An Interview with Byron Katie

By Sunny Massad

Page 2

Byron Katie
Byron Katie

SM: Do you know if you were dreaming when you'd sleep?

BK: Mmmm. Same as awake. Nothing real here. Nothing real there.

SM: So would you have dreams but recognise that they weren't real?

BK: Same. It's like sitting with you.

SM: What I'm trying to get is…sitting with me…

BK: Is a dream.

SM: And when you are asleep…I'm trying to understand, is it like meditation where it's just still and quiet or your mind is actually having images?

Sunny Massad
Sunny Massad

BK: Same. Same as sitting here with you. It's all the same.

SM: So you are having visuals, and sound there too?

BK: Extremely rare. And heaven. Heaven. Heaven. Just like being here with you.

SM: So there was a lot of energy? And how did it affect your physical behaviour?

BK: No one told me what was going on. The people in Barstow, they don't have the concepts like maybe the people in this group tonight would.

What was typical for me was to hit the streets. Open my eyes, and just hit the streets. Maybe encounter someone, this would not be unusual, and just walk up and just naturally put my arms around them…or walk beside them and take their hand and walk. And maybe they would move away…frightened. And I would say something like, 'why are you pretending not to know me, why are you pretending not to care about me, why are you pretending not to love me? Why are you pretending not to recognise me?' And so, I could see the fear in their eyes, because It starts to shift from there, because it's me. So for you to be uncomfortable is my discomfort. I mean literally. And so I would go by the eyes and moving back and so It learned how the look is.

They used to call me 'the lit lady', and 'the woman who walks by' and I'd go out in the desert and just never come back cuz there's no such thing as lost. I learned that the light, the litness, would apparently decrease and get less and less until it looked like yours. No happier, no sadder. The appearance isn't quality, and that's where it's comfortable. But the litness doesn't change levels. It just apparently does. It's like a chameleon. I call it 'love meets itself'. It doesn't care where, it doesn't care what. It just does. So that's how I met people.

SM: So you were drawn toward human beings?

BK: Totally.

SM: Which was unusual considering…

BK: The extreme opposite. I [had not been] a lover of people or anything else that is.

SM: How has your relationship with your body changed?

BK: Um. I had one, now I don't [laughs]. Um. Just total love. Just absolutely… I used to ask my children to just look at these hands and fingers…how the light hit it and touched it and just…maybe I would just ask them to come look at my foot or something and just marvel. It didn't matter whether it was their foot or my foot it was…new. New. New. Took about three years for it to even begin to balance.

SM: And how was your relationship with your husband's body?

BK: Uhhhh. [Sighs.] First time we made love it was just amaaazing. It was radical! Cuz it was God with God. And it was the receiving of it and the giving ah, it was just amazing!

SM: So how long were you in the hospital after the…the cockroach? [Laughing.]

BK: In Texas they call me La Cucaracha. You know people are not 'not kind', they're honest instead.

SM: How long from the cockroach morning until you walked out the door?

BK: Oh, right away. Yeah, it was pretty scary. They were! It was more them getting rid of me I think.

SM: Were you medicated?

BK: No. Not that I remember. I think not.

SM: Had you ever been on medication?

BK: Premarin for 13 years.

SM: I'm trying to get a sense of, was it black and white or did it seem like there was preparation time and then the shift occurred? Because something happened where you went from being in the halfway house, drugged, you know, etc., and despairing, to now being on drugs, I mean, seemingly, I know you can't remember…

BK: What I know is, or what I would say is, when I went to the halfway house I just can't remember them medicating me at all. At all.

SM: Oh. At all. OK. And so how long ago was this, the event, I mean?

BK: 13 years. I think 13 years. Yeah, 1986.

SM: Just to clarify, you describe a phase of sleeping only three hours a night and hardly ate. Did that change?

BK: Yes, it fluctuated in and out for about three years.

SM: How many hours of sleep would you say you get now?

BK: Five–seven.

SM: Has your appetite returned?

BK: Yes.

A Thousand Names for Joy

Byron Katie's husband, Stephen Mitchell, explains that early in their marriage he used to read to her from great spiritual teachers like Lao-Tzu and the Buddha. She called these people "his dead friends." Katie would take in their words, sometimes nodding and saying "that's accurate." But occasionally, to his surprise, she corrected their statements with one of her own.

She was speaking as the peer of these ancient sages, as somebody who has had the same experiences and can speak about enlightenment with equal authority. Eventually Stephen decided to read to her his translation of the Tao Te Ching, all 81 chapters, and write down her responses. Those responses became the raw material for this book.

Where to Buy

Amazon

 

A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

Published by Three Rivers Press (2008)

304 pages

ISBN-10: 0307339246

ISSBN-13: 978-0307339249

This page was published on October 23, 2001 and last revised on February 14, 2014.