Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday #102: “A Thousand Names for Joy” by Byron Katie

Dear kids,

You must read everything by Byron Katie. I hope you do, anyway. No one I’ve never met has affected me this much. A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are is just one of her amazing books. Don’t pass it up.

My Highlights:

  • The worst thing that ever happened exists only in the past, which means that it doesn’t exist at all. Right now, it’s only a stressful thought in your mind.
  • Anger, sadness, or frustration lets us know that we’re at war with the way of it. Even when we get what we wanted, we want it to last, and it doesn’t, it can’t. And because life is projected and mind is so full of confusion, there is no peace. But when you allow life to flow like water, you become that water. And you watch life lived to the ultimate, always giving you more than you need.
  • You can’t empty your mind of thoughts. You might as well try to empty the ocean of its water. Thoughts just keep coming back, it seems. That’s the way of it. But thoughts aren’t a problem if they’re met with understanding. Why would you even want to empty your mind, unless you’re at war with reality? I love my thoughts. And if I were ever to have a stressful thought, I know how to question it and give myself peace.
  • If I can walk into the light, so can you. You can’t help us with your words: “There it is, over there. Follow me.” No. You do it first, then we’ll follow. This savior thing is lethal.
  • But I was living with the certainty that wherever I was, that’s where I was supposed to be at that moment. This is not a theory; it’s the literal truth. If I think that I’m supposed to be doing anything but what I’m doing now, I’m insane.
  • There’s a perfect order here. “Holiness” and “wisdom” are just concepts that separate us from ourselves. We think that there’s some ideal we have to strive for, as if Jesus were any holier or the Buddha any wiser than we are right now in this moment. Who would you be without your story of yourself? It’s stressful to have ideals that you can achieve only in the future, a future that never comes. When you no longer believe the thought that you need to achieve anything, the world becomes a much kinder place.
  • No one will ever understand you. Realizing this is freedom. No one will ever understand you—not once, not ever. Even at our most understanding, we can only understand our story of who you are. There’s no understanding here except your own. If you don’t love another person, it hurts, because love is your very self. You can’t make yourself do it. But when you come to love yourself, you automatically love the other person.
  • Who would you be in people’s presence without, for example, the story that anyone should care about you, ever? You would be love itself. When you believe the myth that people should care, you’re too needy to care about people or about yourself. The experience of love can’t come from anyone else; it can come only from inside you.
  • But some people take the insight that the world is perfect and make it into a concept, and then they conclude that there’s no need to get involved in politics or social action. That’s separation. If someone came to you and said, “I’m suffering. Please help me,” would you answer, “You’re perfect just the way you are,” and turn away? Our heart naturally responds to people and animals in need.
  • People ask me, “How can you listen to all these problems, day after day, year after year? Doesn’t it drain your energy?” Well, it doesn’t. I’ve questioned my stressful thoughts, and I’ve seen that every single one of them is untrue. Every thought that used to look like a poisonous snake is actually a rope. I could stand over that rope for a thousand years, and never be frightened of it again. I see clearly what some people don’t yet see for themselves. Everyone in the world might come upon that rope and run screaming the other way, and I wouldn’t be afraid for them, feel sorry for them, or worry about them at all, because I realize that they’re not in danger, they’re absolutely not in harm’s way. As they cry snake, I see only rope.
  • I don’t try to change the world—not ever. The world changes by itself, and I’m a part of that change. I’m
  • The world will test you in every way, so that you can realize that last little piece that’s unfinished inside you. It’s a perfect setup.
  • I was sitting once with a friend who had a huge tumor, and the doctors had given her just a few weeks to live. As I was leaving her bedside, she said, “I love you,” and I said, “No, you don’t. You can’t love me until you love your tumor. Every concept that you put onto that tumor, you’ll eventually put onto me. The first time I don’t give you what you want, or threaten what you believe, you’ll put that concept onto me.” This might sound harsh, but my friend had asked me to always tell her the truth. The tears in her eyes were tears of gratitude, she said.
  • People who know there’s no hope are free; decisions are out of their hands. It has always been that way, but some people have to die bodily to find out.
  • ultimately everything in the universe is nothing imagined as something,
  • The truth is that everything comes from the I. If there’s no thought, there’s no world. Without the I to project itself, there is neither origin nor end. And the I just appears: it doesn’t come out of anything and it doesn’t return to anything. Actually, even “nothing” is born out of the I, because even it is a concept. By thinking that there is nothing, you continue to create something.
  • When your heart is cheerful and at peace, it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do, whether you live or die. You can talk or stay silent, and it’s all the same. Some people think that silence is more spiritual than speech, that meditation or prayer brings you closer to God than watching television or taking out the garbage. That’s the story of separation. Silence is a beautiful thing, but it’s no more beautiful than the sound of people talking. I love it when thoughts pass through my mind, and I love it when there are no thoughts. Thoughts can’t ever be a problem for me, because I have questioned them and seen that no thought is true.
  • When you follow the simple way of it, you notice that reality holds all the wisdom you’ll ever need. You don’t need any wisdom of your own. Plans are unnecessary. Reality always shows you what comes next, in a clearer, kinder, more efficient way than you could possibly discover for yourself.
  • I always know that the way is clear. And when I trip over an obstacle, I enjoy myself all the way to the ground. Falling is equal to not falling. Getting up again and not being able to are equal. The only way you can know the way of it is to join it without separation. It’s constant lovemaking, with no other lover than what is.
  • be wise or spiritual. You just notice what is. I like to say, “Don’t pretend yourself beyond your own evolution.” What I mean by that is “Don’t be spiritual; be honest instead.” It’s painful to
  • If you are new to inquiry, I strongly suggest that you not write about yourself at first. When 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.



Get the entire recommended reading list at Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday.


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