Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Few Words About the Proper Use of Hammers

Last Wednesday evening I attended a presentation at Louisville's Unity Church by the spiritual leader called Byron Katie.

Katie, as she is called, is the champion of a technique for overcoming problems that is called, "The Work." The Work is built around your answers to a set of key questions that Katie asks you to address regarding a consuming problem that you are struggling with.

Here are the questions she asks you to use in dealing with what has happened to you, or more particularly what you believe about something that has happened:

  1. Is it true?

  2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?

  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

  4. Who would you be without the thought?

I think these are very valuable questions to use, especially in dealing with the the event or events that have led to our sense of brokenness. In fact, in the chapter about Lectio Divina, in my book, A Spirituality for Brokenness, I encourage readers to use these questions in exploring key life events. Why? Because sometimes what we think happened, or believe happened, may not be real, or at least may not have happened in the way we recall it. On the other hand, what happened may have been real. It's just good to do a reality check.

Here is my concern about "The Work" in the way that Katie uses it. She seems to see The Work and the four questions as a sort of panacea that will enable you to fix anything that is wrong with you.

My friend and partner, Fran Englander, sometimes says that, to the person holding a hammer, EVERYTHING looks like a nail. There's something of that in what Katie does. For her, The Work is a hammer, and everyone's problem is a nail. While The Work is very valuable, there are lots of other techniques that can help as well. And the can be used with The Work.

Having offered that caveat, I still encourage you to use the four questions, and to answer them as honestly as you can.

And explore Katie's website to try the technique for yourself.


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