Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

The Gentlest Thing in the World

--by Byron Katie (May 13, 2013)

The gentlest thing in the world is an open mind. Since it doesn't believe what it thinks, it is flexible, porous, without opposition, without defense. Nothing has power over it. Nothing can resist it. Even the hardest thing in the world — a closed mind — can't resist the power of openness. Ultimately the truth flows into it and through it, like water through rock.

"When the mind first becomes a student of itself, it learns that nothing in the world can possibly oppose it: everything is for it, everything adds to it, enlightens it, nourishes it, reveals it. It continues to open, because it's in a fearless, undefended state, and it's hungry for knowledge. And when it realizes that it's nothing, it can penetrate everywhere, even when there's no room for it, no place to receive it.

People are afraid to be nothing. But being nothing is only one aspect of it. Not only is it nothing to be afraid of, it's a cause for celebration. Without your stressful story, there is no stress — obviously! When you don't believe your thoughts, there's only laughter and peace. There are names for a place like that. I call it heaven. And how can people know what nothingness is while they still believe what they think? 'Something is better than nothing' — can you absolutely know that that's true?

The truly open mind doesn't have a goal or a purpose other than to be what it is. It's not attached to concepts of self or other. It realizes that ultimately there are no humans, there is no mind. When the mind opens, you lose everything, gratefully. I'm sitting here as a woman, and in the next realization I'm a galaxy or an ant. It doesn't matter. You lose everything, and then there's the reentry. On a good-hair day, don't you love to look in the mirror? That's what it's like. You're looking in the mirror at nothing, delighted. When you're nothing, it's always a good-hair day. […]

Mind appears, if it appears, only to end itself. The projected world goes first, then the mind that projected it. No trace of it remains. Silence is all that's possible — the openness of never having existed in the first place. That's where I live. When it's over, it's over. You can't create or uncreate it. You wouldn't want to.

-- Byron Katie, in "A Thousand Names for Joy"

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On May 10, 2013 Conrad P. Pritscher wrote:

 I was touched by reading this.  I often think I would like to be no one going nowhere, then I realize I'm only thinking that, and I am someone going somewhere.  I'm wanting to communicate my present experience to readers now yet I wonder if a blank space or no response would indicate being no one going nowhere.  But I realize indicating being no one going nowhere is only me indicating.  I'm reminded of Lao-tzu who said: "The way they can be said is not the way."  To paraphrase Gandhi: There is no way to being no one.  Being no one is the way.  I believe we are all one which makes me no one but that is me thinking that.  I forget if it is Pema Chodron or some other woman who wrote the book: Being No One Going Nowhere.  I highly recommend it.  Thanks for helping me come closer to being no one which is somewhat like being everyone which is like noticing we are all one.  Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  Warm and kind regards to everyone

On May 11, 2013 david doane wrote:

 My first writing of this seems to have gotten lost in cyberspace, so I do this second writing in a state of some frustration and aggravation -- the opportunity to let go and be is immediate for me at the moment. The author of this piece said well what being nothing means.  To me, being nothing means being no thing, attached to no thing including to no think, no assumption, no prediction, no expectation, no agenda.  It means being in pure process, detached from any content.  It means being totally in the present, totally in isness.  I think of doing as different than being in that doing implies committing some physical or mental action.  However, I think truly doing no thing means to be in a state of being no thing, and the two are the same.  That's too much thinking for me, so I'll move on.  I was in being no thing in utero and for a short time thereafter, and since then I've had only moments of being no thing, and those moments were few and brief.  For me, being no thing is a state of detachment from things and awareness of being part of all that is and one with all that is.  That state, that feeling and awareness, is a moment of heaven. 

On May 12, 2013 Amy wrote:

 The gentlest thing in the world is an open mind . . . Love this!  Just to think about it, makes me want to dive into it!  The gentlest person I know is Jesus.  Just to think about Him, makes me want to be near Him.
Is there anyone more flexible, more porous, without opposition, without defense?  Nothing (no one) has power over Him. No thing can resist Him (however, people have free will to resist).
Jesus, in His great love, openness and universality, (for me) is NOTHING short of irresistible!
When I cut my connection to Jesus (and His open heart and mind), I am nothing.
When my "lines are open" to Heaven (and Who dwell there), I am something.
He rose from the dead . . . That we may, too.  He ascended to Heaven . . . That we may follow!
 Always, Blessings and Love to you!

 zero + Jesus = Jesus (proving mathematically, with Him, we are something!)

On May 13, 2013 Timid wrote:

I was sitting in the waiting room at an ophtalmologist's when a very shy and gentle looking lady entered. She seemed lost and asked me whether she should go and knock at the doctor's door or wait. I told her the custom was for the patient to wait for the doctor to come and fetch him or her, and we sat on in silence, I, rather impressed by her extraordinary timidity and gentleness. Then ,all of a sudden she asked me:' the observer is the observed, isn't it?' I was baffled that she would address such a question to a complete stranger, at such a time and in such a place. But she was so gentle and sincere that I heard me say, possibly out of compassion: 'Yes, the observer is the observed'. She looked relieved: 'You see, I feel so awkward, even with the simplest things'. I then must have said something like 'never mind that ' but I was curious to know why she had asked such a question and had trusted me with the answer? And after a few more exchanges I understood that she loved to paint gardens and that when she painted flowers and trees she felt she was what she painted and then felt unsure of being quite normal and how disquieting this could be.  

On May 13, 2013 Timid+ wrote:

Finally the 'good' doctor walked  briskly into  the waiting room and from the air of commiseration and undisguised contempt with which he greeted his patients I fully understood how the lady felt and how disquieting it was to be unassuming and defenseless in the  midst of a crowd of somebodies. 

On May 13, 2013 a wrote:

 If one thinks himself/herself higher/greater than his or her neighbor, "a lesson" has yet to be learned.  We all enter and exit the world in the exact same way.  Our eternity is dependent on how we view ourselves in relation to God and our brothers and sisters.  Greater than . . . less than . . . or equal to?   
Chuckie, an old neighbor of my husband's family, was often quoted as saying, "If you think you are cool, you are really not!  You are dumb!"  (This stated when playing with buddies displaying "over inflated egos".)  Chuckie was right on!
As an added story:  My daughter in law has a very sweet and gentle grandmother.  My son's grandmother could be described as the exact opposite.  When the two grandmothers met for the first time last summer (at a bridal shower).  The quiet Grandma decided the dominant Grandma needed prayer.   Over inflated egos are very unattractive!  (There is no need to seek out friendships . . . when it outwardly appears you are your own best friend.) 
Praying for the doctor.  

On May 14, 2013 JoAnn wrote:

 Heaven is indeed now the moment of surrendering knowing for nothing....again, and again, and over again....

On May 14, 2013 Tanja wrote:

Just yesterday i went to a meeting of three colleagues, one gentle and two very dominant in the conversation. Usually I struggle with how to combat their forceful natures and find myself becoming strident or controlling (and later, exhausted), but instead yesterday I decided to simply let the sparring and rising clamour wash over me, to sit back and see what I could learn. I am still struggling with how to find my authentic place in these kinds of seemingly overpowering exchanges, but what I did see yesterday is that at least when I am open and ready to learn, I can begin to observe myself to change for the better from an authentic, and surrendered place. This piece helped to affirm that I was on the right track, rather than that I had failed to 'win' as my ego was telling me. Thank you.

On May 14, 2013 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Something to reflect on with an open mindedness to experience the fullness of emptiness, the presence of the eternity, the sound of silence-the heaven if you call it or shunyata if you will.

I experience such moments by becoming mindful, when I  become aware. of my projections of conscious and subconscious unprocessed wishes, longings and attachments-the closed mind and the closed heart, when I do not react  but respond with empathy and compassion to myself and to others.

Jagdish P Dave

On May 14, 2013 j wrote:

 Yay, you!

On May 14, 2013 aj wrote:

 Thank you, Jagdish!  "Fullness in emptiness" . . . so true.  
In my own personal emptiness, God fills me . . . giving me "just enough" (Spirit and Love) for the moment.
Love this!  
Again, thankful.

On May 14, 2013 Lesly Hopkins wrote:

 Yesterday I went to Bushy Park, in Teddington.  It is a lovely large Royal Park where anyone can go, free of charge.  There are deer who live there. 

As I got out of my car I noticed there was a new herd of young deer hovering around the Leg of Mutton Pond.  Most of them decided to cross over a wooden bridge to the other side of a stream that flowed into the pond..  They had that air that young children have.  The whole world was new and they looked wide-eyed at the world around them.  They clearly had very little experience and they were gathering experience every minute - as it happened. 

Three of them were a little nervous of crossing the bridge and they started walking along this side of the stream but something blocked their way.  They dithered.  They did not know how deep the water was in the stream - but they could see the rest of their herd munching away on the other side.  All of a sudden  one of them bravely risked it.  He plunged into the stream - which was deeper than he thought it might be  - and he took another leap from the stream up onto the bank. It all made a lot of noise.  He was shocked by his daring and he was soaking wet - but alive.   He careered around  shaking himself wildly as he joined the group on the other side. 

The other two dithered.  They were not at all keen on experiencing what their foolhardy friend had just experienced - even if he was now with the rest of the herd.  They dithered.  They dithered.  Then both together they managed to turn themselves around in the tight corner they were in and decided that the wooden bridge was a better deal after all.   Though there was a bad-tempered swan hovering around and enjoying intimidating young deer as they approached  this bridge.  They got to it and negotiated it with its slatted planks.  They couldn't run even though she was scaring them because they might just catch their hooves in between  two of the slats if they hurried. 

With relieve they managed to get past the swan and over the bridge and at last join the herd they knew they would feel safer munching alongside.

i made my way to a bench and continued to experience more of life's adventures happening in and around the Leg of Mutton Pond  in Bushy Park.

On May 15, 2013 Mish wrote:
The "somebodies" are nobodies & the "nobodies" are the REAL somebodies ???  :))

On May 15, 2013 Bijay wrote:

 Is it possible to experience true nothingness as a human being who is alive? Whatever state we can reach (through the practice of mindfulness, yoga, meditation, silence, gentleness, or just by chance, etc.) that we call the state of nothingness is "something" that we distinguish as different from the state of "not nothingness" as perceived by us.  I may feel something that I recognize as very unique for me and I give it a name "nothingness." Somebody else hears the word "nothingness" and assigns it to a unique feeling for him or her.  Can we be sure that these two unique feelings of "nothingness" of two different human beings are the same?  Is "nothing" truly different from "something."  Everything seems unknowable to human beings when you dive sufficiently deep into it. We will always live our life in a world that is unique for each of us. Let there be peace in it!

On May 15, 2013 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Nothingness is not a thing. If it is not a thing, it is beyond a  thing-an experience or realization of being, a state of being,oneness within and without, having no conceptual boundary, indescribable in words. So i  need to be silent and let the silence speak for itself.

Jagdish P Dave

On May 15, 2013 j wrote:

 Yup!  The last will be first :)) 
(Life on earth is not fair . . . God, The All Knowing One, IS fair . . . Life in Heaven will be beyond what any of us can imagine!)  
For now, I will try to enjoy my emptiness . . . my feelings of insignificance 

On May 16, 2013 Tim wrote:

A native, genuine gentleness is a very, very rare thing in a person. Most of us tend to be judgmental and opinionated and it takes a good deal of attention to our prejudices and a good deal of questioning to get to be a kinder person. And even so, it sometimes seems  impossible to change our native character for the best. It is easier to change one's perspectives, one's world views, easier to sit alone with oneself in relative silence than it is to change one's own 'damned' irritability in the face of circumstances, people, etc. So the abrupt question of a gentle person sitting in a waiting room can be very pertinent: who is he/she that is so irritable if not the observer that so persistently thinks himself different from that which he/she observes? Who reacts with irritation? Who thinks things should be different?  

On Aug 24, 2013 Nicole wrote:

 This makes absolutely no sense, "The gentlest thing in the world is an open mind", just the absolute nature of this statement means the author does not have an open mind.  "Since it doesn't believe what it thinks, it's flexible, porous without opposition," if you don't believe what you think, how could you begin to present this philosophy? How can you write an article or present an opinion without thought and without presenting those thoughts in the form of a belief? This entire article is written from one persons view and perspective on the world, those views and perspectives are generated from our thoughts and our beliefs and our experiences, that is why this article is not open minded at all, it's a very definitive view on why people should have an open mind. 
Hence the problem with this persons philosophy in general and even outside this article, how can you teach people to question beliefs and thoughts without running into a circular problem? How can you ask people to question their thoughts and beliefs and attach no value to them without questioning your thoughts and beliefs in asking them to question their thoughts and beliefs? Why do your thoughts and beliefs have value? And theirs don't? If your philosophy is meant to be universally applied than you have a huge fallacy in your philosophy and a circular problem. 
And I think you should apply your own thoughts and beliefs on the matter and question the entire philosophy, ask yourself, "is it true"? 

On Aug 24, 2013 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Open mindedness is one of the ways of looking at myself to realize my true nature, by facing my egoic mind mindfully and gradually freeing myself from myself. It is like cleansing the mirror of my consciousness to regain my child like eyes. This process has taken quite a bit of time for me for working on myself and I know I have not yet arrived. To me this type of journey itself is the destination. I am hastening slowly, patiently and compassionately. The proof of this way of working lies in tasting it. Different players have different drums. This drum feels right for me.

Jagdish P Dave

On May 14, 2014 Nandi wrote:

This is beautiful, so true, and I wish I had not lost that state after having it for 18 years but with this method I intend to try to get it back. Thank you so much. Love