In this dialogue from 2006, Byron Katie and Marc Gafni discussed the relationship between Katie’s system known as “The Work” and what Marc Gafni has recently come to refer to as Evolutionary Kabbalah (a term Marc Gafni coined formally only after this dialogue took place).
Key issues were the relationship of thoughts and inner states of being to the creation of reality in the manifest world. Byron Katie has said many times in her written and oral work that all suffering is a creation of our thoughts. This is the core premise, and one might even say dogma, of her entire teaching.Marc Gafni’s position is that while much of suffering is a creation of our thoughts, to say all of suffering is a creation of our thoughts is both not true AND creates more suffering.
The great contribution of Byron Katie’s work in Marc Gafni’s understanding is that it is utterly politically incorrect and a wonderful challenge to victim consciousness. Katie’s questions cut right through the core of illusion, narcissism and self-deception! She challenges the person lost in victimhood to reject a self-pitying stance and assume full responsibility for the way things are.
Is it true? Is it really true? How would it feel for you to give up that thought? And, Who would you be without that thought? And turn it around… That is, whatever you thought about the other person… and what they are doing to you… turn it around, take back the projection, and see how you are doing it to them.
Wow… How totally wonderful and great is this simply-formulated perception, which cuts to the core of the way things really are. A wonderfully elegant and simple expression of the non-dual realization that all is perfect – just as it is right now!
Marc Gafni both appreciated and challenged Byron Katie during their dialogue. The challenge was rooted in Marc Gafni’s position that while everything Byron Katie says is true as far as it goes, it is only part of the truth.
In Marc Gafni’s realization, based on the great tradition of Kabbalah, not all suffering is created by thoughts. Some suffering is real. Some suffering is not created by thoughts. Sometimes we are right to cry out in protest and say, “Let my People Go.” “It should not be this way.” “It must not be this way.”
This is the prophetic ethic of protest, which demands justice from everyone, including Job. It is in this prophetic tradition that it became possible for a Hasidic master in the late 19th century to put God on trial for the suffering of his community! Putting God on trial naturally assumes that it is legitimate and good to reject the status quo and affirm the possibility of possibility. If we do not affirm the dignity of our perceptions, which includes the reality and pain of suffering, then how can we trust our intuitions and perceptions to guide us in healing and transforming the planet?
Specifically, Marc Gafni discussed a story with Byron Katie about his mother being buried alive at age four by the Nazis in the midst of the Holocaust. Byron Katie suggested that this suffering was caused only by Marc’s mother’s thoughts about what was happening, and that absent her thoughts, which placed a hermeneutic grid on this incident, she might have been able to experience it as merely playing in a sandbox or some such.
Stream the audio here: