An Interview with Byron Katie

By Sunny Massad

Page 3

Byron Katie
Byron Katie

SM: Many seekers are aspiring toward having a sustained transcendent experience. Can an STE be prepared for?

BK: If I say, if I talk about, 'I want to be enlightened…' it implies a future. And there isn't any. And then we attach to…one by one, by one, by one… I call it 'they get married and have babies.' It's reincarnation. You start with the…the I arises, and if you don't notice, then it has a baby and a baby and a baby and it splits, it's a cellular… [laughs] thing… it's like the atoms splitting… I call it instantaneous unenlightenment. But if you'll notice, then it ends. There's no more reincarnation. So if you don't notice, it continues. And that's time and space and place. It's an illusion. Like an internal optical illusion.

Sunny Massad
Sunny Massad

So there's only transcendence in the moment. Nobody can be transcended forever. That's why I say, 'who cares if you're enlightened forever? Can you just get it in this moment, now?' And that's what the investigation's about. I mean, that's all there is. I mean we're so attached to the concept we're in, that we really…it's such a vivid movie that it would imply a past and future with it all in it. It's just a concept now. So it is just in the moment now. There's no division point in it. There's nowhere where you know where it differentiates. It is so good. It, this transcendence thing is just a beginning. Until it comes back for itself and claims it, transcendence is just a beginning. It's just a concept. And that's what you were saying. It's a concept that people aspire to and they don't re-enter. And I don't know why people don't speak of it. But transcendence, there's nothing in it. When It comes back for Itself, the mere image of Itself… It's intoxicated. Couldn't have anything else. It's a matter of total greed.

SM: What is?

BK: Itself. It would have everything. It would just preen in front of the mirror. And you are that…and that…that beauty, and old and young, tall and short, and all things, and a flower and a tree…undivided. And that's a beginning.

SM: [Inaudible question.]

BK: Yeah, no story, no suffering. No attachment to story, no suffering. I don't even know what a sustained transcendent experience is. I only know that I have not seen a problem in 13 years that is real. And I have not met anyone or anything that I would change. Everything brings me such joy. I am everything. If that's what a sustained transcendent experience is, no wonder people seek it; even though it is always, always apparent.

SM: Um. Let's go back to that you didn't have any words or concepts, I'm guessing you had never read any books, is that correct, about…such things [that we're discussing]?

BK: No, no, not ever.

SM: Have you ever had a phase, like Suzanne Segal describes, about fear?*

*The late Suzanne Segal wrote a best-selling book about her awakening, Collision With The Infinite. To read an excerpt from it, click here.

BK: Suzanne Segal was a friend of mine and I couldn't relate to anything she said.

SM: You had the fear for 10 years, first? And so by the time your shift happened…

BK: Like U.G.…I totally relate.* And Suzanne, nothing. She used to call me and I couldn't relate to anything she said.

*Reference to the radical mystic U.G. Krishnamurti (no relation to J. Krishnamurti). To read more about him, click here.

SM: Can a person having a sustained transcendent experience know if someone else is having one?

BK: No. I see everyone as awake, whatever that is. I see everyone as clear.

SM: But you know when they're talking about their story…

BK: I see they believe they're not. I see the mere fact that they tell the story shows me that they don't. The mere fact that they suffer from it tells me that they know better. I used to ask people, why are you pretending not to know?

SM: Would you say then, that Suzanne was pretending that she knew?

BK: No. No, I wouldn't say that. I just don't relate to anything she said.

SM: She described disidentification by saying that she was located to the left of her body. Do you have that experience?

BK: No.

SM: So, do you know if U.G. is having a sustained transcendent experience?

BK: He's as close to my experience…he's the only one I've met that I relate to.

SM: His description about his shift was that it was a calamity… I mean he tends to portray the good, the bad and the ugly.

BK: And, see, that's where U.G. and I tend to have a different experience. I didn't experience a calamity. I experience the opposite. The thought that I existed at all was a calamity. And the opposite of that is really delightful from here.

SM: So, if I were to one day wake up and be having some kind of transcendent experience, how would I know?

BK: You don't. You don't even care. There's no one to care. I can't even put it into words… self-love? [That would] be a guess. Words are always going to fall short, which is a sweet thing.

SM: Would I feel physically grounded in my body?

BK: No.

SM: Where would I feel located?

BK: Everywhere. Everywhere your eyes see.

SM: So my consciousness would be bigger than this location?

BK: Yeah. And when you're, when I'm driving in a car, everything's coming into me. It ends there. I am the beginning and the end of all of it.

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.

He believed that 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



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.


comments powered by Disqus