- Religion and Philosophy
The Two Wolves That Fight Inside You
Heart and Mind SERIES
A Creative Elaboration of Cherokee Mythology:
The Two Wolves Fighting Within
A Cherokee Elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride and superiority.
The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."
They thought about it for a minute and then The One With No Name asked his Grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old man simply replied, "The one you feed."
The One You Feed
"The One I feed?" Slippery Beaver tilted his head and wiggled his nose. "I want to feed the good one. And I don't want to feed the bad one."
The Grandfather looked at his little brood. "When Singing Bird makes fun of you, and her Brother Black Crow laughs, which Wolf do you feed?"
The One With No Name thought for a quick moment and swung his hand in the air. "I feed my mean mean wolf because I chase Black Crow around the forest until I push him into the stream."
Black Crow perked up. "He likes my sister a lot. That is why I make fun of him!"
The little group laughed and pointed their fingers. Grandfather calmed them down. "Singing Bird is pretty just like her mother, my daughter, Laughing Deer. So why would we feed our angry fearful Wolf, if all we do is want someone to like us?"
Fear Feeds The Angry Wolf
Black Crow almost whispered. "Maybe because he is afraid that she does not smile on him." He poked a stick at a line of ants. The Grandfather grabbed a sprig of Sage, rolled it, crushed it and blew it into the wind. "That Sage, it smells good, yes?"
The children quietly agreed. "It gives itself up for our enjoyment. It gives its life for our happiness." Singing Bird jumped in. "I like everybody. I smile on everybody. I do not feed my angry hateful wolf, ever."
"Except when your mother got sick. Then you were afraid. And you did not smile at anyone for a long time." Little Buffalo posed quietly, looking away from her as if he told a secret.
I thought I was feeding my good and sweet wolf, but all I could do was cry at night." Singing Bird looked down at a caterpillar. Grandfather chuckled. "Sometimes we just don't know which Wolf we are feeding. But we are feeding the wrong wolf many times."
Feeding the Wrong Wolf
"Life is hard to figure out. But not so hard to live. Life is actually good to us most of the time. But we humans, we want the answers. It is wanting the answers all the time that makes the wolves fight with each other. We want everyone to see that we are fearless. And that makes us fearful."
Black Crow laughed. "Like my father. He drinks at night and then he starts talking to the Moon about the fight he had with my Mother, the time he fell off his horse last Spring, and how he got embarrassed by Grandpa. When he wakes up, it is like he has been feeding his angry wolf all night long."
"How do I know which Wolf is which?" Singing Bird truly wanted to know. Her eyes were round with wonder.
It Is The Angry Wolf Which Pretends To Be The Good Wolf
Grandfather leaned forward and spoke softly. "Think about this little ones. The angry wolf acts like the good wolf. But the good wolf does not act like the angry wolf."
They nodded in growing understanding. "The mean wolf is afraid the most. So, he is afraid he will die. So, he pretends he is the happy fearless wolf." The One With No Name looked up at his Grandpa. "Very good, my child." Grandpa patted him on the head.
"If that is true and we feed the bad wolf a lot, then it gets bigger." Black Crow observed.
The One With No Name stood up. "I wanted to tell you that there have been times when I have fed my bad wolf a whole bunch. Bunches and bunches. Like the trees shedding leaves in the Fall."
"The less you feed that beast. The happier you will be." Grandfather rubbed his grand children's heads. They smiled at him with a few giggles. The grandfather started making a little fire. The night was approaching, and he thought they needed to warm up before they went over the hill to their village.
The Wolves Inside Us Always Need To Be Fed
A wolf howled far far away. Black Crow looked up to the darkening sky. "Wolves are always hungry. The wolves that are inside us always need to be fed."
"It is good to think about which one you are feeding." The One With No Name hugged Black Crow and said: "I am sorry for all those times I pushed you in the stream".
Black Crow laughed. "Singing Bird is really pretty isn't she?"
The One With No Name smiled. Singing Bird blushed. They all laughed.
The little fire glowed and illuminated the tiny canyon. Grandpa's story of the two Wolves provided reason to chat and talk about tomorrow.