With Two Wolves is the Wisdom of One

In these days preceding the winter solstice, it is the Cherokee story of the two wolves within that is most on my mind. As the solstice is the darkest day of the year, it is also the solstice sliver of light that reminds us life renews–no matter what. Perhaps on no other day is the nature of fear and fearlessness so apparent.

Facing fear means we sit down with the two wolves that live within us–one light, one dark—and accept that denying either wolf creates a constant battle that cannot be won only continuously fought. Each wolf is the other’s half–left vs. right, good vs. bad, this vs. that—fearlessness seeks the wisdom of the whole.

As far as I know, the Cherokee story is the only version of the two wolves that advises wisdom may be found in both light and dark. Some days feature more of one than the other but insight is born of both. When we admit we are afraid—when we sit with our two wolves–all that is left is fearlessness.

“How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both” (Beyond the Conflict of Inner Forces, a post at www.awakin.org). That we have a choice is critical to remember for even in the dark of the winter solstice there is light.

Storm Clouds 081913

“Nobody can give you fearlessness. Even if the Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn’t give it to you. You have to practice it and realize it yourself. If you make a habit of mindfulness practice, when difficulties arise, you will already know what to do” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

And yes, no one can give us mindfulness, either—I am beginning to suspect it may be the other half of fearlessness–for being mindful means we meet the dark and light of life without favoring one or the other, only appreciating the wisdom of the whole:

“When we practice inviting all our fears up, we become aware that we are still alive, that we still have many things to treasure and enjoy. If we are not pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deep into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

The here and now is the only reality we ever have; to meet it fearlessly is to live life as it unfolds in the dark and in the light.

For me, these waning days of 2013 offer more unknown than known—maybe more light than dark or more dark than light—regardless, I sit with my inner wolves, mindful of the promise of the winter solstice and the wisdom of one.

(Regular blog posts will resume by December 29, 2013).

9 thoughts on “With Two Wolves is the Wisdom of One

  1. Reminds me of yin and yang. Neither one is good, neither one is evil; both can be embraced. But the wolves story is so attractive–because of how we feel about animals, I suppose.

    Roll into the new year with wholeness, K.


  2. Thanks for all the dark and light you have shared with all of us this year. You are a good teacher and a good friend. I look forward to all the posts to come and to the occasional cup of tea and conversation in the living room. And in the meantime, feed those wolves.


    1. Just finished feeding those wolves! “Tea with Adrian” are favorite afternoons, and I look forward to another year of them as well as the exchange of our weekly posts. So often, we meet and nod to one another in the ether, knowing our paths will cross again and again.


  3. Your post reminds me of something I’ve been playing with lately, KM. Only in unknowing can we really know. Only by embracing insecurity can we find true security. I just want to give both wolves a hug. Embrace light and dark simultaneously because when all is said and done they are both the grace of God. I love reading this post around the winter solstice. Reminds me of resurrection and rebirth. {{{hugs}}} Kozo


    1. Hello, Kozo!
      I had not thought about giving the wolves a hug but I think you’ve got something there! I do know there is such wisdom in sitting with both and how can a hug ever hurt! Thanks so much, my friend.


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