A Mind at Home with Itself: How Asking Four Questions Can Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, and Turn Around Your Whole World
by Byron Katie with Stephen Mitchell —
From Ch.5 Everyday Buddhas.
The Buddha said, ‘Let me ask you something, Subhuti. Can anyone recognize the Buddha by some distinguishing physical characteristics?’
Subhuti said, ‘No, Sir. The Buddha can’t be recognized by any distinguishing physical characteristics because as the Buddha has said, physical characteristics of the Buddha aren’t actually physical characteristics.’
The Buddha said, ‘Everything that has a physical form is an illusion. As soon as you see the illusory nature of all things, then you recognize the Buddha.’ (53)
Thinking that the Buddha is his body, or that he even has a body, makes things difficult. It keeps you limited. The truth is that the Buddha doesn’t have a body. Nobody does. (54)
…I feel sensations associated with is, and it all happens with my perception; there’s nothing external in it…these so-called parts of my body are still images and sensations within my perception…They’re part of a movie of reality; they’re not reality itself…Every time I try to focus on what is real about this body, it’s gone, and the ‘I’ who focuses is gone, too…It’s all about projection of the mind. To imagine that there is anything outside the mind is pure delusion. (54)
…pain is a projection of mind. If you observe it, you’ll see that it never arrives; it’s always on its way out. And it’s always happening on the surface of perception, while underneath it is the vast ocean of joy. (56)
Anything that is perceived by the awakened mind is beautiful. It’s the mirror image of mind, as seen by the mind. And to understand this is to lose the concept of mind. …If you don’t love what you see in the mirror, your vision must be distorted. …All things exist, it they exist at all, within the Buddha-mind, which sees everything as beautiful…[Buddha] is the essence of kindness, and he does everything he can to end the apparent suffering in the world. But his kindness arises out of the deepest sense of peace with whatever he perceives. If you see anything in the world as unacceptable, you can be certain that your mind is confused. If you think that anything is outside your own mind, that’s delusion. (56)
As you understand your own mind, you’ll begin to meet someone who is wise beyond your expectations. (56)
When you use your concept of a buddha to make yourself small by comparison, you’re creating stress. Without concepts, it’s easy to be enlightened. …no concepts stick to the actions. (57)
Usually when you think that pain is unbearable, it’s a lie. The pain is bearable, you’re bearing it. What’s so painful is that you’re projecting a future. …The story of the future is the only way you can be afraid. As you project what will happen, you miss what’s actually happening. (58)
When pain is truly beyond what you can bear, the mind shifts into another reality, because it has no control. It can’t imagine a future it hasn’t experienced from its past. …you don’t know how to project what’s coming next. The mind has no reference for it, so it shifts out of its body-identification. …It shifts out of what if has no reference for. (58)
By questioning the belief that these things shouldn’t happen, you can end your own suffering about the suffering of others. And once you do, you’ll be able to notice that this makes you a kinder human being, someone who is motivated by love rather than outrage or sadness. The end of suffering in the world begins with the end of suffering in you. (59)
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The milestones which mark my life are life-changing traumas. I never learned to build resilience in the face of adversity and tragedy, maybe that has something to do with the emotional challenges imposed by Asperger’s Syndrome.
The last year has been my life’s Advanced-Placement-level of traumatic events. (I feel guilty even mentioning these things because they do not compare to the traumas experienced globally in recent years, but that feeling of guilt is a problem in and of itself.) In less than a year I’ve experienced job losses, my cousin’s suicide, my brother’s suicide, my friends’s suicide, the failure of my small business, serious illness, major surgery and medical bills, bankruptcy, and the end of my marriage and loss of my home. This series of events has left me with both devastation and a blank slate.
These works are true gifts from Byron Kaite. I will be forever grateful for the stories and techniques she has shared. I want to share her writing with others in hope to inspire others.