If you are a fan of Byron Katie’s The Work then you’re not going to like this post. I had to consider whether to write thoughts that have come up this evening about her methods and ways, and after surfing a little, it seems I am not the only one to have these reservations. I somehow got watching the interview with Byron Katie by Iain McNay of Conscious TV and it was very surprising to see the way she was in this interview and what she said, and warning bells went off, hence this post.
Conscious TV Interview of Byron Katie
A great feeling of uncomfortable-ness came up as I watched this interview. Something with this persona Byron Katie was amiss. She did not seem joyful. Or relaxed. But she publicly claims to always be happy, and in fact she said some similar things in the interview too:
– A silent humour is always present for her at all times
– Every thought is of the Beloved
Now, can anyone actually really say the above? To coin her own phrase – Is it true? Can she absolutely know the above statements are true? Err, I don’t think so. The first is not true because in the interview there was not one bit of laughter. So where’s the humour? Obviously so silent so as not to be evident at all. In fact the interview was all terribly serious, and she did not really seem at all at ease. The second is not true because you cannot control your thoughts let alone each and every one. And besides, not every thought NEEDS to be of the Beloved. There is no special spiritual badge given for that. For even that which we consider is not of the Beloved, is still the Beloved. So….surely, at her elevated level of enlightenment she would get that?? Well, maybe not. Note one comment from someone who attended her ‘school’: “…all the moments at The School when she [BK] was visibly upset, impatient, tired, frustrated, and agitated.” (From thread below).
Iain challenged her about whether the awakening she says she leads people to was understanding or Grace of God? Her answer was: ‘It certainly seems that way. I see every mind as the enlightened mind. And I see the mind as very confused….And it has to be completely vigilant, and the only thing I know to break the spell is to get still and identify what mind is believing in the moment and then put it through enquiry. I have worked with, you know, there are millions of people in enquiry and their lives are shifting, and to me that’s waking up to reality.’
That’s bullshit. And justification for her own method. If there was a confused mind, I think it was Katie’s. The mind cannot take you away from mind because you’re using a false mechanism to get to the real. And dissecting every thought is to further the mind-prison. When I listened to Katie, I heard story. A discrepancy between her words and her reality. It felt like she was making it up as she went along. And I heard denial. And insecurity.
Harsh, but true as to what I heard when I listened to this interview.
Good for Iain, he went on to continue to challenge, ‘Does it really work like this?’…But it’s futile to argue with reality – to quote Katie’s own words!!
Another question to Katie by Iain: ‘You sound completely free’ (regarding her account of being at gunpoint). Katie’s reply: ‘What do I know? As far as I know, yes. But what do I know?’ That’s a politicians way of saying Yes. Story….Identity….
She also seemed to struggle to find words to answer other questions, and again, simply ignored some or even seemed to answer a different question than was asked. She mentioned her Work a lot. She seemed to have an agenda. I wanted to hear about her ‘enlightenment’, her insights and so on, not about what she was selling…In the last section she even promoted her own website – now, most interviewees would not be so aggressive.
Talking of being aggressive, here is her marketing machine – suggestions for volunteers (yep, unpaid helpers). Is there anything she hasn’t thought of?
“Chats/Forums/Discussion Boards: If you participate in online chat groups and discussion boards where you share your personal experiences of life, you may want to write about how The Work has made a difference in your life and let people know about our site and Katie’s products so they can find out for themselves if The Work would be helpful to them. People typically enjoy hearing about the things you find useful in your life.”
Many of you have told us how much The Work has helped you and have asked how you can help The Work. We love that you’d like to share The Work with others, so we have compiled a list of ideas for you. We trust that you will find your own helpful and creative ways to share The Work with as many people as possible that feel right to you – and thank you for that.
Financial donations: One of the most direct ways to help keep The Work moving is to make a financial contribution to The Work Foundation. Make a secure online donation right now via our online store.
If you would like to send a check, please mail it to:
The Work Foundation
Volunteer your services: We often need volunteers to assist at events with Katie throughout the world.
Sharing The Work with others: One of the most effective ways to spread the word is to share The Work with others in as many creative ways as possible. Here are some of the possibilities that we came up with:
Work Events: In communities around the world people are hosting local Inquiry Circles and other Work events. Please visit the Institute for the Work Community Center and check the “Bulletins” on the Discussion Forums page to view upcoming Work related events in your area.
Public Access TV Stations: Most communities have local public access channels where community members can suggest programming ideas. You could supply the station with Katie’s DVDs or videos to put on their program schedule. Look in your local phone book or on the web to find the contact information for your local public access TV station.
Local Radio: Many communities also have public radio stations that often air community-interest programs. You could offer your favorite Katie CDs for on-air play during a variety of different programs (e.g. health and wellness, spirituality, peace, self-help, parenting, etc.).
Book Reviews: We invite you to write reviews for Loving What Is and I Need Your Love – Is That True? on sites like Amazon.com and other online book review sites.
Libraries and Bookstores: You can request that your local library and bookstores carry Loving What Is and I Need Your Love – Is That True? and ask whether they would like to list them on their recommended reading lists.
Articles and Interviews: Sharing your personal stories with The Work in the form of articles and interviews is a nice way to share The Work with others. Your experience with The Work is often what interests people the most. If you have used The Work to find freedom from issues like depression, anger, death, fear, body image concerns, sexuality, etc., you may want to write an article and offer it for publication in local and national magazines and journals. You may also want to contact the producers of national TV and radio programs (like The Oprah Winfrey Show) to tell them about The Work in your life and see if they would be interested in having Katie on their program.
Classes/Courses: If you are an educator, consider adding Loving What Is and/or I Need Your Love – Is That True? to your list of required reading texts. Loving What Is and I Need Your Love – Is That True? may be especially of interest in courses that deal with mediation, conflict resolution, human development, brain research, mind-body healing, psychology, social work, mental health, peace and consciousness studies, addiction and recovery courses and so much more.
Web Links: If you have your own web site, consider linking to www.thework.com.
Blogs: Do you write your own blog? If so, you may consider sharing your experience with The Work with your readers and provide a link to www.thework.com.
Chats/Forums/Discussion Boards: If you participate in online chat groups and discussion boards where you share your personal experiences of life, you may want to write about how The Work has made a difference in your life and let people know about our site and Katie’s products so they can find out for themselves if The Work would be helpful to them. People typically enjoy hearing about the things you find useful in your life.
Distribute Flyers: Often you can find flyers for events with Katie at our Events Calendar page (look for the little Flyer icon for each event), here. Feel free to print them out, make copies and distribute them within your community at coffee shops, yoga parlors, bookstores, community centers, etc.
Give Away the Little Book: In our store you can purchase copies of “the little book” – a small 40-page book that walks the reader through The Work. This is a great intro to The Work and is highly affordable to you and is free to nonprofit organizations. We also have an attractive little book stand for those of you who wish to spread The Work at your office space or place of worship.
Give Away CD Samplers: In our store you can purchase copies of two different sampler CDs. Some prefer to hear Katie doing The Work “live” with people and this has proven to be a great way to share The Work with others.
Give a Gift: In our store we have a large variety of products that offer The Work in many forms, including Katie’s books, CDs, DVDs, videos, journals, gift items and, of course, The Parlor.
The Parlor: Giving a gift subscription to The Parlor is a great way for people to understand The Work more deeply and ask Katie any question that comes to them. Each month Katie personally writes The Parlor (typically a 30-40 page document), answering reader’s questions, Working letters, and providing insight into her world. Rich with content and little surprises, The Parlor is a great way to join the The Work family.
Send Someone to a Katie Event: Attending an event with Katie is a very powerful, life-altering experience for many. Giving someone the opportunity to attend an event with Katie, whether it is a simple one-day public event, a weekend intensive or the full 9-day School for The Work, is an amazing way to share the power of The Work with someone you love. To view upcoming events with Katie, check the Events Calendar >>
If you have any other ideas that you’d like to see added to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Still with this post?
Ok, so here is a video that was posted and discussed on this thread about Byron Katie (and Eckhart Tolle): http://forum.rickross.com/read.php?12,12906,page=1
Byron Katie in Israel 2007-I’m afraid of war part 1
Byron Katie gets people to doubt their feelings and no doubt makes them feel wrong for feeling them. But to say ‘is it true that you feel fear of war?’ to people living in war zones is disrespectful and a bit mad. To say flowers don’t feel fear of war is even madder. Some would say worse. She also uses extremes to nullify fear, eg she suggests there’s nothing to fear if a bomb falls on you because you wouldn’t know it – you’d be dead. When, of course, the fear is injury and suffering and the waiting for that to happen. In another video, she suggested it would be OK if nobody at all turned up to a presentation, when the real fear was that only a few would turn up and he would have to do an embarrassing presentation in front of a tiny audience.
She promotes a view that one should be in a perpetual state of grace. This is dualistic. There is nothing wrong with thoughts and beliefs – that too is Grace. Her methodology is very dubious and from what I can gather it borders on cult-like. The thread above likens her system to Landmark Education, another organisation that has overlaps with cult-ishness. I did Landmark Education courses right up to ILP level and they too have a very aggressive propaganda machine as well as subtle psychological manipulation. Apparently Byron Katie makes people sign a waiver saying they are responsible if they get ill etc. So did Landmark Education. There are other similarities between the two also in the courses themselves.
Byron Katie had some kind of awakening, that’s clear. But she seems to have an agenda around the business she has made out of this awakening. And more importantly, her methodology will NOT lead to awakening in others, since nothing can do this for anyone. Plus her claims of her own state are imho exaggerated.
Her website apparently states:
“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.”
All your suffering?
As I said: exaggeration.
Cost of one of her courses: 9-day “School” – $4,190. Add $750 if you aren’t able to pay the “early rate”.
I found this comment on another forum amusing:
“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.”
All in all I am not berating her personally. She is acting out a role, that’s all. The role of an enlightened teacher who seeks to help others and make big bucks from it. And those that line her pockets are playing the role of the ones who needs helping and have more money than sense in order to try to get this help.
But better to save your money. You don’t need a teacher nor a teaching, and certainly there is no work to do to be realized.
Snake oil saleswoman or enlightened teacher? What’s your view?
Comments, as always, welcome.
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