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January 29, 2012

Reports on Byron Katie by Scott Meredith

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Byron Katie

Byron Katie Session Jan 25, 2003
On Saturday, January 25th I attended what I’d call “Satsang-By-Any-Other-Name” with Byron Katie. It was held at a posh downtown San Francisco, sponsored by The Learning Annex.

In preparation for the big day, I’d read “Loving What Is”, read a few Web interviews, and listened to a couple of commercial audio tapes of sessions.

I arrived early and secured a front-row seat in the carpeted meeting room (no floor seating with bring-your-own zabuton for this venue!). I try to get front-row if possible for these things as I’m there primarily to suck a toke off the energy pipeline, should the teacher be unconsciously proffering any such.

About 85/15 female/male ratio in the final, full-room crowd of say 250 people that ultimately materialized. Not much in the way of stage, setting, or props, just a leaflet table with flowers. A few assistants/gophers and such scuttling about helping with setup, registration, book-selling, etc.

As set of Inquiry worksheets had been placed on every seat, so most of us filled out some “issue” (person/thing/self etc. that is hassling your mind at this time, judge it harshly, state how the universe is doing you wrong and what action needs to be taken post-haste to rectify these unfortunates oversights on the part of What Is… you guys know the drill!) So everybody prepped beforehand with that.

Buzz of excitement ripples through the crowed, in strolls Katie, looking absolutely fabulous, all in black. I’d thought maybe the obsessive re-use of that one single portrait/photo of K on all her published materials might be masking a gradual “dissolution of the physical shell” (as it were), but NO ­ she looked great! Not much make-up, looking as alert as a Lioness on the Serengeti (are there any left there actually?), she seemed a beautiful golden fish swimming free through crystal waters …

She stood and walked-around the entire session, using her hand-held mic for 3 hours straight with one single 15-minute break Though I do try to be sensitive to energy emanation, in this particular case, I did not feel any specially strong field-radiation from Katie. Not a criticism, as I suppose that’s not on her menu anyway. Just a side note.

I do know that K has publicly dialoged with Advaitatistical adepts (who sometimes do have an energetic or palpable wake-up-clarion type of physicalized effect on people, as Ramana did) and apparently there was found to be some commonality between them, you can refer to the interviews with K in “Emerging Spiritual Teachers” and “The Awakening West” for more on that.

She thanked us warmly for coming, in a strong and pleasant Southern-California-housewifely vocal manner. Definitely a no-nonsense person however, despite the warm and pleasant persona, no small talk, no jokes, just let’s get it on.

She gave us another few minutes to finish our worksheets, then called on about 7 people in a row to read the first line of their issues ­ “I need [-------] to stop [----------]“. Usual stuff I suppose, “I need Phil to be more attracted to me” “I need my mother to stop lying” “I need my boss to stop defaming me”, etc. The minutia of Earth-Plane existence, but apparently nettling these people to a considerable degree. Only the first line was read, then onto the next claimant.

Then it was time to go in depth. Apparent random selection of raised hands, to get down to The Work. First to plunge in was a lady sore at her Mom for being a pathological liar. Ho hum, all in a day’s work. K easily blew that one away… “I need my Mom to lie to me” “I need to stop lying to myself” Etc.

Next one was more interesting ­ a young-ish, intense-looking woman who made the following subtle linguistic point re one aspect of K’s work ­ the definition of the word “should”. For example, when you say to K, “My mother should not lie to me”, she will ask “Does she lie to you ?” “Yes” “Well then is it true what you said: `my mother should not lie to me’ ?” “Yes.” “Does she lie ?” “Yes” “Well then what’s the reality ? She’s lying to you! So, it isn’t true to say she shouldn’t lie to you, because she IS lying to you ­ that’s reality!” This young lady made the point that “should” and “is” are distinguished in normal meaning. What “should be” can be held separate from what “is”, in the normal usage of these words. But to K, the word “should” simply does not exist. So there can be a slight linguistic confusion, for those under the sway of language…

Anyway, after trying to talk around THAT for a few minutes, this young woman opened up that she had been brutally beaten throughout her childhood by her father, and was having trouble freeing her mind from bitterness moving on. The woman also too issue with statements that appear on K’s audio tape, to a woman who’d suffered childhood sexual abuse, that the child had been, in a very small part, responsible or provocative.

Too much to go into here, but it was a long (40 minutes or so) and intense exchange ­ quite fascinating. However, I could sense that the work might get a bit stale, rather quickly, if it is not Your Own Issue being drilled. Actually, in my case, even it if were my own issue(s), I think I’d get bored with it.

K seems to be an amazing hybrid ­ two parallel universes, one of intense concern with absolutely minute particulars of relationships, typical low-level human background-noise types of difficulties, but this trivial focus all somehow filtered through K’s own apparent breakthrough into a charming and spacy loftiness (or, lofty spaciness?)

Anyway, K gives no quarter on any point of The Work, does not deviate from its pursuit into any digression, makes no reference to anything outside the room, the person, the issue, at hand. Totally focused, in a warm, charming, yet oddly zombified way. Like a smart and charismatic version of a Stepford wife, I felt.

Just to check out the 1-1 energetic interactional potential from her, I raised my hand and snagged the mic to ask a question. I noted that K has said (earlier this session, and in other interviews) that you don’t need to do any Work on thoughts that are pleasant, let those be, enjoy them, just Work on the nasty stuff. I said that I’ve heard elsewhere that ALL thoughts and mind chatter, even if pleasant, are held to block us somehow from direct perception of the present moment radiating Reality all around us, and therefore there are those who advocate stomping the little suckers be they nice or be they nasty. Thus, my question.

She engaged very warmly on it, I must say I was somewhat whirlpooled into her warmth, her attention, her eyes as she spoke. Her eyes sparkle radically! Is that a showbiz pre-talk eye-drop thing, or a sure sign of having achieved Nirvana, or what ?? She does have a fantastic ability in 1-1 lasering that is apparent but maybe a bit muted by the crowd presentation, but felt strongly when directed full on you. I felt I was just kind of basking dumbly in her momentary attention, nodding stupidly and hoping she’d just keep on answering me at greater greater greater length … the actual content of her answer, boiled down, was that your neg’s are plentiful enough to give you all the Work you can handle. And when you’ve stomped enough Neg’s, over time, the “good” ones will also begin to fade of their own accord, leaving Only What Is, in each moment.

But all things must pass, and we wrapped up the three hours with me feeling: I’d enjoyed the intellectual elements (or rather, K’s shrewd deflection of intellectual probing) from the young beaten woman; too stiff from sitting in that narrow chair for too long; slightly buzzed out from having my question so warmly answered; impressed with K herself (Let’s face it – she’s a Goddess!); and somewhat bored with The Work. Imagine having to whip out that cumbersome mechanism with any kind of regularity!

“O body swayed to music,
O brightening glance,
How can we know
the dancer from the dance?”

- WB Yeats

Anyway, this was me ­ there – then. Your own mileage may vary!

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Reports on Byron Katie by Scott Meredith, 8.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings