The old man and his
grandson were sitting on a riverbank enjoying the evening breeze. As the boy
kept throwing pebbles into the water, the old man turned to his grandson and
said, “You know, a terrible fight is going on inside me. It is a fight between
“Really?” the boy asked his grandfather in disbelief. “Yes,” the old man said.
“One wolf is black. The other is white. The black wolf is really evil. He is full of anger, hatred, envy, revenge, greed, pride, gluttony, and lust. He is always selfish, rebellious, and disobedient. He does not show respect to anyone.
“But the white wolf is different. He is really good. He is full of love, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, humility, and charity. He is always caring, benevolent, and unselfish. He is never rebellious or disobedient. On the contrary, he is always willing to go by rules and regulations.”
As the boy sat there in wonder listening to the story of the two wolves, the grandfather continued:“This is not just my story. It is also your story. The same fight is going inside you also. In fact, this fight is going on inside every person in this world.”
The boy was amazed at what he heard. In all seriousness he asked, “Grandpa, which wolf will win?” With a smile on his face, the old man replied, “The one you feed.”
This is a story from the Cherokee Indians of North America.
As the old man said, all of us experience a terrible fight between the two wolves inside us. As he also said, the wolf we feed will ultimately win. Therefore, it is very important that we feed the white wolf and make the black wolf in us starve.
However, feeding the white wolf is not easy. This is because it takes effort, time, and energy, and requires lot of determination and commitment to feed the white wolf. He is not easily motivated and it takes time to make him strong and ready to fight.
In the case of the black wolf, the scenario is different. It is easy to feed him because he thrives on passions and easy options in life. He flourishes with the deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, anger, laziness, jealousy, and pride. Unless he is kept under control he will ultimately destroy everything good in us. The smart thing then to do is not to feed him at all! But this requires great self-discipline.
THE TWO WINGED HORSES
How do we achieve this self-discipline? Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, in his book, Phaedrus, tells us that we are like a chariot drawn by two winged horses — one white and the other black. While the white horse is honest, just, and truthful, the black horse is cunning, unjust, and deceitful. The white horse always tries to walk on the right path and always tries to soar to the heavens. But the black horse always goes for the easy way and is always earth-bound trying to pull down the white horse with him.
It is then the duty of the charioteer to control these two horses and drive them to the final destination which is heaven. And who is this charioteer? It is reason or the reasoning capacity with which we are blessed. By exercising our reasoning capacity, we can decide what is best for us and avoid what is damaging to us. As Plato says, the dark horse is a crooked animal “hardly yielding to whip and spur”. It is a herculean task to keep him under control and guide him towards the right path. However, with vision and determination, reason can drive these two horses to the heavenly realms, says Plato.
Like Plato, don’t we also feel that we are always driven by two horses — one white and the other black? However, with the help of our reasoning capacity we can determine the right path and promote the much-required self-discipline.
Once we achieve self-discipline, we will be able to drive the two opposing horses with confidence and safely reach our destination, which, in effect, mean success and happiness. This is, in fact, equivalent to feeding the white wolf in us and making the black wolf starve. Feeding the white wolf in us means feeding what is good and noble in us. To make the black wolf starve in us means not feeding what is evil and ignoble in us.
That is to say, if we feed what is good in us then good will thrive in us. However, if we feed what is evil in us then evil will prosper in us.
us always remember to feed the white wolf in us so that he may grow in us and
bring us success and happiness in this life as well as in the life to come.