The Story of Two Wolves (from Ego Dialogues )
A Grandfather from the Cherokee Nation was talking with his grandson.
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One wolf is evil and ugly: He is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance.”
“The other wolf is beautiful and good: He is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and deep VISION.”
“This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other human as well.”
The grandson paused in deep reflection because of what his grandfather had just said.
Then he finally asked: “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
I was talking with a co-worker this week about the works of Einstein – about a book I’m reading about his life and how his thinking developed into what became a new realm of understanding in Physics. My co-worker, an ex-attorney and current car salesman, kept giving me a mind-boggled look as if to say, “Why the hell would a car saleslady be so into physics? It just doesn’t mesh.” That odd look from people is common and normal to me now. I don’t really think much about it…why? Because I’ve come to believe in the unique complexity, the abstract opposites and elements of duality that exist in people…all people, including myself.
The people I meet no longer fit neatly into categories and sub-categories as they once did. When I was twenty it was easier. My thinking was simpler then…like the child of five…people were good or bad, mean or nice, happy or unhappy. Life has changed me, my thoughts, and my perceptions of others beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Most of the people I meet are an easily read book – compilations of various chapters and verses, mixtures of traits and opposing habits that fall outside of easy one-dimensional definitions. There are those who behave badly in general, but have a deep capacity for kindness and gentleness to those they love. There are those who are generally kind and easy to get along with, but are cruel and vicious to those most helpless and close to them. A very bad man in the eyes of many once lay next to me and told me what a good man he knew he was – there was equal truth in both observations. The mirrors around us reflect who we are in various moments – good and bad, angry and calm, broken and strong. The truth is not usually which or the other but both. Human beings are an odd mixture of duality.
So, you’re asking, where are you going with this? Well, it occurs to me that, like the parable above demonstrates, we often forget that both wolves exist within us. The story of the two wolves is really the story of being human. I like the image of the wolves for its simplicity – the wolves are always present together, always fighting, each one jostling for the top spot, seeking to be the one in control. “Which one will win?” It’s the age-old question, isn’t it? What side of us will triumph? What side of us is stronger? Truly, the answer is just so simple, isn’t it…which side are we feeding? The wolf we nourish is the wolf that leads…the winner has been fed, and fed, and fed…we have given him nourishment while the other wolf dissipates, grows weak and weary, as starvation sets in.
And then there’s the one final obscure thought that hits me: It’s only natural to want to live, survive, be in control, be the stronger of the two. Neither wolf dies easily.