesson about how to deal with life's problems. The simple solution is just question your thoughts. Every time we are unhappy, we are attached to an unhappy thought. Question this thought and the unhappiness goes away. There is no exception to this.

I have read some other reviews of Katie's previous books that criticize The Work for being practical only to a certain point. All I can say is go see her in person and watch her use The Work to deal with any problem. I recently went to her School and all I can say is that it changed my life more than anything. I saw her actually deal with a cancer patient and bring him to tears of joy.

Thank you Katie, for all the help you give to the world.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet The Queen of Unconditional Love ~g~, February 12, 2007
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By far the BEST book I have read on the power of unconditional love in its purest form ... where you come away with the feeling of profound freedom and peace after doing The Work.

In order to see things change, you have to change the way you see things. And this book delivers! Once you put the info into practice, all heaven breaks loose. ~g~
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow., February 10, 2007
By 
Alicia St Rose (Santa Barbara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This book is changing my life.

I've been doing The Work for over 2 years now and it has alleviated a significant amount of stress and anxiety over "stories" that just aren't so.

But A Thousand Names For Joy has shown me the bliss of simply existing.

I drove 2 hours to Los Angeles in wonder over the perfection of every single car and occupant I encountered, being exactly where they ought to be. Roadsigns and trees, planted in their perfect places and even a dead bird on the road-I knew had died at the perfect moment. I knew that behind the wheel of my car was the only place for me to be every moment of that 2 hour drive.

I don't know if my words can describe it accurately. It felt like pure bliss.

It's waned. I've started believing a few errant thoughts. But I now know what lies beneath those thoughts, the reality that this universe is utterly...perfect.

Thank you, Katie.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An illuminated and illuminating new spiritual classic, March 26, 2007
By 
Kaizen (San Francisco Bay Area, CA) - See all my reviews
This collaboration between Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell, and Lao-tsu (long-deceased though he may be) has created a truly illuminating work of art that is a great gift to humanity. "A Thousand Names for Joy" is far more than a book - "book" is simply its external form. At its essence, "A Thousand Names for Joy" is an experience of awake consciousness that feels past the limitations imposed by any thought that would seek to limit or define it. It is a gift - an invitation to share presence and intimate dialogue with truth - simple, humble, fearless, radical, unborn, deathless truth.

Those who receive this gift, who open to this experience, may find that their familiar ideas, distinctions, and concepts about themselves and the world melt away in a graceful experience of what Lao-tsu calls the Tao, the Way, the flowing movement of the universe happening at all times, in all places, in all beings, perfectly. The reader may come to recognize perfection in areas where once imperfection was believed to exist, as consciousness is gifted with an opportunity to experience itself at its depths, heights, and everywhere in-between.

This collaboration between Katie, Stephen Mitchell, and Lao-tsu truly is a dream team of awakened consciousness, which no longer defines itself according to conventions of unquestioned thought, which invites the reader to see, experience, and recognize one's own true face in the perfection, fullness, and freshness of being.

It may come to pass that each person who truly opens to the experience offered by the profound gift of this book - who allows conventional thought and identity to be humbled by the recognition of its innate limitations, and who boldly accepts the invitation that the authors offer to radically embrace the unthinkable, unnamable essence of being - will be filled to overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity to connect so intimately both with true self and with the radical perfection of "what is." This has certainly been true for me.

In short, this book (so much more than a book!), is a profound blessing, a gift to one's awake soul, and a precious opportunity to gaze deeply into a mirror that reflects only truth.
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A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are
A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are by Stephen Mitchell (Audio CD - February 6, 2007)
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