JANUARY 10, 2010 4:41PM

Process Number Five (and a dream I had)

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Below is something I first read almost thirty years ago. It made a big impression on me at the time, partly because I had a head full of strong acid when I first read it and partly 'cause I was I was at an age when I had sort of a college dorm rap-session view of philosophy. But re-reading it today, it holds up pretty well to the decades I've had to think about such things, and it seems worth sharing.


Fear is at the root of man's destruction of himself. Without
Fear there is no blame. Without blame there is no conflict. Without
conflict there is no destruction.

But there is Fear: deep within the core of every human being it
lurks like a monster, dark and intangible. Its outward effects are
unmistakeable. Its source is hidden.

It can be seen on one level in furtive embarrassment, argumenta-
tive protest, social veneer and miserable isolation. It can be seen
on another level in the mammoth build-up of war machines in every
corner of the world. It can be seen in the fantasy world of escapism
known as entertainment. It can be seen in the squalor of ghettos and the pretentious elegance of "civilized" society. It can be seen in the desperate ratrace of commerce and industry, the sensational slanderings of the press, the constant back-biting of the political arena, and the lost world of the helpless junkie who has passed beyond the point of no return.

The tight-lipped suppression of the rigid moralist reflects it,
as does the violent protest of the anarchist. But more starkly and
tragically than anywhere else, it manifests in the pale grey shadow
of the ordinary person, whose fear clamps down on all his instincts
and traps him in the narrow confines of the socially accepted norm.
Afraid either to step down into the darkness of his lower self or to
rise up into the light of his higher self, he hangs suspended in bet-
ween, stultified into an alien pattern of nothingness.

But to a greater or lesser degree, and manifesting one way or
another, all human beings are afraid. And some of us are so afraid
that we dare not show our fear. Sometimes we dare not even know
our fear. For Fear itself is a terrifying concept to behold.

We may confess to being afraid of violence and pain, and even
ghosts; and with such obvious terrors, pigeonhole our fear to our
own satisfaction. But fear of people, fear of ourselves, fear of
failure, fear of loss, fear of our closest friends, fear of isolation,
fear of contact, fear of loneliness, fear of involvement, fear of
rejection, fear of commitment, fear of sickness, fear of deprivation,
fear of intensity, fear of inadequacy, fear of emotion, fear of GOD,
fear of knowledge, fear of death, fear of responsibility, fear of sin,
fear of virtue, fear of guilt, fear of punishment, fear of damnation,
fear of the consequences of our actions, and fear of our own fear?
How many of us recognize the presence in ourselves of these?

And if some of us recognize some of them, are we prepared to
see the full extent of them? Do we know just how afraid we are?
And do we know the effect that our fear has on our lives? Do we
know how completely we are governed by our fear?

And do we know that the world is governed by the sum total of
every human being's fear, and ours is not excluded?

And do we know that wars and rumors of wars mount up in an
ascending spiral of violence and potential violence, as the fear in
the hearts of men intensifies? Do we know that strife of every kind
increases as hatred, resentment, jealousy and prejudice increase,
and that all these stem from one thing only: Fear?

And do we know that one thing only ensures the escalation of
the spiral of violence and destruction: our own unwillingness to
recognize the full extent of our fear and its effects - our fear of

For each and every one of us, as long as he is afraid, and unwill-
ing to see with full clarity his fear for what it is, contributes to
the crippling conflict that has become the hallmark of this world of
ours. And as long as there IS fear, together with unwillingness to
see it clearly and completely, as long as human beings are afraid
and also fail to recognize the fact in their need to isolate them-
selves, in their outbursts of anger and irritation, in their embar-
rassment, in their sense of failure, in their feelings of resentment
and frustration, in their desire for revenge, in their guilt, in their
confusion, in their uncertainty, in their disappointment, in their
anxiety about the future and their wish to forget the past, in their
need to blame others and justify themselves, in their sense of help-
lessness and despair, in their revulsion and disgust, in their need to
be vicious and spiteful, in their lack of confidence, in their ten-
dency to boast and protest their superiority, in their failure to
respond, in their sense of inadequacy, in their feelings of envy, in
their futility, in their misery and in their scorn; as long as human
beings fail to see THEIR fear reflected in these and a hundred other
manifestations of Fear, then they will fail to see their part in the
relentless tide of hatred and violence, destruction and devastation,
that sweeps the earth. And the tide will not ebb until all is

Process Number Five on Fear - Church of the Final Judgement





A while back I had a dream. It was unusual in that I remembered it after I'd woken up, or while I was waking up, and wrote part of it down. The dream was unusual also in that it had left me with a serene feeling, rather than fear and anxiety. As I lay there replaying it in my head, I heard these words, as if someone standing next to me had said them out loud:  


I climb night's webwork

Moon in hand

And drown beneath a million stars

Free from fear

Free from desire

Free from doubt

My journey begins


I don't pretend to know what that means, nor do I attach any mystical significance to it. It does seem like a decent attempt to rid myself of  Process Number Five though, or to tell myself that it's possible to. Fear, desire, doubt; they're with me everyday, along with worse things, but I don't have to let them rule me. None of us does, though breaking free is a lot easier said than done. Here's to good journeying, and to not letting Fear make the rules.


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Bump, because this title ain't very catchy:(
Geez, nana.
I've been mentally blown away here.

Both by "Process Number Five" (which I had never heard) and your dream/poem (which coupled with that photo are very profound to me).

If only we could always be free and above all those concerns as we go about daily in our lives...
Whew! That's some heavy reading. I think it's worth sharing too, and I'm glad you did. I have hope that these fears the author so aptly describes can be scaled, though I'm not sure that there isn't such thing as a healthy amount of fear. Something to mull over. Did you write the excerpt? If not, who did?
Maybe FDR read this before he gave his first inaugural address: "I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."

Good words to hear today, as well.
They both made an impression on me too Spotted.

Leonde, it seems nearly impossible, but we can at least try....

Jane, my dreams are more usually extremely bizarre than impressive. The odd thing about this one is that I even remembered it.

Lacey, I first ran across the excerpt on the inner liner notes of the album "Maggot Brain" by Funkadelic, but I'm not sure who wrote it, or even what the "Church of the Final Judgment" is.

Clark, Janie; you two get the OS Synchronicitous Comment Award today for both quoting FDR. Well done! And thanks all for reading.
"...it manifests in the pale grey shadow of the ordinary person, whose fear clamps down on all his instincts and traps him in the narrow confines of the socially accepted norm."

Clinging to mainstream, rain or shine, is the demise of intellect and rationality in the individual. It is the bedrock of tribalism and incivility.

Fear is the oldest and deepest of human emotions; freeing oneself of fear, desire and doubt is, well, Zen at its coolest.

Great food for thought, nana.
This was profound. Fear does rob us of so much, and we will only admit to certain socially acceptable forms of it. Think of how many wars are started--killing many innocent civilians--because of fear. I liked that the piece mentioned that the rigid moralist AND the angry anarchist are afraid. Both ends of the spectrum don't allow for peace.
Great Post nana. People need fear. It stops anarchy. Fear of jail, or death. But the fear gene we all have has to be nurtured to fear only what is real. Not the unknown things like the monster under the bed!
it is a fine balance, fearful enough to keep oneself safe from the real dangers in the world but fearless enough to experience the heights and depths of what the world offers us, certainly joy and love but even pain and sorrow. i really liked reading this, jeff, and i liked your dream, too.

you're right, though. the title needs work. or maybe it's just one of those subjects that can't have a catchy title; if it did, it would be obvious you were trolling. ;
Excellent post.

I have been studying Lee Parks' book on high performance motorcycle riding techniques "Total Control" in which he asserts that fear is the main thing that keeps us from riding to our full potential. Who knew that extended to the rest of life? Well, okay, I did have an inkling.

Much of the book contains exercises in overcoming fear. I wonder if there is a manual like that for life?
Thanks Thoth, and exactly so.

Delia, fear does seem to thrive better on the fringes doesn't it? Still though, I see it more and more right smack dab in the middle too.

Good point Scanner, and not creating fear out of nothing, monsters under the bed as you say, is one of the simplest ways to manage fear. In theory at least.

Candace, I was going for cryptic, but forgot where I was for a minute. If I'd have been thinking right, I'd have used "Open Salon" or "Masturbation" or "Bestio-Necrophilia" in the title. Or all three.

Cappy, it's cool you'd mention a manual. One that has served me well is "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." There was a fair amount in there about fear, among a lot of other useful stuff.

And Janie, do NOT make me put that comment in my ever-growing file of things to be used against you at a future date:P
{kicks JK}

WHAT!?!?! She said to...
Thanks Spotted. I'd kick her myself, but she usually kicks back. It's the Doukhobor in her....

And Janie; only one "G." :(
From Hebert and the Dune trilogy:

'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration... '

Totally agree. rated
How did you do this? Get inside my head like this? How did you know? I needed this so much.....
When you fear, fear can you get any more fearful? This just blew me away so much to fear, to get past. Just Wow
so, nana, you're the secret spelling police everyone's been bitching about?

masturbation and bestio-whateverthefuck you wrote (i'm not scrolling down to be exact) should go first, before OS. sex sells, you know.

@janie and spot: stop it, you two, before someone really gets hurt. [sheesh. damn kids.]
Watch her Spotted; her noogies are deceptively powerful:P

Iconosesis, it's good to see you! I used to read a lot of sci-fi, and remember the line well. The only thing comparable to the "Dune" series as far as I'm concerned is Asimov's "Foundation."

Sharon, this post was actually a combination of two drafts I had. The idea of putting them together occurred to me after reading your post earlier. Everything happesn for a reason; I do sometimes believe that.

LunchLady, Process Five affected me like that the first time I read it too. It was one of those light-bulb-over-the-head moments for me.

Candace, I prefer the term "Spelling Nazi." It's just more evocative. But you're right; preversions generally trump self-referential titles, depending on what the controversy of the day happens to be.

And don't mock me General. You're making a major mockery of me, and I won't stand for it:[
I'm really glad I did not attempt this when I got up this morning--it would have sent me reeling back to bed! (or wondering if I was still asleep, dreaming I was failing philosophy) It really is all about letting go while being mindful, isn't it? Hard to do...
This is some really deep stuff here to contemplate. Love it and thanks.
{kicks JK again, under the table where femme can't see. Sticks tongue out mockingly for good measure.}
Fear has it's place. It's when it leaks out of that place that it can become life-destroying.
MyPsyche; "letting go while being mindful." That's exactly it; I think Buddhism has some of that in it too.

Miss Adams, thanks for visiting my blog and for the comment:)

Spotted, Janie, you two need to get a grip before someone loses an eye!

Natalie, I think fear, like most other human characteristics, had an evolutionary purpose, or it wouldn't exist. It's when it becomes pathological that it's a problem. Which is pretty much what you said isn't it? Never mind:P
Well, I'll attach something mystical to it for you. ;)

I loved the ending, it was gorgeous. For me, all the emotions are valid, it is the journey of the soul. To not "act out" from those places is the trick. I think you said that so much more eloquently here.

Thanks Nana.
I also run with scissors, but okay... Sorry JK.
{kisses and makes up}
Now then, wanna go play in traffic with me? ;-)
Powerful, Jeff, both the article and the dream; what a beautiful dream!
Super rated. Kisses,
I sometimes linger on this site when my attention might better serve elsewhere. Afraid that I might miss something. Miss what exactly? Something- maybe important or not, but something.

As a child I was often awake long after my sisters were asleep; afraid that I might be missing something. Sometimes this paid off because my parents would hear me rustling about and invite me out to the living room to share popcorn and maybe a tv show.

I know more about more subjects than anyone I know. Love of learning and all that sure. But also a fear of not knowing. Was there going to be a test? Would I be called to account on Judgement Day?
Who knows what knowledge might be useful- might save the day or heal the pain. I could absorb and remember and collate and induce and deduce like nobody's business, so it must be my duty and I must be on guard always.

I only understood how fear driven my quest for information can be recently as I've learned to relax a little bit. Turns out I don't care to know the actors or director or plot of movies I'm never going to watch or the influences of musicians in genres I never listen to. And the world won't fall apart if I decline to fill my brain with terra-bytes of useless data (...how can you say that...its all interesting and it might come in handy someday!...).

So much more to say, but I'm afraid that this comment is growing too long...
Sparking, I do pretty good at not acting out. Usually:P

Spotted, just make sure Janie doesn't lose her name tag with the address on it again. Last time it happened she almost didn't make it home.

Marcela, though I can't remember all the details of the dream, it was a beautiful one. I wish I had that sort more often. Thank you friend:)

Yuselof, thanks for visiting, and for your comment.

"I sometimes linger on this site when my attention might better serve elsewhere. Afraid that I might miss something."

I do that too, and not just on OS. Sometimes I feel like most of my life has been a prelude to some....discovery? Revelation? Something that hasn't happened yet but which when it does will make everything clear. I'm not holding my breath at this point though.

"I know more about more subjects than anyone I know. Love of learning and all that sure. But also a fear of not knowing."

I'm similar. I've been gathering information like mad since I was a kid, some of it useful, some of it of no value to anyone but me. As with you, I have this notion in the back of my mind that it's better to know all I can, just in case, sort of like someone hoarding canned goods. One thing I've noticed though, and it's a cliche but true, is that the more I learn, the more I realize how ignorant I am.
Like the poem.

I think excessive fear is a problem, but a certain amount of healthy fear helps keep a person safe and not doing too many stupid things. Fear doesn't feel good, which is why people think it would be good to great rid of it. But "fear, desire, doubt" - that's being human, and getting rid of them would make us robots.

And nobody here likes robots. Do you want to spend your life hawking ugg boots?
Just checked with google - that Church of the Final Judgment, them there Processians, they were pretty woo-woo back in the day... I was afraid of them...
"They were often viewed as Satanic on the grounds that they worshipped both Christ and Satan. Their belief is that Satan will become reconciled to Christ, and together will come at the end of the world to judge humanity, Christ to judge and Satan to execute judgment. Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor of the Charles Manson Family trial, comments in his book Helter Skelter that there may be evidence Manson borrowed philosophically from the Process Church, and that representatives of the Church visited him in jail after his arrest."

That IS pretty woo-woo Myriad; yikes! I do get what you're saying about healthy fear keeping us alive though. I guess the fear I don't see as so healthy is that which is culturally induced or otherwise unnecessary. Fear of death for instance, or fear of other things which are inevitable, such as change, or losing people important to us; these seem like they can be a hindrance, can poison us for little or no benefit. Then there's fear of that which is Other, or fear of that which challenges us, or, in the modern American scenario, fear of Islam, fear of "terror" whatever that means, even fear of our fellow citizens if they don't share our worldview. There just seems to be an excess of it.
All things in moderation - including fear.

Well, all things except OSing.
A wonderful piece my friend! Rated.

Actually, the title is very catchy and it's what brought me to it.

Well put Myriad. To which I'll add; all things in moderation, including moderation:)

Tink, I KNEW the cryptic fascination of my title would eventually lure some poor sap, um, I mean valued reader in here:P
This made me flash on reading Frank Herbert while high: "Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration."

Brilliant work, Naneh.
I remember the line well Xenon; The "Dune" books are still my favorite sci-fi series. And I forgot to say on your blog earlier, 'cause I was a bit surprised at the change, by whatever name or avatar you go under, all that matters to me is that you're still in OS. You're one of a handful of people here who's leaving would truly bum me out. We need you!
I love the dream poem. I saved it to a file so I can have it when I want it. There are so many things to fear that are real, and, as the rant says, so many unnecessary fears. Yet they feel the same. My fear of having back surgery feels about the same as my fear of being an outcast if I expose too much of myself here. If anything, having back surgery is less frightening than being transparent to those who know you.

Your poem has so many meanings for me. The powerful image of drowning in stars. Drowning, then rising. I feel that when you've lost a great deal and you're still alive, fear is stilled. So the poem suggests both a blessed place of no fear and the turmoil that preceded that, by which you earned that freedom.
Yes, it's all about the journey, innit? Like the post-dream words alot.

There's no way I would have made it past the second sentence of "Process..." with a head full of strong acid.
I'll be back to read this Nana... I'm too pissed off now to read this and appreciate it... I'll check back tomorrow after some sleep...
"when you've lost a great deal and you're still alive, fear is stilled."

That's something I used to know Sirenita. There was a period of my life when, if a problem didn't involve dying or going to jail for a long time, it wasn't really a problem at all. The farther I get away from that period, the easier it is to forget that underpinning. Living that way wasn't a good thing, but it made things simpler.

"There are so many things to fear that are real, and, as the rant says, so many unnecessary fears. Yet they feel the same."

That's the tricky part isn't it? We respond to fear, whether real or imagined, in a primal, visceral way which can interfere with us. Being concerned about a surgery is a normal, rational thing of course; it's the irrational fears which mean nothing that mess us up.

Lonnie, I ordinarily wouldn't have been able to read that either. It was on the inner liner notes of the "Maggot Brain" album by Funkadelic though, and as I was reading it the title track, this long, instrumental guitar piece, was playing; I'd never heard it before. It was one of those "ah hah!" moments which I used to live for when I was that age. In fact, I might need to score me something psychedelic soon; I feel the need for an "ah hah" moment again for some reason.

Brie, I just read your post; I'm on the same page with you on the pissed off thing. I'm a news junkie, but I can't watch the news for 5 minutes these days without wanting to blow a hole through the TV.

And Janie: {{{SUSURRUS}}} is what I always say. Or the wind says. Or someone.
The photo reminds me of "Allegory of the Cave" (Plato.)
Hi Tai. Yes, it does kind of call that to mind doesn't it? The shadows of people outside the cave, being mistaken by the people inside for reality; that's it!
I have a book where I have kept certain lines for decades. Process #5 is worth adding. But, ah--your poem so mystic. I love the line, " And drownbeneath a million stars." That too, a keeper to read again.
I need the Tao of Pooh here....but I LOVE your dream poem. Very, very cool.
While Eeyore frets ...
... and Piglet hesitates
... and Rabbit calculates
... and Owl pontificates
...Pooh just is.
I had a friend once who said he'd reached a shore, didn't need that boat anymore, kicked it away and turned to face the mountain he intended to climb.
That's what HE meant by My journey begins.

Don't kick the boat, Nan, and keep the oar. Let the oar be your staff, and let the journey be a continuation of the one you're already on.

Loving this - that's the only way I know how to keep the fear down.

Thanks, you.
I read your comment on another post after I posted my "Busy" entry, and I felt such a profound sense of peace. Maybe that's why you were told those words- so that we that need them can have them. Either way, I am really glad you have put them where we can find them.

As to the fear aspect- it's nice to know I'm not alone. I do wonder, though, is recognizing the fear the problem or the solution? We are so conditioned to a certain behavior, which is not acknowledging the truth. (And I'm really getting tired of the typos.) When we start recognizing the truth we are sidelined. The fear mongers come out on top because they play to the fear and it's such a primal emotion that it generally wins over reason. I even make decisions based on fear, knowing that they're not reasonable and not wanting to do it, but sometimes I can't help it.

So I wonder, is this like every other addiction and the first step to healing is to admit it? I do have to confess that I've never regretted conquering the fear and making the decision that I want to make.

And now the question is, how did this get onto the bottom of the top rated feed just as I signed on before going to bed? Still relevant.
Without love, only fear is possible.
The Process Church of the Final Judgment... thats a blast from the past...

they were like the flip side of all the peace, love & happiness flower children of the 60s.

the hardest work of all is the letting go work. we are such grubby little creatures who hold fast to our stuff.. like fear.
"Maggot Brain?" I guess I'd fear that. Although don't I think most of us have to worry about maggots in the brain until after we're dead.

I don't agree that fear is at the core of every human being, "lurking like a monster." That negates every other good thing about being human.
Babies don't fear. Children don't fear until they're given a reason to. It's taught and it's bred into us but I don't think it's the driving force of human nature.
I think love is. Love is the most important thing and love is ultimately what everyone wants; lack of love breeds fear and all those other beastly things.
Acceptance, approval, knowing that we matter, knowing that we're wanted - that's what most of us want whether it's personal or professional or spiritual or all of the above.

Fear = loss. No matter how many ways you quantify it, loss is the ultimate root of fear. Love conquers everything.
Fear divides and isolates but love multiplies and unites. I don't know what Process #5 is but those words you heard are a lot more sensible and soul-satisfying.
Also, fear is a choice and one can choose to fear love. According to C.S. Lewis,
"to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
Margaret, I find it interesting- choose to fear love. Everything in life is a choice, true, but doesn't it feel, after a while, that the Weeble has lost its Wobble? The Bozo has been deflated? That Judy has knocked Punch down one too many times? So while love is still desired it becomes a more cautious endeavor, and therefore more precious when found. And it is findable because the people that seem "dead" do still have something they love- they just don't broadcast it because they don't want it to be taken from them.
@Phyllis: Weebles never lose their wobble, Phyllis. I've tripped over enough in my day to know it's true what they say about them: Weebles wobble but they don't fall down.

As for this: "So while love is still desired it becomes a more cautious endeavor, and therefore more precious when found." Very very true. That saying, "youth is wasted on the young," could also be changed to "love" is wasted on the young." Maybe not wasted, that's not exactly right, but time and experience and maturity can change and refine things. You're a very wise woman, Phyl.