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

by Byron Katie

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Book Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat:

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

The Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu was written more than 2,500 years ago and is the most widely published book in the world next to the Bible. Stephen Mitchell has done a sturdy and pensive translation of this ancient text that is just brimming with wisdom. Now Byron Katie, Mitchell's wife, has taken this classic and used it as a launch pad for her own musings on the experience of being human in our times. Her first two books were bestsellers about a process she calls self-inquiry or The Work, in which she uses four questions to open up a transformational process. A Thousand Names for Joy offers her idiosyncratic and thought-provoking commentary on the chapters of the Tao Te Ching and its wonderful blend of practical tips and paradoxes.

Katie mirrors the openness that is characteristic of Lao-tzu's vision of reality. She writes:

"I am content doing the thing in front of me, since my mind doesn't conflict with what I do. It has no reason to; there are no beliefs that would get in the way. Because the world is internal, I don't search for anything outside. Everything outside is inside. I have no need to meet anyone other than the people who enter my life, so my life is a continual invitation. I invite everyone and everything to come and go as they wish; all experiences are welcome here. There is never anything alien to the mind at peace with itself. It is its own joyous community."

Try to imagine what your life would be like if you saw it in this way. Things come and go. You don't clutch or get attached to things. You recognize that everything is provisional and ephemeral. There is no need to divide the world into good things and bad things or to separate yourself from others. The metaphor here is a perpetual open house for people, ideas, experiences, and adventures.

"When you become a lover of what is," writes Katie, "the war is over." Instead of fear, joy reigns. That is why the author can praise a hotel room for all the simple pleasures that lie at her touch. That is why she can let go of her favorite purse after realizing she left it in a restaurant in New York. Letting go brings great freedom: "It's exciting to give a total stranger what you have, and to know that giving is equal to having, and that giving is also a kind of having. (This doesn't mean that I didn't cancel my credit cards.) But it was clear that the purse was supposed to belong to someone else. How did I know that she needed it? She had it. There are no accidents in my world. When you're a lover of what is, your suffering is over."

This Taoist attitude toward possessions goes against all that is usually taught in Western culture yet it opens doors to a new way of being. A lover of what is also discards the illusion of control, especially the idea that we can make things go our way. Freedom is an elixir that comes with unbounded joy: "Where there's no story, no past or future, nothing to worry about, nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to be, it's all good."
  Saraswati_Library | Sep 16, 2010 |
Totally makes me think twice before complaining about anything in life. ( )
  EbonyHaywood | Jan 2, 2010 |
This is a retranslation of the Tao Te Ching according to Katie's unique outlook on life, and her thought dovetails wonderfully with the ancient work. Her husband acts as translator (and more I suspect). Just pick it up, turn to any page, and let it hit you right between the eyes. ( )
  Arctic-Stranger | Mar 12, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307339246, Paperback)

“Byron Katie is one of the truly great and inspiring teachers of our time. I encourage everyone to immerse themselves in this phenomenal book.” –Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

In her first two books, Loving What Is and I Need Your Love–Is That True? Byron Katie showed how suffering can be ended by questioning the stressful thoughts that create it. Now, in A Thousand Names for Joy, she encourages us to discover the freedom that lives on the other side of inquiry.

Stephen Mitchell–the renowned translator of the Tao Te Ching–selected provocative excerpts from that ancient text as a stimulus for Katie to talk about the most essential issues that face us all: life and death, good and evil, love, work, and fulfillment. With her stories of total ease in all circumstances, Katie does more than describe the awakened mind; she lets you see it, feel it, in action.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:25 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In her first two books, Byron Katie showed how suffering can be ended by questioning the stressful thoughts that create it, through a process of self-inquiry she calls The Work. Now, she encourages us to discover the freedom that lives on the other side of inquiry. Her husband, a renowned translator of the Tao Te Ching, selected provocative excerpts from that ancient text as a stimulus for Katie to talk about the most essential issues that face us all: life and death, good and evil, love, work, and fulfillment. The result is a book that allows the timeless insights of the Tao Te Ching to resonate anew for us today, while offering a vivid and illuminating glimpse into the life of someone who for twenty years--ever since she "woke up to reality" one morning in 1986--has been living what Lao-tzu wrote more than 2,500 years ago.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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