[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published as Science Fiction Geek Love on Brandi’s blog.]
As part of our two-year courtship beginning in 1998, Randin introduced me to the Dune series by Frank Herbert. We read the books (yes, even God Emperor) and discussed them as a means of getting to know each other, and to give us something substantive to talk about on the phone besides “Oh I miss you” and “I miss you too.” At the time, I was managing the Miracle Manor Retreat in Desert Hot Springs, and he was living and working two hours away in San Diego. We would see each other every other weekend, more or less.
Anyway, these books are subtle and profound. They work on your mind in an most ingenious way, focusing your attention on the manipulations and objectives of choice, power, and fate rather than on the big show. We would laugh when time and time again we’d read hundreds of pages leading up to the machinations for a major battle, to which Herbert would dedicate a paragraph, before continuing with the next extraordinarily long stratagem. Perhaps the effect on the mind is cultivating patience!
One of the major scheming factions are the Bene Gesserit. Wikipedia describes these woman as a secretive sisterhood whose members train their bodies and minds through years of physical and mental conditioning to obtain powers and abilities seem magical. Outsiders often call them witches. Naturally. I call them yoginis.
The litany against fear is an incantation spoken by the Bene Gesserit in order to focus their minds in times of peril.
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.
I confess, I use it, and it works. Upon waking for the first time after having my Central Line installed, I was overwhelmed with fear. The pain from the procedure was upon me, and every movement hard, and unfamiliar. I saw two years of this and wondered how I would ever endure it. It was a dark place, and I looked into it, long and deep. It passed over me, and through me. And here I am. Day 23. I remain.