Dune is the only thing that makes extreme dehydration and risking my life to develop a utilitarian relationship with a huge worm seem magical.
Frank Hebert’s world in Dune is genius, and I’d love to have met his wife (she inspired the Bene Gesserit race). The unique vocabulary of this world can be jarring at first, but my book had a glossary in the back, along with a map of Arrakis, and a history of their ecology and religion. I highly suggest getting a version of Dune that includes these appendices.
What gives me goosebumps about Dune are the powers of the Bene Gesserit. They are gifted spiritualists, trained to hone their observational skills, to quickly develop a breadth of understanding about any person, place, or thing through their powers of perception. This makes them Truthsayers, able to read intentions and see who lies, trained in the art of influence and control.
The way in which the planet’s main resource, the spice, and its cousin the poison (created by drowning a worm), enhances the powers of the mind adds to the depth of this storyline. Paul and his mother are able to access the deepest recesses of their own unconscious mind and incorporate the consciousness of their Bene Gessirt ancestors. The spice, and even more so – the poison, enables this awakening of consciousness. My personal passion is studying consciousness and intuition, so I will reap a great harvest of notes from this novel!
What I didn’t like was the evolution of Paul Atreides. In the beginning, it was stressed that he had an intrinsic sense of rightness and egalitarianism. Over time, as his abilities developed and he began to believe in his own myth, he seemed to lose these qualities. Seeing “the big picture” through space and time seemed to alter his personal values, to push them to the side so he could achieve the greatest vision of power possible. While his personal Self didn’t dissolve completely, I can see that as his eventual future as he learns to master the powers inherent to his terrible purpose.
I had an acquaintance-type friend once who joined a spiritual spoon-bending cult. He told me about it at a backyard party. I didn’t know anyone other than magicians took the endeavor quite so literally.
While I’ve never successfully tried to physically bend anything with my mind, I did contemplate the spoon concept deeply after watching The Matrix. It wasn’t until I paired the movie with Eastern philosophy that I understood the following lines.
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon. Then you’ll realize it is not the spoon that bends. It is only yourself.
I’m currently reading How to See Yourself as You Really Are by the Dalai Lama [UPDATE 2023: This book is in the landfill now]. In it, he talks about nothingness – how everything is really nothing.
WhaWha?!? I know right? What the heck are you talking about DL?
Then I had a real, golden, slow motion epiphany.
I was looking at a house. I asked myself, “Does this house really exist?”
My answer was surprisingly a confident “no.”
How could this be? I see it right in front of me. Someone lives in this dang house. Am I supposed to knock on their door and tell them it doesn’t exist?
Looking at the house, I see it made up of wooden beams, shingles, nails, and the labor that went into making it. It’s not a house – it is all of these things compiled together.
Each of the things that comprise the house aren’t what they seem to be either. Each piece is made up of labor, original source materials, ideas and dreams, all the way down to molecules. The house would not exist without the other components.
I’ve always understood that reality is subjective, and our perception of reality is what creates our inner world. Ignoring that a house stood in front of me, or bending a physical object with my mind was still confounding.
Now I see, bending the spoon with my mind has nothing to do with actually bending the spoon – not unless you’re literally living in a computer generated world (I’m not totally discounting that idea).
The spoon is anything that exists in our lives. We have the power to change how we see.
We can bend our perceptions and create our world.
This isn’t magic, this is part of realizing that nothing exists in and of itself. Everything exists in harmony with all other things, and our perception is limitless.
The spoon in the movie was just a metaphor for beliefs, or perception. In real life, we can’t bend spoons with our minds (even though there are religious cults that dedicate their lives to this). We can however realize the spoon, or anything else, can be viewed in infinite ways.
Apply this to a relationship or situation you’re having difficulty with. How do you currently view that situation? Are there other ways to see it? What assumptions, or judgments are you placing on that person/situation? If you changed your perspective, would the situation change? Can you bend the spoon?
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever contemplated this scene in the movie. What is your interpretation?
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