Byron Katie woke up to reality in 1986 and since then she has taught "The Work" around the world. Stephen Mitchell, her husband, begins his introduction with a quotation from Baruch Spinoza:
"The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is."
He claims that The Work has similarities with the Zen koan and Socratic dialogue. At the core of this process of self-inquiry are four questions:
"1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
Turn it around."
"Suffering is optional," says Katie who has been to hell and back with a trip into depression, paranoia, and rage. She found a way out to freedom, peace, and happiness. In this book, she presents one-on-one dialogue with people experiencing problems with intimate relationships and family life, work and money, self-judgments, underlying beliefs, bodies and addictions, and more. The Work is meeting your thoughts with understanding:
"A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It is not our thoughts, but the attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it's true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we've been attaching to, often for years."
Think of all the stories that we tell ourselves every day. They often have no basis in reality and yet they move us into anger, disappointment, envy, comparisons, and depression. (See the excerpt for a good example.) Here is a summary of how "the Work" can be adapted by any person:
"The Work is merely four questions; it's not even a thing. It has no motive, no strings. It's nothing without your answers. These four questions will join any program you've got and enhance it. Any religion you have they'll enhance it. If you have no religion, they will bring you joy. And they'll burn up anything that isn't true for you. They'll burn through to the reality that has always been waiting."