Friday, 02 February 2018 17:18

Using Byron Katie's The Work in solving problems

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In rapidly urbanizing African countries, people are transitioning from rural to modern living; folks are lost and resort to addiction to alcohol, drugs and over eating and sex to cope with their existential confusion. Addictions occur where people do not use their minds in solving their problems and, instead, seek escape in mind deadening agents. It is about time that Africans tried using their minds in solving their problems rather than always escaping, such as blaming other people for the royal mess they made their lives. The below "mental surgery" based on Byron Katie's "the Work" might help you to use your mind in solving your problems.  Cheers, Ozodi Osuji


Ozodi Thomas Osuji

The inquiry

Make a negative Judgment about  somebody

Apply the four questions to him

Turn the judgment and questions around to you

Is it true?

Can you absolutely know that it is true?

How do you react when you believe that the thought is true?

What would you be without that thought?

Turn it around


I hate what racist white people do to black people; I hate discrimination; I hate been denied jobs that I am qualified for; I hate the past enslavement of black people by white folks and Arabs. White people are evil.

Is it true that I hate white people because of racism?  Yes

Can I absolutely know that I hate white people because of their racism? Yes

How do I react when I believe that racism is true? I feel angry at white folks.

What would I be without racism? Black folks and I would do whatever type of work we/I want to do in the land.

Turn the thoughts around by applying them to me

Is it true that I am a racist? No

Can I be absolutely sure that I am a racist? No

How do white folks feel when they believe that I am a racist? Angry at me

What would white folks be without their perception that I am a racist? Friendly to me

I hate white folk's racism and discrimination turned around means that I hate my racism and discrimination to me; I have been denied jobs by racists mean that I have been denied jobs by me. I hate white folks and Arabs' past enslavement of Africans means that I hate my (Africans) past enslavement of Africans. White folks and Arabs are evil means that I am evil (for enslaving Africans/me).

According to Byron Katie, what I see in other people is what I see in me, deny and project out; when I see other people as evil racists I see me as an evil racist person; when I say that white folks enslaved Africans I say that I enslaved Africans.

The things I see in the outside world are the things I see in me, deny and project out. The external world is my thinking projected out. Now I take responsibility that the external world is my projection, the outward mirror of my thinking.

I am responsible for the world I see outside me because that world reflects my thinking. Instead of trying to change the outside world, such as change racists, I change my thinking. I change my thinking and stop being racist to me; I stop abusing me through being racists to me (and abusing other black people), I stop discriminating against me and white folks, I stop denying me jobs that I am qualified for. I take responsibility for my life and stop being angry at what other people, my dream figures, did to me, what I made them do to me, and change doing whatever I do not want done to me.

I stop discriminating against me and start accepting and loving me. I am love but deny that reality and make it seem like I am unlovable and want the outside people (my dream projects) to love me.  Other people cannot love me, appreciate me and tell me that I am good; only I can say those things to me.

Love is inside me and does not come from outside me; love is what I give to me; other people cannot give me love.

If I give me love other people will give me love; if I hate me other people will hate me; other people's behavior to me reflects my behavior to me.

Now, I love me and if I love me I will project out people who will do to me as I do to me, love me. If I want a job I give it to me and stop thinking that it is up to white folks and other persons to give me a job, it is not up to other people to give me jobs; only me can give me jobs (by identifying what I like doing and doing it and selling it to those who desire such goods and or services from me).

As we talk Africans are running to Europe and North America in search of jobs from white folks. Why don't they stay wherever they are and create jobs for themselves? Why do they need white folks to create jobs for them?

In Africa Africans are so fearful that they do not do anything independently; they are always blaming other people for their crummy situation; they are afraid of harm and death and do not struggle to set up and maintain a clean government and hold their leaders accountable for good governance; instead, they allow fear of what their so-called criminals in government could do to them, kill them, to dispose them to tolerate corrupt and non-delivering governments.

They want white folks to have clean and uncorrupt governments and they go to Europe to go have access to good governance.

Africans must take responsibility for their lives and stop running to other people's countries for work; they must stay where they are and fight for good governance; no one ever obtained good governance by  merely talking about it but by working for it and some dying for it.

All that Africans will get in Europe are menial jobs and those are what they deserve after all they did not fight for good jobs in their countries so why should white people give them good jobs that they did not fight for? In Europe they will be second class citizens; in Africa they are afraid to fight for social justice; other people will not fight for Africans equality regardless of where they are.

No one is abusing black folks; they are abusing themselves (with drugs, bad eating and other bad life styles). When they realize this reality then they would stop abusing themselves; they would start doing what they have to do to make their lives work.

As long as Africans blame white folks for their shithole countries they are depowering themselves; they would empower themselves when they work to have the type of government they wish to have in Africa.

Of course, they can go to Europe to work but it should not be because they are running away from their shithole countries. People with good skills do go to wherever they can best optimize their work experience, so if African scientists feel that being at Western universities is where they need to be to have facilities to do their research that is fine. Even then why don't Africans build good research facilities in Africa? Why not do their research in Africa, why always run to other people's countries?

If Africans run to Europe and Europeans see them as desperate economic refugees they would treat them badly; if treated badly because they refused to work to improve their country why should they complain about it?

No one will treat you badly if you treat yourself kindly. If you are treated badly by white folks you treat yourself and your fellow Africans badly.

The goal of Byron Katie's mental surgery, as she calls her methodological approach to changing the human pattern of thinking, is to enable the individual to regain freedom to live his life as he sees fit without always depowering his self by blaming other people for what they made of his life; you made your life what it is; if you want a different life go get it, work for it.

White people discriminated against me means that I discriminated against me; I feel angry at white folks for discriminating against me means that I feel angry at me for discriminating against me.

I did to me what white folks did to me. I refused to make up my mind as to what to do with my life, occupationally, floundered and sought work from white folks and gave white employers the opportunity to discriminate against me.

Moreover, I decided to not return to Africa to waiting jobs; I decided to stay in America to be discriminated against. This is because I wanted to experience discrimination.  On the positive side, I wanted to learn from discrimination.

Blaming other people is blaming one's self. You want white folks to stop racism means that you want to stop racism; you want white folks to accept you means that you want to accept you; you want white folks to employ you means that you want to employ you, you want to work for yourself; you want whites folks to apologize to you and black folks for slavery and racism means that I want to apologize to us for racism, for allowing fear to dispose us to tolerate racism and slavery.

I gave me fear, any kinds of fear, including the fear that led me to tolerate racism.

What the lady says makes sense to me. Below are other applications of her mental surgery to my issues.

Judgment: My ex-wife is evil.

Am I sure that that she is evil? I think that she is evil because upon our divorce she used the American racist legal system to literally enslave me to paying her spousal support (in addition to legitimate child support).

Can I be sure that she is evil? No, but her unsympathetic behavior led me to that conclusion.

How do I feel when I believe that she is evil?  I feel angry at her.

Who would I be without seeing her as evil? I would not be angry at her.

Turn it around

Judgment: I am evil

Is it true that I am evil? No

Can I be sure that I am evil? No

How do I feel when I believe that I am evil? Bad about myself

How would I feel if I did not see me as evil? I would feel good about me.

The idea is that whatever I see in my ex-wife or feel about her behavior is what I see in me or feel about me, for she is my projection; she is my thoughts projected out to her (and I am her thoughts projected to me, so her perception of me is her self-perception; she sees me as unloving so she feels unloving).

Instead of seeing her as evil and blaming her for the marriage not working I take responsibility for the marriage not working.

The marriage did not have to work; it was meant for me/us to learn from it and decide on how good marriages work.

For marriages to work spouses do not have to see each other as evil  and unloving; I do not have to see me as evil and unloving; she does not have to see herself as evil and unloving; partners do not have to have negative thoughts about themselves, deny and project them to each other.

I did to me whatever my ex-wife did to me. I stayed in an unloving marriage, my perception, out of guilt from leaving it; I wanted to please her; I felt that she did not love me and was totally focused on her religion not me; I felt like I was secondary in her life, her religion seemed primary in her life.

I made her behave as she did to justify not really loving her. If I loved her she would not have sought escape in religion (addiction to religion is mostly substitute love).

I am a loving person; she is a loving person; having said that, still the only person whose love I can ascertain is my love.

I am always love and do not need her love, nor does she need my love; one has to know that one is always love and love one's self and stop seeking love and appreciation from external others (spouses, children and friends, society).


My daughter dropped out school because she is opposition defiant and does not respect authority figures and doesn't do what her parents ask her to do, such as go to school.

Is it true that she dropped out of school for the reasons I stated? I don't know for sure.

Can I be absolutely sure that those reasons made her drop out of school? No

How do I feel when I believe that she dropped out of school? Angry and disappointed with her

How would I feel if I did not believe that she dropped out of school? Happy with her

Turn around

Is it true that I dropped out of school because of my oppositional defiant ego? No, although I nearly did so at age fourteen; my ego did not like not doing well at school and contemplated leaving so as to avoid being humiliated when I had poor marks in my examinations.

Am I absolutely sure of that? Yes

How do I feel because I dropped out of school? I would have been disappointed with myself if I dropped out of school.

How would I feel if I did not drop out of school? Satisfied

I should see my daughter's behavior as my projections. I did not want to go to school because of my desire to maintain my grandiose ego self-concept, an ego that should not make mistakes; to protect and defend my false, grandiose ego I did not want to go to school because I was afraid of making misstates, failing and be seen as unintelligent.

I must now deal with my fear of making mistakes by shrinking down my ego, making my ego humble, and if necessary eliminating my ego. If I have no big ego I learn easily and do not fear examinations and making mistakes. I pass examinations and have a profession and earn good income and have a happy life.

If I did all these things my daughter and my other children will do as I do for I would project to them humility. If I am less proud I would model prideless behaviors and they wouldn't run away from school to go protect their false, grandiose egos; they would persevere at challenging difficult tasks and succeed in life.  Their success would reflect my success in life.

If I am failure in life they will be failures in life. If I am not committed to a vocation, a profession they would not be committed to a profession; if I am a dilettante they will be dilatants unsure of what vocation to commit to; they do what I do for they are my projections.


Byron Katie says that we have minds and that ideas must necessarily flow into our minds. We are not our thoughts and beliefs. What we are are minds into which ideas from all over the place enter.

We make mistakes when we accept certain ideas and see them as who we are. If we identify with certain thoughts and defend them we suffer.

If we just allow ideas to go through our minds without identification with them we remain free. It is the individual whose ideas make happy or suffer.

If you are suffering, regardless of what you see other people do to you that you believe cause your suffering, it is your thinking about what you believe that other people did to you that make you suffer.

For example, in the past, white persons did enslave black people; in the present some white folks do discriminate against black folks. Be that as it may, it is black persons thought about slavery and discrimination that make them suffer.

A black person can see racism differently and not suffer. For example, you could see a human being who would enslave another human being as underdeveloped and pity him; you could then embark on teaching such a person how loving persons should relate to other people.

Anger is not the only possible response to social injustice.

The social injustices we see in our world reflect our thinking; thinking that we deny responsibility for and project to other people.

If you are discriminated against you have thoughts of self-discrimination and project them out to those who discriminate against you.

Your world reflects your thinking; the external world is the mirror of our private and collective thinking.

If you want to change the world then change your thinking. Think only loving thoughts for all people and you will project out people who would love you and not discriminate against you.

Your present reality of discrimination reflects your already existing state of mind; now change your mind and love you and all people and project out a loving world and no one would discriminate against you. You only experience what you think and want to experience.

Friendly and loving persons do not get to be discriminated against; those who want to be discriminated against will think it and project it out and see a world that discriminates against them.

Is this philosophy true or false? I think that it is, up to a point, true. It is the same kind of philosophy that Helen Schuman wrote about in her book, A course in miracles.

In my personal experience, people around me tend to treat me as I treat me; if I have negative self-esteem people will have negative esteem of me; if I have positive self-esteem I project out self-confidence and people treat me as such.

Instead of only trying to change other people I must first change my thinking.

Regardless of Byron Katie's pollyanderish view that the external world reflects our thinking, there are evil persons in the world. There are the Hitlers who hate and want to kill people; there are the Stalins of the world who want to dominate people and kill those who disobey them; there are white American racists, such as Donald Trump who do not want to see black folks in America.

I cannot change these evil persons; all that I can do is show them what constitutes loving thoughts and behaviors; I cannot make them love me.

If truth is said, I do care whether other folks love me or not! The only thing that I need do is love me and love people.


On the surface, Byron Katie's philosophy seems like rationalization for what is. She says that she loves what is and does not fight it for to fight it is to make one's self miserable and suffer. This looks like oriental fatalism.

If there is death that is reality and she loves it; she does not fight death by wishing that the dead person had not died. If there was rape she accepts it as the raped person's reality and does not indulge in helping her feel victimized; she does not join folks pity party session by asking why me.

If Muslim terrorists killed thousands of people at the world trade center at New York she accepts it as reality and wants to move on.

I want to go kill the Muslim jihadists, to teach them never to accept killing people as a means of intimidating them to embracing their primitive religion.

From her stand point, it is pointless asking why me. The reality is that what happened to one has happened to one. What happened to one offers one the opportunity to learn from it and become a different person, a person who does not attach to the things of this world, a person who shines good and bad off as part of living.

She talks like a Chinese sage, a Taoist who sees life as having good and bad in it but all those coming and going in our minds but are not who we are. Who we are is mind. What that mind is she did not tell us.

In my writing I explored the nature of self, mind, light, consciousness and intelligence and what folks call God. This paper is not the place to explore those ideas; let me just say that I know that people are spirit beings and in spirit are eternal;  on earth, in bodies, in the dream of separation people live in bodies and bodies do die. However, people's real selves, unified spirit live forever.

I do not want to introject my ideas into this paper on Byron Katie's methodological approach to healing he mind.

I end by saying that I see the good in Byron Katie's work and borrow it where I find it useful and otherwise live by my own philosophy, in her teams, by my story. I know that reality is not our stories; that much she and I agree.

Finally, Byron Katie does not think deeply to realize that the American political and economic system needs to change and become humane or else it makes people crazy and soon will collapse and the polity dies.

All the new age teachings, which hers is a part, will not improve America until a fundamental change is made in the American political economy.

Social democracy is the answer for America. By that I mean an elected socialist government, not a dictatorial socialist government as was in Russia.

America came into being through some sort of democracy; Americans are used to electing their rulers; you cannot operate a dictatorship in America. One man cannot tell Americans how to live their lives.

If America does not move towards social democracy it will remain a sick country producing sick people; America is like packaged shit that one day would hit the fan.

Even in a social democracy there would still be social inequality; the rich and the poor would still exist. However, the basic services, such as education and health insurance would be given to all people as birth right.

The world is not going to become perfect; there is no utopia in the world where folks have differences in intelligence and physical abilities; all we can do is make the world as fair as is possible, but not perfect.

In the meantime, Byron Katie and her fellow new age gurus give Americans temporary solace, means with which they tolerate their oppressive system. These New Age teachers are useful. However, they are mere bandages, palliatives.

What would really heal Americans is for them to struggle to change their society, to make it more like the social-democracies of Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

When currently politically disengaged Americans who, on the side, seek solace in new age religions, self-help psychologies (and from sex, homosexuality, drugs and over eating) finally engage in political action to change their society and make it fair, they would find the healing of their minds and bodies that they were looking for in oriental religions.

Byron Katie's the work is predicated on the Chinese religion of Taoism. What America and the world now needs is not escape into religions (whose conclusions no one can prove to be true) but vigorous efforts to make this world, the only world we are certain of, pleasurable for all people.


Mitchell, Byron Katie (2002). Loving What Is. New York: Harmony Books.

Mitchell, Byron Katie (2005). I Need Your Love, Is That True?  New York: Three Rivers Press.

Mitchell, Byron Katie (2007). A Thousand Names for joy. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Ozodi Thomas Osuji

February 2, 2018

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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: (907) 310-8176