Lately I’ve been reading the Dune series for the second time, about halfway through Children of Dune. Before the first reading was even over, it was already a favorite. I’d read it more often, but it takes so long to get through the six books, and I can’t stop with just one, I have to keep reading until I’m through.
If you have an open mind (and I hope you do) there are many things you can take away from the characters and ideas presented in the books.
In the story’s universe exists a group called the Bene Gesserit, a group of (mostly) female warrior scholars devoted to spreading insight to the universe. They aimed to maximize their human potential, and were considered to be “witches” because of the apparent powers this gave them.
One of my favorite things in the books comes from the Bene Gesserit: the Litany Against Fear. I posted it in a semi-stylized format earlier today, and decided to write about it. I find it to be helpful in my life, and think it could be helpful in everyone’s life.
Fear is a constant in most lives, to one degree or another. Some people in this world are in constant fear for their lives. Some fear that they won’t be able to eat today. Some fear other people, some fear themselves. Fear touches everyone, it’s one of our most often-felt emotions.
The Litany Against Fear goes: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where that fear has gone there will be nothing… only I will remain.”
It’s a beautiful piece of writing and insight by Frank Herbert. I assume it originated with him, although it may have been influenced by some other piece that I’m not familiar with.
I’ve been trying to implement it in my own life, one full of fears as is everyone’s. When I recognize that I fear a thing, I turn inward and calm myself with deep breaths and recite the Litany to myself. When I open my eyes, I’m ready to face my fear.
It’s not about being brave, to me. Instead, it’s about realizing that fear is not a useful emotion. “Fear is the mind-killer.” Have you ever been so scared about a situation that you’ve locked up, brain spinning wheels, fear filling the spaces where thoughts should be? I’ve battled with social anxiety in varying degrees my entire life. I used to lock up sometimes, shut down. My fear shut me down.
So instead, face your fear, allow it to pass over and through you. Feel it, let it go. And when it’s gone, only you will remain.
I’m still practicing this in my own life, and am far from mastering it. But I feel that the fearless life is one to aspire to, don’t you?