Four Questions/Loving What Is/Your Inner Awakening
Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet Summary
Think of a recurring stressful situation, a situation that is reliably stressful even though it may have happened only once and recurs in your mind. Allow yourself to mentally revisit the time and place of the stressful occurrence.
1. In this situation, who angers, confused, saddens, or disappoints you, and why?
I am (emotion) with (name) because ( )
2. In this situation, how do you want them to change? What do you want them to do?
I want (name) to ( )
3. In this situation, what advice would you offer to them?
(Name ) should / shouldn't ( )
4. In order for you to be happy in this situation, what do you need them to think, say, feel, or do?
I need (name) to ( )
5. What do you think of them in this situation? Make a list.
(Name) is ( )
6. What is it about this situation that you don't ever want to experience again?
I don't ever want ( )
Investigate each statement using the 4 questions. Always give yourself time to let the deeper answers meet the questions.
Turn each thought around. Until you can look forward to all aspects of life without fear, your Work is not done.
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Turn the thought around
a) to the self
b) to the other
c) to the opposite
Then, find at least 3 specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true for you in this situation.
Statement 6, replace "I don't ever want to..." with "I am willing to", and "I look forward to".
THE WORK is an amazing way to contact wisdom... ultimate wisdom and knowledge. And the work is about each individual human being, individual listener. All the answers are inside of us. And we heard that forever and ever. How do we contact what’s inside of us is what the work is about. And the work is very simple. Even children can do it.
It’s four questions, and you question the concept you’re dealing with. It’ s like stressful thoughts. You find one that’s flowing through your mind and you isolate it and you put it up against these four questions and then at the end you turn it around. You find the opposite of the concept that you’re questioning and you find ways that is as true or truer genuine ways in you life. I love that through this recording people will be able to experience the simplicity of this process for themselves. Miracle and revelations will come out or it because these are personal experience.
People see life as complex, and I tell you it’s not. Complexity is confusion and chaos of it...those thoughts that make up the complexity are the complex mind, busy mind. When those thoughts are questioned, the mind becomes very still and very clear and very creative, and life becomes incredibly simple. There is no age limit with this. People get older, the concepts don’t change. If you look at someone’s idea ...maybe 70 or 80 years old, then you look at a child of 7 years old, 5 years old, you begin to notice that all the concepts are the same. This work deals with concepts, not people. We think we’re dealing with people and actually we’re dealing with our own heads. As we deal with our heads, the way we see life changes, which is what everyone wants. We see clearly the reality and the value in that.
It amazes me to hear my children talk, and then to hear older wise people talk and older very confused troubled people talk. These stressful thoughts are all the same. So we developed them immediately and I’ve come to see there are no new stressful thoughts. You know I travel the world over and over and over, and I work with people who speak languages of not just English. All the languages that I have encountered, the concepts are the same. There are no new ones.
Example of those is “I’m stupid,” mind will give all the proof of it actually mind that believes what it thinks. Another universal concept is “I can’t do it.” Another one is “I need more money.” Another one is “I made a mistake.” Another one is “I feel bad.” Another one is “He doesn’t love me. She doesn’t care.” These are universal “I’m too fat,” so many thoughts around the body. We believe these thoughts. The way we believe them is that the mind gives all the proof, all the pictures that go with the proof. As we sit here in the moment with none of the proof being the reality that’s actually in touch with us right now. So mind will lead us believe that we’re someone we’re not, someone less than perfect, someone as though we’re born a mistake, someone who is not doing it right, that should be different. We really believe that.
As I sit here with you, I see how could I be different in this moment. It will require time for that. And time requires future. I say, “If you want fear and terror, get a future.” I’m not saying ‘don’t plan.” Just notice how mind plans, if it’s good, if you’re clear, if it feels right for you. You begin to notice whatever the plan is, I could say “a no brainer to pull off.” I can also say “so simple.“ You begin to feel as the master that can never do anything wrong, ever. So you begin to live guilt–free life because you’re living so clearly that you don’t do anything that you consider to be unkind. And your friends don’t either. So you begin to have quite a vast family or friends.
The confused mind is very painful. The chaotic mind is the suffering, and unquestioned mind is the only suffering possible. Confusion is the only suffering on this planet. I recall a time I was so depressed, so dark that, my goodness, I was angry at my children and I would strike out to say things that I know today absolutely were not true. And the thought of “how can I be this way, how can talk to my children that way and then the guilt and the shame like something...may be over picking up their sox in the morning or hanging their cloths up or making their beds...it was like a war zone. It was so very painful and then I wasn’t able to understand why they wanted to avoid me.
I was so confused, so judgmental, and to my mind I was simply being a good parent. I was doing what I knew to do and feeling guilty. Then the guiltier I felt the more righteous my mind became and I would give them every reason why they were unacceptable human beings basically meaning, “You should clean your room. Why do I have to do it.” I was so confused that I would say thing like, “If you really loved me you would do it. You don’t understand how hard I work. You don’t understand how difficult it is to be a mother. “ It was very very hard to live that way.
And I began to become extremely depressed...that guilt and shame... the harder I tried to find my way the more difficult it became. It was like a hole. I was dropping into it. Eventually there was no way out. Eventually I became so depressed that it was very difficult to leave my home. I became so paranoid, so unacceptable to myself. My self-esteem was so entirely low. It was as though I believed that I was sparing people if I kept me away from them. That required me to be in my home most of the time.
Eventually the last two years, it was difficult was very difficult to leave my bedroom. I know that to brush my teeth or even to shower was extremely difficult and sometimes weeks would go by. I don’t know if that’s true but days and days. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were weeks, because my hair would actually stick to me and my cloths would... was so mentally ill. And again I’ve come to see that mental illness is nothing more than believing what we think is true. It’s an unquestioned mind.
So I went to this little Halfway House that my insurance company would cover. As I arrived...I didn’t know but a year or later someone told me that they were actually frightened of me that they voted not to have me in the house. The woman that put things together...she was responsible to decide who was to stay and who wasn’t... she said it would be okay and I was to stay, and I’m so grateful of that.
Early in my visit as I lay sleeping on the floor, one morning a cockroach crawled over my foot, and I opened my eyes and in place of all darkness, horrendous darkness and depression, and hopelessness...in that moment, it was gone. And there was a joy and clarity, and a miraculous experience I can’t describe. There is no word for that kind of scene and experience. In that moment I saw that when I believed my thoughts that I suffer. When I question my thoughts, then I don’t suffer. I’ve come to see that this is true for every human being. There is no one that cannot answer a question.
I’ve come to see and understand through that moment that absolutely nothing is true. When we begin to look at the mirror image of mind, it appears that everything is true. I’ve come to see that mind is a wonderful thing, and it’s so brilliant that it would even make real its world. You know I like to say, “If you were most beautiful experience in the world, the most beautiful beautiful in the world, wouldn’t you want to see yourself? Wouldn’t you find a way to reflect it as everything so that you could really see what you are?” And in that I’ve come to love everything. It’s really true, I’ve come to love everything because the mind that would create it it’s nature is love so it can only love what it sees. I like to say “Love thy neighbor as thyself” I always have. I hated me I hated to you... and I have come to love everything I think so that there is nothing I can do about loving what I see because the mind that projects what it sees always comes out of itself. There’s nothing else. And then, to the moment on the floor, you know it becomes clear when I believed my thoughts I suffered, but when I questioned my thoughts I don’t suffer. That was the difference you know it’s the world...the projected world.
The thing born out of that – that when I question my thoughts I don’t suffer - that’s what makes this experience available to every human being. It’s ageless. As long as the person believes what they think; as long as the person believes their stressful thoughts, they are going to suffer. And I know thousands of people in my experience, of these last years, they are finding their way through this. It's for everyone.
There is no one that cannot do it. Everyone doesn’t want to do it. Everyone doesn’t want to have time to do it. And what I’m about, what the work is about, and the people that facilitate the work: what we are about is to show that miraculous freedom that comes of this simple way. It’s purpose, my purpose, is that no one, no one has to hit the bottom that I hit. No one has to do that, and people who use the work: these 4 questions and turn around, some of them aren’t even depressed.
They just love the changes that take place in their lives. And they find it fascinating and they are curious. And then there’re people who are very depressed, suicidal, schizophrenic, bipolar, angry at their children, whatever it is, they just can pick it up as an experiment and there’s no one that questions their mind that’s not come out as a kinder, clearer human being. That’s the power of the answers that they contact within themselves. So you don’t even need a facilitator, you can facilitate yourself.
Then there’re people who can facilitate you. I know on my website there is bulletin board, it’s full of people all over the world that do it for nothing. They will facilitate you; some charge, some give wonderful workshops, some do it through e-mail. It’s available to everyone. I have a 9-day school called School of You. I invite people to come to the School of You. And I do 2 or 3-day mini school. And I teach people to not just facilitate themselves but others. The more we facilitate others, the clearer we get, because all is in the process of clearing the mind. These questions open the mind, and when the mind is open the heart opens.
People are so curious and ask, “why is my heart so cold? Why am I so closed? Why am I so out of touch? Even though I’m laughing and smiling and I have plenty of friends, why is my heart so cold?” Well, It’s the closed mind. Key to the heart is to open the mind. Closed mind closes heart.
No one told me that there was a way out. Somehow I stumbled into it. It’s like as the bug crawled over my foot and I opened my eyes, in that moment there was a space of nothing. We could say that just allowed intelligence to live for a moment. I have no more wisdom, no more intelligence than any other human being. I’ve come to see that wisdom is equal. No one has more than another. I’ve worked with people, they’ll answer the questions and they hit things inside of them that have been written, that is the most marvelous loving books that mankind has ever written or read. You know it’s the wisdom of the ages. I go into prisons and work with people that are not coming out of their end. They are finding freedom.
The work is not about principles or beliefs or religion. The work doesn’t suggest anything. The work doesn’t teach anything. The work is simple inquiry. There’s nothing that it suggest. It is nothing more than the key to your heart. It’s nothing more than a way to take you inside to find what you’re truly yarn for, what you truly long for, a way to find all religions wanted to teach and unable to at the level that people longed for.
When you question your stressful thoughts, what you come out with is your won truth, your own morality, your own realizations. I love to say that the last book we read is the book of ourself. And I invite you to read the book of you. These questions will lead you if you allow them to.
The work is the end of suffering – when I believe my thoughts I suffer, when I question my thoughts I don’t suffer, and I’ve come to see that this is true for every human being. The work is a way to change what can be changed, and that is “me” and “my thinking.” I cannot change you. Can I change myself? That’s a life’s work.
The work, in that, is end of all religion. What I mean by that is if I believe my children should pick up their socks, and they don’t then this becomes my religion. It’s the way that I lived for so many years. Every day the socks were on the floor. They did not pick them up, and very day I believed that they should. Everyday it showed me the opposite. So this became my religion and I was absolutely devoted to it. When they came home from school, I practiced my religion. Everyday, ”You didn’t pick up the socks. You didn’t clean you room.” My belief was a direct contradiction to reality, and they rarely picked up their socks. They didn’t clean their rooms at the level I would like. So my religion was what’s causing the war in our home.
So one day, I questioned it and turned it around. It shocked me that I picked up the socks as usual, but the difference was I loved it. I noticed that I was the one with the problem, that they were much more enlightened than I was. The socks on the floor didn’t bother them. I was the one bothered. I was the one with the problem. As I picked up their socks on the floor I solved my problem. And it was effortless. I loved it. The joy in my heart was amazing. No one could have taught me that. I was taught that was their job, and I believed it. Today we’ve come so far and they saw the joy and the change in me so we all race for the socks today.
We suffer when we believe thoughts that are not true. That’s the bottom line and that’s very difficult for people to hear especially when they just begin to question the work, and the first two questions - like that’s a wall. That’s a wall like – “Is it true?” “Yes.” “Can I absolutely know that it is true?” “Yes.” That’s okay. I invite people to move to the 3rd question: “How do I react when I think that thought?” – it’s a wall. Then the 4th question, “Who would I be without that thought?” and then to turn it around. It’s a wall. The opposite – it’s not a wall.
Now all four questions and the turnaround are meditation. They take you to places that are very very different, because this meditation is directed in to you. What’s found there isn’t what we have been taught. It’s nothing that you can expect. For some people it can be rather frightening, because you’re tapping into something that you haven’t been taught, something new, something that you have no roadmap for. So we can say the first two questions: “Is it true?” “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?” It’s true. Then eventually we come to see through our own enlightenment, something else that can be quite radical.
So I’ve come to see that confused mind is the only suffering possible. Imagine if we have clear mind. That’s the end of suffering. It means that when someone we love dies, that we don’t suffer. That can sound very cold, uncaring to some people that hear that, but when we look at the concept that bring on the suffering, it has nothing to do with the person we love, that has nothing to do with their death at all.
It’s confusing. For example if Steven, my husband died and I was sad or suffered over it, it will be because I was believing thoughts like “I need him.” I would have to question that.
If I believe I need something that I don’t have, I am insane. And my mind is going to fly with all of the reasons that it’s true, that I need him. That will bring tears and panic, and teach the fear of death to my children and people around me. We have been doing that for centuries. So I have questioned the thought that “I need Steven,” or “I need my children.”
You know Steven is in the room now, so how do I know I need him? He is here. That’s how I know I need him. I cannot need what I don’t have. So I always have everything that I need, and every human being does. But the mind would not allow us to understand that to know it, to realize it, because we haven’t questioned it.
Another thought is “What am I going to do without him?” Well it’s very clear. If he’s here, I’m sitting here talking to you. If he is not here in this moment, I’m sitting here talking to you. So we always know what to do. We’re doing it. So the answers are there, that if I thought that and believed it, the pain and suffering that will come out of that would be...my goodness it would move me into depression that I was in.
I don’t try to stay out of suffering. It’s simply that I have questioned my stressful thoughts and they are no longer possible. I’m left with only gratitude and “how can I help. How can I be useful right now?” If I am in pain and sadness and suffering.... I can get a lot accomplished there, but not using suffering and pain as a motivator.
Anger is suffering, anxiety is suffering, and frustration is suffering. I say that sadness, even though it’s minor, it’s a tantrum, it the war with reality, the war with God. It the war with what is. And what is IS. What can do from here? Because right here right now is where the power is.
On the worksheet, there’s 6th question, where you say, “I don’t ever want to.” The way that’s turned around is “I am willing to. I look forward to.” This is about looking about the worst fears you can possibly imagine, and opening your mind to it. Because eventually as you question your mind, problem seize basically. So you begin to open to see, “is there anything possible that make me suffer again?”
The reason that people in the work look forward to it is because they look at the apparent tragedy, the problem; they question their mind, and they come to see it is the opposite. They begin to see what reality is, what everything is for. I mean it’s there. Do we have the mind to see it? Do we have the eyes to see it? Are we willing to look? Are we willing to be happy?
It’s as though we are traders to suffering and there’s something wrong with this. What I have come to see...as the first...we can say the first one to understand that it is the stressful thoughts we believe that cause the distortion of the idea that we are not in heaven, that things are not as they should be. Basically reality is kind, and our thoughts about reality are unkind. That’s the difference. Reality never hurt anyone, but the unquestioned thoughts about reality. It is the only suffering...the only suffering possible.
It’s as though something happens that human race has agreed this is terrible, therrible thing. Then a questioned mind will look at it and will understand. Let’s say I verbally abused my children, and one time I even struck my daughter, and no wander I was depressed. And yet, I could not stop being so outrageously unreasonable with my children, no matter how hard I tried.
So as I began to question what I believed, later as I can see another way, then what happened was they began to learn through what I learned, so I seized being that child abuser, that people abuser. Because it brought me such enlightenment, I brought my children such enlightenment (because in the work we write our resentments on paper, we question them), we seize this being that violent person, that angry person, or that frustrated person. There is no mistake in the universe not even apparent violence, and because I screamed at them I have this freedom today. Because I have screamed at them they have judged me on the paper, they have freedom today.
My children don’t raise their voices to their children. It’s like the chain has broken, because they understand what I come to understand. Yet the verbal violence, that was the key to our freedom. Now who is going to do that? It was so useful, it was not a bad thing. Because we have the work, it turned out to be a teacher, as every apparent mistake is. That’s what it serves.
You know the wall’s job is to hold up the ceiling, and the floor’s job is to hold us, and the air’s job is to support us. There is nothing that does not support us. The way I struck out at my children was necessary as that wall is to hold up the ceiling. There is nothing that does not work together for our good. Everything, every apparent problem in the world is for you, it’s FOR you, it’s not TO you, it is for you.
There is nothing that is not good. That is the nature of everything. The way that I know that is true is because any thoughts that would oppose that idea, any thought that would oppose beauty, goodness, kindness, genuineness, any thoughts that would oppose, that’s feels like stress in our life...and our body will let us know...those feeling we experience, and the frustration and anger, and confusion. Those feelings are nothing more than love again, they are the alarm clock that let us know that we’re asleep. And it’s time to wake us up. The feelings will let us know they are always going to be there. They are gift, not an enemy.
I tell the snake and the rope story. It’s a beautiful day, you look down and discover that there is a very large venomous snake in your path, and you’re terrified of the snake. You jump back, your heart is pounding and racing, you notice sweat on your brows, you’re paralyzed with fear. You can’t run, you can’t move. Then may be a cloud shifts a little, or you just take another look and, “Oh my goodness. It’s an old rope.” It’s nothing more than an old rope, then you begin to laugh, your body begins to settle down.
I invite people to stand on that rope and make yourself afraid of it again. It’s not possible. Because you’ve realized yourself the truth. That is the end of fear, and people walk up to you and they happen to look down, they cry and scream and stumble, and terrified. They run, because they think the rope is a snake. Now you don’t suffer because they are suffering. You can’t. You understand they’re safe except their fear is killing them.
Their fear bring on them the heart attack, fear brings on the high blood pressure, their fear they stumble, they cut their leg, become infected. They run, they stumble over other people to get away, because they are frightened and they feel tortured about that, you know, “How could I have done that...for my safety, I sacrificed another...” all these story...that’s fear. As you stand there watching all their fear...you can’t feel sad for them because you remember when you thought that was a snake also. That’s what’s happening through this whole generation of people that are questioning their mind. They are coming to see what I have come to see, and that is that all problems are ropes, and there is no exception.
I understand this is difficult for people listening to my voice to accept. I don’t expect anyone to accept it. It’s not possible because they believe what they think. So as long as unquestioned mind lives, there are going to be problems in your world. My job is happiness, because happiness is synonymous with balance. Fear is not the motivator that takes us out of war, not with our children, not with countries, not with ourselves. Love is the power.
The idea of loving what is – some people hear it as “I’m going to sit on a mountain top and drool somewhere, or sit in my home and meditate and drop out of life.” Freedom, in my experience is, the extreme opposite. I’ve come to see that not only is love the power but it is the only motivator that last as lasting solution when we look at the action.
What is the value of the work? It is the ultimate peace movement. When the mind finds peace within itself, then its way is clear as it moves as peace on earth. Another idea I hope you are beginning to realize is that all suffering is optional.
Now I invite you to join me in the next session, as I walk you through every step of the work. The miracles, I can’t give you but I can walk you through the work that allows you to realize for yourself the miracles within you.
Source:Audio CD - Your Inner Awakening - 2005
Loving What Is
A Few Basic Principles
No teacher is necessary. You are the teacher you’ve been waiting for. You are the one who can end your own suffering. May people have found the following principles to be helpful for getting started in THE WORK.
Noticing When Your Thoughts Argue with Reality
The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. If you want reality to be different than it is, you might as well try to teach a cat to bark. You can try and try, and in the end the cat will look up at you and say, “Meow.” Wanting reality to be different that it is is hopeless. You can spend rest of your life trying to teach a cat to bark. And yet, if you pay attention, you’ll notice that you think thought like this dozens of times a day. All the stress that we feel is caused by arguing what is. When I argue with reality, I lose --- 100% of the time.
People new to THE WORK often say to me, “But it would be disempowering to stop my argument with reality. If I simply accept reality, I’ll become passive. I may even lose the desire to act.” I answer the with a question: “Can you really know that that’s true? Which is more empowering? --- “I wish I hadn’t lost my job” or “I lost my job; what can I do now?”.
THE WORK reveals that what you think shouldn’t have happened should have happened. It should have happened because it did, and no thinking in the world can change it. This doesn’t mean that you condone it or approve of it. It just means that you can see things without resistance and without the confusion of your inner struggle. No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen how can it be helpful to mentally argue with the? We know better than to do that, yet we do it, because we don’t know how to stop.
I am a love of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality. When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind and fearless.
Staying in Your Own Business
I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s. (For me, the word God means “reality.” Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that’s out of y control, your control, and everyone else’s control --- I call that God’s business.)
Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation. I noticed this early in 1986. When I mentally went into my mother’s business, for example, with a thought like “My mother should understand me,” I immediately experienced a feeling of loneliness. And I realized that every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, had been in someone else’s business.
If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We’re both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work.
To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for me? That’s my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve your problems for you.
If you understand the three kinds of business enough to stay in your own business, it could free your life in a way that you can’t even imagine. The next time you’re feeling stress or discomfort, ask yourself whose business you’re in mentally, and you may burst out laughing! That question can bring you back to yourself. And you may come to see that you’ve never really been present, that you’ve been mentally living in other people’s business all your life.
Meeting Your Thoughts with Understanding
A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not out thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring.
Most people think that they are what their thoughts tell them they are. One day I noticed that I wasn’t breathing --- I was being breathed. Then I also noticed, to my amazement, that I wasn’t thinking --- that I was actually being thought and that thinking isn’t personal. Thoughts just appear. They come out of nothing and go back to nothing, like clouds moving across the empty sky. They come to pass, not to stay. There is no harem in them until we attach to them as if they were true.
No one has ever been able to control his thinking, although people may tell the story of how they have. I don’t let go of my thoughts --- I meet them with understanding. Then they let go of me. Thoughts are like the breeze or the leaves on the trees or the raindrops falling. They appear like that, and through inquiry we can make friends with them. Would you argue with a raindrop? Raindrops aren’t personal, and neither are thoughts.
Once a painful concept is met with understanding, the next time it appears you may find it interesting. What used to be the nightmare is now just interesting. The next time it appears, you may find it funny. The next time, you may not even notice it. This is the power of loving what is.
Becoming Aware of Your Stories
I often use the word story to talk about thoughts, or sequences of thoughts, that we convince ourselves are real. A story appear in our minds hundreds of times a day --- when someone gets up without a word and walks out of the room, when someone doesn’t smile or doesn’t return a phone call, when your partner talks to you in a certain tone of voice. Stories are the untested, uninvestigated theories that tell us what all these things mean. We don’t even realize that they’re just theories.
Looking for the Thought Behind the Suffering
I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfortable feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us. “The wind shouldn’t be blowing.” My husband should agree with me.” We have a thought that argues with me.” We have a thought that argues with reality, we have a stressful feeling, and then we act on that feeling, creating more stress for ourselves. Rather than understand the original cause --- a thought --- we try to change our stressful feelings by looking outside ourselves. We try to change someone else, or we reach for sex, food, alcohol, drugs, or money in order to find temporary comfort and the illusion of control.
Depression, pain, and fear are gifts that say, “Sweetheart, take a look at what you’re thinking right now. You’re living in a story that isn’t true for you.” We’re usually aware of the feeling before that thought. That’s why I say the feeling is an alarm clock that lets you know there’s a thought that you may want to do THE WORK on. And investigating an untrue thought will always lead you back to who you really are. It hurts to believe you’re other than who you are, to live any story other than happiness.
If you put your hand into a fire, does anyone have to tell you to move it? Do you have to decide? No: When your hand starts to burn, it moves. You don’t have to direct it; the hand moves itself. In the same way, once you understand, through inquiry, that an untrue thought causes suffering, you move away from it. Before the thought, you weren’t suffering; with the thought, you’re suffering; when you recognize that the thought isn’t true, again there is no suffering. This is how THE WORK functions. “How do I react when I think that thought?” Hand in the fire. “Who would I be without it?” Out of the flames. We look at the thought, we feel our hand in the fire, and we naturally move back to the original position. And next time the thought arises, the mind automatically moves from the fire. THE WORK invites us into the awareness of internal cause and effect. Once we recognize this, all our suffering begins to unravel on its won.
I use the word inquiry as synonymous with THE WORK. To inquire of to investigate is to put a thought or a story up against the four questions and turnaround. Inquiry is a way to end confusion and to experience internal peace, even in a world of apparent chaos. Above all else, inquiry is about realizing that all the answers we ever need are always available inside us.
Inquiry is more than a technique: It brings to life, from deep within us, an innate aspect of our being. When practiced for a while, inquiry takes on its own life within you. It appears whenever thoughts appear, as their balance and mate. This internal partnership leaves you free to live as a kind, fluid, fearless, amused listener, as a student of yourself, and a friend who can be trusted not to resent, criticize, or hold a grudge.
Eventually, realization is experienced automatically, as a way of life. Peace and joy naturally, inevitably, and irreversible make their way into every corner of your mind, into every relationship and experience. The process is so subtle that you may not even have any conscious awareness of it. You may only know that you used to hurt and now you don’t.
The Great Undoing
The one criticism of THE WORK I consistently hear is that it’s just too simple. People say, “Freedom can’t be this simple!” I answer, “Can you really know that that’s true?” Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. Who says that freedom has to be complicated?
Putting the Mind on Paper
The first step in THE WORK is to write down your judgments about any stressful situation in your life, past, present, or future --- about a person you dislike or worry about, a situation with someone who angers of frightens or saddens you, or someone you’re ambivalent or confused about. Write your judgment down, just the way you think them. You can go to www.thework.com, and find a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet to download and print.
Don't be surprised if you find it difficult at first to fill out the Worksheet. For thousands of years, we have been taught not to judge -- but let's face it, we still do it all the time. The truth is that we all have judgments running in our heads. Through THE WORK we finally have permission to let those judgment speak out on paper. We may find that even the most unpleasant thoughts can be met with unconditional love.
I encourage you to write about someone whom you haven’t yet totally forgiven. This is the most powerful place to begin. Even if you’ve forgiven that person 99%, you aren’t free until your forgiveness is complete. The 1% you haven’t forgiven them is the very place where you’re stuck in all your other relationships (including your relationship with yourself).
If you are new to inquiry, I strongly suggest that you not write about yourself at first. If you start by judging yourself, your answers come with a motive and with solutions that haven’t worked. Judging someone else, then inquiring and turning it around, is the direct path to understanding. You can judge yourself later, when you have been doing inquiry long enough to trust the power of truth.
If you begin by pointing the finger of blame outward, then the focus isn’t on you. You can just let loose and be uncensored. We’re often quite sure about what other people need to do, how they should live, whom they should be with. We have 20/20 vision about other people, but not about ourselves.
When you do THE WORK, you see who you are by seeing who you think other people are. Eventually you come to see that everything outside you is a reflection of your won thinking. You are the storyteller, the projector of all stories, and the world is the projected image of your thoughts.
Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to change the world so that they can be happy. This hasn’t ever worked, because it approaches the problem backward. What THE WORK gives us is a way to change the projector --- mind --- rather than the projected. It’s like when there’s a piece of lint on a projector’s lens. We think there’s a flow on the screen, and we try to change this person and that person, whomever the flaw appears to be on next. But it’s futile to try to change the projected images. Once we realize where the lint is, we can clear the lens itself. This is the end of suffering, and the beginning of a little joy in paradise.
People often say to me, “Why should I judge my neighbor? I already know that it’s all about me.” I say, “I understand. And please trust the process. Judge your neighbor, and follow the simple directions.” Here are some examples of people you may want to write about: mother, father, wife, husband, children, siblings, partner, neighbor, friend, enemy, roommate, boss, teacher, employee, co-worker, teammate, salesmen, customers, men, women, authorities, God. Often, the more personal your choice is, the more potent THE WORK can be.
Later, as you become skilled in THW WORK, you may want to investigate your judgments about issues such as death, money, health, your body, our addictions, and even your own self-criticisms. In fact, once you’re ready, you can write about and inquire into any uncomfortable thought that appears in your mind. When you realize that every stressful moment you experience is a gift that points you to your own freedom, life becomes very kind.
Why and How to Write on the Worksheet
Please avoid the temptation to continue without writing down your judgments. If you try to do THE WORK in your head, without putting your thoughts on paper, the mind will outsmart you. Before you’re even aware of it, it will be off and running into another story to prove that it’s right. But though the mind can justify itself faster than the speed of light, it can be stopped through the act of writing. Once the mind is stopped on paper, thoughts remain stable, and inquiry can easily be applied.
Write down your thoughts without trying to censor them. Sit with your pen and paper and just wait. The words will come. The story will come. And if you rally want to know the truth, if you’re not afraid to see your story on paper, the ego will write lake a maniac. It doesn’t care; it’s totally uninhibited. This is the day the ego has been waiting for. Give it its life on paper. It has been waiting for you to stop, just once, and really listen to it. It will tell you everything, like a child. Then, when the mind is expressed on paper, you can inquire.
I invite you to be judgmental, harsh, childish, and petty. Writhe with the spontaneity of a child who is sad, angry, confused, or frightened. Don’t try to be wise, spiritual, of kind. This is the time to be totally honest and uncensored about how you feel. Allow your feelings to express themselves, without any fear of consequences or any threat of punishment.
People who have been in THE WORK for a while get pettier and pettier on their Worksheets, as thy try to find the sticking points that are left. Beliefs just get more subtle, more invisible, as problems dissolve. The more you do THE WORK, the more uncensored you become and the pettier you like to get, because it becomes hard to find something that will upset you. Eventually, you can’t find a problem. That’s an experience I hear from thousands of people.
Write down the thoughts and stories that are running through you, the ones that really cause you pain --- the anger, the resentment, the sadness. Point the finger of blame first at people who have hurt you, the ones who have been closest to you, people you’re jealous of, people you can’t stand, people who have disappointed you. “My husband left me.” “My mother didn’t love me.” “I hate my boss.” “I hate my neighbors; they’re ruining my life.” Write about what you read this morning in the newspaper, about the people being murdered or losing their homes through famine or war. Write bout the cracker at the grocery store who was too slow or about the driver who cut you off on the freeway. Every story is a variation of a single theme:This shouldn’t be happening. I shouldn’t have to experience this. God is unjust. Life isn’t fair.
People new to THE WORK sometimes think, “I don’t know what to write. Why should I do THE WORK anyway? I’m not angry at anyone. Nothing’s really bothering me.” If you don’t know what to write about, wait. Life will give you a topic. May be a friend didn’t call you back when she said she would, and you’re disappointed. Maybe when you were five years old, your mother punished you for something you didn’t do. Maybe you’re upset or frightened when you read the newspaper or think about the suffering in the world.
Put on paper the part of your mind that is saying these things. You can’t stop the story inside your head, however hard you try. It’s not possible. But when you put the story on paper and write it just the way the mind is telling it, with all your suffering and frustration and rage and sadness, then you can take a look at what is swirling around inside you. You can see it brought in to the material world, in physical form. And finally, through THE WORK, you can begin to understand it.
When a child gets lost, he may feel sheer terror. It can be just as frightening when you’re lost inside the mind’s chaos. But when you enter THE WORK, it is possible to find order and to learn the way back home. It doesn’t matte what street you walk down, there’s something familiar; you know where you are. You could be kidnapped and someone hides you away for a month and then throws you blindfold and look at the buildings and streets, you begin to recognize a phone booth or a grocery store, and everything becomes familiar. You know what to do to find your way home. That is how THE WORK functions Once the mind is met with understanding, it can always find its way back home. There is no place where you can remain lost or confused.
Loving What Is - Chapter 13 : Q and A
There is only one problem, ever : your uninvestigated story in the moment.
Q: I feel overwhelmed by the number of judgments I have. How could I ever possibly have time to investigate all my beliefs?
A: Don't worry about undoing all of therm. Just investigate the belief that's causing you stress now. There's never more than one. Undo that one.
If you really want to know the truth, there is no idea that can't be met with understanding. We're either attaching to your concepts or investigating them. How do I know with one to work with? Here it comes now.
One of the things that I understood about the thoughts appearing inside me was that I was someone to be trusted with them. I was the vessel that they could appear in and finally be met with unconditional love.
Q: Does freedom always come right after you do The Work?
A: It does in its own way, but you may not recognize it. And you may no necessarily notice a change on the particular issue you've written about. For example, you may have written a Worksheet on your mother, and the next day you find that your obnoxious neighbor --- the one who's been driving you crazy your years --- no longer annoys you, that your irritation with her has completely disappeared. Or a week later, you notice that for the first time in your life, you love to cook. It doesn't always happen in one session. I have a friend who did The Work on being jealous of her husband because their little boy preferred him to her. She felt a small release after doing The Work. But the next morning, while she was in the shower, she felt everything give way and began to sob, and afterward all the pain around the situation was gone.
Q: What does it mean if I keep needing to do The Work on the same thing over and over again?
A: It doesn't matter how often you need to do it. You're either attaching to the nightmare or investigating it. There's no other choice. the issue may come back a dozen times, a hundred times. It's always a wonderful opportunity to see what attachments are left and how much deeper you can go.
Q: I've done The Work many times on the same judgment, and I don't think it's working.
A: "You've done The Work many times" --- is they true? Could it be that if the answer yo think you're looking for doesn't appear, you simply block anything else? Are you frightened of the answer that might be underneath what you think you know" Is it possible that there's another answer within you that could be as true or truer?
When you ask "Is it true?" for example, you may not really want to know. It cold be that you'd rather stay with your statement than dive into the unknown. Blocking means rushing the process and answering with your conscious mind before the gentler polarity of mind (I call oat "the dart") can answer. If you prefer to stay with what you think you know, the question is blocked and can't have tits life inside you.
Notice if you move into a story before letting yourself fully experience the answer and the feelings that come with it. If your answers begin with "Well, yes, but...," you're shifting away from inquiry. Do you really want to know the truth?
Another possibility is that you're inquiring with a motive. Are you asking the questions to prove that the answer you already have is valid, even though it's painful? Don you want to be right more than you want to know the truth? Acceptance, peace, and less attachment to a world of suffering are all effect of doing The Work. They're not goals. Do The Work for the love of freedom, for the love of truth. If you're inquiring with other motives, such as healing, or solving a problem, you answers may be arising from old motives that never worked for you, and you'll miss the wonder and grace of inquiry.
You might also be doing the turnaround too quickly. If you really want to know the truth, wait for the new answers to surface. Give yourself enough time to let the turnarounds find you. Gif you choose, make a written list of all the ways that the turnaround applies to you. The turnaround is the reentry into life, as the truth points you to who you are without your story. It's all done for you.
Are you letting the realizations you experience through inquiry live in you? Live the turnarounds, report your part to others so that you can hear it again, and make amends, for the sake of your won freedom. This will certainly speed up the process.
Finally, can you really know that inquiry is not working? When the thing you are afraid of happens and you notice that there is little or no stress or fear --- that's when you know it's working.
Q: When I'm doing The Work myself, and I sense that I'm blocking inquiry, what can I do?
A: Continue doing The Work, if you're up for it. I know that if even one small honest answer or turnaround is allowed to surface from inside you, you will enter a world that you don't even know exists. But if your intention is to be right, rather than to know the truth, why bother continuing? Just realize that the story you're sticking to is more valuable to you now than your freedom, and that that's okay. Come back to inquiry later. You may not be suffering enough, or you may not really care, even though you think you do. Be gentle with yourself. Life will bring you everything you need.
Q: What if my suffering is too intense? Should I still do The Work?
A: Suffering is caused by attachment to a deeply embedded belief. It's a state of blind attachment to something that you think is true. In this state, it's very difficult to do The Work for the love of truth, because you're invested in your story. Your story is your identity, and you'd do almost anything to prove that it's true. Inquiry into self is the only thing that has the power to penetrate such ancient concepts.
Even physical pain isn't real, it's the story of a past, always leaving, never arriving. But people don't know that. The moment of pain is always gone. It's a remembering of what we think is true, and it projects what no longer exists. (I'm not saying that your pain isn't real for you. I know pain and it hurts! That's why The Work is about the end of suffering.)
If a car runs over your leg and you're lying in the street with story after story running through your mind, chances are that if you're new to The work, you're not going to think, " 'I'm in pain' --- is it true? Can I absolutely know that it's true?" "You're going to scream, "Get the morphine!" Then, later, when you're in a comfort zone, you can sit down with a pen and paper and do The Work. Give yourself the physical medicine and then the other kind of medicine. Eventually, you can lose your other leg, and you won't see a problem. If you think there's a problem, your Work isn't done.
Q: There are thoughts that I feel I shouldn't be thinking --- nasty, perverted, and even violent thoughts. Can The Work help me to stop having these thoughts?
A: How do you react when you believe that you shouldn't think certain thoughts, and you do? Ashamed? Depressed? Now thorn it around --- you should think them! Doesn't that feel a bit lighter, a bit more honest? Mind wants its freedom, not a strait-jacket. When the thoughts come, they aren't meeting an enemy who is opposing them; like a child who comes to her father hoping that he'll listen, and instead the father screams at her, "You're wrong, you're bad!" and punishes her. What kind of father is that? This is the internal violence that keeps you from understanding.
I can't meet you as an enemy and not feel separate, from you and from myself. So how cold I meet a thought within me as an enemy and not feel separate? When I learned to meet my thinking as a friend, I noticed that I could meet every human as a friend. The end of the war with myself and my thinking is the end of the war with you. It's so simple.
Q: Is inquiry a process of thinking? If it isn't thinking, what is it?
A: Inquiry appears to be a process of thinking, but actually it's a way to undo thinking. Thoughts lose their power over us when we realize that we aren't doing the thinking anyway. Thoughts simply appear in the mind. What if there is no thinker? Are you breathing yourself, too? The mind can only find its true nature by thinking.
Q: My answer to "Can I absolutely know that it's true?" is always "No." Is there anything we can know for certain?
A: No. Experience is just perception. It's ever-changing. Even "now" is the story of a past. By the time we think it or tell it, it's already gone.
From the moment we attach to a thought, it becomes our religion and we keep attempting to prove that it's valid. The harder we try to prove what we can't know is true, the more we experience depression and disappointment. When you ask yourself question 1: your mind begins to open. Even to consider that a thought may not be true will let a little light into your mind. I fyi answer, "Yes, it' true," then you may want to ask yourself question 2: "Can you absolutely know that it's true?" Some get very agitated, even angry, when they say, "No, I can't absolutely know that!" And then I might ask them to be gentle with themselves and just experience that understanding for a moment. If they sit with their answer, then it does become gentle, and it opens to infinite possibilities, to freedom. It's like stepping out of a narrow, smoky room into open space.
Q: How can I do The Work if no one around me is doing it? Won't they see me as detached and uncaring? How will my family be able to adjust to my new way of thinking?
A: You're betraying the family religion. When they look to you for consent, you can't give it. Your family is an echo of your own past beliefs.
If your truth now is kind, it will ten deep and fast within the family and will replace betrayal with a better way. As you continue to find you own way in inquiry, sooner or later your family will come to see as you yourself do. There's no other choice. Your family is a projects image of your thinking. It's your store; nothing else is possible.
If you want to alienate your friends and family, go around saying, "Is it true?" or "Turn it around" if they're not asking you for help. You may need to do that for a while, in order to hear it for yourself. It's uncomfortable to believe that you know more than your friends and to represent yourself as their teacher. Their irritation will lead you deeper in to inquiry or deeper into your suffering.
Q: What do you mean when you say, "Don't be spiritual ---be honest instead"?
A: I mean that it's very painful to pretend yourself beyond your own evolution, to live a lie, any lie. When you act like a theater, it's usually because you're afraid to be the student. I don't pretend to be fearless. I either am or I'm not. It's no secret to me.
Q: How can I learn to forgive someone who hurt me very badly?
A: Judge your enemy, write it down, ask four questions, turn it around. See for yourself that forgiveness means discovering that what you thought happened didn't. Until you can see that there is nothing to forgive, you haven't really forgiven. No one has ever hurt anyone. No one has ever done anything terrible.
There's nothing terrible except your uninvestigated thoughts about what happened. So whenever you suffer, inquire, look at the thoughts you're thinking, and set yourself free. Be a child. Start from the mind that know nothing. Take your ignorance all the way to freedom.
Q: I 've heard you say, "When you're perfectly clear, what is is what you want." Suppose I save all months to go to a good restaurant so I can eat grilled lemon sole, and the waiter brings me braised ox tongue. What is is not what I want. Am I confused? What does it mean to argue with reality?
A: Yes. You're very confused. If you were clear, what you'd want is braised ox tongue, because that's what the waiter brought. This doesn't mean that you have to eat it. How do you react when you think that he shouldn't have brought you braised ox tongue? Until you project that you have to eat it, or that you don't have enough time to reorder, or that you have to pay for what you didn't order, or that there has been any kind of injustice, there's no problem.
But when you believe that he shouldn't have brought it, you might become angry at him of feel some form of stress. Who would you be without your story as you face the waiter? Who would you be without the thought that there's not enough time or that the waiter made a mistake? You might be a person loving the moment, loving the apparent mistake. You might even be calm enough to repeat your original order with clarity and amusement. You might say, "I appreciate you, and what I ordered grilled lemon sole. My time is limited, and if you can't serve me the grilled lemon sole and have me out of here by eight, I'll need to go elsewhere. I prefer to stay here. What do you suggest?"
Arguing with reality means arguing with the story of a past. It's already over, and no thinking in the world can change it. The waiter has already brought you the braised ox tongue. There it is, sitting in front of you, staring in the face. If you think that it shouldn't be there, you're confused. The point is, how can you be most efficient in this moment, given that what is is?
Seeing reality clearly doesn't mean that you're going to be passive. Why would you be passive when you can be clear and have a wonderful, sane life? You don't have to eat the braised ox tongue; you don't have to keep from clearly reminding the waiter that you ordered grilled lemon sole. Seeing reality clearly means that you can act in the kindest, most appropriate, and most effective way.
Q: How can I learn to love myself?
A: "You're supposed to love yourself" --- is that true? How do you treat yourself when you believe the thought that you're supposed to love yourself, and you don't? Can you see a reason to drop the story? And I'm not asking you to drop your sacred concept. Who would you be without the story "You're supposed to love yourself?" What is the direct opposite? "You are not supposed to love yourself." Doesn't that feel a little more natural? You're not supposed to love yourself yet --- not until you do. These sacred concepts, these spiritual ideas, always turn into dogma.
Q: What do you mean when you say that you are my projection?
A: The world is your perception of it. Inside and outside always match --- they are reflections of each other. The world is the mirror image of your mind. If you experience chaos and confusion inside, your external world has to reflect that. You have to see what you believe, because you are the confused thinker looking out and seeing yourself. You are the interpreter of everything, and if you're chaotic, what you hear and see has to be chaos. Even if Jesus, even if the Buddha, were standing in front of you, you would hear confused words, because confusion would be the listener. You would hear only what you thought he was saying and you'd start arguing with him the first time your story was threatened.
As for my being your protection, how else could I be here? It's not as though I had a choice. I am the story of who you think I am, not who I really am. You see me as old, young, beautiful, ugly, honest, deceitful, caring, uncaring. I am, for you, your uninvestigated story, your own myth.
I understand that who you think I am is true for you. I was innocent and gullible also, but only for 43 years, until the moment when I woke up to the way things really are. "It's a tree. It's a table. It's a chair" Is it true? Have you stopped to ask yourself? Have you ever become still and listened as you asked you? Who told you it was a tree? Who was the original authority? How did they know? My entire life, my entire identity, had been built on the trust and uninquiring innocence of a child. Through this Work, your toys and fairy tales are laid aside as you begin to read the book of true knowledge, the book of yourself.
People tell me, "But Katie, your happiness is all a projection," and I say, "Yes, and isn't it beautiful? I love living this happy dream. I'm having a wonderful time!" If you lived in heaven, would you want it to end? It doesn't end. It can't. That is what's true for me, until it's not. If it should change, I always have inquiry. I answer the questions, the truth is realized within me, and the doing meets the undone, the something meets the nothing. In the balance of the two halves, I am free.
Q: How can you say that reality is good? What about war, rape, poverty, violence, and child abuse? Are you condoning them?
A: How could I condone them? I simply notice that if I believe they shouldn't exist, I suffer. They exist until they don't. Can I just end the war in me? Can I stop raping myself and others with abusive thinking? If not I'm continuing myself the very thing that I want to end in you. Sanity doesn't suffer, ever. Can you eliminate war everywhere on earth? Through inquiry, you can begin to eliminate it for one human being: you. This is the beginning of the end of war in the world. If life upsets you, good! Judge the war makers on paper, inquire, and turn it around. Do you really want to know the truth? All suffering begins and ends with you.
Q: You sometimes say, "God is everything, God is good." Isn't that just one belief?
A: God, as I use that word, is another form for what is. I always know God's intention: It's exactly what is in every moment. I don't have to question it anymore. I'm no longer meddling in God's business. It's simple. And from that basis, it's clear that everything is perfect. The last truth --- I call it the last judgment --- is "God is everything, God is good." People who really understand this don't need inquiry. Ultimately, of course, even this isn't true. But if it works for you, I say keep it and have a wonderful life.
All so-called truth eventually fall away. Every truth is a distortion of what is. If we investigate, we lose even the last truth. And that state, beyond all truths, is true intimacy. That is God-realization. And welcome to the reentry. It's always a beginning.
Q: How can I live in the Now?
A: You do. You just haven't noticed. Only in this moment are we in reality. You and everyone can learn to live in the moment, as the moment, to love whatever is in front of you, to love it as you. If you keep doing The Work, you will see more and more clearly what you are without a future or a past. The miracle of love comes to you in the presence of the uninterpreted moment. If you are mentally somewhere else, you miss real life.
But even the Now is a concept. Even as the thought completes itself, it's gone, with no proof that it ever existed, other than as a concept that world lead you to believe it existed, and now that one is gone too. Reality is always the story of a past. Before you can grasp it, it's gone. Each of us already has the peaceful mind that we seek.
Q: I find it very hard to tell the truth, because it's always changing for me. How can I be consistent in speaking honestly?
A: Human experience is constantly changing, though the place of integrity never moves. I say, let's begin from where we are. Can we just tell the truth as it appears now, without comparing it to what was true a moment ago? Ask me again later, and I may have a different truthful answer. "Katie, are you thirsty?" No. "Katie, are you thirsty?" Yes. I always tell what my truth is right now. Yes, no, yes, yes, no. That's the truth.
My cousin once called me at two in the morning, very depressed, and said that he was holding a loaded pistol to his head and that the hammer was coked. He said that if I didn't give him one good reason why he should stay alive, he would blow his head off. I waited for a long time. I really wanted to give him a reason, and no good reason came to me. I waited and waited, with him on the other end of the phone line. Finally, I told him that I couldn't find one. And he burst into tears. This evidently was the truth he needed. He said it was the first time in his life that he had ever heard integrity and that was what he was looking for. If I had concocted some reason, because I believed that he shouldn't kill himself, I would have given him less than the only thing I really have to give, which is my truth in the moment.
I have noticed that people who do The Work for a while get really clear about the truth as they see it. It becomes easy to stand in it and easy to be flexible and change their minds. Being honest in the moment becomes a very comfortable thing. Do you know anyone who hasn't chained his mind? This door was a tree, thin it will be fire wood for someone, then it will return to air and earth. We're all like that, constantly changing. It's simply honest to report that you've changed your mind when you have. When you're afraid of what people will think if you speak honestly --- that's where you become confused.