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Vanessa Jane Patrick of the “Limitless Potential” podcast interviews Byron Katie. Katie describes her experience of waking up to reality. Vanessa then asks Katie about identity.
Vanessa: If we don’t identify with our thoughts, then what is our identity?
BK: Well, we’re not left with much for ourselves, and yet a lot. If my husband says “I love you,” what he’s thinking and believing about me is who I am to him. My children the same. All people in my life—the same. What they are thinking and believing about me becomes my identity within them. Each identity is held as a separate structure by everyone who knows me. That’s a lot of identities!
For myself, when I see me in my mind’s eye in a situation from the past, that is not me. That’s not my identity; that’s an image. I am the one here speaking to you now, and that’s all the identity I need to hold on to for the moment. When a mind is at home with itself, no identity is necessary. The mind is just wide open to everything, because that’s what love is.I question anything that would interfere with that. And I invite the world to it. Suffering is optional. Living this way is nothing that I can decide or do; it’s the consciousness that I’m left with after inquiry.
Vanessa: How can we have a more creative, fabulous life?
BK: Every time we question our mind, there’s less fake news in the way, fewer things that are not true for us. Inquiry clears the junk out of the mind. In that space of clarity, the choices we make are brilliant. They come out of knowledge and pure creativity and they’re doable. And the directions are all there. But all the things we’re thinking and believing that create the false self, “I, I, I, me, me, me,” is the clutter which keeps us from the awareness of the wisdom that’s always there. Questioning our thoughts is how we give wisdom enough space to reveal itself to us. It’s just waiting for an open mind.
Vanessa: That’s a process I’ve used myself and have found tremendously valuable with clients in shifting their perspective. It creates that space. It’s so freeing. Can we give our audience an example of what inquiry looks like with the four questions, and invite them to go to thework.com and check out the tutorial videos? For example, a client has the thought: “I don’t deserve success.”
BK: I’d ask something a little more basic: “I want success”—is it true? Can you see how much is in that question? Especially if you have a family; it’s a lot to consider. Then close your eyes and meditate on the next question. How do I react, what happens when I believe the thought “I want success”? I compare myself to others. I see them in their suits with their power. They’re going up the elevator in their very own building (laughs). And then I compare that with me, and I am not looking good. I see me trying harder and harder, and failing and failing, when I believe the thought “I want success.” I see my money running out and see what I’ve invested. Then I see me trying again. So I explore that as it’s so telling. No wonder I’m exhausted. That’s emotional and it’s going on all the time. People who are the CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses do exactly the same thing, and it’s not fun. The mind compares. That’s how the ego works. Who would I be without the thought “I want to be successful”? Then I examine my life without that thought superimposed over my life. And then I turn it around to find opposites, like: “I don’t want success.” I open my mind to find “What does that mean to me”? That’s radical for someone who has been worshiping the thought “I want success.” Maybe success would mean time away from my children. Success could require me to hire and fire, and then I feel an onslaught of work. And maybe that’s okay with me, but it also shows me what I need to do to be successful. When we believe we want that success, it wipes out the awareness that we already have success if our goal is a happy life. It’s self-education. We’re tapping into that wisdom whenever we get still like that. And there’s no limit to where The Work on just one concept can take you.
Vanessa: Do you find it’s more difficult for people who have had an actual past experience or is it just the same? For instance if they had all of that success and they lost it.
BK: It would be exactly the same inquiry.
Vanessa: If you could instill one insight into the minds of everybody in the world right now, what would that belief be?
BK: If you’re suffering, there’s a way to end that suffering. That way is to identify what you are thinking and believing about yourself or another person, and write it down and question it.
Freedom is like being brought to love. There’s nothing outside of that. —Byron Katie
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