Is Byron Katie Your Guru?

So, isn’t Byron Katie your guru? people ask me. How is your relationship different with her compared to Osho Rajneesh that was your guru for 5 years? For starters, the, in my opinion and experience, outdated Indian spiritual concept of the master and disciple (sannyasin) is not the foundation for my relationship with Katie.
Yes, I have listened to Katie and practiced “her” modality, The Work, for over twenty years now, taken and staffed numerous trainings and workshops with her. I am a Certified Facilitator in “her” modality since 2012. All my classes that I teach are based on The Work. So, yeah, I get it – I seem like a ‘born-again-Kateist”…hehe.
The huge difference for me is that she has never claimed to be a “master” that has reached some kind of higher state than me and that I should do my best to “surrender” to her and then she will lead me to “enlightenment” (an awakening into constant bliss) that was the basic beliefs in the Osho community. I even wore a “mala” with Osho’s picture and a gold necklace with two birds: one larger flying higher and then one smaller following, representing the disciple flying under the master’s wings. My house was filled with gorgeous portraits of Osho and I listened for hours to his discourses; revering his wisdom.
With Katie, I don’t even have a picture of her at my house; why would I? Everything I have gotten out of The Work, I credit to myself, not her. My answers to the four questions of The Work are what sets me free, enlightens me and that uncovers my own wisdom. My own answers. My own solutions. I have never even been facilitated by Katie and feel no need to.
For over thirty years now her message has been the same: Question your thinking. Question your thinking. Question your thinking. Sure, she will answer questions and sometimes share a few minutes of what’s on her mind and for the most part, at every event, she dives right into people’s lives. What is your situation? What are your stressful thoughts? And then she asks the same four questions and listens intently as people uncover the stressful layers of their minds and come to peace. She listens to people’s mundane problems; “my husband doesn’t do the dishes” and to the deepest pain in humanity “my daughter was killed by a drunk driver” or “I am a survivor of the Vietnam war.”
At my first “School” (her flagship 9-day seminar, which was 14 days when I took it) in 2001, I sat down with excitement with a note pad. How interesting and inspiring to get to learn from Byron Katie for 14 days; I was going to make sure I took a lot of notes! Hahaha…the notebook was for me to write down my own stressful thoughts about every topic on the planet and then to question them with partners or in small group settings, 24/7 that was all we did; together with other profound practices that served me into finding even more deeper layer of myself and my mind.
Katie is so accessible; no waiting in long lines to just catch a glimpse of her at a “drive-by,” no special people that have access to sit right in front of her at events, no hush-hush, anyone in the audience can raise their hand and ask her a question or get up on the podium to work with her. At Esalen Retreat Center, while running workshops there, she would have her meals in the regular dining hall, just like everyone else, chatting and talking to people that sat at her table. I had a lovely breakfast with her and her husband once and another time we sat together watching the ocean sunset at Esalen, in sweet silence. Sure, I love her, and she still makes me laugh and inspires me. I am so grateful to have the practice of The Work in my life and so grateful that she shares it with the world.
As Katie says in her own words:
What I am here for is to bring this anti-virus that I call The Work to those who think it would serve them. It’s not for everyone. It’s just an offering. That’s what can be of use. Not my words, not my presence, nothing about me is of value. What is of value can’t be seen or heard. I’m invisible. But what is manifest is the four questions and the turnaround. That’s where the value is. That’s what can be experienced when people are tired of the suffering.  ~Byron Katie 

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