Byron Katie vows that she has but one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. Byron Katie guides people through a process of self-inquiry she calls ‘The Work’ and in the process finds that their stressful beliefs about life, other people, or themselves radically shift – simply from pen, paper, and an open mind. Through ‘The Work’ Katie shows us that all problems in the world originate in our thinking.
Byron Katie became severely depressed in her early thirties spiralling for almost a decade before experiencing a life-changing realization. In that instant, she says, “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment.” Nowadays Katie is at the forefront of inspirational speakers and has brought The Work to millions of people across the world. Inspired by Katie’s teachings, today on Luminosity were dispelling what the “dont-know mind” is, and how to embrace it in our lives.
The “don’t-know mind” may, at first, seem like a confusing subject, starting firstly with the fact that “don’t know” in and of itself is neither here nor there – it’s mysterious, unknown and unsure. It’s not one thing or another, and so how do we even grasp hold of it? Never mind let ourselves swim in its waters of so-called ‘safeness’ and conduct our lives from that space.
Ultimately, what the don’t-know mind means is that you’re not a believer of your thoughts: you’re a feeler of your feelings. You’re not attached to any one thing or outcome: all you know is how you feel in that moment. Via our thoughts we know nothing as they are an unreliable compass misled by the data of our past. But what we do know is how we feel and we can tap into that. Our feelings are a compass for getting to the root of our thoughts, which are premeditated by our beliefs. The amazing thing is that if we don’t like what we see at the root – the belief – we can rewire it, and the side effect of this is liberation. This concept is the bedrock of Byron Katie’s work.
Not believing our own thoughts also frees us from the dissatisfaction of thinking that reality should be different than it is. And in doing this comes the understanding that any mystery – any frustration at what is not in our lives – is only what we ourselves have created. Why don’t I have this? Why do I feel this way? Why do they do that? Why can’t I seem to…? Once were freed into the space of the unthinkable, were liberated into realizing that nothing is either one thing or the other – and so were no longer affected by it. Were free.
Furthermore, our thoughts push everything into one department or the other, labelling them with their label-maker what each drawer contains. They even do this to our feelings – marking them against gradations of either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But the truth is that everything could be anything. And everything is anything. We just don’t believe things to be that way.
We cannot reduce ourselves to good-bad, right-wrong, up-down, male-female, big-small, fast-slow and so on and so forth. This is a great injustice and disservice to ourselves because it excludes the ‘in-between’. It creates a reality where something is either one thing or the other, or some greater or lesser version in relationship to one of these polarities. Most of our day-to-day experience is foundationed in this reality rather than being parts of the same whole: progressions and experiences of the same idea. We are reduced to being graded against a polarity, rather than being aspects of the same immutable truth; that being the pure love that is our soul.
Labelling a person as good or bad automatically halts their process of conceptualizing their own individual truth i.e. them creating and embodying themselves as their most magnificent self. Labelling creates a pervasive separation and it yields a singular “I” rather than the communion of “we”.
Katie’s statement is also laced with the irony that mankind usually doesn’t feel safe in the unknown – the “don’t know” – yet it is actually the place where we are most liberated, and safe to be the pure, essential soul that we really are. Everything else is a myth of stories that we have procured throughout our lives in order to feel safe, loveable, valued, worth – insert word here – i.e. all the things that our soul’s innately are, yet we devise ineffective humanly ways of trying to achieve them because we don’t believe it to be true.
But listen up, it is! It is so true. And herein lies our safety. Imagine if we were so deeply certain and relaxed into the fact of how loved, worthy, valuable, free and powerful we are, and liberated from all judgements and labels that are stifling us from experiencing our essence. Wouldn’t you feel so genuinely secure and safe operating from that place? A certainty to create this, go there, and do that? Well that’s what the dont-know mind is. We just need to untether ourselves enough to do this, because the only thing that’s happening in each moment is the story we are interpreting. When we realize that we can only see the world as we believe it to be, we get the opportunity to look from a new perspective. The world is an optical illusion. In the end, it’s just you, crazed and miserable, or you, delighted and at peace.