Byron Katie



Average: 3.3 (45 votes)
Fast Facts
byron-katie.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Byron Kathleen Mitchell, Katie
Function: 
Spiritual Teacher
Traditions: 
Nonduality, The Work
Main Countries of Activity: 
Germany , USA
Date of Birth: 
12/06/1942
Place of Birth: 
USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Yes

Biography

Byron Kathleen Reid (or "Katie" as she is called) became severely depressed in her early thirties. She was a businesswoman and mother living in a little town in the high desert of southern California. According to Katie, for almost a decade she spiraled down into paranoia, rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide; for the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom. Then, one morning in February 1986, while in a halfway house for women with eating disorders, she experienced a life-changing realization. She described her experience as similar to spiritual awakenings described in Buddhist and Hindu traditions under various names; she called it “waking up to reality.” In that moment of enlightenment, she says:

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.

Soon after her realization people started seeking Katie out and asking how they could find the freedom that they saw in her. People from her town and eventually from elsewhere came to meet her, and some to even live with her.

Katie is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition. She is married to the writer and translator Stephen Mitchell, who co-wrote her first book, Loving What Is and her third book, A Thousand Names for Joy.

Katie calls her method of self-inquiry The Work. She describes it as an embodiment, in words, of the wordless questioning that had woken up in her on that February morning. As reports spread about the transformations people felt they were experiencing through The Work, Katie was invited to present it publicly elsewhere in California, then throughout the United States, and eventually in Europe and across the world. She has taught her method to hundreds of thousands of people at free public events, in prisons, hospitals, churches, corporations, shelters for survivors of domestic violence, universities and schools, at weekend intensives, and at her nine-day "School for The Work".

Katie is the author of three bestselling books: “Loving What Is – Four Questions That Can Change Your Life” (with Stephen Mitchell), “I Need Your Love – Is That True?”, “How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead” (with Michael Katz) and the recently published: “A Thousand Names for Joy – Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are” (with Stephen Mitchell). Her latest book is “Question Your Thinking, Change the World: Quotations from Byron Katie”.

Teachings

The Work

Based on Byron Katie's direct experience of how suffering is created and ended, her method of self-inquiry, called The Work, is an astonishingly simple process, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen and paper and an open mind. Through this process, anyone can learn to trace unhappiness to its source and eliminate it there. Katie not only shows that all the problems in the world originate in our thinking: she gives the tool to open our minds and set ourselves free.

The Work is based on four questions and a process called a "turnaround".

The four questions are:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

Her method can be done either by oneself or with another person.

When engaging in her method, first one identifies a belief or thought related to a topic that causes anxiety or unhappiness. Initially one is encouraged to choose something which feels important, which annoys or troubles you, that someone else does or did: for example "My mother never loved me," or "Tom shouldn't expect me to solve his problems." With each thing, one then asks himself or is asked each of the four questions listed above. When alone, one writes down their response, and with another person one speaks their answers aloud.

After the four questions, the thought is literally turned around to its opposite. For example: "My mother never loved me" turns around to "My mother always loved me," Then one sees if they can find ways that this new thought is equally true, or more true, than the original thought.

The turnaround also takes the form of turning the statement around to oneself: "I never loved my mother," or "I never loved myself."

Katie summarizes The Work as: "Judge your neighbor, write it down. Ask four questions, turn it around."

Katie has taught this technique for exploring painful beliefs across many topics including relationships, parenting, illness, death and trauma. She has facilitated the work with audiences in widely varying situations, from ordinary people dealing with financial worries to prison inmates and returning war veterans.

Her work is also described as presenting a view of nondualism.

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

by Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell

(Paperback)

“Byron Katie is one of the truly great and inspiring teachers of our time. I encourage everyone to immerse themselves in this phenomenal book.” –Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

In her first two books, Loving What Is and I Need Your Love–Is That True? Byron Katie showed how suffering can be ended by questioning the stressful thoughts that create it. Now, in A Thousand Names for Joy, she encourages us to discover the freedom that lives on the other side of inquiry.

Stephen Mitchell–the renowned translator of the Tao Te Ching–selected provocative excerpts from that ancient text as a stimulus for Katie to talk about the most essential issues that face us all: life and death, good and evil, love, work, and fulfillment. With her stories of total ease in all circumstances, Katie does more than describe the awakened mind; she lets you see it, feel it, in action.

Cover image

I Need Your Love - Is That True?: How to Stop Seeking Love, Approval, and Appreciation and Start Finding Them Instead

by Byron Katie, Michael Katz

(Paperback)

In Loving What Is, bestselling author Byron Katie introduced thousands of people to her simple and profound method of finding happiness through questioning the mind. Now, I Need Your LoveIs That True? examines a universal, age-old source of anxiety: our relationships with others. In this groundbreaking book, Katie helps you question everything you have been taught to do to gain love and approval. In doing this, you discover how to find genuine love and connection.

The usual advice offered in self-help books and reinforced by our culture advocates a stressful, all-consuming quest for love and approval. We are advised to learn self-marketing and manipulative skills—how to attract, impress, seduce, and often pretend to be something we aren’t. This approach doesn’t work. It leaves millions of walking wounded—those who, having failed to find love or appreciation, blame themselves and conclude that they are unworthy of love.

I Need Your LoveIs That True? helps you illuminate every area in your life where you seem to lack what you long for most—the love of your spouse, the respect of your child, a lover’s tenderness, or the esteem of your boss. Through its penetrating inquiry, you will quickly discover the falseness of the accepted ways of seeking love and approval, and also of the mythology that equates love with need. Using the method in this book, you will inquire into painful beliefs that you’ve based your whole life on—and be delighted to see them evaporate. Katie shows you how unraveling the knots in the search for love, approval, and appreciation brings real love and puts you in charge of your own happiness.


“Everyone agrees that love is wonderful, except when it’s terrible. People spend their whole lives tantalized by love—seeking it, trying to hold on to it, or trying to get over it. Not far behind love, as major preoccupations, come approval and appreciation. From childhood on, most people spend much of their energy in a relentless pursuit of these things, trying out different methods to be noticed, to please, to impress, and to win other people’s love, thinking that’s just the way life is. This effort can become so constant and unquestioned that we barely notice it anymore.

This book takes a close look at what works and what doesn’t in the quest for love and approval. It will help you find a way to be happier in love and more effective in all your relationships. What you learn here will bring fulfillment to all kinds of relationships, including romantic love, dating, marriage, work, and friendship.” —Byron Katie


From the Hardcover edition.

Cover image

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life

by Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell

(Paperback)

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, that the 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.?

Recommended Audio: 
Cover image

Making Your Thoughts Work For You 4-CD Live Lecture

by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Byron Katie

(Audio CD)

Presenting together for the first time, Byron Katie and Wayne Dyer address the powerful effects of your thoughts and how they create your experience.

      You\'ll learn a transformative process that will allow you to identify the stressful thoughts that cause all the pain and suffering in your life. When you release these thoughts, instead of letting them dictate your experience, you become empowered to live a life of joy--in touch with your true nature.

       Make the choice to change your thoughts to bring about inner peace and true happiness. In this powerful CD program, two life-changing teachers show you the way.

Cover image

Your Inner Awakening: The Work of Byron Katie: Four Questions That Will Transform Your Life

by Byron Katie

(Audio CD)

Discover the Four Questions that Will Forever Transform Your Life\'s Journey

No matter how much money, status, or success they may have, very few people experience true joy and personal freedom. Byron Katie knows this reality too well. In the midst of a \"normal and successful\" life, she was sinking deeper and deeper into depression and despair until a sudden, profound insight into how the mind works set her on the path to a life filled with love for everything life brings. Eager to help others find this freedom, Katie developed a revolutionary process to make this transformation practical, a simple yet powerful method of inquiry known as The Work.

The Work\'s four powerful questions and turnaround (which is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you believe) have transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world. In Your Inner Awakening, Byron Katie will teach you how to use The Work for yourself to question and undo any stressful thought that keeps you from experiencing mental clarity. You\'ll discover that trying to let go of a painful thought never works; instead once you have investigated it, the thought lets go of you. Eventually you may find, as so many others have, that peace and joy flow into every area of your life.

Pro Opinions

Questions to Remember You

Laughter's picture

Katie offers 4 simple questions which will take you out of the illusion of duality as you are ready and willing to go.

i wrote this in response to an opinion and i am also posting it here

orlyaum's picture

Katie Is a visionary, a womderful teacher. She is not interested in runnuning anybody's life, is a giver of profound inner wisdom and an eye opener. I feel fortunate to have met her.