Interview: Why Our Suffering Exists Only in the Past

12.23.2016 - By The Work of Byron Katie

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Jess Lively talks with Byron Katie. "Learning from Katie has been one of the most helpful things I have done in my life. Her perspective on suffering has radically shifted my perspective." THE WORK IN ACTION: Katie questions the thought "He doesn't understand me." Through inquiry, she finds how she would hurt herself and others if she believed this thought. She also applies this same inquiry to the U.S. election and how we view our candidates. BK: Where is it that I don't understand him or her? I can learn a lot from this question. It doesn't mean that my vote will change. I can blame them for my suffering, but the truth is that I am the cause of my own suffering, and that's how I hurt myself. No one can hurt me--that's my job. Inquiry makes that so clear! How can I attack someone else, and then talk about peace? How can I be such a hypocrite and so asleep to myself? Understanding this makes me really humble in my relationships and better able to hear others. TURNAROUNDS: Katie explains how turnarounds can leave us curious about people and solutions, and shift our intention from wanting to be right to something more genuine. BK: When I understand myself, I understand the other. Without a story, there's an understanding that surpasses everything. We can be connected to life. Other than what we're thinking and believing, we're always fine, right here, right now. If I'm living even a nanosecond into the future, I am the cause of my suffering. What's at the center? Perfect peace, and in that we're all okay. Jess: Do we have to suffer to get this? BK: I think that every human being has suffered enough up to this moment. And what I love about this moment is that all suffering is in the past. Jess experiences an opening within herself from Katie's explanation of pain, past remembrance, and future projection. UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF Jess: What about the quote that "No one will ever understand you, and realizing this is freedom"? How is that so? BK: If you don't understand you, how can I? If I don't understand myself, how can I expect you to? I am the projector of my world. No two humans live in the same world. To understand yourself is to change your entire world, not ours. UNDERSTANDING YOUR WORLD Jess: How can we understand our world? BK: For me it always goes back to inquiry. Then the mystery ceases, and we can live without a past or future, in the excitement of now, living like a child, in a world where everything is new. If we can't end the war within ourselves, how can we end war in the world? As we question our fearful thoughts, mind ends the war with itself; it can find a home in itself; the war is gone, and we're just living this amazing life. Only you can question what you believe. Undoing the world that you believe is a matter of starting with your trivial discomforts and questioning them. Just go to, download a Worksheet, fill it in, and sit with your beautiful self. ©2016 Byron Katie International, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information, visit

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