My favorite sci-fi novel of all time is Frank Herbert’s Dune.
The story takes place in the far future, when humans are spread across several planets and ruled by several political factions and quasi-religious sects.
One such sect — the Bene Gesserit — is an exclusive sisterhood of women with superhuman physical and mental capacities.
You can think of the Bene Gesserit as Amazon warrior ninjas trained in the ways of the Jedi.
Some of their abilities include:
- Hyperawareness: the ability to notice details in people and the environment that no one else catches.
- Truthsay: the ability to tell if people are lying by closely-observing their speech patterns, body language, and heart rate.
- Prana Bindu: The ability to fully control every muscle and nerve in the body so as to withstand immeasurable pain and deliver bone-shattering physical blows.
- The Voice: The ability to control people’s minds by subtly modulating vocal tones when speaking.
When my childhood friends wanted to grow up to be doctors and lawyers, I wanted to grow up to be the “Kwisatz Haderach” – the first male born into the Bene Gesserit lineage.
But no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t able to talk my way out of detention with “the Voice,” nor was I able to vanquish my schoolyard enemies with “Prana Bindu.”
I was, however, able to make use of tool from the Bene Gesserit toolkit – “The Litany against Fear.”
Whenever a Bene Gesserit found herself in a perilous situation, she would focus her mind by speaking aloud the following incantation:
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….
When I first encountered this passage as a kid, I must have re-read it a hundred times. To this day, I still get goosebumps when I read it out loud (perhaps you do too?)
I don’t flirt with death as often as a Bene Gesserit, but I do feel fear on a regular basis. In those times, the litany against fear is handy.
For example, my mind is often seized by thoughts like these:
“No stop!! don’t say hi to that girl! She’s way too beautiful for the likes of you! She’ll just tell you to screw off, then everyone will see you and think you’re a loser!”
“Wait wait WHAT!? You want to make an online course for learning Chinese pronunciation? YOU?! Have you looked in the mirror lately? Who the hell would ever buy Chinese program from your Black ass!”
“Whoah whoah whoah hold up! You’re gonna publish a blog post about your anxiety attack and depression for the whole world to see?! And then you’re gonna send it to your mailing list of tens of thousands of language-learners? They don’t give a shit about your life! Send that email, and your business is RUINED!”
When thoughts like these threaten to overwhelm my will, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and I recite the first line of the Litany Against Fear:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mindkiller.”
Then once my mind is calm again, I open my eyes, and I do whatever it is that I need to do.
I find it useful to give Fear the label of “Mindkiller”, because it reminds me what’s truly at stake.
You might lose your pride if you do the things that scare you, but if you never do those things, you WILL lose your mind.
But in the battle for your mental well-being, Fear is not your only foe – there are many other things in life that can put you in a bad state-of-mind.
Some examples include toxic relationships, addictive technology, negative emotions, unhealthy foods, consumerist behaviors, etc.
I encourage you to think of all of these things as “Mindkillers”.
For example, I use an app called Freedom to block news and social media sites on my devices, because…
Media is the Mindkiller.
I’ve also trained myself to feel compassion for people who act rude to me, because…
Anger is the Mindkiller
And as you learned in my video on Integrity Management, I put a lot of energy into making sure I follow through on my promises to people, because
Disintegrity is The Mindkiller
These are just a few of the things I’ve identified as the biggest Mindkillers in my life. There are several more, and I’m still doing battle with many of them.
But I wanted to hear from you:
What are the biggest Mindkillers in your life, and how exactly are they killing your mind?
I’m compiling a list of all the major Mindkillers that currently plague our society.
Your response will help me complete this list and develop better resources to help you overcome your personal Mindkillers.
Just reply in the comments, and let me know your story.
Then together, we can strike back against these Mindkillers with the terrifying grace of the Bene Gesserit.