Tale of Two Wolves

From Native American folklore.

Tale of Two Wolves

An old Cherokee told his grandson,

“My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.”

The boy thought about it, and asked, “grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied,

“The one you feed.”


Notes

People often liken the Buddhist idea of karma to a kind of divine intervention or retribution: Good deeds are rewarded, evil ones punished. But this is a misunderstanding. Karma is more like the story above. Who you are, your character, is shaped by everyday actions—including thoughts. Over time, the habits you reinforce will come to shape who you are.

2,000 years ago, the Stoics arrived at the same conclusion. For them, reciting maxims that promote wholesome living was central to their practice. Little by little, the Stoics cultivated good habits that, over time, built character and shaped a person. Like the Buddhists and the Cherokee grandfather, the Stoics advised feeding the Good in us all.