These "prompts" are from the work of Byron Katie. She takes Taoist philosophy and makes much of it applicable to our modern day lives. As in Taoism, she believes that we need to live in the moment, because that is all there really is - this moment. Katie also says that if we are suffering it is due to thoughts we think that are ultimately not true. She encourages us to investigate our own thinking process with what she calls self-inquiry. You investigate your thoughts, beliefs, judgments with the four questions above, and then with the last statement, which she calls the turn-around. The turn-around is actually a way to pull back our projections (truths about ourself that we cannot acknowledge, so we see them in (project them on) others).
If you go to http://www.thework.com/ you will learn all about this process for removing much suffering from your life. Katie calls the process "the work". On her website you can watch videos of her doing the work with a variety of people dealing with many different issues. (There are also many videos of her doing "the work" on youtube.) You cannot help but be enthralled. People are, of course, at first very resistant to give up their cherished beliefs and judgments, but with Katie's gentle questionning, they begin to see that a lot of what they believe is simply not true and if they gave up the thought they could free themselves from unnecessary suffering. You do not have to do this work with Byron Katie. You can use the questions in the image above to conduct your own exercises in self-inquiry.
On her website you can also download free worksheets to help you do this work of self-inquiry on your own. It is a simple, yet powerful process. I encourage you to check it out. Katie has several books and CDs on the market. I suggest you begin with "Loving What Is" if you are thinking of purchasing one.
As described in a previous post back in June, Byron Katie's technique was instrumental in helping my daughter who was diagnosed with cancer last year, myself, and other members of our family to learn to accept (if not love) what is . . . and when mental suffering arose to question our thoughts and feel at peace. My description of Byron Katie and her work was buried in a long post about my daughter, so I thought I would give it its own post. These questions can be so liberating they deserve to stand on their own. Don't wait until you are in a difficult situation to learn the method of self-inquiry. When in crisis, it is often difficult to concentrate and learn something new. Learn this simple method before a crisis arises - it will give you a wonderful tool for everyday life, and what I think is almost a magic wand when life throws you into a brick wall.
Here is a little summary of Byron Katie's life that I found on Flickr:
Byron Kathleen Reid (everyone calls her Katie) became severely depressed in her early thirties. She was a businesswoman and mother living in a little town in the high desert of southern California. For almost a decade she spiraled down into depression, rage, self-loathing, and constant thoughts of suicide; for the last two years she was often unable to leave her bedroom.
Then one morning in February 1986, she experienced a life-changing realization. There are various names for an experience like this. Katie calls it "waking up to reality." In that instant of no-time, she says,I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always. She realized that what had been causing her depression was not the world around her, but the beliefs she'd had about the world. Instead of hopelessly trying to change the world to match her thoughts about how it should be, she could question these thoughts and, by meeting reality as it is, experience unimaginable freedom and joy.
As a result, a bedridden, suicidal woman was instantly filled with love for everything life brings.Katie's method of self-inquiry, called The Work, didn't develop from this experience; she says that it woke up with her, as her, that February morning in 1986. It is a simple, powerful method, accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and requires nothing more than a pen, paper, and an open mind. The first people exposed to The Work reported that it had transformed their lives, and she soon began receiving invitations to teach the process publicly..
Since 1986, she has brought The Work to hundreds of thousands of people across the world, at free public events, in corporations, universities, schools, churches, prisons, hospitals, at weekend intensives, and at her amazing nine-day School for The Work.