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Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life Paperback – December 23, 2003
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“Good Lord! Where did Byron Katie come from? She’s the real McCoy. Her Work is amazingly effective—a simple, straightforward antidote to the suffering we unnecessarily create for ourselves. She asks us to believe nothing, but provides a surprisingly effective and simple way to cut through the tangle of delusions we wrap ourselves in. Just reading the exchanges in Loving What Is, I can admit things I didn’t want to admit and stop torturing myself in ways I didn’t realize I was doing.”
-- David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
“Suppose you could find a simple way to embrace your life with joy, stop arguing with reality, and achieve serenity in the midst of chaos? That is what Loving What Is offers. It is no less than a revolutionary way to live your life. The question is: are we brave enough to accept it?”
-- Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying
“Byron Katie’s Work is a great blessing for our planet. The root cause of suffering is identification with our thoughts, the ‘stories’ that are continuously running through our minds. Byron Katie’s Work acts like a razor-sharp sword that cuts through that illusion and enables you to know for yourself the timeless essence of your being. Joy, peace, and love emanate from it as your natural state. In Loving What Is, you have the key. Now use it.”
-- Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now
“Loving What Is is filled with the essence of wisdom. Katie’s Work is a wonderful, transformative practice for anyone interested in spiritual growth.”
-- Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within
From the Inside Flap
Out of nowhere, like a fresh breeze in a marketplace crowded with advice on what to believe, comes Byron Katie and what she calls "The Work." In the midst of a normal life, Katie became increasingly depressed, and over a ten-year period sank further into rage, despair, and thoughts of suicide. Then one morning, she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended. The freedom of that realization has never left her, and now in Loving What Is you can discover the same freedom through The Work.
The Work is simply four questions that, when applied to a specific problem, enable you to see what is troubling you in an entirely different light. As Katie says, "It's not the problem that causes our suffering; it's our thinking about the problem." Contrary to popular belief, trying to let go of a painful thought never works; instead, once we have done The Work, the thought lets go of us. At that point, we can truly love what is, just as it is.
Loving What Is will show you step-by-step, through clear and vivid examples, exactly how to use this revolutionary process for yourself. You'll see people do The Work with Katie on a broad range of human problems, from a wife ready to leave her husband because he wants more sex, to a Manhattan worker paralyzed by fear of terrorism, to a woman suffering over a death in her family. Many people have discovered The Work's power to solve problems; in addition, they say that through The Work they experience a sense of lasting peace and find the clarity and energy to act, even in situations that had previously seemed impossible.
If you continue to do The Work, you may discover, as many people have, thatthe questioning flows into every aspect of your life, effortlessly undoing the stressful thoughts that keep you from experiencing peace. Loving What Is offers everything you need to learn and live this remarkable process, and to find happiness as what Katie calls "a lover of reality."
"From the Hardcover edition.
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I suspect to gain the most from this book, one would have to do the exercises, and complete the worksheets. I didn't, so my review might be lacking in this respect. I did find Byron Katie's approach insightful, and worth thinking about. I also found the book repetitive, annoyingly so, and eventually I gave up in frustration, feeling that I had gotten the gist, without having truly plumbed the depths of "The Work," as Byron calls it.
The book is designed to help those who have suffered great difficulties in their lives, particularly at the hands of others, and who have a tendency to blame those others for all their problems. Blaming is a roadblock on the road to self-discovery, self-understanding and personal transformation. For that reason, this could be a tremendously useful book, if you haven't already dealt with these problems through therapy or some other path that has freed you to think for yourself without needing someone to use as a scapegoat for your own troubles and dissatisfaction.
I read it through, and tried to apply "The Work", but I just couldn't seem to "wrap my head around it". Truth be told, I ended up arguing with the whole process. Which made me upset, because I had already been doing self-inquiry as a meditation practice.
So, I threw or gave my copy away.
But, in those 5 years, I kept meditating, I acquired a VERY loving, patient and 'stubborn' spiritual mentor, and I started studying "A Course in Miracles".
And so, now, I am buying another copy of this book! Because I kept recalling how "The Work" would be soooo valuable for me to apply in my everyday life.
I make that statement because, now, I realize the importance of and the full meaning of forgiveness.
I've learned (the hard way) that the ONLY way to achieve true forgiveness is to be able to drop ALL my judgements about "trespasses" and "trespassers".
And, I've learned that ALL judgement is related in some way back to one's own 'story' - it's almost like our mind's judgements are the "proof" behind what makes our stories 'true', or 'real', or 'meaningful"! (While our mind thinks our stories are what makes us 'me'. 'individual, or 'important'.)
So, while what I have said so far is NOT a review of the book, after reading a number of the negative reviews of this book (that are basically negative comments about "The Work"), I felt drawn to say what I have, so that people hopefully have a clearer idea of what the philosophy of Byron Katie is, and in particular her inquiry process of "The Work", which is basically what this book is all about.
If you are tired of emotional suffering (whether or not you already know it's ALL self-created) you will benefit from this book!
BUT, Ms.Katie's 'philosophy' (which is basically the same as any advaita vedanta, or "non-duality" teacher's), and being able to apply "The Work" to yourself is probably going to hit some of your cherished beliefs (unless you were raised by enlightened folk).
So, unless you're willing to at least be open to the concepts that: 1) we are all connected; 2) (other than immediate physical pain) NO one makes us feel anything; 3) judgements are the primary 'tool' of prolonged human suffering; 4) the only person one can probably change is oneself; and 5) there really is NO such thing as a 'victim', then you're probably going to have a great deal of difficulty with the material in this book, possibly even more than I met myself 5 years ago.
Then again, IF you ARE ready and willing to change your world by changing your mind,"The Work" and ACiM will definitely help you achieve it.
I also found 21 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. It is a book that is just as practical and actionable as Loving What Is, but it takes a slightly different approach. It posits that giving up concepts and ideas is the best way to achieve happiness. Using advice in this book along with "The Work," I have been able to clear my head and focus on my goals. I no longer worry about what other people think, and I've started planning my life more around concrete goals and less around the aimless wander. 21 Thing You Should Give Up To Be Happy talks about the "aimless wander" as one thing you should give up. My anxiety was always on high alert, but it didn't need to be!
I'm glad I found these two books, because I've been to produce much more positive effects throughout my life. I am working toward my goals and my mind is more stress-free than it's ever been. Neither of these books offer new age mumbo jumbo. They are written by real people with real life experience who have been able to construct effective action plans that work for a wide variety of individuals. I am just one success story in a sea of others.