with The Work
Byron Katie used to suffer from severe depression with recurring thoughts of suicide, until one February morning in 1986 when she suddenly woke up to her true nature — a state of complete joy and happiness. From this new-found bliss she discovered a process that had the potential to help others find this inner happiness too.
Can you tell us a little bit about your own awakening?
One February morning in 1986, I suddenly realised that when I believed my thoughts I suffered, and when I did not believe them, the suffering stopped. This insight came to me after I had been in the grip of a deep depression for over 10 years, a horrible darkness like a black hole into which I had fallen deeper and deeper.
What finally gave you the insight you needed to get out of this darkness?
A cockroach crawled over my foot! I was lying on the floor, next to my bed – I hated myself so much that I didn’t feel I deserved to sleep in a bed – and this cockroach crawled over my foot and woke me up. As I opened my eyes I realized everything had changed. It was as if I had awakened from my sleep into a whole new reality, and I could see how my thoughts shaped my world. I completely changed in that moment, and the old Byron Katie was forever gone. Instead I was a totally new being.
At the beginning there was nothing, and out of this nothingness I could observe how things were born into this world the moment I identified them. I started laughing because I was struck how all those things did not exist until I named them, and it was as if I could see clearly for the first time in my life. I recognized that my being had nothing to do with my thinking, but that I could also create a ME with the thoughts I chose to have. Out of these insights The Work was born.
All the questions we use in The Work take us to this same insight I had in that moment of awakening – an insight that leads us to the place where all wisdom exists. My wisdom is everyone’s wisdom and your wisdom belongs to all of us too. Wisdom is available to every human being and these questions take us back to the place where we realize we are all connected because we are all one.