Only I will remain

Waking up to the craziness of the markets, to the burning of London, to the insanity of conflating debt with deficit,  it helps to remember this bit of wisdom from the Bene Gesserit (and that other Child of Dune, Brad Feld):

 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.

  • bfeld

    I tried to write the haiku version of this but got stuck on fear is the mind-killer. Haiku’s work so much better in Japanese.

    It’s such a powerful, powerful quote. Thanks for reminding everyone.

    • jerrycolonna

      Well you inspired me this morning as I read your posts from last week and remembered your post from months ago quoting the litany. Just paying it forward…

  • kirklove

    So true.

    Love Dune. Wish I could utter “Muad dib” and rid the world of nonsense. 

    • jerrycolonna

      Wouldn’t that be grand?

  • Kevin Friedman

    Thanks for sharing this powerful thought. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment that fear “brings total obliteration.” I seem to realize more and more each day that nothing causes a greater “hell” than fear itself. For me, my struggle is understanding the line “I will face my fear”. What REALLY enables a person to “face their fear”? That sounds all nice and good… but can people who are enslaved by a particular fear, “face their fear”? Do we do harm telling people who are only capable of running away from their fear to “face their fear”? Do those of us who can “face our fear” take this ability for granted?

    So… it becomes a “chicken and egg” problem to me… what comes first? I guess my working theory is that, perhaps, some indomitable belief in SELF (the “I” that Gesserit refers to above) has to be in place BEFORE one can face their fear. And, of course, this begs the question… where does this believe in SELF come from?

    • jerrycolonna

      I’m not sure anyone is ever harmed by facing their fears. Exactly HOW they face their fears, however, is different.

      And to your question, what effect on the belief in the self does having the ability to face our fears? That is, to be able to lean into that fearful place, make friends with the fearful thought, and survive, boy howdy that really does wonders for one’s self-esteem.

  • Tereza


  • jessicaf

    i’m very much in favor of taking small steps out of your comfort zone in order to truly live and not let fear stop you. this past year, especially, my entire life has been about taking these steps, no matter how terrifying the fear seemed. one of the most valuable lessons i learned on this journey is that you have to take your eyes off the fear. in facing the fear, you must, paradoxically, turn away from it. turning away from it means you need to turn toward something else, and this is incredibly important. because you have to turn toward something, and be filled with something. so you must turn toward something beautiful and life-giving. at times, something concrete that you can wrap your hands around, like an activity, not just nice ideas. in my opinion, if you develop a habit of doing this, you will be a master of moving past fear. 

    so i don’t think we should look at our fears for very long. glance at them, but then put your mind on whatever is “excellent or praiseworthy” (quoting the apostle paul from the bible). it’s like what my wise husband once said to me: “you prevent weeds by growing a healthy lawn.” you have to fill yourself up with beauty, so there’s no room for anything else. what’s beauty? the things of God, the things of the true human and eternal you, as well as this achingly beautiful earth.

  • Stephen Baum

    Mind and body are usually closely linked in my CEO clients. Addressing fear requires both physical and mental experiments beginning just outside of their comfort zone, then extending. Fears drive behavior with family as well as at work. Sometimes the experiment begins at home. 
    Stephen H. Baum 

    • jerrycolonna

      Really well put Stephen. I think I’d expand your point and note that mind and body are closely linked for all of us…and fear is such a powerful driver generally.

  • panterosa,

    Some how it took a while for this to distill into an image for me. But I’m glad to have it formed now.
    I see a combination of the metaphors ‘the nickel dropping’  and passing a kidney stone.

    The gut is our instinct, our second brain, and it’s also a center of feeling fear.

    The fear passing through is almost metabolic in it’s process – it is the nickel dropping into the system, which implies getting something conceptually, and also of activating a transaction like a slot machine. When digesting the transaction becomes a fear response it travels to the gut then it feels like a kidney stone and is pure pain until its gone. And then whoosh, it’s gone, and you remain.

    You remember what the nickel taught you, you remember the painful passage of the stone through you. Those two twine to give you a memorable lesson, and a new perspective which you then enjoy once you ‘remain’. 

  • SF

    I quote this to my kids, and myself, as needed.

    • jerrycolonna

      What a great parent. To them as well as to yourself.

  • Rohan

    “Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the realization that something is more important than fear.”

    • jerrycolonna

      Brilliant. And there are always more important things than fear.

    • Rich Weisberger

      That is the best quote on fear that i have ever come across. Thank you.

      • Rohan

        Very kind of you to let me know, Richard. :-)