For me, Questions 1-4 Are About Looking for Wiggle Room
When I first start questioning a statement with The Work of Byron Katie, I start with the four questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?
These questions serve a very vital purpose. When answered slowly and meditatively, they can start to loosen the attachment I have to the thought that I am questioning.
There Are Two Ways to Wiggle the Thought
Questions 1 and 2 provide one way: I ask myself if the statement I’m questioning is actually true, or not. This is one dimension of wiggle room.
The other is provided by questions 3 and 4. Regardless of whether the statement is true or not, I notice whether the thought brings me peace or stress. This is the second dimension of wiggle room.
The Dimension of Truth
If I genuinely look, and find that the the statement I’m questioning is not true, my attachment to it usually starts to loosen. My grip on it naturally relaxes as I consider the untruth of what I’m holding.
And there are two chances to do this. Question 1 is the first. Question 2 is a more subtle version: if I can find even a shadow of a doubt about the truth of my statement, it is often enough to start the opening.
Even the tiniest bit of wiggle room is a crack, an opening, and that’s enough for the light to start coming in.
The Dimension of Pain
Questions 3 and 4 are about noticing the effect of believing the statement. How do I react when I believe it? I feel stress. Who would I be in the same situation without that thought? More peaceful.
This compare/contract exercise, when done meditatively, creates another crack, another opening, in a completely different dimension. And this too allows the light come in.
Without any prying, very spontaneously, my grip loosens on the thought. After all, why would I hold onto something that is causing me pain?
Taken Together the Four Questions Are Powerful
It means that, even if I don’t find any opening in one dimension, I may still find an opening in the other dimension. Even if the thought I’m questioning is actually true, I may still find that holding onto it is painful.
Just noticing how painful it is to hold onto the thought is often enough to ease my attachment to it. And this opens me enough to try some turnarounds.
Turnarounds Are Where New Thinking Emerges
Questions 1-4 begin the process of letting go.
The turnarounds bring new understandings.
If I skip the four questions and go straight to the turnarounds, however, I’m often not open enough to really consider them. In that case, I may do the turnarounds intellectually, but the part of me that is still holding onto the original belief is still closed. So no significant shift happens inside of me.
But when I consider the four questions first, something inside starts to open before I even get to the turnarounds. And when it does, the turnarounds often find fertile ground to sprout and grow.
Have a great week,
“I suggest that you always use the four questions before applying the turnaround. You may be tempted to take a shortcut and get right to the turnaround without putting your statement up against inquiry first. This is not an effective way of using the turnaround. The feeling of judgment turned back onto yourself can be brutal if it occurs prior to thorough self-education, and the four questions do give you this education. They end the ignorance of what you believe to be true, and the turnaround in the last position feels gentle and makes sense. Without the questions first, the turnarounds can feel harsh and shameful.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is