Friday, February 28, 2014

Fear Is The Mind Killer

If you have not read any of the Dune franchise, by Frank Hebert, of books then you have most likely not come across the Bene Gesserit (an order of Nuns, for lack of a better word, in the series) Litany Against Fear. It appears in several places and goes like this:
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.
This stuck with me as a teenager when I read Dune. I learned it and recited it to myself for a long time when I faced adversity.

Over time I stopped using it and forgot the entire thing. What I remembered and still comes to mind in times of fear is the mantra:
Fear is the mind-killer, I will face my fear and allow it to pass through me.
That's the piece I remember to this day and still quote occasionally in my internal monologue.

A friend quoted the "fear is the mind-killer" in an email which got us talking about it. This made me think about other mantras that we can use to fight fear.

Now, I am not a bible thumper but I always thought that the Litany Against Fear's closest Psalm was Psalm 23 or better know as "The Valley of the Shadow of Death".  It goes:
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
This Psalm first came to my attention (that I remember) in the movie Nightbreaker, 1989. There is a scene in the movie where the US soldiers who are testing survivability near nuclear blasts are crotched in a trench. An atom bomb is detonated and one of the soldiers is quoting this Psalm.

I thought this was a very powerful verse and wanted to know where it came from. My Mom (most likely) told me it was from the Bible.

I quickly looked it up and added this section to memory:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I fear no evil, for You are with me; 
When I later (probably around the same time) found the Litany Against Fear I adopted my shortened version of it for times of fear, doubt, or when I needed to brace myself.

What have you done to brace yourself in times of fear? Email me if you don't want to reply.

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