The Evil Wolf vs The Good Wolf Inside Us All

This “old Cherokee story” continues to make the rounds on the Internet. I saw it most recently on Facebook, posted like this:

Some thoughts:

As much as I love this old story — and I do love it — I think it’s important to understand and accept that we can’t ultimately defeat and destroy the Evil Wolf (all those dark forces within us) and live thereafter as “beings of light.” This is not some New Age parable. Rather, as the story says, “there are two wolves inside us all.” There will always be two wolves inside us all. The best we can do is become more consciojus and aware of the Evil Wolf (or, in Jung’s terminology, our Shadow). “Feeding” the Evil Wolf is equivalent to following it’s claims and urges as if they were the true path of virtue. Not feeding it consists in seeing it for what it is.

The Wolf that “wins” only wins provisionally and for the moment.

It’s important to accept both wolves as core parts of our nature.

Trying to rid ourselves of the Evil one is rather like Christianity’s psychologically unrealistic project of ulltimately defeating Satan. The problem with this project is that we’re constantly finding enemies out there and never confronting the Evil Wolf in ourselves. We’re constantly at war.

Accepting both the Good and Bad Wolf as our own is more like the psychologically healthy image of the Hindu goddess, Shakti (consort of Shiva), who is often protrayed both as a destroyer and as a creator.

On balance, I think the old Cherokee story is more akin to Hindu (and less to Christian) psychology (which we in Western civilization have inherited, whether we are individually Christian or not). 


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3 Responses to “The Evil Wolf vs The Good Wolf Inside Us All”
  1. RickD says:

    The obvious question arises what if the good wolf inside a majority of US citizens is being ignored by the bad wolf inside our government?

  2. Don Pelton says:

    Thanks, Rick.

    Well, that’s a way of looking at it that hadn’t occurred to me.

    Really, I believe this aspect of human nature — a mixture of good and evil — is universal, and applies to all of us, whether ordinary citizens or our representatives in government.

    In fact, I believe that this is the view of human nature shared by the wisest of the Founders, and is the motivation for their design of a system based on “balance of powers.” They sought to limit the excesses of any branch, excesses most likely to occur because of the universality of the darker side of human nature that influences all of us from time-to-time (greed, gluttony, violence, etc).

    One of the great tragedies of our time is the extent to which this brilliant structure has been corrupted by greed for money and/or power.

    Still, on the hopeful side, we have overcome these episodes in the past and restored something like a healthy balance. It’s the work of our generation to restore that balance again. Even though it often seems hopeless, we mustn’t lose hope and we musn’t give up.

  3. RickD says:

    Happy New Year Don, and thank you for maintaining this forum as well.

    I have great faith in the judgement and desires of my fellow Americans, but, at the same time, I see how we are all being manipulated by a systematic and purposeful acquisition and consolidation of media outlets that then show slanted , and more importantly, selective reportage. Our elected officials are corruptible due, not to their basic calumny, but because they work in a system that requires them to raise huge sums of money to get elected and further sums to remain in office.

    Even the best of intentions of our electorate finds our choices far too limited and the candidates choices just as limited. Without meaning to become overly dramatic here I see a war being fought for control of the worlds economy and wealth, and that war is beyond the ken of many of our well meaning fellow citizens. Slowly but inexorably this nation slides into third world status as the money shifts to fewer and fewer and opportunity to improve ones lot shrinks as well.

    I agree that one must remain hopeful and positive, Don, regardless of the negativity expressed in the above paragraphs. But one must also understand the goals we seek and the methods for achieving them as well. As long as the electorate believes that voting for one of two candidates for every office, either Republican or Democrat, can bring about the desired changes there will be no change, at least not for the better.

    I read with interest Nader’s latest thoughts vis-a-vis an alliance between right and left, and ,after recovering from the shock of such an idea I gave it some thought. I would love to see an article here discussing Ralph’s ideas on this subject. In any case I am certain that good people will continue to struggle against injustice, unfairness and outright criminality in this new year we embark upon.

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