Sunday, November 2, 2008

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer."

Warning - what follows is a very introspective post, having little to do with science, jobs or school, a quite a lot to do with self reflection, evaluation and stuff at the core of life.  Other than the one humorous quote, not terribly cheerful either.  But hey, it's my blog to write.  Shrug.  

As is my usual tendency, when I can't come up with my own words to describe what I'm thinking and wrestling with, I end up wandering through quote compilations, saving the ones that resonate.  Sometimes it helps me put a finger on what it is that's bothering me, and at the very least, they convey such things more skillfully than I can.

Today's short list:

One will never reach distant shores,
if he chooses to remain upon the dock,
In fear his little ship of dreams
may be dashed against the rocks.
-- F. Bolen.

4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
-- 1 John 4:18.

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
-- Arthur Somers Roche.

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.
-- Frank Herbert, Dune. Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.

Women's faults are many, men have just two!
Everything they say and everything they do!!!
-- Unknown.


This story in particular came to mind.  I think right now I am the younger monk.

"Two monks were making a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of a great Saint. During the course of their journey, they came to a river where they met a beautiful young woman -- an apparently worldly creature, dressed in expensive finery and with her hair done up in the latest fashion. She was afraid of the current and afraid of ruining her lovely clothing, so asked the brothers if they might carry her across the river. 

The younger and more exacting of the brothers was offended at the very idea and turned away with an attitude of disgust. The older brother didn't hesitate, and quickly picked the woman up on his shoulders, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side. She thanked him and went on her way, and the brother waded back through the waters. 

The monks resumed their walk, the older one in perfect equanimity and enjoying the beautiful countryside, while the younger one grew more and more brooding and distracted, so much so that he could keep his silence no longer and suddenly burst out, "Brother, we are taught to avoid contact with women, and there you were, not just touching a woman, but 
carrying her on your shoulders!" 

The older monk looked at the younger with a loving, pitiful smile and said, "Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river; you are still carrying her."


The cycle is something like: love -> fear of loss -> amplified by a scary event in the past -> after which you thought you moved on like a mature adult -> a new, pretty harmless but vaguely reminiscent event brings all the memories and emotions back, and you realize that you didn't do such a good job of letting go as you thought you did.  And confusingly it seems like love is antithetically at the base of all these new dark things - jealousy, fear, anxiety.  Enormous, heart pounding things in dark nights, but in the morning the reality check light goes off on your mental dash board.  And you browse quotes, little bits of what other people have felt and thought and said.  Then you can name the darknesses, and start cutting them away as fruits unworthy of love, and dangerous beasts to harbor.

Culpa est mea.

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