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, 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. 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.Katie’s profound, lighthearted wisdom is not theoretical; it is absolutely authentic. That is what makes this book so compelling. It’s a portrait of a woman who is imperturbably joyous, whether she is dancing with her infant granddaughter or finds that her house has been emptied out by burglars, whether she stands before a man about to kill her or embarks on the adventure of walking to the kitchen, whether she learns that she is going blind, flunks a “How Good a Lover Are You?” test, or is diagnosed with cancer. 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. And she shows you how that mind is yours as well.
This unusual collaboration brings together the Way (the Tao) and the\t\t Work, Katie's form of self-inquiry and path to joy. Katie is the author of\t\t Loving What Is, and Mitchell, the noted\t\t translator of the Tao, is her husband. In each chapter of this new book,\t\t Mitchell has presented Katie with a passage from the Tao and noted down her\t\t exposition on the theme. (This oral format can result in choppy, repetitive\t\t text.) Katie's own "awakening" came in 1986, after 10 years of depression. One\t\t morning she felt a sense of freedom from her overwhelming distress, a feeling\t\t she calls "a falling-away of the self." This freedom, she claims, is available\t\t to anyone who practices the Work, which consists of asking oneself four\t\t questions intended to turn around fixed ideas and dismantle painful, knotted\t\t thoughts about the past. Four dialogues Katie has conducted with seekers\t\t illustrate the Work in action. Her belief that reality is good and can only be\t\t grasped if we live in the present moment resonates with many traditional\t\t spiritual teachings, and in this genuine and fresh spiritual manifesto, Katie's\t\t engaging personality springs from the page.