Our quoth for this week will be the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear. For those of you who don’t know, it’s from Frank Herbert’s Dune.
Now be amazed as I reproduce the entirety of the Litany Against Fear from memory. Because yes, I am that much of a nerd.
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 and through me.
And when it has gone I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
-Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
I’ve never seen Se7en. And I don’t know what’s in the box. Does anyone knows what’s in the box? All I know is Brad Pitt said, “What’s in the box?”
Bonus Confession: I never finished reading Dune… my attention failed about three pages after the Litany Against Fear, but I loved the fuck out of that. If a book has something so worth committing to memory that early on, it must deserve more attention than I gave it. I haven’t even seen the movie either.
So I’ll add all three of those things to my list.
- Wallow in self-pity.
- Watch Seven.
- Watch Dune.
- Read Dune… maybe. I’ve got a lot to read as it is. (Since I mentioned it, my reading list is going. Not going fast, but going. Reading The Alex Crow is fun. So far it’s better than “punching the clown.”
- A million other things.
But on to why I’ve memorized The Litany Against Fear. When I first read it, it resonated with me. Deep inside. Profound shit, as I am a profound individual. The profoundest of individuals.
I was on the cusp of high school and, honestly, more anxiety than person. Always afraid of the stupidest things (while putting my hand in the box with the Gom Jabbar at my throat would likely have been met with, “challenge accepted”).
Is fun to say.
You know, the poison needle thing that the old woman in Dune had. It’s crazy how memorable those gibberish words are. Bene Gesserit. Gom Jabbar. How I remember those words, and their spellings, is beyond me.
Back to Anxiety
But simple things, like talking on the phone, or going out of the house to do pretty much anything, left me sweating.
When I read The Litany Against Fear, I had to memorize it. (If I didn’t, they’d kill my family.) I’d go through a day and recite it in my head a hundred times or so (whenever I was anxious/afraid), using it to power me through the tasks I found so difficult.
Over time, I used it less and less. I’ve had bad periods of anxiety and sometimes, when I need it, the litany pops back into my head. But for the most part, I internalized that push forward mentality. And now, even for stupid things that continue to be difficult, it doesn’t take a mantra to drive me forward.
Not to say it will cure you (because I’m sure as hell not cured), but if you need it, it’s a valuable tool in the fight against anxiety.
Oh, and the quickest way to major street cred? Recite it at parties.
And remember, he who controls the memes controls the universe.