February 28, 2007
A Thousand Dreams of Joy
Katie's new book A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are seems to be clarifying the mind, alongside The Work, at a rapid pace. I've made a practice of re-reading a chapter or two alongside Stephen Mitchell's Tao Te Ching before going to sleep and whatever I think I don't yet understand appears and unravels itself in my dreams, often with Katie right there as the icon of clarity, explaining what is happening and why. (I like the school of thought that says everyone and everything in your dream represents you. Maybe it is true in the "waking dream" as well.)
After one such night dream—in which I saw the futility of and increased inability to hold onto "things" (beliefs?)—I awoke at 5 am in tears, initially unable to move and wanting to meditate on it all day...and normally I'm no meditator, but each chapter of A Thousand Names for Joy is, for me, a meditation, as is The Work. Deeper stillness has resulted from reading this amazing book and sharing favorite chapters with friends. The still center pervades daily life. It is there behind the chatter of "I should do my taxes already" and the hilarity of my improv class; it is present as I prepare my class notes, fix dinner, walk around Santa Cruz, deal with a medical condition and write curmudgeonly articles about "The Secret." :-)
These effects seem to have spread to my work with clients and, most magically, to a teleclass I held last month. Only two of us in the class had read the book but everyone responded to The Work in ways I have rarely seen in these groups. This was to be a class in the basics of inquiry, but the sheer absurdity of our thoughts came to the fore so quickly and easily that I felt like I was sitting with a group of Buddhas; each one's realizations seemed to free us all. Together we became unable to believe our stories of "harmful," for example, or of "winning" versus "losing"...and the notion of "should" has become completely nonsensical!
I believe that with A Thousand Names for Joy, Katie and Stephen have released a virus...and it's deadly to stressful beliefs. I hesitate to say that publicly because it could set up unrealistic expectations. I realize I have done a poor job of telling you what's really going on for me, so I invite you to experience it for yourself. Read this book and sit with each nugget of an open mind and heart as you would linger in the Beloved's kiss or savor the most delicious morsel of chocolate imaginable...and let me know what happens.
P.S. The audiobook is nice to have, too. I've substituted listening to it (and to another one I like a lot, Your Inner Awakening) instead of checking email when I have insomnia at 3:00 a.m. Katie is not at all soporific, quite the opposite, but listening to her is incredibly restful. (Anyhow, we need to sleep, is that true?)
©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.