A traveller once met an elder from a Native Indian tribe. They sat together around a crackling fire, under a blanket of twinkling stars. The elder was a wise and caring person. He looked long and hard at the visitor and asked him questions about his life and burdens. The young man, from the city, talked about his joys, sorrows and confusions in life. It was a relief for him to share his heart; he felt lighter and free.

The elder listened very carefully to everything. He picked up a stick and started shifting pieces of firewood before speaking:

“Legend has it that once one of our ancestors found two identical looking puppies on a mountain edge. Tiny, the twins were hidden under a large glossy leaf. They fit in the palm of each of the Indian’s hands. He took them home to his cabin and decided to give them shelter.

As the puppies grew up, the master noticed a marked difference between them. One dog skulked about in the shadows. He tended to be aggressive, lazy and selfish. This dog spent all his time scaring animals with his vicious barking and he enjoyed tearing apart any creature that ventured nearby. He didn’t listen to his master and seemed to hate his brother.

The other dog was very different. He was gentle, loyal and protective. Every day, he would accompany the master to the river and bring twigs for the fire. He would nuzzle strangers carefully, sniff around and watch them before making any judgements. He cared about the neighbours, the wider community and even his angry brother.

Both dogs grew big and strong. The master loved them both though he felt more and more uncomfortable as time went by. The angry dog started attacking the gentle one every night. The fights were bloody and savage as the dogs howled at each other late into the twilight hours. Eventually the angry dog began attacking passers-by and even the master.”

The elder trailed off and dropped his stick. He seemed lost in thought. After a moment of waiting, the traveller burst out: So what happened? Did the angry dog kill the master or something?

The elder chuckled. “We also have these two dogs inside us. One is good and encourages us to do intelligent, selfless, kind, and generous things. The other is bad and encourages us to do greedy, angry and selfish things. They fight all the time to be in control.”

“Which dog wins?” whispered the traveller.

“The one we feed of course,” the elder replied, his eyes twinkling in the moonlight.


Reflection: “To nourish the positive and to starve the negative is the real advancement of civilization. If we have the determination and if we make the right choices to nourish our divine nature, we will be victorious in life.” Radhanath Swami