Fear is the mind-killer

dune Frank Herbert Fear is the mind-killer

In my mid-teens, I read Dune by Frank Herbert, to this day one of my favourite books. It is one of those books that is regarded as “unfilmable”, with the one attempt that has been made is, well, not worthy of the book. Perhaps the Wachowski’s could film it, the way they took the “unfilmable” Cloud Atlas and wondrously wove it into a movie form (and it is both one of my favourite movies and favourite books now).

To me Dune is all about what we believe and how we can transcend our beliefs, so if the Wachowskis focussed on that human behaviour element (as Christopher Nolan did with Interstellar, a movie that is, simply, about the power of love), then perhaps at some point Dune will reach a whole new audience.

The belief Dune teaches us to transcend is that most human limiter, fear.

In my work as a sounding board to leaders, fear is so often a driver that blocks decision-making, so learning to understand ourselves, to bring awareness, then to transcend fear is a key piece of work for leaders, for all of us. It is also lifelong and one I will come back to again and again on this daily blog.

So, for today, I give you a key passage from Dune around transcending fear, then close with my favourite quote of all time, from Marianne Williamson.

“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.”

Bene Gesserit – Litany against fear, Dune  by Frank Herbert

In the book and the whole Dune series of books, the Bene Gesserit are a powerful and ancient order of women providing learning and leadership. The litany against fear is an incantation used by the Bene Gesserit throughout the Dune series to focus their minds and calm themselves in times of peril.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

Indeed my favourite quote, and one I have shared in person with many individual clients, leadership teams, workshops. Literally thousands of people over the years.

Different sections speak to different people at different times. For leaders, I often find that the most powerful lines are the last two, speaking to the power of releasing our fears.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.


Also published on Medium.

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