My Interpretation of the Litany Against Fear

Dune is a work of fiction, but it presents philosophies I accept as powerful kernels of real-world wisdom. Here is the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, introduced in Herbert’s 1965 classic:

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.

Confrontation and acknowledgement transforms fear into an understanding of risk. To face fear – or to embrace joy, for that matter – is not to be deluded by denial or delight, but to be┬áhuman: to recognize emotion as an indicator of important experience.

As a cognitive tool, the Litany guides us to observe and identify sources of uncertainty. Observation changes challenges by changing how we see them; the paralyzing fog is dispelled by our gaze to reveal specific obstacles that can be attended to in turn.

I think this is especially useful as an approach to the anxiety that can sometimes inhibit opportunity or ambition. What will you tackle next?

Posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010. Tags: , , .