Wednesday, October 18th 2017

Byron Katie, “A Thousand Names for Joy” and blowing the spell of 9/11


Byron Katie is a post-modern mystic = someone who has realized an elevated state, and done so in the maelstrom of contemporary American society — incubated totally outside of organized religion, essentially by spontaneous combustion.

With the release of her third book, A Thousand Names for Joy, Katie receives standing ovations usually reserved for rock stars as she tours U.S. cities. But this isn’t an Oprah-ego personality cult. This material is challenging stuff — not feel-good, ratings-boosting melodrama.

An excerpt from the new book: Here is Katie’s way for un-plugging from the pain of 9/11, an American drama that lives in us with the power of a group induction or spell:

I read an interview with a well-known Buddhist teacher in which he described how appalled and devastated he felt while watching the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. While this reaction is very popular, it is not the reaction of an open mind and heart. It has nothing to do with compassion.

It comes from believing unquestioned thoughts. He believed, for example, “This shouldn’t be happening” or “This is a terrible thing.” It was thoughts like these that were making him suffer, not the event itself. He was devastating himself with his unquestioned thoughts. His suffering had nothing to do with the terrorists or the people who died. Can you take this in? Here was a man dedicated to the Buddha’s way—the end of suffering—who in that moment was terrorizing his own mind, causing his own grief. I felt compassion for people who projected fearful meanings onto that picture of a plane hitting a building, who killed themselves with their unquestioned thoughts and took away their own state of grace.

The end of suffering happens in this very moment, whether you’re watching a terrorist attack or doing the dishes. And compassion begins at home. Because I don’t believe my thoughts, sadness can’t exist. That’s how I can go to the depths of anyone’s suffering, if they invite me, and take them by the hand and walk them out of it into the sunlight of reality. I’ve taken the walk myself.

I’ve heard people say that they cling to their painful thoughts because they’re afraid that without them they wouldn’t be activists for peace. “If I felt completely peaceful,” they say, “why would I bother taking action at all?” My answer is “Because that’s what love does.” 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.

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