In her newest book, Mitchell (Loving What Is), who goes by Byron Katie, speaks about her method of self-inquiry, “the Work,” through the lens of the Diamond Sutra—a Buddhist text that emphasizes the teachings of nonself, emptiness, and nonattachment—and arrives at some suspect conclusions. Suffering, she posits, is caused by “arguing with what is” through the stories and thoughts that one believes about the world. Mitchell explains how she uses the Work to question the truthfulness of apparent thoughts, turn them around to provide alternative perspectives, and reveal what is really happening in any situation. The Work allows “wordless questioning” to arise, which Mitchell says will show “everything as it really is: as pure grace.” However, Mitchell’s interpretation of the Diamond Sutra leads to more distressing implications. “Suffering is optional,” she writes, because problems are individually, solipsistically created; Mitchell places the blame squarely on the individual’s inability to regulate the mind rather than the presence of any external, objective causes of suffering. The world that Mitchell occupies is a world of self-projections, and she goes so far as to characterize compassion as “pure selfishness” since there are no real others and all suffering is imagined. The result is an (unintended) solipsistic worldview that does not acknowledge the possibility of external sources of suffering. New readers should approach Mitchell’s newest book on the Work with caution. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017 Release date: 09/19/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
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