“I must not fear, fear is the mind killer.” – Paul Atreides – Frank Herbert’s Dune
Fear is powerful. Fear is primal. Fear is the mind killer.
There is much to be learned from science fiction. It allows us to remove the layers of a normal emotional response to stimulus and to seek the deeper lessons of story and legend. In this case we are listening to the mental mantra of Paul Atreides, son of the duke. He is talking himself into persevering a difficult trial. If he passes he surprise everyone and if he fails he will die. The stakes are incredibly high, and the primary risk of failure is simply fear.
The test he is undergoing is to see if he is human or an animal, which part of him will win out? For the test he has been told to place his hand in a box.
In the box is pain.
If he removes his hand he will be poisoned and die.
If he keeps his hand in the box he will suffer intense pain.
It is a struggle between the two brains of a human being, the mind (our logic and order) and the animal brain (our instinct and reaction).
It’s pure and simple metaphor in a test that excites the mind and drives the imagination. What will our hero do? Will he survive?
His mantra has always stuck with me over the years. I must not fear, fear is the mind killer. Such powerful language. But to be honest, I didn’t fully understand it. I may still not, but I have a new insight into it. Paul was concerned with giving over his will to his animal brain and becoming nothing more than an animal. Falling to instinct and reaction and losing his ability to use logic and reason. Losing his mind, or in sharper language, killing his mind.
We live in an age of fear. It seems like everyone is trying to push us into a fear reaction. Driving us to respond as animals. Trying to force us to release our freedom of being human.
I have had a lot of fear this week. From a server outage to the constant pressure of upcoming deadlines and new projects. It’s been a fear inducing week.
I needed this moment to pause and realize, I don’t have to react like an animal. I can forego the fear and focus on the knowledge that I am going to be okay. I have survived the past odds are I will survive the future, or in this case, I will survive the present.