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In this in-depth conversation with Jonathan Fields of goodlifeproject.com, Byron Katie is joined by her husband, Stephen Mitchell. Together they explore her journey and dive into their newest collaboration, A Mind at Home with Itself, which is based on one of the greatest spiritual texts, The Diamond Sutra.
KATIE: The Diamond Sutra is the story of the Buddha speaking with his student Subhuti. And truly, it’s the Buddha speaking to himself.
STEPHEN: The translations of the Diamond Sutra tend to be very difficult to penetrate, so I thought it would be a service to create a version that is accessible and allow its wisdom to shine through for contemporary readers.
KATIE: Stephen read the sutra to me, chapter by chapter, and he asked me to respond to it from my own experience. He’d write down my words and then do his beautiful thing of moving the way I talk into a more understandable English. I’d tell him often, “The sutra is so beautiful that for me to add one word would take away from it.” But he kept telling me that I had something valuable to add. I really hope it serves people.
STEPHEN: It struck me from the beginning that there were similarities between the mind that created the Diamond Sutra and Katie’s mind. There’s a great emphasis on inquiry in the Diamond Sutra. The wonderful thing that inquiry does is to keep pulling the rug out from under itself. Even the clearest truths that the sutra teaches are immediately invalidated, so you’re left with nothing to grasp. It’s wonderful how the subtle, profound mind of the author educates you in not-knowing, in not-grasping. This is exactly what The Work does: it questions assumptions and apparent truths that we create our lives around and that cause so much suffering. Katie’s stories make the insights of the Diamond Sutra vivid and moving. They give it the flesh and blood of loved experience.
JONATHAN: I completely agree with Stephen. Katie, I found your experience of the Diamond Sutra to be really powerful.
STEPHEN: The central insight of the sutra is generosity. The more deeply you understand that there is no such entity as the self, no separation between self and other, the more your life naturally becomes a life of generosity.
JONATHAN: In closing, I always ask one question. In your experience, what does it mean to live a good life?
KATIE: To be present and to recognize what is at hand to do, and to do that without hesitation.
STEPHEN: For me, it’s always recognizing the genuine wherever it appears, whether it’s in ancient texts, modern literature, music, art, or people. There is something magnetically compelling about someone who is speaking from a genuine inner truth.
For more information, visit thework.com