I ALWAYS HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF LOVE
IN MY LIFE - EVERYONE DOES
Katie to a woman who thinks her husband should come back to live with her and her children: no one can keep you from loving him; you're the only one who can. You've been believing stories that keep you from the awareness of love - the great love in you for your husband and children - so that you pretend that you don't want him to be happy.
I can close my eyes and see my husband in the arms of a woman loving him, and I want that if it's what he wants, and I also see life without him and how full that would be.
I always have an abundance of love in my life. Everyone does. There's never a shortage and never too much. The way we know that this Work is alive in us is when we find ourselves, without a plan, living the turnarounds: "I should come back to the family" - "I should come back to myself" - "I should come back to him."
And you go home, and you call your husband and tell him, "I love you, and I am so happy you're with this woman. I've been looking inside me, and this is what I found, and I am so touched by this love I feel for you."
The belief about your husband was nothing more than an attempt to keep you from the awareness of the love that you are.
THERE'S SUCH ABUNDANCE
There's a table. There's a floor. There's a rug on the floor. There's a window. There's a sky. A sky! There are two friends - not one, not zero, but two. I could go on and on describing the world I live in now. It would take a lifetime to describe this moment, this now, which doesn't even exist except as my story. And isn't it beautiful? Reality as it is. It just is. I could die in such abundance, and I didn't do anything for it but notice.
THINKING IS THE ONLY
Before someone becomes drunk with his drinking he was already drunk with his thinking. Thinking is the only addiction. It's always been the only addiction. We're addicted to these concepts, and we become confused because we don't know how to meet them with understanding. We can't let go of them, because they're reality for us, and letting go just doesn't work. Only the truth can set us free.
THE ADVICE YOU'VE BEEN GIVING YOUR FAMILY
AND FRIENDS TURNS OUT TO BE ADVICE
FOR YOU TO LIVE, NOT US
You become the wise teacher as you become a student of yourself. It stops mattering if anyone else hears you, because YOU'RE listening. You are the wisdom you offer us, breathing and walking and effortlessly moving on, as you make your business deal, buy your groceries, or do the dishes.
ALCOHOLICS WERE DRUNK WITH THEIR THINKING
BEFORE THEY WERE DRUNK WITH
I have worked with hundreds of alcoholics, and I've always found that they were drunk with their thinking before they were drunk with their drinking. Many of them have told me that The Work includes all the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. For example, it gives a very clear form to the fourth and fifth steps - "taking a fearless inventory of ourselves, and admitting the exact nature of our wrongs"- that thousands have wanted to do and haven't known how to.
"Don't necessarily do The Work on drinking," I tell them. "Go back to the thought just prior to the thought that you need a drink, and do The Work on that, on that man or woman again, on that situation.
The prior thought is what you're trying to shut down with alcohol. Apply The Work to that. Your uninvestigated thinking is the problem, not alcohol.
Alcohol is honest and true: It promises to get you drunk, and it does; it promises to make things worse, and it does. It's always true to its word. it's a great teacher of integrity. It doesn't say "Drink me." It just sits there, true to itself, being what it is and waiting to do its job.
YOU'RE MEETING ALCOHOL WHERE IT IS - AND
IT DOES EXACTLY WHAT YOU
KNOW IT WILL DO
If you think that alcohol makes you sick or confused or angry, then when you drink it it's as if you're drinking your own disease. You're meeting alcohol where it is, and it does exactly what you know it will do. So investigate the thinking, not in order to stop drinking, but simply to end any confusion about what alcohol will do. And if you believe that you really want to keep drinking, just notice what it does to you. There's no pity in it. There's no victim in it. And eventually there's no fun in it - only a hangover.
NO TWO PEOPLE HAVE
We're born alone, we die alone, and we live alone, each on our own planet of perception. No two people have ever met. Even the people you know best and love with all your heart are your own projections. Sooner or later, you're the one who's left. Do you realize how wonderful that is? After all, you're the one you go to sleep with and wake up with, you're the one who orders your favorite food and loves your favorite music. You've always been your favorite subject - your ONLY subject. It's all about you.
There's nothing sweeter than being with myself, by myself. The amusement, the wonder of thoughts! They appear so real in their brilliance, they create the whole world, the majesty and play of it, the life of feelings, the joys that mind brings forth as nectar to itself. Thoughts appear from nowhere, they move by like clouds, they change, they dissipate, they're gone. Who named the sky? How did he know that?
ATTACHING TO A THOUGHT
THAT ISN'T TRUE
You don't experience anxiety unless you've attached to a thought that isn't true for you. I's that simple. You don't ever feel anxiety until you believe that a thought is true - and it's not.
EXCUSE ME. I'M
Like tact, apologies are often charades. Sometimes they're harmless charades, like when someone almost flattens you with a shopping cart and you say, "Excuse me." You don't want even strangers to lower their opinion of you. A friend of mine who went back to retrieve a magazine he'd left in a doctor's crowded waiting room made a speech excusing himself to everyone. He wanted them all to understand that he wasn't a used-magazine thief.
Full-time approval seeking means that instead of just living your life, you have to act it out. Waiting for a bus on a neighborhood street corner, you can't just wait for the bus. Every once in a while you have to step off the sidewalk and peer into the distance, doing a performance of someone waiting for a bus. Otherwise, one of the bystanders might think you're up to no good.
SEEKING APPROVAL BECOMES SO MUCH
A PART OF OUR LIVES THAT
A child is happily absorbed with her own games in the playground. All of a sudden she shocks herself by performing a flip. Kids around her, whom she had barely noticed, are laughing and clapping. She repeats the flip to see if they'll clap again.
All over the playground, kids are going, "Look at me! Look at me!", happy when they get the response they want, disappointed when they don't. The first child isn't sure what she's discovered, but it feels exciting. She thinks perhaps she's found the key to being included.
She goes to work on a new flip with a motive that she didn't have before. She's no longer fooling around to amuse herself. Her focus has shifted to the response she wants from the others, and with that comes the anxiety that she won't get it.
By the time we leave childhood, a lot of us are still doing flips of one kind or another, seeking approval from almost everyone we know - our partners and children, our parents, our colleagues at work, even the stranger in the elevator. Seeking approval becomes so much a part of our lives that it's automatic. We hardly know we're doing it.
It's easier to notice the anxiety it creates out there among our friends and colleagues. This one is chatty and amusing when she's with you but quiet when her fiancé is around. That one at work is always sucking up to the boss. This one has to be the center of attention. This member of the yoga group is particularly calm and smiley when the teacher is around. That one is a doormat for her kids.
Your attention may be drawn to this behavior because what's supposed to be going on isn't. A dinner party that was meant to be an opportunity for friends to relax and get to know one another turns into a stiff ordeal of competitive posturing. A business meeting intended to solve a problem becomes instead an opportunity to impress a visiting executive. Why? Because approval seeking has moved to center stage.
If your curiosity is aroused, you'll find yourself guessing at the unspoken thoughts behind this state of affairs. It's not hard to imagine the thoughts that make your friends anxious, because the same thoughts live, or have lived, somewhere in everyone's mind: "He'll reject me if he sees what I'm really like", "I can't be happy unless someone notices me", and so on. You may or may not act on these thoughts, but if you look inside, you'll probably find them.
MAKING AN IMPRESSION
We'll begin our exploration with a thought that most people believe: "You need to win people over to make them like you." Whole industries are built around this thought, and it seems obviously true. But is it? Let 's take a look.
Winning people over is supposed to begin with the first impression you make. Trying to impress someone, as the word implies, means that you are pushing toward an image you want to print on her mind. Perhaps you just want her to think you're an honest, forthright person, or that you're smart, or that you're attractive. You want to impress that on her.
It's as though you're coming up to her with a big rubber stamp and trying to print that favorable image of yourself on her mind. If you can impress that image on her, your relationship is off to a good start. That's a thought that a lot of people believe. But is it true?
One way to check its reality is to notice how you feel when someone tries to impress you. What do YOU see when someone comes at you with a big rubber stamp? From your perspective, the stamp says, "I really need you to like me" or "I want something from you."
You may only be a little put off, and you may try to start a conversation. But what if he keeps coming at you with his I-need-you-to- like me stamp? After a while you give up, or if you really want to find out who this person is, you have to find a way around his efforts to impress you.
Do people's attempts to impress you actually help you to like them? Is it even useful to think that you need to form an impression of anyone? How in fact do you make up your mind about people? You watch and listen while they say what they say and do what they do, and then, when it's ready to, your mind makes itself up.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BELIEVE YOU
NEED THE APPROVAL OF A
"I am a cameraman who had the rare opportunity to work on a film crew with a famous director. During breaks in the filming I would hover around the director hoping to get some praise for my work (I knew he was watching it on a video monitor). I awkwardly stood around while the director was busy working with the actors. On one occasion he asked me if I wanted something. I shook my head and went back to work frustrated and ashamed of myself for being so needy. I was also embarrassed to notice how pleased I was that he knew my name.
That night I went over the scene in my mind and asked myself what I wanted to hear from the director. The answer appeared immediately: "You did nice work on the close-ups." At the same time I realized that my pans and tilts could have been smoother. I noticed that my anxiety had completely disappeared.
The next day's shoot was a new experience. I gave myself the small corrections I needed during filming and when I saw the director relaxing with some other crew members, I joined in with ease. I had no thought that I needed his praise.
Without my agenda, I began to notice for myself and appreciate what made this director unusual. He has asked for me on several shoots since that time, and I have never wanted more than the occasional smile he gives me."
I WANT YOU TO APPROVE OF WHAT
YOU APPROVE OF BECAUSE
I LOVE YOU
When I don’t look for approval outside me, I remain as approval. If I seek your approval, it's not comfortable inside me. And through inquiry, I've come to see that I want you to approve of what you approve of, because I love you.
What you approve of is what I want. That's love - it wouldn't change anything. It already has everything it wants. it already IS everything it wants, just the way it wants it.
HAVING A CUP OF TEA IN THE
Thought Experiment: A Cup of Tea.
Think of someone you want to impress… or whose love you want… or who you're afraid of displeasing… or who you think has power over you…
Imagine having a cup of tea with this person. Imagine that during this time you don't make the slightest attempt to influence her mental life. Imagine that all you want is to let her have her thoughts, her tea, her experience.
Thoroughly imagine yourself in that scene. What does it feel like to sit in the presence of that person in this way? What do you notice about how it feels to be you? What do you notice about the other person?
"Before starting on a new article for the magazine I write for, I usually have to go to New York and sell the idea to my editor. I imagined having a cup of tea with her…
The first thing I noticed is that it felt very restful. I could see how much more I'd find out about this person, who has been my editor for serval years. I saw that usually I only get glimpses of her out of the corner of my eye because my attention is on the pitch I'm making to get an assignment… trying to appear brilliant enough to convince her that my idea would be successful. Even when I succeed, I leave feeling exhausted and with less enthusiasm for my project.
I discovered that finding out more about her would be interesting and I would enjoy her company. When I imagined pitching my story without trying to influence her mental life, I saw that I was actually describing it to myself, only I could hear it better in her presence. The idea grew and changed as I told it, I liked it better and left it up to her to like it or not. I felt open to her suggestions and saw that if the two of us could "have tea" in this way, without my trying to influence her mental life, good ideas might naturally float to the surface and we could have a lot of fun exploring them.
I wondered why I never do have a literal cup of tea with my editor. After doing the exercise I remembered that early on she had invited me to see her garden and that I had declined because I was afraid of my own motives… if I said yes I thought I might have been pretending to be interested in her and her garden in order to get work. I was too worried about this to even ask myself if I liked her. How silly! Doing the Cup of Tea Experiment, I realized that I really did like her and felt open to her invitation. We haven't had tea yet, but now we sometimes have dinner together. I have found a friend, and my articles for the magazine have improved."
THINGS HAPPEN WITH OR WITHOUT ME,
PEOPLE APPROVE OF ME
OR THEY DON'T
"If you don't seek our approval, there's no way you can ever have it"… can you really know that that's true? You just act sometimes as if you're God, as if you need to make things happen. I notice that things happen with or without me, people approve of me or they don't. It has nothing to do with me.
This is really good news, since it leaves me responsible for my own happiness. It leaves me to do nothing but live my life as kindly and intelligently as I can. If you don't notice and aren't grateful, I understand. It's only me I'm dealing with and that is enough for a lifetime.
HOW DO WE LOVE
One way is by not seeking approval outside ourselves. By not seeking approval outside myself, I come to see that I already have it.
I don't want approval; I want people to think the way they think. If I seek your approval, it's not comfortable. And I've come to see, through inquiry, that what you approve of is what I want. That's love - it wouldn't change anything.
YOU THINK THEY THINK THERE'S
You think that other people think there's something wrong with you because YOU think it. So by gaining their approval, you've been trying to stop them from thinking what you are thinking. The worst that can happen is that they are just like you! It's their job to think what you're already thinking, until you question it.
When you question what you think, the truth will make you laugh. and when you laugh, they laugh too. Everybody does their job all the time. That's why meeting your thought system is so much fun.
I WANT MY APPROVAL
If my husband were to say, "Stay home with me, I don't want you to be with people, " and if I knew to be with people, I would say, "Thank you, sweetheart, I understand where you're coming from. And I'm going to be with people now. I've met him with some understanding.
His is equal to mine. and I'm going to be with people now. I would tell him what I call the whole truth and nothing but the truth. "I need to be with people now" is just part of it. The rest of it is "I love you." "I love you, and I'm going to be with people now."
But if I needed something from him, if I wanted his approval, that would be another story. So I turn it around - I want MY approval. And if I sold out for approval, it wouldn't feel honest inside me; there would be no peace. I'd be treating my husband as not my nature if I were to seek his approval or love. It's unkind. And if I'm unkind to him, I'm unkind to me.
THERE'S NO ONE THINKING ANYWAY -
IT'S A HOUSE OF
I don't want people's approval. I want people to think the way they think. That's love. Manipulating and trying to change someone is like trying to rape his mind. "you there! Stop your internal life and focus over here, on me! I absolutely know that it's in your best interest to approve of me. I want that, and I don't care what you want."
But you can't control someone else's thinking. You can't even control your own. There's no one thinking anyway. It's a house of mirrors. Seeking approval means being stuck in the thought "I'm a this," this little speck, this limited thing.
ACCEPTING REALITY MEANS THAT YOU CAN ACT IN THE KINDEST,
MOST APPROPRIATE, AND MOST EFFECTIVE WAY
Question: You've said, "When you're perfectly clear, what is is what you want." Suppose I save all month to go to a good restaurant so I can eat grilled lemon sole. The waiter brings me braised ox tongue. What is is NOT what I want. Am I confused? What does it mean to argue with reality?
Answer: Yes, you're very confused. If you were clear, what you'd want is braised ox tongue, because that's what the waiter brought. It doesn't mean that you have to eat it. How do you react when you think that he shouldn't have brought you braised ox tongue?
Until you project that you have to eat it, or that you don't have enough time to reorder, or that you have to pay for what you didn't order, or that there has been any kind of injustice, there's no problem. But when you believe that he shouldn't have brought it, you might become angry at him or feel some form of stress.
Who would you be without your story as you face the waiter? Who would you be without the thought that there's not enough time or that the waiter made a mistake? You might be a person loving the moment, loving the apparent mistake. You might even be calm enough to repeat your original order with clarity and amusement.
You might say, "I appreciate you, and what I ordered was grilled lemon sole. My time is limited, and if you can't serve me the grilled lemon sole and have me out of here by eight, I'll need to go elsewhere. I prefer to stay here. what do you suggest?"
ARGUING WITH REALITY MEANS ARGUING WITH THE STORY OF A PAST. It's already over, and no thinking in the world can change it. The waiter has already brought you the braised ox tongue; it's sitting in front of you on a plate. If you think that it shouldn't be there, you're confused, because there it is.
The point is how can you be most effective in this moment, given that what is is? Accepting reality doesn't mean that you're going to be passive. Why would you be passive when you can be clear and have a wonderful, sane life? You don't have to eat the braised ox tongue; you don't have to keep from clearly reminding the waiter that you ordered grilled lemon sole. Accepting reality means, in fact, that you can act in the kindest, most appropriate, and most effective way.
WE DON'T ATTACH TO THINGS, WE
ATTACH TO OUR STORIES
Attachment to a thought means believing that the thought is true. When we don't inquire, we assume that a thought is true, though we can't even know that. The purpose of attachment is to keep us from the realization that we are already truth. We don't attach to things; we attach to our stories about things.
PEOPLE WHO ATTACK US
We see people who attack us as enemies, and actually they are friends. They enlighten us to all those deep secrets we're keeping from ourselves. Until those secrets are brought to light, there's no way for us to realize them, so there's no way that our patterns of behavior change. They can't, because the causes are hidden under the surface. The word is denial.
So people who attack us let us tap into that. And mothers are good at that. Your partners are good at that. Your children are good at that. So when you feel attacked, you defend and justify so that you don't have to look. And then you say that they're the ones who are causing your misery, and it's the opposite. It's YOU causing your misery, because you're not allowing your truth to surface.
THE ATTACKS THAT YOU EXPERIENCE ALONG
THE WAY ARE SIMPLY AREAS THAT
NEED TO BE QUESTIONED
Look at what you imagine is a flaw in your partner, and notice the ways that it gives you an opportunity to appreciate her. If you can't find these ways, you'll eventually have to strike out in anger - or you may just become frustrated by your lack of progress and attack yourself and her mentally.
These attacks that you experience along the way are simply areas that need to be questioned, that's all. If the ways become obvious, you'll grow and grow into love without limit. And you partner will follow, and so will the rest of the world.
WE LIVE AS AWARENESS, AND AWARENESS
ALWAYS FOCUSES ON SOMETHING,
BECAUSE IT'S EVERYTHING
It will notice its own finger or foot. Somewhere within it, there's always a focus. Its breath may surf the back of its tongue. It doesn't matter where the awareness is - the breath, the fingers, the toes - something is going on all the time within it, as it.
There's nothing moving it, and yet it's in perpetual motion. Its focus is itself. It is always present, like your breath. It doesn’t go faster or slower. It's a steady condition. It's nothing, and it's so beautiful that it wants to call itself "something."
Now it's a hand on my head, my elbow on the couch, my heart beating, my toes swaying to its natural rhythm. I notice that my fingers are doing the same, ever so slightly. It would be undetectable if I were attached to anything.
And as I speak, the movement continues. There's no sound, even though it appears that I'm talking. When I hear sound, it is silence, also. The tongue hitting the roof of the mouth, lips coming together as it speaks. The chair holding me. I am always held. Even in the walking, the earth holds me.