Posted by: Jack Hope | Monday May 7, 2012

Litany Against Fear

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 the fear has gone there will be nothing…… Only I will remain.

-Frank Herbert, “Dune”

The Litany Against Fear will be familiar to avid science fiction fans. It is a manta written to ward off terror, to allow one to face their deepest and darkest fears.

For those unfamiliar with Frank Herbert and his works, the Litany comes from the novel “Dune” in which it is used by a group of space-nuns known as the Bene Gesserit. Dune, is an extremely complex novel and it’s sequels veer into even stranger and more intensely philosophical territory. Nonetheless, it remains a premier example of ecological science fiction and a parable for the modern world’s addiction to petrochemicals. Despite being nearly 50 years old, it remains more relevant than ever to the troubles facing our planet.

The thing though, is that in my personal life, the Litany works. It’s actually an effective tool to help manage fear. Repeating it has helped me to face some of my fears and to get past them. It focuses my mind on the important things, forces me to recognize that if my fear overwhelms me, then it has short circuited its own purpose.

Fear is a warning, a tool that’s meant to help a person survive, not cripple them and lead to inaction. All too often that’s what happens to me.

I’m still learning to manage my fears and I don’t have to face things as frightening as real physical danger to myself, but even so I find that I sometimes need all my strength just to face the ordinary challenges of my day.

It’s a good thing though, that I can count on some help from one of my favourite novels though.


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