Saturday, February 23, 2008

Byron Katie Is Either Going To Enlighten You Or Kill You Trying

File under: The Siddhi of PR

We've never felt much impetus to go after Byron Katie. Good friends are close to her, and all in all, she's not trying to be the font of everything magical and divine, as far as we can tell.

But we don't think you could pay us enough to go to one of her intensives after a reader turned us on to a message board post written by someone who did:
1. A forced 36 hour fast.
2. An day long "outing" where we were left to beg for food among homeless people in the streets of Los Angeles. We were instructed not to take any ID, or anything with us but the clothes we had on.
3. A rich organic diet that sent many people's bodies into shock. Vomiting was a regular occurrence, and was offered as "evidence" of cleansing, and of how powerful The Work really is.
4. Long days with brief breaks for meals. (7 am to 11:00 pm most days.)
5. Long, intense confessional sessions.
6. Deep, excessive probing into one's past traumas. (She used violent Korn music to trigger our worst memories.)
7. No contact with family or the outside world. (We turned our cell phones into the staff.)
8. Not allowed to wear make-up, to exercise, or to eat outside of the diet given.
9. Eating meals and taking breaks in complete silence.
10. Going at least 2 full days as a "silent one", unallowed to talk with others.
11. Being invited to criticize Katie and The School, and those who did were silently, subtly shunned by the group and Katie.
12. Having every doubt and concern about what was going on at The School questioned and "turned around", until no one could trust their own perceptions anymore.
It's all seeming quite culty to us. Her nice lady image aside, it sounds a lot more like psych-ops being run at a CIA black site than anything that could be worth paying for, let alone make you enlightened. Unless being tortured is the kind of thing gets you off. It's certainly all the rage these days.

Update: We just got off the phone with our formerly-inside man. He asked us to communicate two points about the above. The first is that all of these exercises are entirely optional. In his experience (he's taught approximately 700 people in The Work), no one has been mal-vibed by the staff for not participating in any of these practices. Nor does his experience reflect any kind of subtle shunning of those who opened up on The Work in the critiquing session.

The point of these practices is to take folks out of their regular self-image and personality habits, hopefully to engender a quasi-objective platform of self-analysis from which The Work may continue. You're still going to have to pay us to go through any of this, but at least it's not the cult indoctrination operation it seemed to the person who wrote the message board post.

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218 Comments:

At 2/23/2008 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guruphiliac: "...she's not trying to be the font of everything magical and divine, as far as we can tell."

Ha!

Byron Katie's web site sez:

"The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the stressful thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It's a way to understand what's hurting you, a way to end all your stress and suffering."

http://www.thework.com/thework.asp

So according to Ms. Katie, ALL suffering is caused by thoughts and ALL suffering can be ended by "The Work".

Further down the page, the site maintains that one can "eliminate" (not reduce, eliminate) stress and depression.

Why then hasn't The Work made worldwide front-page news, when it can work such a miracle?

And there's a long page devoted to getting the public to "Move The Work". Financial donations and volunteerism head the list of options.

http://www.thework.com/movethework2.asp

Meanwhile her 9-day "School" costs $4,190. Add $750 if you aren't able to pay the "early rate".

Culty indeed.

Thanks for posting this, Jody.

 
At 2/23/2008 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"11.Being invited to criticize Katie and The School, and those who did were silently, subtly shunned by the group and Katie.

12. Having every doubt and concern about what was going on at The School questioned and "turned around", until no one could trust their own perceptions anymore."

Note that the participant said subtly and silently shunned. You don't expect someone teaching this stuff to openly admit, eh?

There's more to that thread, where the participant explains the "voluntary" nature of the activities, too. It sounds like another mind game.

 
At 2/23/2008 7:51 PM, Blogger jody said...

Note that the participant said subtly and silently shunned.

Which could also mean he was projecting the shunning; in other words, interpreting the behavior of those around him in a way that verified his beliefs about what was happening.

You don't expect someone teaching this stuff to openly admit, eh?

Actually, I've got a lot of respect for my inside person. That's not to say that a bit of vibing doesn't ever happen, but I seriously doubt my friend would be involved in anything like that. He's way too on top of things to feel a need to do that.

It sounds like another mind game.

The operative term being "sounds".

I'm not saying there are no mind games happening, just that a lot of times we play our own mind games and then project them on to those around us. I know I do at times.

Bottom line, I trust my friend would not be involved in something as culty as this guy is making it sound, leading me to believe the cultiness was more in his head than outside it.

That said, the cultiness of these sorts of things can develop entirely outside the teaching and teachers, although it's up to them to mitigate these effects. Many teachers don't. In fact, most of them use these effects as marketing sells. I can't say for certain what's going on with The Work as I haven't done any of it, but I'm willing to entertain doubts that it was as bad as the message board poster is making it out to be.

 
At 2/23/2008 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, Jody, your friend affiliated with Byron Katie's group just might be seeing things through cult-member rose-colored glasses. Is possible, yes?

Try this on for size... more from the same person who posted the "insider info" on Byron Katie's School at Rick Ross's forum:

"...about the exercise where we were asked to think of something of value to us that was up in our rooms. Just think about, she said... now go get it. I didn't have anything valuable in my room. My wedding ring was on my hand, and I thought of that, but this exercise happened on the last day and I wasn't feeling very trusting by then. Someone had given me a stuffed animal during the School, so I got that and wrapped it up like a gift... because that's what we were told to do. Then, all the 'gifts' were laid out on the floor. It wasn't until we had given them up that we were told that we would never see the item again.

"There was no explanation to where the things were going... people asked, and BK (I want to stop calling her 'Katie') told us 'they are in good hands.' Some people gave their wedding rings, jewelry, identification, and plane tickets! We were told to write about what that item meant to us and question it. My item didn't really have any meaning... so I watched everyone else. People were crying about their Grandma's wedding band... or panicking about how they were going to get home without ID or tickets. Some were mad. Others seemed to be loving it... most loved it.

"BK told us that those items meant absolutely nothing to us. When the exercise was over, she asked if there was anyone who wished they could have their item back. I raised my hand... not that a stuffed animal from a stranger meant anything to me, but I wanted to openly defy her. Those few of us who raised our hands (about 5 out of 300) were told to go get our gifts back, and we did.

"Then she asked if anyone still wanted to get their items back, now that they had seen us do it... a bunch of people raised their hands, and she basically told them it was too bad. The items were gone. Some people speculated that it was all going to go to benefit homeless people, but somehow I seriously doubt it."

 
At 2/23/2008 8:12 PM, Blogger jody said...

your friend affiliated with Byron Katie's group just might be seeing things through cult-member rose-colored glass

Well, that's certainly a natural assumption. But given what I know of him and his outlook, I believe he's got enough distance from himself to be able to call spades spades.

As with any spiritual undertaking, what you are bringing to it is going to determine what you get from it. Looking at all the folks who've gone through this school, I'm not seeing much more dissent other than this, leading me to chalk it up as more of an anomaly rather than a trend.

 
At 2/24/2008 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another poster at Rick Ross's forum has this to say:

I have a family member who attended one of (or all of) the 9 day workshops or whatever they are. On the last day, they are allowed or encouraged to invite family, friends, etc. I had never heard of this deal before and it was very narrowly described to me before I went to go "visit". Given this family member's propensity toward gullibility, I figured that this would be some sort of a sham. I showed up and within the first few minutes, I felt like it was a cult, then I started feeling sorry for these people, then I wanted to run like hell out of the building. I'm not an expert on cults, I just don't buy into bs as quickly as this particular member of my family does.

[snip]

I lingered around outside until my family member had come out and many other participants made it over to the bar. They all wanted to drink (don't blame them one bit) and I decided to have a couple of beers and cigarettes with them. Here are some interesting things I learned from them about their time spent with BK:

They were required to stay at the hotel during this 9 day deal.

They weren't allowed to stay in the same room as their spouse, if their spouse accompanied them.

They were not allowed to use their cell phones or have contact with the outside world during this time.

They were on a limited and restrictive diet; it sounded like calorie deficient and low carbohydrate to keep your brain from functioning properly.

All of the men reported zero erectile ability during their stay. They were laughing and joking about it, but I didn't think it was so funny. Either their diet was engineered to limit this ability or potassium nitrate was put into their food; probably the later.

One of the exercises that I remember being recounted to me was: they were taken by bus to an a large public place (marketplace, promenade type deal), dumped there with no money, and instructed that they were only allowed to say one phrase (or they had a small group of 3 phrases that they could utter... something like that) in order to get from people the things that they needed, desired, wanted, whatever. I remember one phrase was, "I'm hungry. Feed me." So basically, these folks were instructed to go become panhandlers for the day. I did that once too voluntarily, during my college days, at an all day rock festival where I sat with some fellow hippies and panhandled shamelessly for beer money.

All throughout the time I spent with these people at the bar, they spoke in a very unnatural phraseology. For instance, they were asking permission for every little thing. Instead of the more familiar, "dude, you got a cigarette?" (which implies that they would like one from me), they would all phrase this as, "Hello. May I please have one of your cigarettes? It is OK to say no." It was this way for every little f'n thing! WTF? I was really growing ape-sh*t mad with their whole 'newspeak'.

On another exercise, they were instructed to gift wrap (or something like that, but it was "wrapped") something of perceived value to them that they felt that they couldn't live without and give it to 'the work'. My retarded, gullible, insanely stupid, mentally ill family members (there was my blood relative and their spouse at this place) handed over near $100,000 worth of jewelry..... When I heard this, I almost punched my family member square on the kisser.... I still can't get over the stupidity.....

 
At 2/24/2008 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>""Then she asked if anyone still wanted to get their items back, now that they had seen us do it... a bunch of people raised their hands, and she basically told them it was too bad. The items were gone. Some people speculated that it was all going to go to benefit homeless people, but somehow I seriously doubt it."

Anytime you put yourself in the hands of somebody else and "surrender" to them, you put yourself in the position of being "duped and scammed". It can be a really good lesson that, unfortunately, some of us seem to need to learn over and over again and there will always be folks willing to teach us that lesson and profit from the teaching. In my old age, I often wonder why these "spiritual lessons" seem to always verge on the sadistic. Everyone from Swami G. to Gurumayi to Andrew Cohen to Byron Katie seems to rule with the same iron hand. In the long run (and in the ultimate sense), there's "nothing to lose" and "nobody to lose it" but it's interesting how some people are getting fat and rich on the lessons they dish out to others. To me, it's kind of an aberration of the student/teacher relationship. It's one thing to have a one-on-one interaction with someone who tells you to go to the mall and beg for a coke (knowing that this will create a situation "you" might need to experience at this point) and quite another to have the same lesson given to "you" by someone who doesn't have a clue as to who "you" are. Generic spirituality....one big problem in the "spiritual marketplace", imho.

seen too much

 
At 2/24/2008 9:00 AM, Anonymous Rational Thinking said...

The process of the work - four questions and a turnaround, has its roots in Socratic Inquiry. Can't speak for the School, because I haven't attended one - I'm in the UK.

I found the books themselves eminently useful.

 
At 2/24/2008 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, $100 grand of bling out the window. Poor buggers.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cgtt_jxca0&feature=related

 
At 2/24/2008 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>" In his experience (he's taught approximately 700 people in The Work), no one has been mal-vibed for not participating in any of these practices. Nor does his experience reflect any kind of subtle shunning of those who opened up on The Work in the critiquing session."<<<


This sounds so much like siddha yoga during the time I was involved....it's ALWAYS in the imagination or bad attitude of the one complaining...no one is EVER "shunned", there is NEVER any favoritism, nobody HAS to do anything at all. Then, after the fact, you discover that hundreds of others were sitting there thinking the same thing....uh, "something is really wrong here" but since "nobody else thinks so", I guess it must be me and then there are all those people in charge telling you, "yes, it's YOU"...lol.
The party line seems to run the same in all of these groups and if someone is a part of the group structure on a high level (i.e. teaching the work), I think getting an unbiased view is pretty remote. It doesn't take away from "the work", just as siddha yoga doesn't take away from the texts of Kashmir Shaivism. But how these things are applied in groups can be really iffy.

 
At 2/24/2008 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Guruphiliac blog is bending over backwards, forwards, and sideways to try and rationalize what is going on with Byron Katie.

Could there be a conflict of interest between Guruphiliac and Byron Katie?

Who is it that Guruphiliac is able to instantly call up on the phone and get this wonderful information from?

Does it make logical sense to call up a senior insider member of an alleged culty-group, and ask: "Hey, are you guys a weird culty-group exploiting vulnerable people for money?"

Why not call up Tom Cruise and ask him: "Hey Tom, is Scientology the only thing that can help at the scene of an accident?"

Byron Katie has a very aggressive internet marketing campaign, where she instructs and recruits her people to go out and make posts all over the internet.
It's called MOVE THE WORK.
www.thework.com/movethework2.asp

 
At 2/24/2008 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's been a good debate about Katie (is Byron really her first name?) at Rick Ross board. Love your stuff, Jodi, but not buying it that your friend is that sharp. If they were that sharp, they wouldn't touch this stuff with a ten-foot pole. You'll figure it out, though, Jodi, like you always eventually do. Keep up the great work, man! The Secret, What the Bleep, Katie, Ramtha, Deepockets, Institute of Noetic Sciences, CRS, Unity Church, it's all the same bat-channel, but different bat-time.



http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,12906

 
At 2/24/2008 5:14 PM, Blogger eka said...

"violent Korn music to trigger our worst memories"

What!!!? Pick me up off of the floor before I swallow the carpet in this fit of laughing.

Does she pay them royalties? B-)

 
At 2/24/2008 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the most disturbing memories i would pick Rolf Harris.

 
At 2/24/2008 9:35 PM, Blogger jody said...

The Guruphiliac blog is bending over backwards, forwards, and sideways to try and rationalize what is going on with Byron Katie.

Normally, I reject this sort of histrionics, but since I appear to have irritated the irrational anti-cult set, I wanted to speak to that.

It doesn't matter how much it costs, it doesn't matter what they tell you, it doesn't matter what they tell you to do. If you believe you were helped by it, you were.

Everything in spiritual life is a placebo effect made manifest by your belief. That doesn't make it less real, but it does make it an internally-generated experience.

Katie's 9-day school is pretty wacky, and while I believe these kind of exercises can be very helpful for some in providing new platforms of self-analysis, I'm sure that paying 4-grand for putting yourself through a personality wringer can be completely unnecessary. Life has a way of sandblasting the spiritual ignorance out of you if you sincerely surrender to it; and while you still pay a lot in experience, it's as free as anything is going to get in your life.

Is Katie at fault for charging too much? No. It's the folks who paid it that are to be blamed. Is she being greedy? Perhaps. While I'm sure it costs a lot to host these events, it's still a lot of money to pay to get fucked with for 9-days. Could she be sincerely convinced that "moving The Work" could help the world? Maybe. I'm sincerely convinced many gurus project ideas which foster ignorance. I'm trying to help by telling you about it. Could she be secretly pleased she's getting rich? Quite possibly. I know I would.

But is The Work a cult? Not in my definition. It's a self-improvement movement with nondual underpinnings that's making its founder rich. Isn't that true of all popular self-improvement movements?

Do cult-like social phenomena manifest within The Work? Of course. That happens in any group of humans who all decide to believe the same thing in an effort to make themselves better; especially led by someone who everyone projects to be extraordinary.

That is the problem. Not that it's a cult, but that folks believe Katie is some kind of perfect being, that she never gets mad and never feels sad and basically floats on a cloud all day long. She may give the appearance, but that's basically bullshit. Perhaps Katie isn't actively encouraging folks to believe in her perfection, but she doesn't appear to be doing much to mitigate those ideas, either.

And that is the rub of being a guru. In order to get folks to listen to you, you've pretty much got to sell yourself as something special. In my opinion, whenever you believe your realization is going to make you something special, you throw another ton of mud on the diamond. If I'm going to fault Katie for anything, it's for making mud for people to throw on themselves. But as long as nobody is getting hurt, outside a dinged bank account and the derision of ignorant family members, she can have all the 4-grand fees she can collect for 9-days of sustained exposure to her Work.

That's something else I can fault her for. She really should be calling it "Her Work" rather than "The Work." It's way more hers than the's.

 
At 2/25/2008 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All cults have a begining, where they mostly seem very benign and un-cultlike, even the cults that eventually become very destructive start out this way.

Your source is a Katie follower! He may be intelligent in all other areas but he's deluded when it comes to Byron Katie.

The (subtle) shunning is very real and very common in cultic settings. I can't imagine Osho's followers admitting to such loveless practices either.

 
At 2/25/2008 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>"The (subtle) shunning is very real and very common in cultic settings. I can't imagine Osho's followers admitting to such loveless practices either"<<

Well, again, it can be a helpful thing when you examine how this played out in your own spiritual "journey"...lol. The "shunning" is very real and has to do with group dynamics in every situation you can think of: the group demands a certain way of thinking in order to separate out and exist as a "group" (whether it's a group of Giants fans or a blissed out group of shakti junkies). Just as we separate ourselves out as "individuals" in order to convince ourselves that's what we are, the group is defined as a "group" by commonly held "beliefs" and "opinions". Whoever doesn't abide by or agree with the group think IS "shunned" (avoided as "not part of the group")..whether the group is a lifetime path or a weekend retreat... because the presence of this person threatens the solidity of the group (think about a guy in a Patriots jacket at a Giants game). Part of how group retreats work is participants agreeing to "accept" what is being offered. The group is strengthened by every individual who adheres to the group leader's ideas. Anyone who doesn't agree, weakens the structure of the group. If they can't be convinced, humiliated or broken then they will be shunned. It is very very rare, in spiritual circles, to find a teacher who is mature enough to truly embrace and encourage deep questioning that is not in "agreement" with his or her "teaching". I think sometimes that many "teachers" are still trying to convince THEMSELVES of the truth of what they are saying by convincing as many others as they can so that the others function as a mirror back to the teacher of the "truth" of what he/she is teaching. Each new "believer" strengthens the teacher...not, necessarily, the believer's understanding.
For the individual, involvement in "self help" movements whose basis is the "dissolution of the self", groups in the hands of people who are kind of irresponsible at best, a good question to ask might be...."do I know this person knows what she's talking about? how can I know that is true? what would I be without that thought? can I turn it around?"...lol...back to self-enquiry!
Anyway, Jody, thank you for being open-minded enough to include both sides of this discussion . I can't say I've seen any "histrionics" yet...seems pretty low key to me.

seen too much

 
At 2/25/2008 8:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It doesn't matter how much it costs, it doesn't matter what they tell you, it doesn't matter what they tell you to do. If you believe you were helped by it, you were."

I don't think that is necessarily true, but maybe I am taking waht you say too generally. Peoples temple folks believed they were being helped before they drank the poison, but maybe that is a different kinf of state of mind than the one you mean.

"Everything in spiritual life is a placebo effect made manifest by your belief. That doesn't make it less real, but it does make it an internally-generated experience."

You're generalising the use of placebo effect a bit, but I think I get what you mean. It's not strictly true though- what about all the scientific research done on altered brain states in trance and meditation? They are real enough, but I bet placebo counts for something in a lot of the type of groups you talk about where suggestion is a major part of practice. Does placebo count for prayers for the ill and whatnot?

"Is Katie at fault for charging too much? No. It's the folks who paid it that are to be blamed. Is she being greedy? Perhaps."

Sure she's at fault for charging to much- it's her doing the chatging.
Do you mean if folks are dumb they bring their own fleecing upon themselves? There's some truth in that, you wouldn't win too many court cases regarding overpricing with that attitude.
"I was dumb, your honour, the defendant deserves my money, it's all my fault about the dodgy gearbox". Nah.
I don't know what a fair price would be for all that stuff anyway, I just know that I wouldn't pay more than £3. If she is One with the universe she should have everything already, if 'having' still applies. One with the banks, One with the goldmines and One with the national debt. Maybe that's why gurus take so much cash, they are One with the revenue service.
.
.
.
Good blog I like it, thank you Mr Radzik.

 
At 2/25/2008 10:17 AM, Blogger Daniel P. Schreber said...

This actually fairly mundane HPM kind of stuff. Having gone through several years of HPM infatuation I've done all of this willingly at one point or the other.

If you don't like and you still do it, THAT should tell you something about YOU, not her.

What I find most striking about all of these workshops is their co-opting of the phrase 'The Work'.

Very alchemical almost religious sounding. Not just this workshop, but THE WORK.

If you don't buy into it just leave.

 
At 2/25/2008 12:03 PM, Blogger jody said...

I can't say I've seen any "histrionics" yet

There's a reason for that. It's called the "reject" button.

 
At 2/25/2008 1:18 PM, Anonymous Betty said...

"Just leave..." The same could be said in regard to all the teachers and teachings discussed here. I have done a little of "The Work", BK's version of self inquiry, and found it a helpful tool, just as I found TM to be a helpful tool and Sri Sri's breathing techniques to be helpful tools. It's about time that everyone understands that the guy or gal who sells you a tool need not be a master workman. The only need to take a BK course is if "The Work" doesn't actually work as well as she claims.

I have watched several dvds of hers and was a bit put off when she told a woman who had been raped by her father as a child that she should own up to her part in it. I have heard her be critical of meditation and she seems pretty obcessed with the world wide importance of her tool. If her heart was as pure as she tries to present it, she would be doing the work for free, as would have Maharishi.

She does present herself as someone who is always happy and at peace but doesn't really say it's because she went through a psychotic period of her life and came out of it. I liked BK better before she started using touched up photos onher book jackets.

Jody is a good hearted fellow who is true to his friends. I myself have benefitted from Jody's gentleness with his friends, as has Chuck and others here. It's a good quality for an unmarriable guy to have.

 
At 2/25/2008 3:35 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

"It doesn't matter how much it costs, it doesn't matter what they tell you, it doesn't matter what they tell you to do. If you believe you were helped by it, you were."

by this logic it shouldn't matter if they say they are God or divinely inspired either, if you get something from it it cool. So why don't you get off your high horse about the God Squad?
What if you don't believe you were helped by it , as many obviously feel about this Work thing I think people should shout it to the heavens and not try to find ways to rationalize it's worth.. Believe it or not Jody some people actually have integrity,they wouldn't sell ice cream to Eskimos. Duping people out of money is not a harmless crime. Many of the most vulnerable people will spend money they can ill afford to on some thing that promises a solution to their problems.
I could probably get something from reading the New York City phone book or sitting on the floor of Grand Central men's bathroom , but I ain't gonna do it. I would say Katie has the right to be judged a crazy megalomaniacal loon just as much as any of the God Gurus we ream here on GP

GP said..Everything in spiritual life is a placebo effect made manifest by your belief. That doesn't make it less real, but it does make it an internally-generated experience.

Everything? So you are saying since our only choice is delusion why bother to discriminate,think, to, trust in primordial intelligence?

GP Quote:In my opinion, whenever you believe your realization is going to make you something special, you throw another ton of mud on the diamond.

I think many of these people just wanted some help and some guidance , not necessarily to be special , that is your deal , you are the one that mentions that all the time. but I'm glad you think there is a diamond to be sullied.
I think their are some real red flags her as far as this being a potentially harmful organization, they take too much of your dough, they practice mind control, they recycle already existing material as their own, they endanger your health and well being. they pray on weak gullible people. I say Predatory!! Come on!!!

 
At 2/25/2008 4:35 PM, Blogger jody said...

by this logic it shouldn't matter if they say they are God or divinely inspired either, if you get something from it it cool. So why don't you get off your high horse about the God Squad?

Because by claiming to be God – or something extraordinary because you are realized – you engender the idea that realization makes you God or something extraordinary. Sorry kids: wake up and smell the skunk weed; realization makes you absolutely nothing that you aren't already, in each and every moment, then, now and forever.

That said, folks are definitely getting something out of going to Amma, Sri Sri and whoever else is bullshitting them. But what they think they are getting (divine energy) and what they are really getting (a head full of occluding bullshit about realization) are obviously two different things.

What if you don't believe you were helped by it, as many obviously feel about this Work thing

Then you wasted money on it. It happens. I'd be willing to bet that at least two-thirds of the attendees feel they got their money's worth, if not more. That isn't saying as much about The Work as it is the fact these things work because we believe they will work.

some people actually have integrity,they wouldn't sell ice cream to Eskimos.

But selling sand at the beach is an absolute necessity if you're to make it as a big-time guru.

Duping people out of money is not a harmless crime.

The line between helping and duping is very fine in the world of the big-time guru. That said, I don't believe Katie is duping folks. I'm convinced she sincerely believes she is helping. Of course, I could be quite wrong about this.

Many of the most vulnerable people will spend money they can ill afford to on some thing that promises a solution to their problems.

Welcome to the reason that all big-time gurudom exists.

I could probably get something from reading the New York City phone book or sitting on the floor of Grand Central men's bathroom, but I ain't gonna do it.

The fact that you didn't engage in the reading in a sincere attempt at self-improvement nullifies this simile.

I would say Katie has the right to be judged a crazy megalomaniacal loon just as much as any of the God Gurus we ream here on GP

And I've made that very point in the comments here. But that still doesn't mean she's running a destructive cult, as those members of the cult of the anti-cult are shrieking about.

So you are saying since our only choice is delusion why bother to discriminate,think, to, trust in primordial intelligence?

No. I'm saying anything you decide will work as a spiritual practice will work because you believe it's gonna work, as long as the belief and motivation are sincere.

I think their are some real red flags here as far as this being a potentially harmful organization, they take too much of your dough, they practice mind control, they recycle already existing material as their own, they endanger your health and well being. they pray on weak gullible people. I say Predatory!! Come on!!!

This opinion is well-represented in the anti-cult world, a bit to my surprise. I didn't know Katie had such an anti-clan going until a few days ago.

But I'm not going to tailor my opinion to placate anyone. This is an opinion blog, and the opinion is mine. It's not a public resource, and not a relay station for hysterical anti-cult crusaders.

 
At 2/25/2008 5:06 PM, Anonymous Betty said...

As I said before, I feel that BK's 4 questions and a turn around self enquiry is a useful tool and she does seem very sincere but she is matched in her sincerity by Maharishi, Sri Sri, Sai Baba, and almost every other teacher who has been exposed on this blog. This sincerity maybe exactly what triggers the placebo effect in her students.

 
At 2/25/2008 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perception is everything.

My experience of the School for The Work was the antithesis of what was posted.

The disgruntled anti-cultist wrote: 1. A forced 36 hour fast.
Nope, not forced. Everything is presented at the school as a suggestion; and you're free, and encouraged, to do what you need to do to stay healthy. Diabetics, for example, and those on medications, needed only to ask for food, and all those with medical and psychological conditions were asked to make their conditions known when they registered, and to be responsible for their own self-care, as in life.

2. An day long "outing" where we were left to beg for food among homeless people in the streets of Los Angeles. We were instructed not to take any ID, or anything with us but the clothes we had on.

That's true; and no one held a gun to my head to do this.

3. A rich organic diet that sent many people's bodies into shock.

No one forced to eat rich food; there was salad and plain food available at every meal.

Vomiting was a regular occurrence,

I saw maybe two people vomit in the two schools I attended as a participant.

and was offered as "evidence" of cleansing, and of how powerful The Work really is.

I never heard anything like that.

4. Long days with brief breaks for meals. (7 am to 11:00 pm most days.)

We never went to 11:00 pm and the meal breaks were of normal length - usually an hour or longer.

5. Long, intense confessional sessions.

Confessional if you wanted to confess something, sure.

6. Deep, excessive probing into one's past traumas. (She used violent Korn music to trigger our worst memories.)

And it was repeated that "no one has to do this exercise" for the more intense stuff. (Korn and the other musicians whose music is used at Katie's schools are compensated, by the way; her son is in the recording business.)

7. No contact with family or the outside world. (We turned our cell phones into the staff.)

Voluntarily. As suggested. Plenty of people kept their phones and made calls home.

8. Not allowed to wear make-up, to exercise, or to eat outside of the diet given.

Not "not allowed." Those were the suggestions. The idea is not to revert to addictions to avoid questioning stressful thoughts.


9. Eating meals and taking breaks in complete silence.

Except for those of us who are unable to shut up, and I'm one. :)

10. Going at least 2 full days as a "silent one", unallowed to talk with others.

Suggested; not enforced. I never did more than one day, and I cheated. I got my graduation certificate anyway. The purpose of this is to notice how you want to talk, be seen, bla bla. It worked for me, I noticed all right.

11. Being invited to criticize Katie and The School, and those who did were silently, subtly shunned by the group and Katie.

Shunned? Not me, and I'm no sychophant. I speak my mind. There was no "penalty" for doing so. In fact, I noticed that peoples' suggestions were implemented, more often than not.

12. Having every doubt and concern about what was going on at The School questioned and "turned around", until no one could trust their own perceptions anymore.

Can't trust your perceptions at face value - neither the negative ones nor the positive ones. That's the point - to notice that it's all perception, changeable, and that some perceptions cost us a lot.

Anyone who doesn't like the school is free to leave, and in fact, a small percentage do. And some of those people, I hear, continue to use The Work on their own. How can a simple practice that you can do by yourself be considered a cult?

 
At 2/25/2008 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Katie didn't attract the attention of anti-cultists until after her first book was published. As soon as the woman started making money and showing a little humanity (new husband. face lift), she got slammed by some. I guess they'd rather she were an orange-robed swami? Or that she wear rags to prove her non-dualness or whatever?

You can't please everybody and the thing about Katie is, she realizes that and she'd okay with it. What she offers isn't for everyone, nor is her personality a match for everyone. So what?

I can tell you that The Work's been really good to and for me. I don't begrudge a gal a way to earn a living, and no one's forcing anyone to take her courses, which are wonderful but entirely unnecessary. By the way, in my experience Katie's an extremely generous person, both with her time and resources. And there is no one who has been refused their stuff back in that exercise; they may be asked to do The Work on it first, though! :)

 
At 2/25/2008 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: "Anyone who doesn't like the school is free to leave, and in fact, a small percentage do. And some of those people, I hear, continue to use The Work on their own. How can a simple practice that you can do by yourself be considered a cult?"

First of all, if "The Work" is a simple and harmless practice (nevermind the aspect of doing it in the context of a large group and the attendant peer pressure), why would a percentage of folks leave? Especially if they've spent upwards of $4000 for a mere 9 days with Byron Katie. Would the average Joe/Josephine paying that princely a sum likely feel all that free/easy about leaving? Doubtful. And you get zippo back if you leave.

Byron Katie's cancellation policy: "All cancellations must be submitted in writing. If your cancellation is received nine (9) or more days in advance of the School, your tuition and room and board costs will be refunded less a $600 non-refundable deposit. If you cancel eight (8) days or less in advance of the School, your tuition will be refunded less room and board costs we must pay the hotel and less a $600 non-refundable deposit. If you do not send advance written notice of your cancellation, if you do not show up, or if you leave The School early, your payment is non-refundable and non-transferable."

 
At 2/25/2008 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would this person know for sure that "there is no one who has been refused their stuff back in that exercise"?

No one? Ever? Byron Katie, is that you?

 
At 2/25/2008 7:10 PM, Blogger jody said...

not buying it that your friend is that sharp. If they were that sharp, they wouldn't touch this stuff with a ten-foot pole.

Ridiculous. You are seeing this through your assumption of cultdom. You have a list of features that define a cult and use that to filter your perception.

I've already said it seems culty, but that doesn't mean it is. It's intense, and designed to take you out of your normal working ideas of identity. That requires a good to great deal of psychic shaking, which The Work would appear to provide.

My bud is the man. He's moved on from his participation in Katie's education programs, but is in no way anti-Katie, and he clearly appreciates the design of the program. It would appear a lot of people appreciate the design of the program, but since a few folks were really turned-off by it, it suddenly becomes a destructive cult and people start pulling their hair out over it.

There's a lot to criticize in Byron Katie. Her program is too expensive and pretty damn wacky, and she's projecting unrealistic ideas about what realization entails in a life, creating a picture that blocks the view rather than revealing the truth. She's in crowded company here, as almost every big-time guru sells themselves as perfected beings while selling you access to their perfection.

But as far as I can tell, The Work is not a cult in the way Dahn Yoga or the Oneness Movement is a cult. It's no AUM or People's Temple, either. If you believe that you have to believe Katie is either psychotically deranged or just plain evil, and that is an entirely untenable proposition to this observer.

 
At 2/25/2008 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Byron Katie, psychotically deranged? That's just what I thought when I read this interview of her. Btw, it's post-"enlightenment":

http://www.realization.org/page/doc1/doc107a.htm

 
At 2/25/2008 7:16 PM, Blogger jody said...

folks are definitely getting something out of going to Amma, Sri Sri and whoever else is bullshitting them. But what they think they are getting (divine energy) and what they are really getting (a head full of occluding bullshit about realization) are obviously two different things.

This needs clarification. It is exactly Sri Sri's and Amma's bullshit that is working for their devotees. These type of gurus set themselves up as divine beings worthy of worship, and folks' belief in that manifests as their spiritual lives. The fact is, a statue or picture works every bit as good, and ends up being a whole lot cheaper in the end.

 
At 2/25/2008 7:25 PM, Blogger jody said...

I think many of these people just wanted some help and some guidance, not necessarily to be special, that is your deal, you are the one that mentions that all the time.

Yes, I'm one of the many who sought self-acceptance through spiritual perfection. And I'm convinced this is the primary motivator getting folks into gurus.

But the specialness of the devotee isn't the problem. It's the guru being special, insofar as that creates the perception that realization makes you special. It doesn't; it makes you the most unspecial reality the universe knows, because it's never not been you. But that doesn't sell, which is why you aren't hearing it from the big-timers.

 
At 2/25/2008 7:36 PM, Blogger jody said...

Peoples temple folks believed they were being helped before they drank the poison

Actually, they were forced to drink that Kool-Aid. When they realized they were going to die, they resisted until guns were pointed at their heads.

You're generalising the use of placebo effect a bit, but I think I get what you mean. It's not strictly true though- what about all the scientific research done on altered brain states in trance and meditation?

In terms of people having mystical experiences, it's all internally-generated in a process fueled by belief. This is the only way to explain the fact that every one of the incredible variety of spiritual ideologies will work for its sincere applier.

Does placebo count for prayers for the ill and whatnot?

I think coincidence, luck and the power of faith are the motive forces here.

Sure she's at fault for charging to much- it's her doing the chatging.

Caveat Emptor

I like it

Thank you! Please tell all your friends.

 
At 2/25/2008 7:54 PM, Blogger jody said...

Byron Katie, psychotically deranged? That's just what I thought when I read this interview of her.

You've got a very persuasive point in that article, but I'm not really surprised by any of it. It's rather common for folks to come to spiritual realization in the midst of a personal crisis. Katie would appear to have several afflictions described in the DSM-IV, but that doesn't mean she's not speaking from a place of experiential understanding about realization, despite the fact she's slathering on the dramatic and likely to be embellished descriptions of her experience, all of which have no more to do with who she really is than my dog's ass. It was all just content in her mind, regardless of how significant it is being made to appear.

 
At 2/25/2008 8:28 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

I had a high school friend who died at Jonestown, so you can see why i am so anti cult and why i think it better to ere on the side of suspicion. They would not have ended up down there in Guyana if they had allowed themselves to question and believe their perceptions earlier on. but they got used to over work and humiliating, dehumanizing treatment. they believed it lead to some kind of goal they were all seeking. At least with Byron Katie style stuff you can leave or the seminar will soon be over. Still the power of suggestion in a group is very powerful, so i can't help but see it as manipulative and potentially dangerous.

 
At 2/26/2008 3:17 AM, Blogger gregory said...

the most interesting thread i have ever seen here, is a maturation going on?

 
At 2/26/2008 7:09 AM, Blogger Zentient said...

It's all about the money and the power. It's hilarious that she has states that she NEVER gets angry. Yeah, right. What would you give to someone who held out the promise that you can be able to never get angry again? That's one of the biggest hooks. When you watch her videos on You Tube, pay attention to the aggression and manipulation. She just loves it when she corners somebody and the only way out is to agree with her. If you end up not agreeing with her, or won't follow school rules, you just weren't ready, and you are shunned. As usual with cultish leaders, her stuff is not new. A local church made $50,000 by having her do a one day workshop. With her organization getting richer and richer, and more and more people in it wanting a cut, it won't be surprising if internal conflicts surface soon. Have no fear, no matter what happens, Katie won't get angry!

 
At 2/26/2008 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am fascinated by Jody's initial assessment: "It's all seeming quite culty to us."

Then he chats for who knows how long with someone skilled in Byron Katie's mind-bending approach and changes his toon.

WTF?

I've witnessed Jody blog far more critically re some folks who seem far less culty than Byron Katie.

She's totally playing the guru card. Look at her home page with that big pic of her and alongside it the question: "Do you really want to know the truth?"

Brrrrr, gives me the chills.

 
At 2/26/2008 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, has Jody ever done "The Work"?

 
At 2/26/2008 8:29 AM, Blogger jody said...

has Jody ever done "The Work"?

Nope. I haven't read one page of any of her books, let alone attended any of her appearances.

 
At 2/26/2008 8:32 AM, Blogger jody said...

Am fascinated by Jody's initial assessment: "It's all seeming quite culty to us."

Now that the anti-cult apparatchniks have turned down the histrionics, we can include their nonsense in the comments.

Then he chats for who knows how long with someone skilled in Byron Katie's mind-bending approach and changes his toon.

It was five minutes, and no mind-bending was performed, moron. I got a reasonable explanation and decided to present that side as well.

WTF?

That's right, you are a deeply indoctrinated member of the anti-cult cult who lacks a proper understanding of these issues. All you've got is knee-jerk, anti-cult hysteria.

I've witnessed Jody blog far more critically re some folks who seem far less culty than Byron Katie.

Whatever.

She's totally playing the guru card. Look at her home page with that big pic of her and alongside it the question: "Do you really want to know the truth?"

I didn't say she wasn't playing the guru card. This blog is called guruphiliac. That means I like gurus. But I don't like the ones who want you to think they're more God than you. Katie is playing Ms. Special because that sells seats, and I do think that sucks, as I've repeated about 10 times in this thread alone.

Brrrrr, gives me the chills.

Then take your lame ass out of here, you ideologically-constipated nincompoop.

 
At 2/26/2008 9:41 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Not sure I have the smarts or the time to keep up with this here discussion but I will weigh in for a moment:

Seems that lots of folks agree that this 4 questions and a show your behind that Katie has come up with is a good thing. I'll bet all the fastin and beggin on the street action is a way to jucify the get togethers. Havin been to more than my share of auto parts conventions, I can assure you that the ones that had big titted gals in bikinis demonstratin the latest socket wrench sets was a whole lot more inspirin than the ones where chinamen droned on about how their parts was a s good as the Japs!

My point is that you can't fill them seats without some soul sturrin entertainment. A middle aged gal with a face lift can not and will not hold anybody's attention for long...

Re all this anti cult thing, I read some of the stuff on that cult hotline and it seems many are inflamed cause Katie's work is not christian or anti-christian. Havin been born and bred in the Baptist Church and a life time member of it now, I can tell you that anything that is anti-christian can't be all bad! If I had the dough, I might take one of these here courses--- especially if they take my advice about the gals in bikinis!

It do seem though that a gal who feels she needs a facelift ain't the best example of someone "Lovin what IS"!



As for Jody goin soft of Katie because of talkin to his friend, there's a good reason for that! My mule, Da Free Jack has told me in no uncertain terms that:

One: This friend is a good lookin woman!

Two: She is under 35 years of age and looks real good in a neopreme bike ridin outfit!

Three: Jody has darn sure already got to know this little gal a whole lot better, or would sure like to!

You just cannot blame the man for that!

 
At 2/26/2008 10:04 AM, Blogger jody said...

This friend is a good lookin woman!

Chuckji, you better let Da Free Jack know that his infallibility is slipping. My friend is a male, it's his wife that's good looking!

 
At 2/26/2008 10:25 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Jody, Da Free knows what he's talkin about! I'd just say to be careful in this here situation! You don't want to be a home wrecker!

 
At 2/26/2008 10:32 AM, Blogger jody said...

You don't want to be a home wrecker!

That ain't gonna happen. My friend's feature set trumps mine by miles.

 
At 2/26/2008 11:02 AM, Blogger nahor said...

Wow, these comments are a great read! I thought picturing the goings-on at a BK event after reading the original article was entertaining, then I got to the comments.

My impression is that Guruphiliac goes after gurus who falsely think themselves something bigger than they are (god, enlightened, perfect, saviour, etc.)

My impression of BK is that when the focus is on 'The Work' she does not fall into that category (she tries to take herself out of the equation). But when the focus is on her, she sometimes does cross that line.

But ultimately is there any difference between a person selling themselves as a savior to your problems, vs them selling a teaching as the savior to your problems?

The mind will objectify both, and the desperate will chase that object to happiness. If it works for them, great. But if they chase forever, without getting anything, but continually giving over their soul and money, then...

 
At 2/26/2008 11:52 AM, Blogger jody said...

I'm allowing a little more of the anti-cult and anti-Jody hysterics to come through:

Jody, everyone is mocking you now that you are openly SHILLING for your buddy Steve and Godwoman Katie.

Everywho? You mean rigidly-thinking dumkopfs who can't get their tiny heads around the fact that not every guru who has her picture on her homepage and overcharges for her programs is trying to establish a world-dominating cult?

I don't expect you to have the mental facilities to recognize that I'm not shilling for Katie. If you had actually read my comments rather than your own mental spewage, you'd have read that I wouldn't attend her programs and that I've stated they are horrendously expensive and completely unnecessary. But that doesn't mean I'm going to call her group a destructive cult or blame her for the fact that people are willing to pay her so much.

They are now calling you - GuruSHILLiac.

That's kinda clever. I wish I would have thought if it first. Too bad it's moronically incorrect, and not surprising to hear it from the likes of you.

You have blown your cover, and wrecked your cred.

I never had any cred to begin with. You can take whatever cred you think I have and shove it directly up you ass.

You are a SHILL.

Read my lips, loser: I'm not selling Katie or her program, and there's no way you can reliably demonstrate otherwise. I'm simply refusing to label her group a destructive cult. Unfortunately, you are seemingly incapable of seeing anything other than your own rather idiotic musings, so this is the last of your tripe I'm going to publish here.

 
At 2/26/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

the most interesting thread i have ever seen here, is a maturation going on?

What? Say it isn't so! no i don't think any danger of this, Gregory you are so cute!

"The Work is a simple yet powerful process of inquiry that teaches you to identify and question the stressful thoughts that cause all the suffering in the world. It's a way to understand what's hurting you, a way to end all your stress and suffering."

this right out of maharishi's playbook as far as I'm concerned. Do what i say and all the worlds problems will be solved. Were it so easy. if this works for you you are probably just a quasi-cult clone. Pardon mon hysteria . hey and i don't trust that steven Sashimi or whatever he is , he looks too mellow, like he's got too many answers.watch out jody!!!!

 
At 2/26/2008 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody,

Really want to say thanks for being objective about this, and making as fair of an judgment as you can with the information you've been given.

As somehow whose been to the School, I'd like to add my two cents that something was insanely wrong there. Byron Katie is nuts.

Some people left there all right, probably like your friend. I've seen plenty of people who lost the ability to have a normal conversation, speak in full sentences, or act like they had a lick of good sense after those 9 days. Half expected to see people drooling on themselves.

Yeah, we had a choice to participate and all. But, no one said, "Hey, you could lose your ability to function normally if you do this BS."

How much of a choice is that?

It's like saying, "Eat this apple if you want. I know what's best for you. It's good for you. It's your choice."

But what if I conveniently forgot to tell you that the apple had poison in it and might kill you?

Have I really given you a choice?

It's the same old story with with all these gurus who think they are "God."

Byron Katie says in her new book that she likes "pretending to be human," and she calls being human her "disguise".

Another godly guru in diguise.

I didn't figure that out until after I'd wasted my money on the damn thing.

I can't blame the hysterical people for being afraid of this one. Her sheep's clothing is more convincing than most. Suckered me in!

Keep up the good work, man. Byron Katie belongs on your list, and you got that right.

 
At 2/26/2008 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>"It do seem though that a gal who feels she needs a facelift ain't the best example of someone "Lovin what IS"!
""<<<

ha ha! exactly!
come on Kali! Let's hear it for Dhumavati and all the other fearsome crones....especially after Gregory's crack about "middle aged white women groupies" running after Mooshu or Mojo or whatever his name is...let's just get on with it and get OLD! Be REALLY scarey! pull out those skull malas, let your hair grow down to the ground and freak the be-jesus out of the whole spiritual "scene"...no more gurumayis, gangajis and byron katies...lol!


seen too much

 
At 2/26/2008 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shouldn't have said that about Gods messengers, we just had an earthquake.

 
At 2/27/2008 12:29 AM, Blogger gregory said...

bk has one skill, a very valuable one, and that is what she does...

she has the ability to make people see how emotional reaction limits their experience of life...

invaluable, and all the rest is packaging

 
At 2/27/2008 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Katie's website and watched a few of the "teaching" videos. There seemed to be a pattern: confused people pressured very directly and intensely by Katie into her way of conceptualizing "reality". First, the person would make the required statement (I am angry at my body because, etc.). Then Katie would ask, "can you absolutely KNOW that is true?" "how does it make you FEEL when you believe that thought, etc.". Waves of confusion would sweep across the person's face as Katie prodded on. You could almost hear the "click" as the person got Katie's method. The more they "got it", the more outrageous Katie's statements would become until people were agreeing to things they may have thought better of...with the accompanying facial expressions of stunned cattle. The click, the wave of relief and then the "good work" from Katie. It reminded me alot of algebra class in middle school...the pained confusion, the fear and anger at not "getting" math, the patient (sometimes) prodding of the teacher, the dawning of what was being presented and the tremendous RELIEF as all the tension of what was not understood before just washing away. Finally "getting" algebraic conceptualization of the natural world. And the..."good work" from the teacher.
Frankly, I have to wonder how valuable this is in the long run? or is it kind of like "I'm OK, You're OK"...or "Men are from Mars, Women from Venus" or "The Scarsdale Diet" or "The Porpoise-Driven Life"?
It seems as though Katie's work is designed to shake up the connection to a personal "story". However, because it is NOT allowed to "arise" naturally but, instead,is presented as this "system" for dealing with life's questions, it may be doomed to go the way of other such systems. People get "bored" when it doesn't get them what they want and drop it. Meanwhile, the Katie "questions" ,might actually prevent alot of people from finding an authentic way of being.

seen too much

 
At 2/27/2008 2:00 PM, Blogger Carol L. Skolnick said...

I'm a long-time reader and fan of Guruphiliac and I am also a facilitator of The Work. I'm reading with interest all the opinions of Byron Katie and The Work that are posted here, and I've also read the "anti-cult" stuff at rickross.com, where they're now tarring and feathering our Jody. I won't bother to defend him, or Steve S., or Katie, or myself...as if I could; and I realize that nobody is everyone's cuppa chai.

However, I would like to clarify a few things about The Work, if I may.

>>It seems as though Katie's work is designed to shake up the connection to a personal "story".<<

In part, yes. The way I see it, The Work is a way to expand awareness. A common misconception of The Work is that it is meant to make the client "wrong," i.e. "whatever you believe can't be true." I see it as providing options. I always get to take my old toys back and go home in the end, if I still want them...and sometimes, I do, but most of the time, I'm happier to leave them behind.

>>However, because it is NOT allowed to "arise" naturally but, instead,is presented as this "system" for dealing with life's questions, it may be doomed to go the way of other such systems.<<

For me, the awareness that I am not my story actually does arise naturally from inquiry, just as for some people, it arises in meditation. One way is not less "natural" than the other. If you try to force an awareness from the inquiry, it's b.s., it doesn't stay. The same is true of any modality.

>>People get "bored" when it doesn't get them what they want and drop it.<<

Exactly; anything done with a motive to get something is going to become boring if you don't get what you want, or if you get it and realize it's not giving you the desired effect. For example, people get bored with Law of Attraction if they don't get the big house or the fancy car or the perfect partner quickly or at all...or when they discover that the house and car and partner aren't quite "it."

The Work can be practiced without any motive to "get" anything other than some clarity, and speaking for myself, this has been the most valuable way to approach it. If I want to become instantly enlightened, or to manipulate others through my supposed "clarity," (i.e. I'll become more loving so that they'll love me), I'm setting myself up for a fall.

>>Meanwhile, the Katie "questions" might actually prevent alot of people from finding an authentic way of being.<<

After many years of practicing this inquiry, I see myself as showing up more authentically than I ever did, because there is less fear in the equation. Stressful beliefs are fear-based, and when I began to have less investment in the drama, I became less fearful and therefore more available, to myself and others. It's been good to have that reality-check.

If one answers the questions automatically, mentally, saying what you think you're supposed to say rather than what you genuinely feel, without really steeping in the questions (probably more easily done NOT on a stage with Katie in front of hundreds of people, although I'm able to do that, myself), it's not going to be of much benefit. Practiced as a meditation/contemplation, it's actually a very direct and down-to-earth way of experiencing something akin to what the Ramana-style teachers point to, only you don't need anyone to "transmit" it to you. (As, indeed, they cannot.)

If anyone wants to contact me personally with sincere questions and concerns about The Work and the School for The Work (i.e. not personal attacks), I'm happy to answer as best I can.

 
At 2/27/2008 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>The Work can be practiced without any motive to "get" anything other than some clarity, and speaking for myself, this has been the most valuable way to approach it. If I want to become instantly enlightened, or to manipulate others through my supposed "clarity," (i.e. I'll become more loving so that they'll love me), I'm setting myself up for a fall"


Thanks Carol. Very interesting description of the way a more "seasoned" person works with Katie's tools. And I can definitely see the "cutting through" benefit of what she is teaching. For me, the problem is the same as it is with many of the Neo-Advaita and/or New Age approaches that are being offered now. I can genuinely appreciate alot of the tools being offered but I wonder, sometimes, what benefit they are in the long run for people who have not been doing "sadhana" (or whatever you want to call it) at all. I know the rap...anyone can "awaken" instantly but I wonder about the "maturing" of that awakening (life after awakening) for people using the kind of system Katie teaches. Any thoughts?

seen too much

 
At 2/27/2008 6:42 PM, Blogger Carol L. Skolnick said...

"seen too much" wrote:

>>Thanks Carol. Very interesting description of the way a more "seasoned" person works with Katie's tools. And I can definitely see the "cutting through" benefit of what she is teaching. For me, the problem is the same as it is with many of the Neo-Advaita and/or New Age approaches that are being offered now. I can genuinely appreciate alot of the tools being offered but I wonder, sometimes, what benefit they are in the long run for people who have not been doing "sadhana" (or whatever you want to call it) at all. I know the rap...anyone can "awaken" instantly but I wonder about the "maturing" of that awakening (life after awakening) for people using the kind of system Katie teaches. Any thoughts?<<

Not sure how to answer that. I'm not qualified to speak of life after awakening, since I wouldn't call myself "awake" (I don't especially know what that means or if there is such a thing), nor would I glorify my years of seeking to end my suffering as "sadhana."

I did come to Katie's work after years of trying to torture myself awake with Siddha Yoga, neo-advaita and other such things. In retrospect, I went about that in a very immature fashion, at first looking for woowoo miracles, later just wanting to find some meaning to what was then a very painful existence.

To me, The Work feels more real-world and self-directed, and therefore more mature. There's nothing mysterious about it and that's all to the good. Then again, when I was bowing down to lineage holders and having big experiences, I really enjoyed it. It may have done me some good, for all I know; most of the things that could be called "tragedies" or "hardships" or "mistakes" in my life have shaped me rather than caused permanent damage. I don't have any regrets; no effort at self-knowledge was wasted, even if it turned out not to be the right path in the long run.

As for "spiritual maturity," sometimes I wonder if it isn't as much the result of finally learning something by middle age, as it is the "fruit of sadhana."

Just another Bozo on this bus,
Carol

 
At 2/27/2008 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Katie's website and watched a few of the "teaching" videos. There seemed to be a pattern: confused people pressured very directly and intensely by Katie into her way of conceptualizing "reality".

[snip]

It seems as though Katie's work is designed to shake up the connection to a personal "story". However, because it is NOT allowed to "arise" naturally but, instead, is presented as this "system" for dealing with life's questions, it may be doomed to go the way of other such systems. People get "bored" when it doesn't get them what they want and drop it. Meanwhile, the Katie "questions", might actually prevent alot of people from finding an authentic way of being.

I agree that she's highly manipulative, seems to need people to reach HER conclusions far more than their own.

 
At 2/27/2008 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey Carol!

What do you think about that crazy person who gave Ms Katie $100,000 at one of the Katie Schools! That is wonderful, isn't it?

So does that help to liberate a person from the material plane, to give up their wealth?

What's the gift that you gave to Ms Katie?

and your version of being Clear, is that the same as Scientology? They also want to make people Clear too.

also, could you please describe to us some of the methods you use to get people to transform themselves?
Like, not eating much, that's a good way right?
and not sleeping much?

Anyone ever hear of the term Love Bombing?

 
At 2/27/2008 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jody,

There was only one person trying to burn you at rickross. The others actually defended you. One extremist doesn't wipe out the whole group.

I've been involved with The Work and Byron Katie for quite some time. She does consider herself God , but she considers everyone God. Her belief system is another version of solipsism.

I don't think Katie is trying to take over the world. I read the thread at rickross. Nobody is making that claim.

I spent a lot of time in her Schools. I think Katie IS trying to change the world and honestly believes that she has foung The Way.

I don't know if that makes her a "guru" or not.

Peace.

 
At 2/28/2008 12:26 AM, Blogger Carol L. Skolnick said...

To "anonymous,"

I said I wouldn't respond to personal attacks and that I would address peoples' concerns. What you've written is hardly sincere questioning, but I will say this: practicing Katie's Work has been transformational for me and so I pass it on. That's it. I don't "clear" people, have never claimed to, and I wouldn't know how - that's up to them - and I have no idea what Scientology does. Since it seems to produce rocket scientists like Tom Cruise who do things like disparaging women with post-partum depression who take antidepressants, I have less than no interest in it.

Those who know me personally that "love bombing" is not my style; I'm rather direct, in fact.

As for someone handing over $100,000 at a School for The Work, I really can't address it, since I wasn't there, and hadn't heard anything about it before today; you'd have to ask them why they did it and if they found it liberating. For me, even if I had a spare $100,000, it wouldn't be a particularly useful exercise to give it away without some solid purpose, e.g. feeding people—but then, I'm not looking to "liberate myself from the physical plane," or from anything or anyone in it...only to live peacefully and productively in this world, which I happen to like, warts and all.

I suspect this isn't the kind of response you're looking for, and that no matter what I say, you'll have a field day with it over at rickross.com. Whatever floats your boat...

 
At 2/28/2008 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Carol, ananlyzing and questioning someones ideas is not a personal attack.

as far as the Love Bomb thing, I did some reading up on it. I came across a thread that links to some comments you made on Beliefnet with some Walsh guy, about how he fell in love with Ms Katie instantly.

And you also spoke of your love for her, and how eveyone loves her, and all that love love love stuff, and everyone from The Work signs everything with love.

everywhere you turn its love love love love...

That is love-bombing. Its meant to make love-starved people feel love for strangers they just met. It works really well.

 
At 2/28/2008 2:12 PM, Blogger Carol L. Skolnick said...

"Anonymous,"

What you put forth is a distortion in the name of "analyzing and questioning someone's ideas." You have not analyzed my ideas at all.

Here's what I wrote on Neale Donald Walsch's blog, verbatim. The "we" here refers to "those who love Katie," not "everybody." Far from everybody, of course. This is elementary. If you're going to cite sources as your proof that I'm a this or a that, at least do it correctly.

>>We fall in love with Katie because she reflects, and sees in us, that which is beautiful in ourselves...and has shown hundreds of thousands of us how to have that vision with her simple four-question inquiry. At least, that is my experience and has been for the many years I've been privileged to call her my mentor and friend. I love that you have made her acquaintance, Neale.

Love,
Carol<<

I stand by what I wrote. You seem to have a problem with my using the "L" word. Think what you will about it, and about me...and I'm sure you will.

As I said, I'll respond to sincere questions, and only those...so you and I are apparently done.

 
At 2/28/2008 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Carol is able to define the sincerity of another person?

The love bomb question is completely sincere, because that is what it looks like. Anyone involved with guru's, knows that the love bomb thing is classic.

Does anyone think it is believable for Neale Donald Walsch to fall in love with a woman he just met, in the way he describes? Does it not seem rather forced and unseemly to blog about it? So that is love at first site....

He then makes statements about Ms Katie like he has known her for a long time, about her character and integrity. How can you know someone you just met?

Love At First Sight, anyone knows is an illusion, and thinking you know someone character traits is a projection. Its not to smart to do that, in love, or in gurus.

you don't really know someone until you've known them personally for a long time, at least a year.

If a person falls in love with a guru at first site, you are asking for serious trouble.

 
At 2/28/2008 3:01 PM, Blogger jody said...

version of being Clear, is that the same as Scientology?

Here is an example of anti-cult hysteria. Everything about Scientology is wrong, Katie is using a term used by Scientology, therefore Katie is as bad as Scientology.

The fact is that a lot of folks are finding themselves helped by Scientology, or at least, they believe they are helped. And isn't that the same thing?

I'm not recommending Scientology as a spiritual practice. It's much too expensive and their anti-psychiatry stance is merely their attempt to corner a market. But it's not the end of the world to join Scientology, just as it isn't the end of the world to go to Katie's school, unless you are a Chicken Little anti-cult crusader who cries wolf at anything that doesn't fit into their extremely limited model of human spiritual psychology.

 
At 2/28/2008 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He then makes statements about Ms Katie like he has known her for a long time, about her character and integrity."

He then added a caveat: "At least she was always on Saturday night."

"If a person falls in love with a guru at first site, you are asking for serious trouble."

What happens if a person confuses syrupy sweet writer's talk with real sugar at first sight?

 
At 2/28/2008 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The fact is that a lot of folks are finding themselves helped by Scientology, or at least, they believe they are helped. And isn't that the same thing?"

Like gold and "fool's gold" are the same thing, until they're seen to be different.

 
At 2/28/2008 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jody, my man, wha???

they asked if her word Clear is the same use as Scientology? That is a valid question.

You are making a leaping jump.

 
At 2/28/2008 5:38 PM, Blogger jody said...

That is a valid question.

It's also an attempt at guilt by association, regardless of the fact you think it's a "jump."

 
At 2/28/2008 5:41 PM, Blogger jody said...

until they're seen to be different.

If one can honestly say they are generally more happy than when they started, it doesn't matter what elements your "gold" is composed of.

 
At 2/28/2008 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If one can honestly say they are generally more happy than when they started, it doesn't matter what elements your "gold" is composed of."

Doesn't matter to whom? It matters to many people. It may even matter to the one who'd say he's more happy. People might believe many things, but not everyone believes "generally more happy" is the gold standard or even that such a thing can "honestly" be assessed.

 
At 2/28/2008 7:51 PM, Blogger jody said...

not everyone believes "generally more happy" is the gold standard or even that such a thing can "honestly" be assessed.

It seems pretty simple to me. People are certainly looking for happiness with their religion, and I'm convinced spirituality manifests as a placebo-like effect. Give folks something to hang their hope on to, and it's more likely they'll perceive an improvement in their lives.

Could they have made a better choice in belief? Almost always. But does that invalidate their perception of their lives and how it may have been changed for the better? Not at all. Better is better, whether a small or huge change for the.

 
At 2/28/2008 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"People are certainly looking for happiness with their religion"

Some are looking for happiness in their "life to come," not in their current life where they may be called to suffer.

"Could they have made a better choice in belief? Almost always. But does that invalidate their perception of their lives and how it may have been changed for the better? Not at all."

What need is there to invalidate what's already perceived as invalid? According to you, people perceive their lives to be invalid and are looking for happiness with their religion, and their next religion, and their next, their next guru, and next whatever.

 
At 2/28/2008 9:14 PM, Blogger jody said...

According to you, people perceive their lives to be invalid and are looking for happiness with their religion, and their next religion, and their next, their next guru, and next whatever.

That's an interesting way to frame it. I think many people are looking for that magical out, but there's certainly those who feel called to a spiritual life out of something more than the merely psychological.

Look at Scientology. It's all about correcting invalid consciousness as they define that, and they certainly sell happiness as the result of their courses. If people are going to Scientology to get the happiness promised in the marketing, there are likely to be others going to other ideologies and gurus for the same reason.

 
At 2/29/2008 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some years ago I corresponded with Carol Skolnick, before she hooked up with Byron Katie. I met her via the various incarnations of the ex-SY lists. SY is Siddha Yoga, the Baba Muktananda and Gurumayi cult. I joined and mostly lurked on those lists as I had been part of a yoga-based guru-centered cult that shared some similarities with Siddha Yoga. Carol had been pretty badly burned in the cult and had what I saw as a very clear understanding of all levels of the cult dynamics. She's a very intelligent, witty person and I enjoyed getting to know her a bit way back when. It is disconcerting to see that she's become a true BK believer. However, I am guessing that as the BK group continues to grow ever wackier, somewhere down the line Carol is going to start feeling the burn and will wake up and get out. At least I hope so. Given how clearly she saw what was going on in SY, she's gotta be able to see it at some point.

 
At 2/29/2008 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, cool insight into Scientology guys.

after all, Time Magazine called Scientology "The Cult of Greed" years ago in that huge cover story anyone can read.

Scientology sued in the courts for 10 years, and lost.
So that proves the devasting information in the article about how Scientology horrendously abuses its own lower-end people is true, objective, and factual in a court of law.

But facts don't matter, right? Its all opinion, everyones got one, and facts don't mean anything. Wicked.

 
At 2/29/2008 10:21 AM, Blogger jody said...

Time Magazine called Scientology "The Cult of Greed" years ago

Just because Scientology is a "cult of greed" doesn't mean it's not working for people. If it didn't produce some effect that folks found beneficial, they wouldn't be in a position to be greedy.

 
At 2/29/2008 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If it didn't produce some effect that folks found beneficial, they wouldn't be in a position to be greedy."

Everything has a benefit. Byron Katie, Scientoloogy, cocaine, snake oil, murder and many scandals, for example, have brought wealth and other benefits to people.

 
At 2/29/2008 12:07 PM, Blogger jody said...

Everything has a benefit.

More cult hysteria. Another attempt at guilt by false association.

 
At 2/29/2008 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right!

Scientology is the Cult of Greed, not because the conman LR Hubbard designed a SciFi fake-religion to trick gullible people, so he could get rich without paying taxes.

But to give people benefit! That is why there are thousands of reports of abuses for decades!

thanks!

 
At 2/29/2008 10:45 PM, Blogger jody said...

That is why there are thousands of reports of abuses for decades!

I'm not saying Scientology as a world "religious" society is good, I'm saying that people who are in it find it brings good to their lives. And to some, it ends up being really bad. But that doesn't mean it ceases being good for those it's still good for.

I'm not trying to defend Scientology the org. I'm just pointing out why it can exist and how it can still be helpful to those involved.

 
At 2/29/2008 10:50 PM, Blogger jody said...

And I'm also pointing out that a lot of the arguments used against Katie and Scientology are specious.

 
At 3/01/2008 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody said...And I'm also pointing out that a lot of the arguments used against Katie and Scientology are specious.


How is this also true of all the gurus attached on this blog?

 
At 3/01/2008 10:48 AM, Blogger jody said...

How is this also true of all the gurus attached on this blog?

Some gurus have specious arguments, but more often they have specious self-presentations.

 
At 3/02/2008 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very interesting development re Byron Katie... just read her blog and all of a sudden she says she has cancer. Seems very suspicious, as the gal has come under quite a bit of scrutiny this week.

Here is a link to her "story":

http://www.byronkatie.com/2008/03/a_phone_call.htm

 
At 3/02/2008 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yikes, she does say she has basal carcinoma BCC.

luckily for her, that type of skin cancer has literally an almost zero chance of fatality. the other one which is more serious has a 1/400,000 chance of dying, and her type basal carcinoma BCC, if you get treatment, there is basically no chance of dying. so she'll be ok, and can even keep working.

so she is very lucky, in that sense. the treatment is usually just a local surgery, in this case on the nose area, with some bandages for a few weeks.

as BCC basal carcinoma almost never spreads in the body, its not fatal, or anywhere near fatal in almost every case.

so the prognosis and recovery is good, and it won't have much more effect on a person's current work and lifestyle, than getting a nose-job would.

 
At 3/03/2008 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word about Byron Katie is spreading... Steve Salerno at SHAM blog just announced he's gonna take on BK before long...

http://shambook.blogspot.com/2008/03/i-wonder-who-gave-carlin-his-copy-of.html

 
At 3/03/2008 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>"so she is very lucky, in that sense. the treatment is usually just a local surgery, in this case on the nose area, with some bandages for a few weeks.

as BCC basal carcinoma almost never spreads in the body, its not fatal, or anywhere near fatal in almost every case.""<<<

thanks for mentioning this. Many people of Northern European extraction are susceptible to this form of skin cancer and, with the thinning of the protective ozone layer, it seems to be on the rise and is, actually, becoming quite common. The detection and prevention methods have gotten very effective (as I know from personal experience). Not that anyone (except Katie who appears to feel a competitive delight in being diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma) wants to get cancer but this is not anything to worry about if you take care of it promptly. Katie's "letter" announcing her cancer, though, is one of the most shocking and manipulative things I've ever read in my life. Check it out on her website if you want to read a self-serving and sickeningly manipulative communication. Before I read that letter, I thought..."ok, Katie is a bit of a flake with some egoic need to be on stage "saving the world" but some of what she is offering is very helpful to some people so what's the harm?". After reading Katie's "cancer letter", I have a very different view of her . The letter, in its invasiveness ("I live in you", "do you love me yet", "I love living in you"), is frightening and reading the responses of people to the news of her illness is very sad . Asking yourself "the 4 questions" on your own seems pretty benign and might even be helpful in certain situations but buying into the whole enchilada may not be the smartest thing in the world to do (unless, I guess, you're looking for your own career in the "self-help" industry).

seen too much

 
At 3/03/2008 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"seen too much", i dig what you are saying. For example, i had a wonderful close friend who got a very serious terminal fast-spreading cancer a while back. with quiet dignity she bore it, got the best medical care, had her buddhist friends chant with her, but did not burdern others with her suffering, which was beyond imagining, her body was ravaged. she died, but with true honor and class. no dumping jher pain on others even when her body was being destroyed.

i agree that the byron katie cancer phone call letter, is one of the most manipulative letters i have ever seen. as mentioned, her chances of dying from bcc, is zero. its close to 100% curable, its very minor.

why say anything at all? or why not say, hey, its just bcc, no biggie...i've had some serious health-problems, i didn't even mention it. why should i? just deal with it, and that's that. don't make it into a melodrama.

why does byron katie start talking about death, and dying, implying serious radiation treaments, and not just some local x-ray zaps? you just go in the office, and they zap you with x-rays, for a couple of seconds. like going to the dentist.

it has been reported that recently byron katie had a face-lift. who cares, i don't. but why did she not report that? that is probably much more dangerous that this. many people get hurt or even die from cosmetic surgery. where is her blog post about the cosmetic surgery?

seen it all before 100x

 
At 3/04/2008 2:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are many of questionable gurus making a "business" out of spirituality/self-help/psycho/loving what is. They get by and keep going because of the faithful people who want to be involved. One of the most protected gurus is Byron Katie. Few people will raise a single doubt about her because she is so very convincing. She is a savvy and clever business woman who is selling her work for a lot more money than she lets on. And of course there are many many people who are willing to volunteer their time to her and many people willing to pay what she asks, so it just keeps going. She too has a face lift all the while teaching to love one's body. There's more going on in the house of Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell that what most people who know them are willing to admit. - (The rest I am adding to what I had already posted)-

I have been around some people who are very close to Katie and Stephen and been to a few private events. What bothered me the most as I got an inside view of the BKI organization is that followers of Katie seem to think she is in a state of spritual grace and therefore she wouldn't be involved in aggressive business practices or manipulation or control or hypocracy. As I observed her behind the scences of her public persona, I observed a very aware, very manipulative, very controlling, and very appressive business woman who knows exactly what she is doing, what she wants, and where she is going.

She did appear to be sincere about the work and about helping others. Yet I was left with the awareness that whatever Byron Katie may have had to share with the world from a place of sincerity and vulnerable self reflection has now become an organization that is interested in pusshing an agenda and has gone way beyond the ability to honestly critique what it is doing and has become.

I haven't read any comments regarding the volumne of people who have set up businesses to deliver the work to others. Many of the charge $50 to $100 dollars and hour to do the work. Katie just recent'y began a ceritfication process so that those who go through the process can be officially certified through Kaite. It is expensive and time consuming.

It does seem her intent was born from a desire for quality control of all the facilitators who are doing the work with others, especially those charging money. However, she is making a lot of money off the certification requirement. The thing is, she continually repeats that it is only 4 questions and a turnaround. I wonder why so much money is involved in this simple process.

Some of it is demand, many people are wanting someone to do the work with them. So in a way Katie is simply supplying the demand that is out there. Yet, she also is creating it. Thus, I think the BKI organization has simply grown too big, too fasy and has lost its original potential as an intimate process for self-reflection, awareness, and genuine growth, even the possibilty for truth and freedom.

I don't think Katie or her organization is evil. To me that is a very strong word and it loses it potency if it is tossed around frivilously. I also don't think her organization truly qualifies as a dangerous cult.

However, I also think some of what happens at the worshops is potentially dangerous and there are not people qualified to deal with the situations that come up. I have witnessed a few of them. I do think Katie purposely manipulates very brilliantly the image of her finances and the money involved in BKI. There are a lot of wealthy and influential who Katie cultivates and benefits from. Again, this isn't anything that isn't done by many people in many different busineses, it just that there are so many people who are involved in the work who are far far from wealthy or influential and who are spending money they can't afford, using credit cards, and volunteering a lot of time to BKI and who haven't a clue that Katie is as savy a business person as she is. What I have seen is that most of the people so desperatley want to have a better life that they look to Katie and the work as saviours and completely lose the ability to discrimante what is happening. They do not want to see how they are being used and using others.

If Katie could just stop and see what the work has become, that very very few people are actually doing the work in the way she imagines, or getting the results they claime to be, she might put a stop to monster that BKI has become. Katie loves to say the work is working because that what people tell her. What I witnessed was a lot of people really wanting the work to work and so they pretended it was and in that pretending there were many emotional and mystical experiences happening. The thing is, is that they don't last and so there you are on the phone again, or meeting someone to do the work, it becomes an obsession. I met people who have been involved in BKI for years and years who are anything but free. They simply continue to get stimulated by the growing organization and the crusade to move the work.

I think meditative inquiry has great potential. It's been around for a long long time, way before Katie's experience. But the way it is being used by many people introduced to it through the work and the BKI organization is not meditative inquiry. What I've seen happening to people is a lot of confusion, obsession, manipulation, and control. Many of the people I met who have been doing the work for a few years are speaking BKI jargon and appearing to be sefless, or, clever and onto themselves. It ends up in emtional and mental stagnation and control and a lack of spontenaity and freedom. Exactly what it isn't suppose to do. And then of course the inability to be honest that it isn't working.

I met a woman who had been involved with BKI for many years. During a conversation we were having she bagan to cry and told me she was anything but happy in her life but she "thought" she couldn't be honest with anyone because everyone was to into speaking the jargon and pretending to be loving what is that she felt completely alienated.

Again, I think there is something genuine about mediative inquiry, the work, but the whole BKI organization is rapidly becoming anything but genuine, though I do think they believe they are.

 
At 3/07/2008 2:00 PM, Blogger tooearly said...

this all sounds so vaguely familiar, as if Werner E. himself was re-incarnated as BK...no more problems...

 
At 3/14/2008 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For quite some time I hunted for "negative" comments about Byron Katie. I wanted to see if there was anyone out there who objected to her and/or her methods. I knew that if right wing Christians came across her material they would be adamantly against it--that would be easy. It took me quite some time to discover this site.

I have many things to say since I have experienced meeting Katie in person, having read two books by her, listened to three audio compilations and a 30+ CD collection called the "New Year's Cleanse."

I will start w/my introduction to her work/tapings/sessions/seminars. I was taking a course based on a Course in Miracles at the time when I met a guy who told me he had a CD set on a woman who talks to people about their problems. I thought it sounded rather sappy and lame, but since my friend was such a nice, intelligent fellow I thought I'd see just what these CDs were all about.

I thought it was going to be like some lame-o soap opera thing. I was first kind of annoyed by the guy's voice who was introducing Katie and her work. I thought what a whimpy pansy. Little did I know who that was at the time--her husband Steven. What he had to say was ok, it was just his voice that irritated me. I was already going into this set of CDs with a very negative mindset. BUT thought I would keep on listening.

As I first began to listen I thought what a harsh women Katie was when she began to speak w/people. It took me until about the 3rd or 4th person that I started to "get it" not to mention that I anxiously awaited what the 4 questions were. I was driving as I listened to this and would grab a pen and write each question down as it would appear in the CD -- it had to be pointed out to me by Steven, the other narrator while he would speak in between interviews with people. I wrote all the questions down.

I started to become amazed how Katie could turn these abysmal past situations around with people. It was remarkable. Some situations were ordinary stressfull things and others were deep things like a woman talking about her experience being molested. I was amazed that people would and could talk about things so openly.

Katie never condones child molestation, physical abuse or any wrong doing. Ever. In fact, Katie encourages a person to use the laws and jurisdiction to turn wrongdoers in. What she does do is to help the "victim" stop playing the scene over and over in there head which lets them relive the torture again and again.

If you've ever read anything by Daniel Goleman he explains that the brain will form grooves or tracks when information is repeated--whether it is healthy or destructive (or neutral) information. It is akin to taking the same wagon down a dirt road over and over again--the rut gets deeper and deeper making it more difficult to take a different path.

Katie disrupts these changes by getting the person to explore unexamined thoughts in a completely different way. A safe way because the offender is not actually there at the moment.

One thing that Katie will say is that the people who we believe have hurt us would not choose that way if they knew another way. Akin to the Biblical message of Jesus pleading to God to forgive because "they know not what they do."

Katie asks the person, the traumatized one, to imagine the idea of what would there life be like if they didn't experience that thought. She doesn't say to forgive them or to become buddy-buddy with "wrong"doer. She merely asks the person to imagine what they themselves, their mind and their life would be like if they let go of the thought, "he did this to me" "she wronged me this way" "I'm damaged" or whatever stressful victimlike thought the person is having. For one moment, a conscious moment, the person (does or doesn't) imagines life without that stressful thought. The person is often amazed at how they feel, even if only in that one conscious moment.

I use the word conscious because the person likely has moments of stress-free thinking but they don't acknowledge it or are not paying attention that their entire life isn't wrapped up and surrounded constantly and continually by their past trauma.

So, I finish listening to the CDs. Personally at that time I wasn't going through anything notably stressful (that I can remember) and afterwards I have 6 wks of a truly amazing stress free thinking and being. No one noticed that I was "different" that I know of. No one many any comments that I was high or weird or anything.

I also didn't spend 4k to get there. I simply borrowed someone's CDs.

Do I think BK is a cult. Absolutely. I have no doubt. Do I think it's a child-raping, poison drinking, insect filled, money laundarying cult. No. Could it become something like that? Absolutely. I believe anything is possible. I believe many "nice" Christian churches are already socially acceptable cults that contain pedophiles, adulterers and thieves among their ranks.

Now about the amount of the school for the work. First of all BUYER BEWARE for sure. Second of all it costs too much--but that is it my opinion.

More later . . .

 
At 3/16/2008 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the continuation of my last long post. I'm sorry about the typos ... I was writing before going off to do something. And one of the things I meant to write is "incest" not "insect"--makes for a kind of funny sentence when read again.

More about the price of the 9 day school . . . I'm not sure why BK would charge so much other than to make a lot of money. BK has always stated that making money has been easier for her. I don't know why but it takes away some of the "goodness" that is Katie for me. I'm not sure why I want my guru's lessons to be free or cost very little.

When Katie began she did talk for free and she always says copying the 4 questions and worksheet is free. I think many things start like this . . . free samples . . . then people bite and more bite until the possibilty of charging money for services occurs. Supply vs. demand.

I realize that people want to earn a living, but charging the price for these workshops/school sessions seems excessive, especially when I learn for 36 hours of the school there is a fast.

If people aren't eating for 36 hours that would save a load in money. Maybe those that fast should get a discount! By the way, occasional fasting is good for most people.

I would say going into the school without having done a lot of research would be a huge shock to many people. I think I would be able to handle it; I guess it's like a mental bootcamp. I can see some people seeing this as brainwashing techniques and I can also see that coming out of the school a person would be a much stronger (mentally speaking) person because they would have come to realize that 1 1/2 days of starvation didn't kill them.

Americans generally are too fat and most don't really understand poverty and going without; this would be an eye-opening experience. Katie would tell me to question that Americans are too fat. She would state that the reality is that the Americans are the weight they are. (by the way, I AM American) And the weight they are is reality, it is what it is.

I think one would have to be a strong person going in to the school. I know that if something was going on that I didn't like I would speak up--I usually do and have often watched in situations where my fellow human beings say nothing--like bystanders watching a woman get raped. Most people will watch and not get involved in situations like these according to the statistics I've read in the past.

Boot camp is very much a brainwashing atmosphere---AND I'm sure much more so than any BK school. I've gone through bootcamp and that was my experience. BUT bootcamp and the military are generally socially accepted milieus. BK probably not (by the general public). According to the majority of Americans, apparently it's ok to get trained to kill and dispose of foreigners, but definitely not ok to spend 4k of one's own money in hopes of trying to better oneself mentally with an unlicensed, unrecognized person.

Katie doesn't have a psychology degree, counseling license or any degree by that matter. She doesn't claim herself to BE God or anyone special. She repeatly states that she is not someone who is enlighted, but knows the difference between what hurts and what doesn't.

There was a commenter who said the BK's work should be called HER Work and not The Work. Well, yes, Katie developed her own method and yes, it's her work. If she called it Byron Katie's Work it sounds less accessible to anyone. And The Work is accessible to everyone, but this doesn't mean it WILL work for everyone. I can tell you 10 years ago I would have probably thought it nuttier than a nutbar for sure. And at that time I was also a person who infrequently saw the other side of things, other's points of view. I was into being right and just couldn't understand why people couldn't think MY way.

Katie does say that doing The Work can end unhappiness, not just some unhappiness but all of it. AND that it is not easy to end the unhappiness without doing The Work, that's why it's called The WORK. I can see that completely because there was a time in my life where I was going through something so stressful and I didn't apply The Work to it.

Because I didn't apply The Work to my past stressful situation I believed every stressful, shaming thought I had about myself. It was so unnecessary that I had to experience so much self-propagated pain. I could have been asking the 4 questions to those uninvestigated thoughts.

Katie has given me a tool that is portable that I can use anywhere, anytime . . . all I have to do is to remember to use it and want to. The 4 questions also work well when others drop or project thoughts onto me as well. I can question the thoughts that they are expressing and look at where those thoughts are true for me and my experience, instead of accepting them without question or becoming defensive.

Katie never says to replace The Work for anything else. She says that the work can augment other spiritual/religious teachings. She NEVER claims that The Work is the only way.

I read that there is much criticism about Katie getting a facelift--the criticism being something like how could a person who loves what is, change herself? That's a great question. Katie says she's a regular person like everyone else. So with that she's going to do regular people things. Katie will admit to having preferences. I'm okay w/Katie having a facelift.

Katie also has some other medical issues like a degerative eye disease, Fuch's dystrophy, for which she got cornea transplants. Maybe she couldn't see how wrinkly she was until she got her new corneas! Who knows. Katie also has a peripheral neuropathy and orthopedic condition that give her almost constant pain in her legs.

The basal cell carcinoma letter is wacked out for sure--I read the post on her site. She doesn't have a medical degree but to tell her daughter she's thrilled to have cancer without qualifying want type at first gives the perception of Katie playing with her daughter's emotions. And whatever Katie says to her daughter is really none of my business.

This brings me to another topic she describes so well. The three types of business: God's, yours and mine. This concept freed my thinking tremendously. Basically, we can't control things that are not under our control. The idea of being in the right business is about not going over and over in your mind about what another person is doing or not doing in their life because it takes you away from your life and the things that are going on presently, including people who are with at that moment. For instance, if I think that Bob shouldn't spend his money on lots of clothes and take advantage or our time together by shopping every time we meet. I'm mentally over there in Bob's business. It's Bob's business to spend his money his way. It is MY business how I spend my time. If I know that Bob spends the majority of his time shopping then I am acting like a victim when I complain about Bob. That's just one simplification of the three types of business.

I couldn't recomment The Work for everyone . . . just like I wouldn't recommend Christianity and yoga for everyone. It is really arrogant for me to think I know what's best for others paths. BK stuff works for me AND I still won't go to The School.

I can't even tell you who or who not to criticize because that really is your business. Personally, if I'm going to criticize some guru, I'm not going to form my opinions by reading others comments. I'm going to investigate and possibly, possibly exerience that guru formyself before I write opinions. But that is MY way which doesn't make it the best way--it's totally my business. Personally, I think it would be a lot easier to read other's comments and agree with them--much less work for sure.

I did have my own personal experience with Landmark. I didn't know there were what they are. I thought Landmark was this professional meeting group and of course some Landmarkians may see it this way. When I told them I wasn't attending their course and wasn't asking for my money back. I got the hardest sell I've ever experienced in my life. They wanted me to come and even got quite forceful and pushy on the phone with me. Well, had they kept their mouths shut and merely rescheduled the class with me, I wouldn't have done the extensive research I did on them. I was truly horrified and their behavior (by more than 3 staff members) completely appalled me. I really don't want to see BKI become more and more like Landmark, but have a feeling its progress may already be in the works, although personally, I've never had problems with customer service associated by BK.

Here's to not joining crazy groups! And here's to keeping one's eyes open, questioning things and taking the good out of some things and using them to work for you when they can!

Looking forward to any comments.

 
At 3/20/2008 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous person who just posted at length re Byron Katie...

You say that BK "NEVER says The Work is the only way."

Oh but she does say that! Maybe one needs to get deeper into The Work before one learns that it is "the only way to God". Quote unquote.

Perhaps you would be willing to copy your posts here to Rick Ross's site, so that questioning others can receive your input?

http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,12906,page=1

From an ex-Work-er :-)

 
At 3/20/2008 11:27 AM, Blogger jody said...

Maybe one needs to get deeper into The Work before one learns that it is "the only way to God".

If you can provide this quote in its original context, I'd make a slam Katie post around it.

 
At 3/20/2008 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If (you knew) this (situation) was your only path to God would you choose it?"

http://www.sobermystic.com/pb/wp_59ce556a.html

 
At 3/20/2008 7:26 PM, Blogger jody said...

"If (you knew) this (situation) was your only path to God would you choose it?"

That is not saying the Work is the only way.

 
At 3/21/2008 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my peoples....yo, the days of chubby gurus wearing saffron robes and raping young male followers while screaming I AM GOD are largely over, with only a couple stragglers from the bad old days.

modern guru's wear leisure suits, speak in soft-tones, and use extremely sophisticated inference and complex methods to draw people to make the conclusions they want them to make, while making them think they made it themselves.

we also have friendly fascists, who don't wear black boots and brown shirts, but rather sweaters and golf shoes. this makes them more dangerous, not less.

so perhaps its time for a little intellectual curiousity and mental acuity to begin to see beyond the superficial and look a little deeper.

so perhaps now is the time to begin to look beneath the leisure suit disguises, and look beyond the golf shoes, and see the exact same tactics being done on people, only in a much more subtle and powerful manner.

its much easier to see sai baba running around and doing amateur magic tricks and raping and pillaging.
its more difficult to see the new bad gurus, who's methods are invisible to the untrained eye, and who hide behind sweaters, hugs, and crocodile tears.

time to wake up peoples...or you may be next.

 
At 3/29/2008 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If (you knew) this (situation) was your only path to God would you choose it?" Oh yeah, btw...I think the context is more like life itself being the path to God (especially the difficult parts of life, etc), not "The Work" being the only path to God.

 
At 4/01/2008 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its too bad that some people close their eyes to reality and become completely literal minded when
they choose to be.
They pretend that they cannot see that when a hypnotist says something as a negation, that is a Creation in the subjects mind. Everyone knows that.

Its like if someone says to you...."I am NOT like that purple elephant hovering above your head right now..."
The "not" does not register, and the elephant appears.
So when Byron Katie says something about not being a God, Guru, or Christ, in hypnosis she is doing the EXACT OPPOSITE, and FUSING her voice to the projection of those Gods in people's minds. Very basic 3rd grade stuff a 12 year old kid could understand.

It's truly pathetic to see people deliberately, or through ignorance, try to misdirect people off the trail of Byron Katie. Very convenient semantics, while ignoring the purple elephant in the room.
People had better be honest, or if they are completely clueless in the very basics of unconscious persuasion, then its time to do some research, or close the store.

 
At 4/02/2008 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good work...Your Work.
All this turnaround (BK's "work") stuff smells like baloney a mile away. It's called Mind Fucking With A Twist.

I just looked at her site and have an aqcuaintance who works with her.
Good god, what a whack!

Jodi is right, though, it's the people's fault for allowing themselves to be duped.

 
At 4/05/2008 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have always wondered what other info about Byron Kaite was out there. I just Googled "Byron Katie and Cult" ... wow

I have been very close to the situation for some time now. I was a caregiver and personal assistant for the last 16 months for a man who's partner is on the inside of Katie's inner-circle. When I left the older man was placed in a home... and the house turned into a BK Turnaround House, it opens in two weeks. I always wondered why the older man who owns the house was being placed in a home, why not find another caregiver, its his house....

Then I found out that now his house is being used for The Work... it made me ill. The person who the older man gave power of attny. to... was not only his "love" partner... but he is also on the inner circle now of BK.

I used to also help with travel plans when he would assist BK, I ran the house and I was taught how to do The Work, and stood in and taught some of his classes when he left on a trip at a small local Agency he was trying to build... Although I dont want to mention his name... those close to the situation will know exactly who I am speaking of when I say that he speaks several languages and travels with her to different countries and is her translator.

He was also just given the task, he said awarded, in building one of the Turnaround Houses... it's the one in San Francisco. I was just asked this past week to go see if I can assist in setting it all up. I had not heard from this person in several months and thought it quite odd he were to call. When I arrived the whole vibe was really wierd. I could see he had ran out of people to call for help if he was calling me.

I was told what the business structure and income projections will be for the SF House and was asked to help if I could. I had been incharge of the house prior as the caregiver and assistant and at one point was asked to assist in selling the old mans stocks and other assets and know of allot of crap and when I left a few months ago I RAN from this place. I have nothing good to say as I believe this man worked his partner and took him for all he had.

Once again I hear my old boss say its never about the money... what I saw just three days ago was this; the new Turnaround House here in SF is at this point... a joke... my old boss should make another $400-500K in the next 12 months off the Turnaround House ... all while the old man who own's the house is in a retirement home only 16 miles away.

I have seen people get free of pain and suffering with the work she does, and have seen how if used peoperly, can help, I have also been to a three day workshop of hers. But I have to say however, after being the assistant and caregiver in the house that is now being converted to the SF Turnaround House. Im very woried that things are going very wrong. That BK or the people that are close have taken a wrong turn.

I have been with clients after they attend the 9day school, most of what I read in the blog here was some of the very same stuff I have been told as well, I refused to ever go to it myself.

I leave you with this... several people have already paid $20,000 to stay at the SF Turnaround house having no idea what they are in for. This is a very hit and miss situation and lacks ANY real planning, maybe in time??? Please do not send your lived ones to the school or Turnaround house.

PS... does the house here in SF meet Zoning Laws, has a Business Lic. been issued. How about fire and safety occupancy laws, is there Liab. Insurance. Do you have a building permit for the construction going on? I can go on... the answer to these and several other questions I asked him was always... NO,NO.NO.NO....

Look it up for yourself... Today is 4/5/08

I have had to wash my hands from this as although I will always say the "who would you be without your story... and the four questions" etc... is good work and I use it where I am at now... I do believe however... somethings not right in BK town anymore.

 
At 4/10/2008 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are 2 clips from YouTube that were taken during a meal break at the 9 Day School in L.A. on Day 6. The cameraman talked to several participants & to Byron Katie. It appears to be impromptu. It doesn't look like anyone's fasting! "Byron Katie Part 1" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFW2oF5iyhA&feature=related "Byron Katie Part 2" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOE7lpIWsek&feature=related

 
At 4/11/2008 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silly wabbit, they don't fast for the entire 9 days!

 
At 4/14/2008 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone I know who was recently at the "Certification" workshop told me that one of the workshop participants did a "worksheet", that's one of tools of The Work, on Katie asking her to stop talking about all the money that the TurnAround Houses will be making. He also challenged her to stop being fake and having a different public and private persona and actually live what she is telling others to do.

It's hard to accept that Katie has lost her way because it appears that she once was genuine, sincere, and honest. Now it seems she has become fanatical about the agenda of bringing The Work to the world. And in her zealousness she is using her own process of The Work to justify doing whatever she wants to do. She is incredibly skilled at acting kind and caring and she shifts to a very different person once off the stage and out of The Work process.

If you watch Katie in an interview she constantly has to refer back to The Work. In her mind every situation can be handled by doing The Work. As I watch her I see a woman who needs The Work instantly to deal with any confusion or discomfort. It is her only answer to everything.

Katie has a charismatic personality and she has gathered a flock of followers to spread The Work. It's free, but there is a catch. You will be encouraged to go to an event or use a facilitator and it will far from free.

Yes, there is a free hotline which is staffed a few hours a day. But beware, the people who are answering the phone aren't particularly comfortable about what they are in, which is usually way over their heads, and all they will do with your despair is tell you to write down your thoughts and ask yourself some questions. And if you stray from that exact process, in their discomfort with your actual life, they will tell you to stop and stick to it.

If it feels abrupt and discounting and strangely artificial believe in yourself because the person on the other end of the phone is mostly likely scared as hell and doesn't have a clue how to help you other than to say "Do The Work" like parrot.

If you can find a person who hasn't been infected with the BKI Persona virus and has a shred of genuineness left in them, then have them do The Work with you. Meditative inquiry has value at certain times used in certain ways. At other times and used in the wrong way it can get you more lost and further away from the truth of you.

As difficult as it may be if you are in pain and looking for help, trust yourself. There are a lot of confused people in BKI and there is a lot of interest in getting you to give them some of your money. If you feel you are being manipulated stop. Many of the people in BKI want to be helpful and many "believe" they are being helpful. But they are actually very controlling and fearful and they are using this method to mask their anxiety.

There isn't much genuine freedom or joy in BKI, it is on the fast track to becoming a group of burned out believers following a charismatic leader who has become a fanatic and blind to the wrong turn (around) she has taken.

Katie, just stop. Stop the bullshit you are in. Stop acting as though you aren't in this for the money. Stop acting as though The Work is working. Open your eyes and see what is right in front of you. See what is, Katie. Most of the people around you are faking it.

Katie, there is always the opportunity for you to stop this and return to the truth you were once living. Go back to the desert and walk with yourself in quiet. Stop this insanity you have gotten into.

Ask yourself if the world really needs you to end it's suffering or if you really are using the world to distract yourself. The Work is losing it's power because you are losing your way.

 
At 4/22/2008 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting to me that all this palaver about Katie and The Work is being given by people who have never experienced it.

Why not stop talking about things you have not knowledge of and check it out for yourself? That's what Katie would and does say, "Don't believe me. Check it out for yourself." I've heard this from other so-called cult leaders as well. Something that is oh-so conveniently forgotten when people's egos want to be right, right, right.

To those that think Katie is on the wrong path, GREAT! don't choose it. Go find something else, or continue on in your life as it is, if it makes you happy. It's YOUR life.

I've been to the 9-day school, one of many "self-improvement" semninars I've attended in my life. I use many different tools from many different areas to improve the quality of my life. In my experience, the School is no more cult-like than the different schools of psychotherapy, medical science, religion or philosopy that are part of the our culture.

No one is required to take part in any activity at the School, a fact that is repeated over and over again at the beginning of each exercise. If people are too busy talking or not participating when these things are said, it's no one's fault but their own.

The use of exercises, outings, music and questions to bring up and investigate stressful thoughts and trauma in our lives is common in all areas of science, medicine, psychology and learning that we have on this planet. Gee, I think my trainer is a cult-like nut because he MADE me stop eating so much sugar...boo hoo! Grow up people!

It seems to me that most people who are dissing Katie and others like her are people who are so blindly clinging to the rightness of their position, that they can't possibly allow in anything that might change their mind or perspective. That's the mindset that causes war on this planet. I'm right and you're wrong.

So, my invitation to those who have questions or issues is to check it out for themselves.

For those who just want to continue to create war and strife...keep on talking!

 
At 6/03/2008 7:15 AM, Anonymous Turil said...

Perhaps the following note should be included with every piece of advice offered anywhere:

If you don't trust yourself to make your own good decisions about what is and what is not right for you, then don't ever seek advice or wisdom from someone else. If you do trust yourself to make your own good decisions about what is and what is not right for you, then you can feel comfortable participating in even challenging and "weird" explorations of your beliefs, similar to those offered by Byron Katie.

It's always up to you who to take guidance from. And no one approach will work for everyone. So try many approaches out and make your own decisions about what works and what doesn't work. OK?

 
At 7/18/2008 3:44 AM, Anonymous N. Taylor said...




k

I've been doing existential fieldwork for quite my own little stretch of time

so I've done said existential fieldwork and -

it's patently impossible to hate on Mizz Katie.

although I know lotsa' us will try. or at least get some quasi-witty verbiage outta the ol' enterprise. so, by all means... do it!

( but then, when you're done, just for shits and giggles, seek her out physically, stand in front of her at one of her FREE events, look her in the eyes, give it a moment and then tell me what you see -- or what sees YOU :-o )

hehehe

doomed from the start!

doomed!

so doomed!

like we all, intrinsically, ARE!!!

*sometimes... there simply are not enough dancing bananas*

N.




 
At 7/19/2008 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's completely possible to hate "Mizz Katie," just as its completely possible that the people who think they hate her will completely hate your post (and you, by default), whereas others will find her (and you) charming.

There's room for all of it in the world. No sweat.

 
At 7/20/2008 6:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

N, sorry but it ain't impossible to "hate on", or rather, critique, Ms. Katie. You don't exactly sound balanced, so why should anyone trust your opinion? Btw, the "free" events (at which I imagine many of Katie's products are sold) are a great way to hook people in and then before long they may be shelling out several thousand dollars for a "school", or 20 thousand (yep, 20 thousand) for the "turnaround house". Very convenient!

 
At 7/23/2008 11:20 AM, Anonymous MonteU said...

Please don't quote my website out of context. Sobermystic.com Compare Katie's Work to the Buddha's Four Noble Truths. I see more similarities than differences. To me it's all about accepting and embracing myself and life exactly as we are. I have not been to her school but I highly recommend her books, Loving What Is and Change Your Thinking Change The World. Her Work is just one part of all the things I do. I use her Work for clarity but I find emotional release and healing elsewhere. It's sad if the spiritual side of her Work is getting lost in the business side, but she wouldn't be the first. Be a light unto yourself...

 
At 8/15/2008 1:08 PM, Anonymous phillip said...

I recently came across Byron Katie's writings. I found it to be profound and it actually helped me to understand certain Buddhist principles regarding non-attachment. However, I never got the impression that her process was supposed to lead to immediate enlightenment, but certainly a greater understanding of one's thought process. That's a beautiful thing. I say people should utilize the process involved in The Work and use it as "a" tool, not "the" tool, to aid in one's growth. Lastly, love should be the bottom line. If this process doesn't lead one to loving themself and others more (and consequently acting in a way that reflects that love) then I think it's fair to say that the Work is not a good thing for them.

peace all and here's to hoping that we all listen to the gurus within.

 
At 8/17/2008 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I teach meditation based in Buddhism and have found Byron Katie's Work to be a very constructive technique in helping myself and others move from the abstract of the Buddha's teachings into practical use in my daily life.

The result has been less friction in my life and a great deal more peace, without any "zoned out" behavior, just a lot more trust in Eternity / God / myself and others.

The Buddha also taught that our minds are both the source of our suffering and the means to overcome suffering.

BK's 4 questions and turnaround have given people a practical way to understand through their experience that "through our minds we create the world" as the Buddha taught.

I admire the brevity of her approach, when the Buddha's teachings were encapsulated after his death they took up tomes of hundreds of pages (most of which, no doubt, he never actually said!).

Actually I ran into the work through my brother who went through all kinds of teachers and teachings and still remained a complete BS artist who hurt people deeply and directly - until he started doing The Work. After seeing him become a person I wanted to know, I was willing to look into what had made the difference, and discovered it matched teachings I had "known" were true but had a hard time knowing how to implement. You know, not confusing my ideas with reality; seeing the world directly instead of through my attachments and fears.

Eventually after doing the work on and off for free - or "trying to do the work" but often not getting it fully, because I too clung to the truth of my essential victimhood and other's guilt in my suffering - I went to one of the 9 day schools last year.

Also, the schools are advertised as a way to learn how to facilitate the work for others and when I tried to work with others, I was not always able to provide the relief I saw when Katie facilitated others at free and lowcost workshops (Learning Tree etc).

About the price of the school? I have paid for studying for a couple of degrees at universities.

I do not find the concept of paying for education the least bit surprising. This was education I wanted, so I paid for it.

Um, if you don't want it, you don't go, you don't pay. Also, the school wasn't mentioned at any other event, I only found out about it after years when I wandered onto www.thework.com because I wanted to share info with my students.

As to the experiences of the school, all were optional and I found all those that I choose to participate in helpful beyond my expectations.

I was also delighted to learn that the cost of the school was subsidizing a set of free schools held every summer in the Middle East which bring Arabs and Jews together to overcome the belief that members of the other group are their natural enemy.

Oh yes, one more thing. Just like the Buddha (and other teachers from whom I have learned helpful things), Katie says - and her behavior supports this, I can attest - you don't have to take her word for anything. Just as Buddha said, you have to do the work, you have to have your own experiences through which to learn.

And she also NEVER in my presence has pressured anyone to agree with her. If someone resists looking at the "turnaround" for one of their painful thoughts, she says fine. She doesn't argue, she doesn't put them down, she doesn't suggest they're wrong.

She doesn't ever tell people to change their thoughts, she actually points out you cannot. By looking at an alternative point of view to the usual way we look at things, however, we may find we simply do not see things the same way.

And this has been my consistent experience as well. As soon as I am able to let myself look at something differently, a new truth emerges. I become a freer person as a result, not slave to my beliefs. Really pretty cool.

Anyway, for people reading the descriptions about the school and thinking, where does this "weird stuff" come from? It is based on the experiences she had in coming to understand that the world is not our enemy. And all of it was optional.

I arrived ready to argue that as a small business owner I "had" to have my cell phone with me to confer with my business partner - and in fact had been told that was my decision, so I could have done so. Instead I decided to be willing to experience letting go of that need to be "on duty" always. (I also made sure my business was prepared for my absence and my partner knew how to reach me if needed, and I would not have hesitated to pick up the hotel phone if there were a reason other than my discomfort at being out of the loop).


Everything I chose as an adult to participate in (and I realized later I had subtly held out once or twice without being conscious of it even!) taught me more than I could have ever anticipated and I'm grateful for the opportunity for such "mind opening" experiences.

I have come to wonder if Byron Katie is recognizing her mortality and is attempting to plant the seed of the work as far and wide as possible in the time she has.

Personally I am continually amazed that people think it is fine to pay for the work of musicians and writers and movie stars and sports teams, but think that money raised by teachers is somehow tainted.

Education is not free, those who are not motivated won't pay. That doesn't make something a cult.

If you want the work for free, go to www.thework.com and download the worksheets and the forms that teach you how to use them. If you can follow them without support or facilitation, you will not need to pay a cent. If like me, you want to become better at using the work to help your own and others' understanding and facility with freeing yourself of the tyranny of thoughts you cannot control, you may want to look into participating in an event with Byron Katie, even the school.

If so, more power to you for being an intrepid explorer of what is, rather than what your unexamined thoughts tell you is true. Discover the difference, if you have not yet - whether thru BK's technique or any of a thousand other ways.

PS If you'd like, check out "Suffering is Optional" a book by another buddhist monk, Cheryl Huber, if you don't understand the difference between pain and suffering. Not understanding this distinction seems to cause a lot of the pushback from people who confuse the events of the world with what they believe must be inevitable suffering.

Best to all -

- the Anonymous Monk

 
At 8/24/2008 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would just like to add that non judgement, the lack of malice and an open mind seems to be conditional here. I know you are all full of fear for what you don't understand. Until you have tried "The Work" you will remain fearful. Until you have actually fasted you will remain fearful. Your only afraid of the choose your not strong enough to make right now. Unlike most of you here Byron Katie would rejoice in where you are now. Because you are only doing the best you can now with the fear you live with. I pray for your hearts and minds to open so you can heal youself. You would only take for free that which has no value to you. If you knew the worth of a thing it could be free and you would still pay. Hand outs are only longed for by those that feel too empty to find value else where.

 
At 9/01/2008 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Work" is just four questions, turnarounds and asking yourself if the turnarounds are truer. In fact, I don't see why a facilitator or anyone prodding you is necessary. The truth will eventually emerge through inquiry. Anyone revealings answers to you is just their truth and is useless - they don't hold. Real truth and wisdom comes from within - and sometimes those answers take time to emerge - you have to sit with it a while. The real work is not in the questions but in the answers - the answers come from within. Of course, you can customise and adapt the methodology to your own style. Sometimes you need to ask more questions or less depending on the circumstances. The four questions aren't a rigid methodology, they are just guidelines for self inquiry. The power is yourself, not BK or her rigid methodology.

Like every other dogma, philosophy or religion, there is a certain attachment the mind holds to certain conceptualisations - including that on "The Work". The mind believes that "The Work" is an achievement i.e. there is something to gain by using it. Every non-dualistic teaching is dangerous because it can be conceptualised into something it is not. Even Buddhism has gone this path, where the public teaching is anything from the private teaching. People forget that it is themselves that are answering the questions, it is themselves that are being given the power of clarity through their answers. The questions have no power at all. There is no need to glorify BK or her approach. Again, its just four questions... There is absolutely no teaching, there is no right or wrong way to answer questions, which is kind of a mystery why there needs to be a workshop.

This is a quote from one of BK books
"Everything we say here is a lie. But only everything. And if you think there's something real here that coule be carried on as a new religion - new concepts in any way, shape or form, ask yourself four questions ... "

If you feel the need you need to glorify BK, to give her money, to go to a workshop... ask yourself four questions...

Again, don't mistake the conceptualisations for the real truth - real truth always comes from within, never from external sources. It is why the questions approach is so powerful.

Take care.

 
At 11/14/2008 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BK is a crock and what is really scary is that she encourages therapist using it in their therapy and teachers use it in their schools. Let's start at the age when the mind is most vunerable! they say this is the only way to rid yourself of stress and to find peace. They also say that it doesn't matter what you have been through in your life, you can get rid of the negative thoughts if you do the work. It happened to me and I bought into it until I realized it wasn't do anything for me and I was more depressed than I was before I started seeing this therapist. Scary! I don't think her group even realized what she did, until I told them and theu said they had never heard of it. The Work is a cultish group and there is a huge push to get everyone on board with her thinking. Even children!

 
At 11/14/2008 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever gone on her website and read the forums. It seens that if anyone questions the work they are verbally attacked. The concept of the questions with the turn arounds could have some merit, but it is the fact that so many of her followers worship her and hang on every word she prints. It is scary that she is trying to get her program in the schools. I heard she has a whole link on how to do it with kids. I know an "friend suggested I try it with some kids I teach that were havinng some personal problems. No way I wouldn't go down that raod!

 
At 11/20/2008 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BK's four question may, very likely be part of a technique derived from hypnotherapy termed
'yes set'

If you get someone to say yes, yes yes, it gets them into a mental groove/light trance and makes it hard to say no.

It is a technique that has some utility in the hands of an ethical therapist, but has been debased into a method used to do high pressure covert sales techniques.

That four question stuff is not innocuous Many of these gurus and entrepreneur/euses use a form of yes set.

Google 'yes set' and see what you get.

A former TM person said that the 'checking' process used in Trancendental Meditation (very trancy stuff) fits the yes set pattern quite closely.

This stuff seems laughably trivial but if covertly used, it does an end run around our critical thinking.

A commitment is non binding if part of a normal relationship with no hidden agendas.

But getting someone to say yes as part of a yes set that is being covetly applied can be used to entrap people.

Its a set of velvet lined handcuffs.

They bind you tight, but dont pinch in any obvious way.

 
At 12/08/2008 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does the idea of the "yes set" apply to BK's four questions? The answers to the first two questions can be any of "no," "yes," or "I don't know." If there is an "ideal"/desirable answer to the first two, it is more "no" than "yes." The last two questions are not yes-or-no questions.

With regard to everything else, others have said it far better than I can. This seems like useful stuff, but when too many followers over-idealize a teacher, it's dangerous.

I've been interested to see how the four questions and turnaround can provide one with a hands-on way to question one's automatic thoughts, and how that relates to Buddhist teachings.

I have just read one of BK's books, don't plan to go to a school or spend any money on this, but have found that her ideas do provide a useful structure for a process that I can otherwise get lost in. It's amazing how much of the stress in my day-to-day life is created entirely by my own thoughts, and considering who I might be without those thoughts (and why I might be holding on to them) is liberating.

Erika

 
At 1/06/2009 1:19 PM, Blogger Andre in LA said...

This is a testimonial of a person's perception of their experience. It is filled with judgments interwoven with the facts.

For instance:

1. A forced 36 hour fast.

36-hour: a clear, measurable fact
fast: what is fast for that person? No food and not water? No food? No solid food?
forced: clearly a judgment. How were people forced to fast? Solitary confinement? Threats? Handcuffs?

...An day long "outing" where we were left to beg for food among homeless people in the streets of Los Angeles: "Were left" without a warning?

The use of language in this testimonial triggers me, I judge it as coming from identification with Victim personality, someone things were done to, not someone who participated in an adventure.

I respect the choice of identifying with Victim, and I am aware of the Victim's limited perspective and its tendency to focus on the painful side of experiences and somewhat distort the facts.

The facts I am learning about are not disturbing to me at all and although experiences involving discomfort may be used for indoctrination, similar experiences may be used to push and reveal the nature of our mind that IS already conditioned and allow us to work with it.

Note: I am not affiliated with BK in any way.

 
At 1/28/2009 3:06 PM, Anonymous What's the Biggie? said...

I did the work again for the second time last night in the home of an acqauintance for free.

This woman's life was changed through the process and she wants to share it with others, for free in the comfort of her own home.

People have told her, "you can make alot of money doing this", and her reply is, "the minute you can put a price on someone forgiving their mother for abusing them, I'll charge". Or something along those lines. She says you cannot put a price on this, so she doesn't.

Haven't read Byron Katie's book and I probably won't. I know the process; 4 questions and a turn around. What more does one need?

I use this simple process for making me see a different way of viewing and dealing with a stressful situation. It's NOT "spiritual". It's a process for helping me deal effectively with people around me in this material world. For my spiritual life I have my religion and my daily sadhana.

THE WORK deals with THIS world, not the next.

I'm not interested in Byron Katie's spiritual beliefs - whether she has any or not, whether it's adwaitic or dwaitic or whatever. My own tradition is a combination of adwaita and dwaita and I'm satisfied with that.

When I employ a self-help or self-improvement technique, from anywhere or anyone, it's solely to facilitate my interactions with other people, not to achieve "enlightenment". For enlightenment I have my own separate spiritual ideology and sadhana.

I have no interest in attending a Byron Katie workshop, even if I could afford it. THE WORK is 4 questions and a turn-around. All the rest (fasting, begging, etc) appears to be fluff or gimmickry.

However, I will say this; for your "typical American" those things probably serve to "shake up" their world/identity/whatever and get them thinking outside of the box, drop just a fraction of their conditionings.

For someone like myself who has travelled the world, lived within other cultures very different from my own, practiced sadhana in severe circumstances in India, well, a Byron Katie workshop where all you have to do is fast a little, refrain from talking, and do a little begging is simply child's play.

But it would probably be "life changing" for most of the commenters here or at least your neighbors.

Let's put it this way, if they are that wealthy that they can afford to spend $4,000 on a nine day work shop, then they probably live a very comfortable life and yeah, those techniques would be "like Wow!" for them.

Blame it on the culture.

 
At 2/04/2009 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to know if Byron Katie is taking antidepressants???

 
At 2/17/2009 12:11 AM, Anonymous C said...

"Byron Katie Is Either Going To Enlighten You Or Kill You Trying"
...or both.

I have many mixed feeling and thoughts regarding Byron Katie and The Work of Byron Katie, as it is actually called. I will share some of my experience with this group as thoroughly and briefly as possible.

I attended a School for the Work of BK in 2007. I had no prior experience with the work, save a you tube video of Katie doing TW with a participant. My initial reaction was one of awe how someone so tortured could, using the method of inquiry, come to such a quick resolution of painful thoughts and memories. I thought his was something I would like to learn how to do for me and others and signed up for the course. Money was not an issue (ahh, the good old days...). Prior to The School I would describe myself as smart, thoughtful, very frank, an excellent parent, a loving occasionally dissatisfied wife, generally happy, outgoing, kind,intuitive, strongly linked to family of origin, focused, laid back, funny, unconventional, decisive, stable, very open minded- along with a host of not so great qualities, but they were not dominant.

The basics of The School are as described by others above. The recommendation was to observe a drug free, sugar free diet for ten days prior to event to remove any potential mind altering affects of the substances. I did not see this recommendation and, therefore, did not follow it. I had no problem with the diet or food offered or lack there of on day/s of fasting. Also, it is recommended that all attendees read Loving What Is prior to attending the School. I did not do this either, as I could not manage to read the book for unknown reasons.

All participation in exercises are repeatedly called optional, yet, there was a strong urging by BKI to explore "who you would be with out your story" and to allow yourself the opportunity "to get what you came for." For me that meant to go with the assignments and exercises and to explore my limits, which I must admit were pretty broad before The School. I, also, noticed Katie saying things like "enjoy the trip, often." Silence, fasting, connecting deeply with others were all things/ ideas I was quite comfortable doing. Even with the outing, having no idea of where we were going, what we were doing, no money and no talking in LA, I was quite comfortable. I found it to be amazingly freeing to have no money or identity and found that people talked to me whether I spoke to them or not and told me the most incredibly intimate things. I really surrendered to The Work. I did The Work on all kinds of stressful thoughts and beliefs and I had some amazing and strange experiences.

One such experience involved a spontaneous "trip" or altered state of consciousness that was very reminiscent of being on mushrooms. That particular evening was many days into the event, and I had not eaten much that evening (of my own volition). I had an extreme affinity for the wall to wall carpeting and was laughing intensely at the nature of "it" all and feeling a deep connection to those around me and the "oneness". I was disconcerted by these feelings as I noticed thoughts racing (not to mention loving wall to wall carpet!) and have had experience with both psychedelics and the mentally ill. I have oft supposed that being psychotic would be much like tripping, yet without the knowledge from whence it came or the good faith belief that it would wear off soon enough. Anyway, I went back to the gathering and felt totally ungrounded and thought it best to get some food to potentially help me reconnect with reality. After explaining the way I was feeling to a facilitator, I had to firmly request food several times and wait for quite a while before any was forth coming. The "facilitators" scurried around asking each other or their higher ups if I was allowed food, as it was outside of slated eating times. I did feel better after eating and went to bed. Over the next couple of days I saw many other people who looked like they were tripping, too. If you have ever done so, you may notice a dilated pupil and demented look on the person's face. I was intrigued and am in no way claiming that BKI dosed participants, yet I believed it to be a purposeful inducement of this state through intensive self inquiry. Nor do I think that everyone in attendance had such an experience. For me it was not unwelcome and did not concern me much as I figured it was a by product of dealing in the fringe.

I looked great, I lost weight, I even stopped biting my fingernails- an unheard of event for me, I felt at peace, connected and ready to continue The Work and conquer the world. I had come to the conclusion that I wanted to leave my husband or have an open relationship. When I returned home the strange continued. I felt no more connected to my adorable toddler than my china, and nearly passed out when I realized this. I dutifully did The Work on the stressful thoughts that arose and continued in the Aftercare Program as prescribed by BKI.

Approximately two months after The School all thought became stressful. I consulted Katie about this and she said "I know". She told me freedom was like mania, but without the fear. She told me that we are all projections of MY mind, and that I have been given my life situation (plenty of money and no job) because it is my job to, if I understood correctly, end the suffering on this planet. There is more, but I will wrap this up because it is already hideously long. I ended up on anti-psychotics for several months. Of course I cannot know that this would not have happened had I not gone to BK's School, yet I firmly believe that it is the cause. I have not been diagnosed with any mood disorder despite seeing several psychologists and a psychiatrist. This past year has been debilitating. I would now describe myself as generally unhappy, a poor/guilty parent, sad, regretful, confused, hopeless, depressed, fuzzy, stuck in a Gordian Knot of complications, conflicted, marginally funny, unable to make decision to run my affairs, dissatisfied, disconnected from family and suffering immensely.

Perhaps, I should just ask the four questions and do the turn around?

 
At 2/17/2009 12:21 AM, Anonymous C said...

Unimportant, but she really did have cancer. It was removed in the spring of last year.

 
At 3/06/2009 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many thoughts, so stressful. I go the cheap way- I bought BK's books and some of the tapes. I do the work myself, not all of the time, mainly in the car on my long commute to work. I have enough concentration that I can do the questions in my head. I have really helped myself by using this tool- It is great! I love my husband, I love my coworkers, and I used to hate everybody and thought I was a big victim. I admire the people who are on the tapes but I would NEVER spend the money on a workshop or put myself out there like that. And I don't care if Katie has become a guru- it is all for me! I use her stuff for my life. And I love the people on the tapes for their honesty. They have helped me tremendously. But I am not going to defend BK because I don't care. I just like what this tool has done for my life. If she is now a greedy guru, well that will give her a lot of pain. And that is not my problem. Probably not yours either.

 
At 3/11/2009 10:36 AM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

My concern about "anti-cult" conversations is the tendency to throw out the baby with the bath water. I think the truth is more often a shade of gray. I did Katie's school back in 2000. I have found tremendous clarity in examining my assumptions about how life should be (via the work) as opposed to obsessively try to solve the problems my assumptions create. Spending time with Katie and asking myself these questions over the years has been instrumental in that. At the same time, I have no problem seeing the accuracy in much of the criticism being applied to Katie and her organization. I recently read this blog written by a long time teacher of the work who has now left Katie's organization which at least to some degree captures the shade of gray I am referring to. She exposes from the inside much of what is off and yet does not repudiate the process of questioning/examining one's beliefs whatsoever. Here it is:
http://janakisstory.wordpress.com/

 
At 3/20/2009 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it just like us human beings to take anything that is helping people and make it wrong? I guess those critical individuals who want to make "The Work" ugly are not going to stop suffering, ever!
Ya gotta love it and laugh!!!

 
At 3/28/2009 5:04 AM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

love katie...she has changed my life and saved my marriage..

 
At 4/16/2009 2:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

selling salvation is better than selling guns or drugs.

 
At 4/16/2009 11:47 AM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

I have read every one of her books.....rented them from the library......she has saved my life and my marriage.....never plan to go to any of her intensives....mostly b/c I have got all I needed from her books.....she does not profess to be bigger or better.....she just makes total sense to me....I buy her book for anyone I feel needs to question their thoughts that are causing suffering....

Miriam

 
At 4/16/2009 12:44 PM, Anonymous M said...

Miriam, why do you say that "she" as in Byron Katie has saved your marriage? Seems to me like you are worshipping her! That feels very off to me.

But not surprising, given that Byron Katie is encouraging a guru type stance with all those photos of her on her website and event announcements and book covers, there's even a photo of her on an altar in her home (noted in a recent interview with her hubby), and then there's the huge cost to take one of her *ahem* trainings.

Sorry, but I cannot agree that Katie is Ms. Innocence. Au contraire!

 
At 4/16/2009 7:42 PM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

"she", as in her books...her words....think what you will.....only I know my truth.....I have no conflicts with it....I hope you too find what you are looking for....

what are you afraid of? Does the fact that I like a writer scare you? Think about it....how silly you sound to warn me that I am approaching guru-like whatever.....I like her...I like her books they make sense to me.....they ring truth to me.....what is there for you to fear in that?

as I said, think and say what you will....I am okay with what works for me....and her words did save me.....it allowed me to question all that makes me suffer....you can turn it around a thousand ways and mince my words to continue your plight.....but I like the woman and her words.....easy as that...

miriam

 
At 4/17/2009 7:45 AM, Anonymous M said...

Ms. Miriam, you don't seem to get it that there are people who have felt harmed and ripped off by TW. Just one read-through of the Janaki blog is very telling.

If you are so into TW, why are you asking ME questions such as "What are you afraid of? Does the fact that I like a writer scare you?"

TW has it be all about YOU and what's in YOUR mind. So why not go about YOUR own business and do TW on my comments?

Or will you turn it around on me when it suits you?

 
At 4/17/2009 12:53 PM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

LOL....you are hilarious....and rude....I guess it's not okay to disagree with you huh? I get it.....I simply came on to say I liked her....and you come on saying I am adopting a guru-stance.....you don't even know me.....rude, rude, rude.....have a good day...


Mir

 
At 4/17/2009 12:56 PM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

M,
To believe that Janaki's blog repudiates the value of examining one's belief's and how they impact life via the medium of these 4 questions (which are universal enough in their essential nature that they certainly don't belong to any one group) is to miss the point of her blog entirely.
BK may quite definitely have done some of the things that so many in her position do that is rightfully criticized.

But there is tremendous value, a difficult to express and unexpected joy (that has to be experienced for oneself) in questioning rather than fiercely clinging to one's convictions. Over time it becomes as obvious and humorous as realizing we've been hitting ourseleves with a hammer (and complaining at the pain) and don't have to any longer. It is an incredible relief when it occurs.

We imagine that only Saints (who only exist as idealized fantasies) can function as mentors in this. But that just isn't so. Who or what in our lives has only impacted us for good or ill? Nothing is actually the black and white we make it in order to argue with others in order to be right (and satisfy a primal urge).

Noticing how our thinking impacts what we do, noticing how the absence of that thinking impacts what we do, noticing the possibility that felt conviction might not equal actually being right.. These are all wonderful discoveries that belong to no one person or group...

It isn't necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater. It isn't necessary or even particularly valuable. Something more supple and subtle in it's discernment is called for...

 
At 4/17/2009 1:03 PM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

Brian.....you said what I wanted to say perfectly.....


Miriam

 
At 4/17/2009 2:14 PM, Anonymous M said...

Miriam, you clearly aren't "loving what is". Thank you for proving that The Work doesn't work.

 
At 4/17/2009 2:26 PM, Anonymous M said...

Janaki on "Downsides of The Work":

There are people who think they are doing The Work wrong, because they still get angry or sad. After all, Katie says she hasn’t gotten angry or sad since 1986, and she is the role model for The Work. She also says that unless you love your enemy like your dearest friend, your work isn’t done. These are lovely words, but they paint a picture of what you should look and be like in order to reach the final destination. If you don’t, then the implication would be that you haven’t understood it properly or haven’t mastered it yet.

I have met people who use The Work to shame themselves with the turnarounds.

I have met people who use The Work to make right what isn’t.

A friend told me recently that someone scraped together $ 20.000 to attend the Turnaround House in Spain. This person’s sole reason for doing this is because he wanted to be close to Katie for a month, because he loves her so much. Apparently it was never clear through the marketing for this particular Turnaround house that Katie wouldn’t attend this event in person. Unless of course they counted her Skype sessions as being actually present.

Personally speaking, if this were my reason for attending such an event and I had to borrow a lot of money to do this, I would definitely make sure, before transferring the money, that Katie would actually be there in person.

But what really baffled me is this, my friend then told me that this person did The Work a lot to make this feel right again. And my thought was, ‘so that is what people use it for? Wow’. And I can also see the bigger picture. Doing The Work could bring him to the place where he thought he had to spend a lot of money so as to get something. There is no doubt about that. However, I think they should have been very clear in their marketing that Katie wouldn’t be physically present in this particular Turnaround House.

Another person has done The Work for a very long time and is very dedicated to the cause of spreading The Work worldwide. She had sold her house, moved to another country and became miserable. I was on the phone with her once and I said to her, ‘I bet you are writing worksheets all day long, then you do The Work, you feel good for about a minute, and then it starts all over again’. She told me that that was exactly what was happening.

I know people who made the conscious decision to stop doing The Work and who felt greatly relieved. One particular person I am referring to here was doing The Work all day long, to get out of her anxiety. She said that she found a therapist who claims that he is treating a lot of people whom he has advised to stop doing The Work because it doesn’t seem to help them and it increases their sense of shame and guilt.

There was a girl in one of the recent Schools in the States. During one of the sessions Katie had done The Work with someone. Afterwards this girl stood up and gave Katie feedback. She commented that she actually didn’t experience Katie as kind and that she also didn’t feel it was very appropriate what Katie had said. Later on in her room, she was visited by a staff member who gave her the message that Katie wanted her to pack her bags and leave immediately. I personally have witnessed this before, that people were asked to leave a School. Katie’s explanation was, ‘it can hurt the curriculum’.

 
At 4/17/2009 3:06 PM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

M,
If I believe I need to have a certain experience like never suffering for example, and that I'm bad or flawed or making a mistake if I do. And I *then* use the work to try to fix the problem of my experience of suffering, I'm using TW in service to my confusion rather than questioning it. It is the unexamined belief "people shouldn't suffer or I shouldn't suffer" and not the *act* of questioning one's beliefs that is causing suffering here.

If someone is in this situation it makes perfect sense they would find relief from not doing that any longer. They were applying the questions masochistically. In the 9 years I have been familiar with these questions, I have used them this way myself. When I do, I put it down. After awhile, something inside me relaxes and I begin to genuinely question my thinking rather than frantically trying to fix it instead.

People use "the work" in the service of their confusion rather than to question it ALL THE TIME. That is itself the grain of truth this conversation about cultic,dogmatic, or religious thinking can expose.

I don't really think it's useful to frame this conversation as whether the work is good or bad. It's more useful to notice what it's like to use this (or any other awareness tool) in the service of some unconscious ideology or use it to question some unconscious ideology.

Yes, I do agree that people can "in the name of TW" make themselves miserable.

Untangling our minds from suffering requires intelligence, discernment, subtlty, and a freedom from rigidity. People who enthusiastically participate in TW are not immune to this need (and the consequences of falling into unexamined beliefs). But the questions themselves offer an alternative.

I have often used the questions themselves when I have noticed that I was turning TW itself into just another dogmatic trip....


Look at the content of the questions themselves. How can they themselves cause harm? They are just simple questions that catalyze the mind into a greater level of awareness of what is occurring...

In the same way that Christians are sometimes "bad Christians" but that doesn't invalidate the suggestions Jesus supposedly made for how one should live a better life, people sometimes use the 4 questions as expressions of their unconscious beliefs rather than antidotes/alternatives to them.

This is actually the legitimate point of this thread IMO. But it can't be parsed out in 2 sentence sound bites like we so often do in our polarized culture. It requires a more sophisticated and intelligent conversation.

 
At 4/17/2009 3:30 PM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

If I do yoga with improper form, I can hurt myself. But that doesn't mean yoga is without value. It means that it needs to be applied with intelligence, practice, and skill. The same is true of meditation. And the same is true of the four questions.

Put another way. It isn't asking the 4 questions and turn around that "doesn't work" it is the unexamined beliefs that people have *about the 4 questions* or any other trip they're on that "doesn't work" ie makes them miserable.

I challenge you to name anything commonly held to have value or utility that *cannot* be misapplied (through some sort of reactivity or unconsciousness) in a way that is counter productive....

When I believe there's something wrong with me and I use TW to try to fix that, it will ALWAYS fail. TW isn't useful in changing the "reality" our unexamined beliefs presume to be so. Instead, TW is useful in questioning the reality of the problem itself.

This goes to the heart of the wisdom available here. As long as your left hand is hitting you with a hammer, your right hand can't do anything to stop it. You can't make the problem of life "go away" (with any religion of any kind - the valid point of this blog), but you can question whether life is actually a problem to be fixed at all (and that has nothing to do with being passive vs active).

To the extent TW functions at a catlyst for that discovery, it has tremendous value..

 
At 4/17/2009 3:33 PM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

you are so angry.....what is wrong with you? you don't even know me!

 
At 4/17/2009 3:37 PM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

so the stories of people's experiences with bk told by Janaki on "Downsides of The Work" are to be respected and listened to but me saying that her work helped me is wrong?

 
At 4/17/2009 4:52 PM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

Just to be clear. I like what Janaki wrote. I think it made an important contribution. But it is important to resist the urge to make knee jerk conclusions. Janaki isn't rejecting using TW in her life in this blog so much as maturing in her use of it. I have corresponded with her myself.

If I were speaking to a newcomer to TW I may well recommend that they learn it from Janaki rather than BK's organization (Janaki still offers classes). But I certainly would not recommend they pass on the whole thing. Just because a beginning musician sounds *horrible* we don't conclude that music itself is a bad idea...

And none of this is meant as a defense of BK or TW organization as it curruently exists. I haven't been a part of it for 8 years. I don't know. In my experience groups of people espousing a unified belief system do tend to get kind of wacky (the raison d'etre of this blog being to point that out)...

But to become so cynical that one forgets (or denies) that the possibility to experience relief from suffering itself (through a curious mind) exists, is unfortunate.

 
At 4/17/2009 5:49 PM, Anonymous M said...

Miriam: "You are so angry....what is wrong with you?"

If you really love and uphold The Work, you will simply do a turnaround on those thoughts:

"I am so angry..... what is wrong with me?"

Who would you be without your story, Miriam?

 
At 4/18/2009 7:15 AM, Blogger Miriam's Art Journal BLOG said...

get a life dude. you make me laugh! I just see you sitting there seething over my comments....LOL

have a great day M!!! LOL


as a kid I was molested as a child for many years....BK helped me work on my damaged self image and live in the now....I did nto realize just how much my current relationships carried the weight of the past........I came on saying her work helped me...period.....I guess anyone who comes on with a differing opinion is not greeted well.....oh well......

I will go make pancakes now with my 2 amazing kids and awesome husband, then go to the beach.....have a beautiful day.....!

 
At 4/18/2009 8:02 AM, Anonymous M said...

Brian:

Just to be clear. I like what Janaki wrote. I think it made an important contribution. But it is important to resist the urge to make knee jerk conclusions. Janaki isn't rejecting using TW in her life in this blog so much as maturing in her use of it. I have corresponded with her myself. Janaki makes her living off TW. What if that is the main reason she still clings to it and rationalizes it to herself?

But to become so cynical that one forgets (or denies) that the possibility to experience relief from suffering itself (through a curious mind) exists, is unfortunate.Why is this "unfortunate"? Such a situation is simply part of "what is" and ought to be "loved" according to Byron Katie & co.

 
At 4/18/2009 1:21 PM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

M,
I don't sell or pay for TW. And yet it's clear to me that examining the effect my thoughts have on my experience of life (which is not a religious, cultic, or self-help driven practice) is beneficial.

I imagine Janaki's experience would be like my own even if she weren't selling her ability to teach people how to do this (incidentally, why is teaching this particular skill bad?).

And you're right, I think you're words are tragically cynical but that's my problem (I'll survive). If you don't think it's unfortunate, please disregard what I've written...

 
At 4/28/2009 12:08 AM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

FWIW, I imagine there are people who've read what I've written and do not find it persuasive. I consider this blog a reasonable place to engage in healthy (intellectually stimulating) debate. If you disagree with me, let me know.

Let's debate (hopefully while keeping our capacity for reason/rational thought/and curiosity intact). There's a lot of precedent for debate being seen as a constructive practice in Tibetan Buddhism (and it's a fun muscle to exercise).

Tell me how/why you disagree and let's talk about it until one of us changes our view (or gets bored) and we stop.

 
At 4/29/2009 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently went to a workshop wher e Katie was, and I have to say that the vibe was definitely cultish. Her followers seemed absolutely in awe of her, unlike anything I had seen in a great while.

She invited a woman to speak who had been sexually involved with a 18 year old foreign exchange student (student was living at the woman's house, along with the woman's children). Gotta say that the exchange was disturbing, as I hold that a little old fashioned shame is appropriate when one acts inappropriately. Katie seemed to absolve this woman from any guilt, self-doubt, self-examination etc. It was bizarre.

I had done "The Work" approximately 7 years ago, and found it to be quite useful in a particular situation. I am grateful for that experience. However, I feel that it definitely has its limitations.

Thanks for allowing me to post.

 
At 6/04/2009 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it rather ironic that Janaki spends so much of her time bashing Byron Katie and yet has based her entire business on ripping of Byron's ideas! Funny!!

 
At 7/04/2009 5:57 AM, Anonymous ellen said...

'I find it rather ironic that Janaki spends so much of her time bashing Byron Katie and yet has based her entire business on ripping of Byron's ideas! Funny!!'

These ideas were old when the Ancient Greek Stoics first put them to use, so BK has no more right to claim them as her own than anyone else. Like all ideas, they are free and available to all humanity.

Thank you, Brian Adler, for your sane and balanced thoughts on this.

 
At 7/12/2009 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the work of Byron Katie. It has done wonders for my life.
Her story starts out like mine...a mentally suffering individual.
Then she had this incredible, enlightening experience.
She brought back from her experience, a system to help people achieve on their own the amazing things she found.
I am wondering if maybe she had had a kind of mini stroke. I have read of stroke victims having similar experiences-something about turning off the left brain. If so, she might be helping our evolution as a species.
As far as her human weaknesses, I think she is just human, and can be trusted as far as any other human.
You all, quit trusting, keep believing, and keep questioning!

 
At 8/22/2009 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister just went to Bryon Katie's The School. She had to leave The School and be taken to a psychiatric hospital. She has always struggled with depression, but never has she ever had manic behavior or hallucinations.... My family started looking up information about this "conference" she went to and we are seriously disturbed by what we have read. My sister is currently refusing to take her medication because Bryon Katie's suggestion to not take medication that you "don't need." Except that abruptly stopping anti-depressants or any medications of this nature is extremely dangerous. I understand that the exercises of this program are all voluntary, but I also know that suggesting these exercises can be extremely dangerous. I'm sure The Work has helped many people in accepting the trauma in life that they cannot change. But clearly these "exercises" are extreme and dangerous for people searching for a magical absolution of their problems.

 
At 8/22/2009 3:13 PM, Blogger Brian Adler said...

When I did the program 9 years ago, they were emphatic that people continue to take prescription medication. I am somewhat skeptical that your sister was actually encouraged to go off her meds. There is way too much potential legal jeopardy in making such a suggestion.

Also, the work itself (the 4 questions) are not at all something that would escalate, de-compensate etc a bipolar patient. They are relatively simple questions.

But the school itself includes a lot of real world or "field trip" exercises that I can easily imagine might be very provocative to someone struggling with chronic mental illness of any kind.

There should be stronger limits on who participates in this part of the program I do agree.

 
At 9/02/2009 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended The School in 2007 and they were very emphatic that anyone on prescription medication stay on it and not discontinue for any reason. The way they explained it is that they want people to give up their addictions for a week so they can surface and do TW on the issues that the addictions are a response to. Prescription medication wouldn't fall into that category (while needing over-the-counter sleeping pills to fall asleep because of stressful thoughts in bed would fall into that category).

I agree about the exercises and field trips, however. Some of those can be pretty intense. If someone has a condition that may be chemical or physical or caused by more than just their thinking, they should approach with extreme caution.

 
At 9/06/2009 9:34 AM, Anonymous JD said...

i have done the school and i think it is great.. JD

 
At 10/21/2009 8:10 PM, Blogger nitza said...

TW is nothing. It was a name given to the cooporation that resulted from discovering how if you ask 4 questions to a stresfull thought and turning around the same though with real examples of how the turn around is truer gives you a completlly different perspective of your understanding of life as it ocured.

My idea for those who don"t like to spend money or be part of any Cult is to not be part of it. Only take what is given for free, ask yourself this questions be still and just see what happens in reality. For me is the clearest way to find real answers no need for gurus or teachers its all inside and the questions are the key to those answers. However not everybody needs to find answers, not this way yet. There are many other ways to find whats True in your life. Experience and suffering are two of them. For me this way is the simplest and most practical not like experience and suffering usually are.

Enjoying the free ride, Nitza.

 
At 11/15/2009 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to you who didn't succumb to the seemingly fearful drivel that many left behind. It's evident that many have never even tried "the work" but are commenting about it anyway. There is an obvious beauty and symmetry to the 4 questions. Are we to believe that asking questions like " Is it true?" is something to be shunned? In place of what? Katie's work is light years ahead of most psychology and can produce lasting affects which will alleviate the suffering that people have packed around with them for years. I for one do not put Katie on any sort of pedestal but at the same time realise the power of her discovery. But then again this is probably just the incoherent ramblings of a pumpkin headed cult victim. Katie is someone who was fortunate enough to realise the potential we all have. To be free, without fear and compassionate. Creepy isn't it?

 
At 11/28/2009 6:05 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

I've gotten enormous benefit from doing the work. And for me, the school was a horrible experience. Not all the time, and I definitely questioned my thoughts about it.

The work is great. But Byron Katie is not.
My experience which really threw me for a loop was that BK was really not loving and the workshop was very subtle and powerfully manipulative. I didn't really get this until after the workshop.

My recommendation- Do the work, perhaps with a good friend and stay with your heart. If something or someone feels unloving, they or it probably is unloving.

 
At 12/08/2009 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many people commenting are on anti-depressants?

1/3 of Americans? Is that right?

The Work kept me from being medicated and has offered me a new perspective on otherwise stressful situations. I find myself bursting with laughter at situations that would previously had me in bed for 3 days. My mother and 6 aunts are medicated for "anxiety" and a few are medicated for "mental illness". I am so thankful to have found a non-medicated way to true joy! :)

Nicole

 
At 12/08/2009 6:02 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

Nicole,
I wholeheartedly agree.
I have recieved enormous benefit as well.
And my experience of Katie at the school was not good.

 
At 1/08/2010 2:49 AM, Blogger Marko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/31/2010 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Jody,
I have just recently been introduced to the BK work by a neighbor, and have begun the books, 4 questions and turnarounds. I found I already do this work fairly successfully in my journaling which is "My" Work, you know? But I am just as excited as other seekers to check out new and interesting teachings - we are so rich with them now in our culture. And I enjoy group encounters OUT of the mainstream mode which is usually superficial. I have enjoyed retreats in the past.

I do have one eyebrow up at a couple of the BK issues, that's why I am reading these posts. I have been involved with a "cult" before too, and learned the hard way that my own council, whether it turns out erroneous, or miraculous, is the real Guru. I like the 4 questions and turnarounds as simple tools for me to use for clearing my ego, my "mis-thinking." I have a sense that BK is, like me, not perfect and either is the program, "The Work," but not deliberately abusive or exploitative. She just teaches her passion, - what worked so amazingly for her and she is sharing it. I think that some of the practices are borrowed from other workshop methods, and are bold, designed to strip the student of the superficial ego. And, they know it is as the students of The Work say, "not for for everyone."

You can do the work yourself with books, and free internet work. Going away to these controlled agenda workshops is hoping to get it quick, an escape from self, to pay someone else to point out your self to you,...I think. But life is designed to do just that at the pace and experience of our individual unique souls. We need teachers to guide us to..., I sound like a guru don't I? :-)

 
At 5/18/2010 8:37 AM, Blogger Vanzemaljac u Srbiji said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 5/18/2010 10:36 AM, Blogger Anthony said...

Please do.

The work is a very wonderful tool and I am grateful BK brought this into the world.
Unfortunately, as in many teachers who have an insight into truth and reality, there is a shadow side that if not dealt with has negative repercussions.
She said at the workshop that scientists had examined her brain and saw that hers was similar to murderers they had examined. Interesting, and gave me a clue to some of the behavior that was off to me.

 
At 5/30/2010 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny that these spiritual teachers speak so adamantly about dropping identity, but profusely market theirs for personal gain?

 
At 6/03/2010 9:08 PM, Blogger sing out said...

I know women who pay $4000.00 for a designer handbag. I buy mine at a thrift store for $5. Both made of leather and both probably made in the same chinese factory.

People in business make profits.

 
At 6/13/2010 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds SO MUCH like Landmark Education / EST / The Forum.
Especially interesting is the parallel "The Work" - "The Forum".
Definitely similar techniques like the one's reported of Werner Erhard in EST.
People should be alarmed - - -

 
At 7/23/2010 5:02 PM, Blogger Vera Keil said...

Read by blog

tiptoethruthemindfield.blogspot.com

in my latest post I point out how B.K. has a distorted understanding of Hindu mystic doctrine (advaita)

btw, it is also a distortion to say that the four questions are similar to Buddhist doctrine

 
At 8/03/2010 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a subtle nuance in the language of the facilitators of "the work" which reveals a deep, internal contradiction between what is practiced and what is preached.
Ostensibly, the work began as an "I" realization, one where Katie saw her own thoughts as projections and the outside world as a reflection of those projections.
From all accounts I have heard of people who experienced some sort of enlightenment, that experience came about from and inward collapsing of something that was blocking perception, and an emerging clarity. This seems to occur spontaneously after a period of disturbance. I have never heard of anyone having an enlightenment experience from performing some method (other than pure meditative concentration/contemplation), especially not from one that involves making noise inside the mind with more words and questions. Words and thoughts are forms of mind activity. The pain of mental activity is not resolved with more mental activity. It is resolved with listening and feeling, which lead into inner silence, stillness, and clarity.
In the application of attempting to teach "the work", a facilitator is immediately violating one of its own principles, namely, to "stay in one's own business." By now, how many other people's business has Byron Katie gotten into? It's difficult to take her preaching seriously when she herself is doing precisely what she recommends to her students not to do.
Furthermore, the moment I try to teach you that your thoughts are a projection of your mind, the idea that you need to learn this, and that I need to teach you, are projections of my mind. If I'm saying to you, "it's all about you", I have stepped outside of the circle of what is true about me, the circle in which I have a real say. It would seem disrespectful and presumptuous for me to delve into your inner dialogue and try to get you to see something about yourself, when my job is to listen and respond from my own truth. I see Byron Katie attempting to impose her own views over and over again in the conversations in her books. It is as though when you are expressing a judgement, it is a projection, but when she is expressing a judgment, she's seeing and telling it like it is. The idea that I know something you need to learn, and that I need to teach you, is a projection of my mind. There is no humility or respect in trying to teach you the "truth", since everyone is born from the truth, dies and returns to the truth, and is the truth. No special courses are required to learn honesty. Life experience and just saying what is on the heart is enough!

 
At 8/18/2010 4:25 PM, Blogger blakepgh said...

To All those concerned that Byron and or The Work may be a Cult.

Byron professes no philosophy, insists that the only right answers are the answers that come from yourself (not from her), and offers the work (a set of four questions one must ask themselves) for free (including instructions, printable worksheets, supplemental materials and free facilitation thru her website.)

Wikipedia says "refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are reasonably considered strange." The Work is not a group and is not a community of any type. It is simply 4 questions that cause one to interrogate long held beliefs which are the likely cause of their mental/emotional suffering.

Furthermore, Katie's ideas are not original - they are strongly Stoic (see the manual of Epictetus) and are offered thru a traditional Socratic method of questioning.

Anyone who thinks "The Work" is a scam or cult is obviously ill informed or ill educated.

How could 4 questions that suggest the answers lye within each of us (and nothing more) be a cult or a scam?

 
At 8/18/2010 11:25 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

It was only a scam when asked to pay an exorbitant amount of money for the school and then told to give up your most prized possession in the name of spiritual growth. IMO, it takes ALOT more real relationship to make that demand than was offered at the school.

Other than that, the work is invaluable.

 
At 11/18/2010 12:46 PM, Blogger Ossie said...

I was fortunate to attend a BK workshop on a full scholarship. There were only a couple of things that she insisted had to be followed and that was the use of electronics during the workshop and that you must attend each seesion. Everything else was optional. It amazed me how many felt they had to do what they didn't feel comfortable doing. What really blew me away was how uncomfortable females were upset about not wearing makeup. However, it was stressed to at least try out the exercises and see what comes up for you and it was also repeatedly stated to take care of yourself.

I decided to try most things out and after a while it became a non issues because I knew in a few days I would go back to doing the same things that was perhaps the source of my stress anyway.

Your basic needs were taken care of. Westerners are so spoiled that when they are asked to abstain from certain non-necessary, items non-life threatening activities, they go into a frenzy.

The only exercise I had a problem with was the process to see how friendly the universe was. The fear most people have is going hungry, being homeless, so for a few hours one was asked to participate in an exercise in asking for help. I did not participate in this exercise. As a black person, it brought up fears I still have about white people, which I found quite illuminating, but there was part of me that knew if I were ever in a position where I needed to ask for this kind of help, I knew I would be able to.

It was mind blowing to see how those who asked for food got it (although I believe those who were perceived as foreigners or who may have had a visible handicapped had an easier go of it). My experience with begging is that most ask for money not food, so its easier to feed someone than to give them money.

I was also surprised at the number of people there who were on some form of scholarship.

My goal of attending the workshop was to utilize a set of tools, asking the four questions because I had hit a wall in my current spiritual path "A Course in Miracles," and I got exactly what I was looking for. Since the workshop was not based on any form of theism there was no conflict for me; in fact The Work is very useful for Course folks who have come upon a particular difficult forgiveness classroom.

Also coming from a 12-step back ground, there is a saying, "take what you need and leave the rest," which is exactly what I did.

The title is apropo because doing The Work is out to kill the beliefs we carry that is slowly killing us anyway and to enlighten each of us to the truth that we are so much more capable to living a life that we can be happy with.

Happy contented people are not drawn to these types of events, but rather those who have tried everything to feel at peace and happy in this world because for the most part this world sucks in my book, I get to see that the world sucks because I believe I do on a very deep level and BK offers the tool I can use to get at those beliefs.

In the long run, its a lot cheaper than psychotherapy.

Peace
OssieDreamsOn

 
At 12/06/2010 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had some pretty traumatic experiences in a cult environment before. The frightening part was that I had no idea. I couldn't realistically look at everything from an objective viewpoint at the time. Like most people, I've had problems with grief, or depression or any number of things. One of the places where I've received an abundance of help is from Byron Katie's books.
However, because of my cultish experience I am very sensitive to feeling like a source that I get help from is acting cultish.
I initially react by completely rejecting the source of help but I like to find truth before permanently abandoning it. This blog is really interesting to read in that regard.
I cannot say if the accusations of some one here are exaggerated or not but I can say that everybody I know that has done any of the work privately is happier than they were before they started it and I've never found anything she has said in her books to be false. I like that she doesn't hold back on someone because it might not be politically correct. It ultimately seems to help the person she's straight up with and ultimately helps the reader.
Thanks for all of your posts on here. It's great reading!

 
At 12/09/2010 8:39 PM, Anonymous BobbyG said...

I've been reading her books and trying out the questions and they work very well when there is a cognitive distortion causing distress or misery. I am not so sure I agree with her that ALL suffering is the result of such distortions, but I do see this as a valuable marriage of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy and Buddhism.
Cheers. Great Blog, thanks!

 
At 12/24/2010 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. I have found great guidance in helping me just be me.

 
At 1/03/2011 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: "I have never heard of anyone having an enlightenment experience from performing some method (other than pure meditative concentration/contemplation), especially not from one that involves making noise inside the mind with more words and questions. Words and thoughts are forms of mind activity. The pain of mental activity is not resolved with more mental activity. It is resolved with listening and feeling, which lead into inner silence, stillness, and clarity."

Hello,-the method bk recommends to answer the questions is not mental activity, it is feeling into the inner silence and clarity. The questions are only meant to be reminders to tap into that for yourself. For example, "who would you be if you didn't hold this belief" is only meant as a trigger to lead you into feeling the response in your body. My experience is that this is the "gold" in the process. bk just uses simple questions-that anyone with a sixth grade education can remember- to trigger the process.

I too find "TW" an easy, effective version of cognitive behavior therapy. I don't hear anyone calling that a cult- medical insurance even pays for it.

Although I haven't attended bk's maligned workshop,(which I noted was recommended for facilitator training), for the *horrible* fee of $4K, I paid at least that much for a much shorter workshop at Harvard which taught a very similar cognitive behavioral model. Is Harvard on the cult list? Just wondering.

 
At 1/11/2011 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's idiotic to pay some prevaricating, self-mythologizing on artist for 'wisdom' you can find for free in philosophy and the common wisdom of humanity which is on offer in thousands upon thousands of books.

People are either desperate and need therapy by a reputable, kind therapist or they are lazy and want to be 'fixed' like broken robots.

 
At 2/04/2011 1:45 PM, Blogger louise said...

This is a LONG LONG thread of strangers all up in other stranger's business. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.
We all have our own path. I only give advice if someone asks for it THREE TIMES. That way I know that they really really want to hear my opinion. Otherwise, i keep my mouth shut and in my own business. Because at the end of the day, i do NOT know what is best for them. I really don't. Heck, there are sometimes when i can't even perceive my OWN best interests.
Live and let live, people. I have found that once i stopped throwing stones and judging i was a heck of a lot HAPPIER!

 
At 2/10/2011 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said, tk u

 
At 2/25/2011 11:57 AM, Anonymous Melanie said...

I have in fact gone through some BK work, but didn't pay $5k for it, and was not mistreated in any way. I found it exhaustive to wrap my brain around the process at the time and put it on my list for later. I haven't read a rant quite like this and it was SO refreshing to read Louise's gentle and sane comment.

 
At 3/18/2011 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The advise I'm hearing is that if I see my daughter being dragged into the woods by some one, I should wait for them to call for help three times. I should do this because the perpetrator told me to? Have no fear, or if you do, do the work on that fear.

 
At 3/24/2011 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

20,000 dollars for 28 days...I have to question the intent of this organization. Cult. Maybe. Think carefully...your mind in on the line.

 
At 4/04/2011 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fasting for 36 hours as part of Byron Katie's retreats, can cause people to become weak and dizzy.

Accidents can happen and this recently happened in Santa Monica when an attendee fell and was very badly injured.

Beware.

 
At 4/11/2011 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: So the advice I'm hearing.... Put it this way, if my daughter were being dragged into the woods by someone, the person I would like to call on to help her would be Jason Bourne. I could expect him to assess the situation accurately before he went in and I could expect him to be fearless. If he weren't there could I do that myself for my daughter? Maybe I could work on it for her sake.

 
At 4/12/2011 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to read the fears come up from people who haven't had the experience. And to read the *explanations* about why things are done from these same speculators.

For some reason we respect the opinions of the uninformed; I think it might be a function of talk radio. Typically those uninformed are speaking about their fears, not reality.

I did the 9 days; I did every exercise to the best of my ability. I didn't feel I *I had to*, but after paying 4500 I darn well thought I better.

(Things have changed over the years; no one asked me to give up anything)

I was one of 10 or 12 who stated they were happy before coming. Many came with lots of baggage. They may have been better served with shorter experiences. Hard to say.

It was eye opening. I looked at things I always knew were true, only to find my mind plays tricks.

Would I do the nine days again. No. But I might do a shorter stint. The work gave me tools that reinforced 40 years of mindfulness.

Of course there were fanatics. Some of Katie's staff were a bit over the top. Fortunately, they were the minority. I never got that from Katie, and we spent lots of time with her. She was the most genuine part of the experience.

The cost is high, but there were lots of scholarships. Because I could pay, I did. I imagine I helped a couple of people get scholarships. I got my money's worth.

A side note: most workshops inspire you to change; get you excited and send you home. Three weeks later you are back to the old you. That's been a common experience for me. Katie set of a structure, that if you wanted to, you could continue the experience, at no cost, for 28 days. This was inspired. I am grateful to Katie for being of service to humanity.

 
At 4/29/2011 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the comment re Jason Bourne. I think it shows what a healthy and open debate this is. For whilst the Bourne character illustrates the advantages of calm thinking and action in a crisis the analogy could also imply that we should all strive to turn ourselves into some sort of vigilante band of assassins to protect our children. I doubt this is the aim of The Work.

I have never met or corresponded with Byron Katie but I have been inspired by her through her books and her website, especially the video clips. In one of the clips she says, “if PEACE is your goal” and she repeats this with emphasis. This is the overriding message I have chosen to take from The Work.

So what would it take to bring about a peaceful solution to the daughter in the woods scenario? Maybe this is something to work on?

 
At 5/11/2011 6:36 PM, Anonymous Bossman said...

I really enjoyed this blog because it seemed like some of the people were skeptical and really seeking the truth. It seems that when we put a teacher up on a pedistel, negative things can happen. It seems like its human nature to deify people or at least think that they're better. I think that Byron Katie's teaching seems useful and in many respects right on. It seems that cognitive therapy, Wayne Dyer, rationale-motive therapy and this all are saying pretty much the same thing. But my comment on one of the four questions is that when we're dealing with feelings, instincts or insights, we can't be "abseloutely sure" that they're true. Nevertheless, that insight could very well be true. So, it seems that she's teaching we can't rely on our thoughts. I think that we should be more accurate and say that we can't rely on some thoughts. It seems that she seems to believe that beliefs are responsible for a lot of people's suffering. I think that's true. On the other hand, a woman who believes she may get slugged again from someone who has already abused or hit her, is likely correct in believing her instincts. She can't be abseloutely sure. However, any insight or instinct may not be inerrant. But that's a high standard for anything. I don't think we have to be abseloutely sure to trust our intuition.

So, it seems to return to balance and that of trusting one's deeper self. I think that we should trust our instincts. And at the same time, we should question troubling beliefs that may not be true.

 
At 7/04/2011 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love what I'm getting from BK's books. I am LESS likely to listen outside influence and more in tune with my thoughts and feelings as a result of their teachings. Would I go to "the School"? No (that's a heck of a lot of money)! But is it a cult? Not if she's teaching anything remotely similar to what is in her books.

 
At 7/16/2011 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Byron Katie's book first came out, my sister sent me a copy. I read most of it and thought it was great. But most of what she teaches has been taught by Buddhist masters for hundreds of years. I can get the same stuff with less pain, for free, from my local Zendo.

 
At 7/17/2011 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I reads parts of this discussion a year ago. I really wanted to go to the School. The part about begging for food really threw me.

I know that in India it's considered holy to live as a beggar -- though I don't think everyone is doing it to be holy. When I think about begging, I feel like a loser. The fear was pretty intense last year. So I pondered this for a while and worked on it.

A 3 day fast is fine with me. I tried that back in junior high when I thought it would get God to do something miraculous so my family would behave differently.

And as for the idea of it being a cult experience, it doesn't sound like it comes anywhere close to army boot camp. I think the army was my cult experience. I don't mean this in a facetious way.

I've read that when people are stuck and can't move forward on their path, particularly a path that stresses "you are responsible for how you feel," then it's because they don't have a strong enough reference for where they are trying to go. So it's more helpful to focus on having an experience of "God" or peace.

Any way, thanks for all the comments, and the original post.

Snooks

 
At 7/17/2011 2:42 PM, Anonymous Dana R said...

This extensive thread has been an interesting and provocative read. I am a practicing psychotherapist and only happened upon Byron Katie's work via youtube videos and her website, recently. I am inspired by the "4 questions and a turnaround" tool she has devised. I don't see "The Work" as being anything more than just that: a well devised tool/practice that can be used independently or with a facilitator that may be helpful for individuals addressing any number negative emotional and behavioral consequences that come about as a result of unhelpful, destructive, and/or irrational thinking and beliefs. And, don't we all possess them to a greater or lesser degree? And don't we all suffer from untested, negative beliefs that we allow to dictate our feelings and behavior to a greater or lesser degree?

As I see it, the philosophical underpinnings and foundational methodology behind "The Work" derive from numerous sources, whether she openly recognizes/acknowledges them or not: Stoicism and Existentialism (assumption of personal responsibility for one's experience, Epictetus' commonly quoted point, which in essence, states that one's beliefs about/reactions to events is more important than the events themselves); Socratic questioning; Eastern spirituality (elements of Buddhism, Taoism, and the teachings of Jesus); the contemporary psycho-therapeutic practices of REBT and CBT (which also fundamentally derive from ancient philosophical teachings, including stoicism and Socratic questioning among others); and, likely, other sources I have missed or don't know about.

I don't find anything objectionable about "The Work", itself. In fact, I think the way BK has packaged it is quite brilliant in its simplicity and potential impact if used thoughtfully and responsibly. Can its use, handled unethically and/or irresponsibly, be damaging to some? Certainly. Any powerful self inquiry tool, spiritual practice, or psycho-therapeutic modality can produce damaging effects when employed by unethical and/or poorly trained practitioners with a vulnerable and/or imbalanced individual (and even with a healthy, balanced one). Caution.

I can’t speak to Byron Katie’s personal motives and limitations. Only she knows what they are to the extent she has examined them. My intuitive sense is that she embarked on this mission of hers sincerely and with a desire to help. Her work has brought her a good deal of personal recognition and notoriety, it seems she has accrued a good number of devotees, and without viewing her tax returns, one might guess, a sizable income. That’s a lot for one ego to manage and remain humble. She has become quite powerful within her circle of influence, and power tends to corrupt. For those who believe she has been corrupted, maybe you are right. Personally, I don’t care either way. Look toward the messenger for healing, and disappointment awaits you; look toward the message, and if it resonates, is true and useful, no human shortcomings of its messenger can undermine or ruin it – it doesn’t belong to her, anyway. Once you receive it, it’s yours.

 
At 8/16/2011 8:44 AM, Blogger Malcolm Nothling said...

I am absolutely delighted that you have such a site to assist people make more informed choices. I know full well the suffering and price we pay for our ignorance.
In my country I am a veteran critic of cults. Besides reading the books on mind control on my longer journey to heal from my experience. I have met Margaret Singer and talked with Steve Hassan and many others in this field.
I have attended Byron Katie's 7 day workshop on a full scholarship. I have never relaxed my vigilance of her conduct and words. I have never seen the slightest hint of any of the techniques used in mind control.
Her work has been the only thing that has provided me with the answers I longed for. Note: I found my answers, not hers or anyone else's answers. Byron's only answer is question your thinking. That's it. No prescription!

"Here" is my remedy. This is the test for any hocus-pocus.
It's all got to do with SIZE.
Size of your bank account.
If you look at a photo of the universe and working your size in the big picture, you'll come to realize you are rather insignificant as a fleas fart on an elephants backside. That's the bad news. The good news is so is everybody else even the fucking Profits and Kings. Religion of course is the tool of the ruler.
It also means and this is important, that no one can possible have the answer. It is just not possible. The best you can do is "Think you have the answer." So I never believe anything anyone tells me without inspection. Here's the trick, that is used to take control of you. They make your opinions and theories (your thinking) more important than reality. Your attention gets stuck in your head.
All you have to do to be self realized and enlightened is this.
Pay attention in each moment to what is in front of you, nothing else. Try it yourself. When you think, you suffer. That's it. Have a happy life.
You will remain a slave of mind control until you Define your words and break the narrow definitions you have been provided with by your controller.

 
At 8/27/2011 1:27 PM, Anonymous grace said...

I appreciate all the help I am able to take in, am always looking for more, and I found this thread very interesting, informative and helpful. I have learned that my perceptions are just that — my perceptions, and that I cannot judge anyone else or know what their motives are. The things that seem out of the ordinary, even strange practices, are considered normal in other parts of the world. And since Americans are so fixated on being the best, the strongest, the most powerful, getting ahead of "the other guy", getting the most, and having control of everything and everyone, little room is left for Truth and humility, which is available to all who truly desire it.

So, the methods used in the 7 day seminar like of separating one's self from the "rat race" and stressful life most live in on day to day basis so that one can be quiet and be able to hear above the zillions of thoughts overcrowding one's mind is essential.

And setting aside one's fixation with food gives one a clear mind which is helpful and very beneficial. Quiet time is also essential to get below the surface of thoughts where one's answers come from being convinced one is right or knows the answer. It takes time to get below the surface to find out one's true motives. It often is uncomfortable and painful to see who we really are and to take full responsibility for ourselves. It is a known fact we talk far too much and listen way to little. To find out who we really are also takes not being influenced by the voices of family and friends, who all have their opinions and perceptions of how things "really" are, and which can cause us to circumvent the needed heart work. We are the only one that can do our own work. The people, who paid so much money to receive help, in turning off their cell phones turn off any interference with the help they have desired and paid for. It is obvious that most people who go to the seminar and the those that object to this help don't realize what it takes to receive peace of mind and freedom from the things that plague them, what is required to obtain the truth and freedom from the destructive thoughts, fears and imaginations that plague every human being. So the methods described don't bother me. But I understand that certain methods used might bother someone who is fearful, controlling and superficial.

With you in peace ...

 
At 8/27/2011 1:35 PM, Blogger jody radzik said...

But I understand that certain methods used might bother someone who is fearful, controlling and superficial.

With this single statement you laid your passive-aggressive card face-up on the table.

 
At 9/20/2011 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am amazed and discusted how so many people have nothing better to do then trash others. the way facts about katie are twisted is discusting. i don't know about her school, but her books, free info and free videos have literally saved my life. she is only offering a tool for people to use. she DOES warn that the work is NOT for everyone, you need a open mind. i find most people dont want to accept responsability but prefer to blame everything and everyone else. i have suggested her books to many people. without fail the ones who didnt take to her with those people that tend to enjoy their victim role. she's not a god, she's not a guru, she's a woman who wrote a few books that could really help you, if you want the help. no more, no less.

 
At 12/13/2011 10:54 PM, Anonymous dave scott said...

I lived with Katie and co in 1997 in sort of a commune setting--she had a bunch of houses in Barstow--nothing bad happened--just got a break from life and new friends--but no real change happened either

 
At 12/18/2011 3:31 PM, Anonymous G said...

I haven't been to a School because I live in Australia, but I have been using The Work for 6 years. I am so much happier, more at peace, and kinder to myself and everyone else, than I was 6 years ago. I credit most of that to doing The Work.

In my experience, all suffering CAN be ended by The Work. Every time I've been upset, anxious or depressed, I've done The Work and ended up laughing, smiling or feeling completely at ease by the end of it. I had a very serious anxiety disorder, and The Work was the only thing that helped.

The four questions allow you to access your own insights, not Katie's. I don't know her, so I won't defend her (except to say that I haven't heard her say anything that didn't make total sense), but I do think that separating the technique from the woman and the School is a good idea. You wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

 
At 12/23/2011 10:11 AM, Blogger Tara said...

I think it's crazy how freaked out people get over this stuff. Do it or don't do it, no one is a victim or a puppet. I like Byron Katie's work and it has helped me. All this 'cult'talk leads me to believe that people would rather hold on to their crap then risk breaking down some long held useless beliefs and making some real changes. This isn't about brainwashing. Check out her stuff and make an informed decision for yourself...or not, but this fear mongering attitude is just more crap that people love to hold on to to justify their bulls**t. If something helps me in my life I will use it, if not, I won't...it isn't rocket science.

 
At 2/16/2012 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WTF? "have to", "made us"? ....
When did not taking responsibility to speak up and say no become someone else's fault?
I've gone to many of the schools, staffed them etc.
The reason I liked it was BECAUSE BK said, if you don't like it leave.
The 9 day events are at a HOTEL...you know, with RESTAURANTS? Those who wanted to eat, did.
I know how to say NO to others and yes to myself.... I learned it there, as a matter of fact. Learning how to say no honestly ended my need to blame anyone and THAT ended my victim mentality. Listen, I know how hard it is to give up making everyone else wrong so you can feel right... Try it...
I do know this, ALL my power comes from knowing that NO one can "make" me do anything. And that, my little ones, is called freedom. Which is why I don't go to here events anymore... :D!!

 
At 2/27/2012 1:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Comments throughout. I would say the 4 questions are harmless and in fact helpful. There are tons of other systems, including 12 steps, that question whether what someone is thinking and feeling is based on a perception or a story. It's nothing new, but it is sound.

The turnaround after the 4 can be a good one, can be somewhat bizarre, or it could send the wrong message entirely to the self. The classic criticism of BK is that one turnaround where she said that an abused woman was actually abusing her attacker/abuser. This is gobbledee-goop. Never blame the victim, that's Everything 101. That doesn't mean one should PLAY the victim...that's different and we all basically know the difference on a gut level.

I would say the 4 questions turns it around enough without trying to do some psychological logic or behavioral algebra problem that leads to concrete answers that could be harmful.

 

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