Unconditional Love + Direction

lily of the valley
An open-hearted gardener is not disturbed by weeds. Yet she pulls them out in favor of the flowers. She accepts the state of the garden, yet keeps working to improve it.

Unconditional Love + Direction

People come to The Work of Byron Katie with different levels of interest and resistance. In fact, each time I sit to do The Work myself, I have a different level of interest and resistance. It is also true for those whom I facilitate and for those who take my courses. 

How can I meet each person in a way that is appropriate for that person in that particular moment? 

The Most Important Part for Me Is Unconditional Love

When someone comes to do The Work, they are sharing something vulnerable. They are sharing the part of them that is stuck or confused or angry. To share this takes courage. 

So my number one job is to meet them with understanding. Literally, anything is welcome. There is nothing too painful, too shameful, too trivial, too taboo. The more I have done my own work, the more I can see myself in them. I am not shocked by what they bring, but rather I focus on the person who is bringing it.

This feels like love. And this unconditional kind of love is a very safe space. Even if I’m not facilitating, being with people this way feels so good. Byron Katie often says, “Love is the power.” I believe that if there is enough love, all troubles would melt away, even without The Work.

But People Come to Do The Work

Both in private sessions and in The Work 101, people sign up to do The Work. And while meeting them with love and acceptance is the most important thing, giving them The Work is also very important. 

This is a balance to unconditional love. Yes, everything is welcome here. Yes, I understand your suffering. Yes, I want you to find your own truths as we work together. 

But no, let’s not go down that rabbit hole. And no, that is not a turnaround. And no, you’re beating yourself up, which is not the purpose of The Work. And no, you are defending rather than looking for the role you play in your own suffering.

The “No’s” Are As Important As The “Yeses”

This is the razor’s edge of holding someone in The Work. At the same time that I am allowing anything to show up and welcoming it with open arms, I am also saying let’s stick with this process of questioning. And when we deviate, let’s come back to it.

Why this firmness? Because answering the questions is what loosens the attachment to suffering. I could just sit and listen to you as you complain, and I do that. But we could do much more together. 

When I hold you in the questions, and stubbornly keep asking them in different ways, I am saying, “Look over here. Could the opposite of what you believe be true?” I am asking you to feel your way along the walls of your darkened prison cell, which happens to have an open door that you cannot see (I can’t see it either but I know it’s there). I know that if you keep feeling your way along the wall, eventually you will stumble upon the open door. 

So the direction is this: keep exploring, keep feeling your way in the dark. Yes, I hear you about how much it hurts, and I’m here for you, but keep feeling along the wall. Have you walked along all four walls yet? Which one would you like to explore next?

But Sometimes You May Give Up

And that’s okay too. That’s when unconditional love is there for you again. If you don’t want to explore anymore, you don’t have to. If you want to sit where you are, we don’t even have to do The Work. 

But when you rest a little, I will ask you again. That’s actually what love does. I can’t give you freedom. No one can. But I can patiently, lovingly invite you to keep looking whenever you have the energy to do some more.

Are You Ready to Start Exploring?

Join us for The Work 101 online course (Apr 11- Jun 12) to get familiar with this process of exploration. You will learn by doing. And in this course you will be met with unconditional love—you don’t even have to finish the course. 

But you will also be invited over and over again to look here, and here, and here. What you will discover I don’t know. But there is a good chance you will find some open doors in rooms where you thought there was no hope for escape.

Have a great week,

“I do The Work with you because you think you need it. I don’t have any such thought; I love you just the way you are.” Byron Katie, Question Your Thinking, Change The World

Further reading: The Difference Between “I Love The Work” and “I Need The Work”

Todd Smith has been doing The Work of Byron Katie on an almost daily basis since 2007. He is just as excited about this simple process of self-inquiry today as he was when he first came across it. He also enjoys writing about The Work, and training others in the subtleties of this meditative process. Join Todd for The Work 101 online course, private sessions, virtual retreats, and his ongoing Inquiry Circle group.