After much inner work, and now in my early 50’s, I have gifted myself with a sabbatical from a corporate career to develop a vocation that will allow me to better integrate soul and role. According to the philosopher Ken Wilber, the culture of a country or society serves to expedite the development of a person born into that culture up to its average developmental level or center of gravity. However once a person reaches that stage, the culture then resists her growth into higher levels of development that lie beyond its orbit. Born into the traditional (Spiral Dynamics: Blue and Kegan: Socialized Mind) culture of India and having emigrated to the modern (Spiral Dynamics: Orange; Kegan: Self Authoring) culture of corporate America and the West, I have become increasingly dissatisfied with my own deeply conditioned mind and drawn to question the beliefs and assumptions that govern my stance and action in the world.
After the spiritual seeking of many decades and countless days on the meditation cushion noticing repetitive thoughts that invoked, anger, fear and stress, I have been very fortunate in finding “The Work of Byron Katie.” The Work is a method of inquiry that uses four questions and turnarounds to investigate any stressful belief. Often compared to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, The Work is a simple, yet effective method of self help that can be used at a very fundamental level to alleviate stress and with practice serves as a profoundly effective technique to realize one’s ever present condition as consciousness in every moment. It’s simplicity is deceptive; it’s potency is transformative. The Work works at light speed. In the context of The Work, I can understand what Oliver Wendell Holmes meant when he said: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” The Work fits that description.
With The Work, I have come to see the gift in a stressful emotion; those 3 AM fearful awakenings, the flash of anger during a business meeting or the cringing shame of hearing a criticism from my wife. I view them all now as temple bells calling me to inquiry; Durga’s kiss awakening me to Spirit – my ever present condition – that I can rest deeply in, any time I choose, even as I lie awake at 3 AM! Who knew that a stressful emotion can be looked forward to, for it shows me what’s left, the remaining stress inducing beliefs that lie unexamined in the underworld of my consciousness.
The Work can literally blow your mind and I invite you to it. Best of all it costs nothing, is easy to learn and the information you need to practice can be downloaded from the website. For those who need a trained facilitator to learn inquiry, there is even a free helpline, staffed by trained volunteers that can be accessed for the price of a phone call. No guru, no complex theory or esoteric practice, just four questions, so respectful of our free will that they don’t even ask to be answered.
The purpose of this blog then is to:
- Serve as an honest record of my experience of building a vocation where my deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.
- To be of service to anyone who is contemplating or planning to make such a transition while benefiting from the perspective of those readers who choose to share their perspective here.
- To enable me to “witness” myself through my own words. As a means to make object what is subject – to ‘have’, instead of ‘being had’ by what I have assumed to be true without investigation.
- To develop my written communication skills so critical to my ability to connect with others from the heart.
- To discuss topics that interest me deeply, in a way that is lucid, provides an unique perspective and is interesting and meaningful to the reader.