Byron Katie, the founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. As she guides people through the powerful process of inquiry called The Work, they find that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves— radically shift and their lives are changed forever. In this exclusive interview with MyOutSpirit.com founder, Clayton Gibson, her first in a gay publication, Katie addresses LGBT suffering and our struggle for equal rights in terms of The Work.
Katie is one of the most beloved self-help authors in the world. Her best-selling books include LOVING WHAT IS, WHO WOULD YOU BE WITHOUT YOUR STORY, A THOUSAND NAMES FOR JOY, and I NEED YOUR LOVE: IS THAT TRUE? Katie will be a keynote speaker at the Liberation 2010 LGBT Spiritual Conference in Los Angeles in April 2010. (Mention MyOutSpirit to save $50 on conference registration - enter code "mos50")
"When it comes to suffering, we’re all the same. Straight or gay, we suffer only when we believe our stressful thoughts. The world can never be our problem; it’s only our thinking about the world that can cause us a problem. All these struggles for identity are very real, of course, and cause us untold misery. We attach to an identity—“I am straight,” “I am gay,” “I am the woman whose mother doesn’t love her,” “I am the man who isn’t good enough”—and we don’t realize that it’s the thought we’re believing in the moment that creates that identity. But the truth is that when we understand who we really are, we move beyond all identities, and life becomes very simple."
"Many people think that there is a contradiction between loving what is and activism. That’s not my experience at all. I’ve heard people say that they cling to their painful thoughts because they’re afraid that without them they wouldn’t go out and try to change the world. “If I felt completely peaceful,” they say, “why would I bother taking action at all?” My answer is “Because that’s what love does.” To think that we need sadness or outrage to motivate us to do what’s right is insane. As if the clearer and happier you get, the less kind you become. As if when someone finds freedom, she just sits around all day with drool running down her chin. My experience is the opposite. Love is action. It’s clear, it’s kind, it’s effortless, and it’s irresistible."
"When you attack someone who is anti-gay, however valid your viewpoint is, do you think that he’ll be open to what you’re saying? You’re threatening him with your attitude, and the facts can get lost, because you’re coming from fear and righteous anger. All he’ll hear is that you think he’s doing it wrong, it’s his fault, and he’ll go into denial and resistance. But if you speak to him without stress, in total confidence that everything is just the way it should be in this very moment, you’ll be able to express yourself kindly, effectively, and with no fear about the future.
"Violence teaches only violence. Stress teaches stress. If your heart is clear and loving and non-judgmental, our hearts will change much more quickly. That’s how it works. And if you do that genuinely, without violence in your heart, without anger, without pointing at homophobes as the enemy, then people begin to notice. We begin to listen and notice that change through peace is possible. It has to begin with one person. If you’re not the one, who is?"