One day, while out on a walk, an old man was talking to his grandson. He explained that within each of us, there were two wolves contesting with one another. One of these wolves thrives on hateful things, is scarred, grim and fierce to look upon, and has a talent for aggression. The other wolf is capable of equal strength; but thrives on good things, is helpful and protective, and has a talent for peace. The grandson mulled this over in his mind, and a short time later, asked his grandfather which wolf it was, that would win this inner contest – to which the grandfather simply replied, “The wolf that wins, is the wolf that we wind up feeding the most.”
I like this story, and it just so happens that I had a grandfather who used to take me for walks, sharing his wisdom with me along the way. What I didn’t understand about this story, until I was older, was the different ways in which the wolves achieved their victories – even if this was plainly evident from the story (some truths reveal themselves to us in their own time, regardless of their simplicity). The destructive wolf seeks to destroy the more peaceful wolf. It seeks to consume him, and it thrives from the peaceful wolf’s agony just as surely as it thrives from its own agony. The peaceful wolf, however, tries to bring peace to its more aggressive counterpart by integrating with it, rather than trying to consume it. The nature of the aggressive wolf in this story does not recognize integration – in peace, it recognizes a threat to its very existence. As such, it is motivated by a selfish fear. The more peaceful wolf is diametrically opposed to its aggressive counterpart, as aggression and hostility are baneful to its existence. But the peaceful wolf is not afraid for itself in this process, it is rather more afraid for its counterpart. The urge to find peace through integration is then motivated by love, and a desire to protect even that part of us that seems to strive against us.
As I said, a simple wisdom, and it stared me in the face for a number of years before I was at a point where I was able to recognize it. With this in mind, it’s not necessarily true that the wolf that wins is the one that is fed the most … when one of the wolves is allowed to win, both win; while when the other wolf is allowed to win, both lose.