Monday, December 13, 2010

The Science of Presence

There are lots of different versions of the following story--

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I think there is a different version of this story that is just as true, maybe more so. For most of our lives, we are aware of a part of us that needs to be doing things. That needs to achieve, that needs to understand, that needs to know. And this part is never satisfied, because it is always seeing and creating more things to have and do and know.

This is the list maker. The perfectionist. The judge.

There is another part of us that most of us are less aware of. This part of us operates outside of time. This part of us sees that things are already perfect right now, that there is no other way that they could be. It is the part knows there is nothing we need to do or know. It is blissfully happy, right now and always.

Interestingly, there is a lot of science that suggests that these parts of us actually exist, and that, roughly speaking, the "achiever" part of us is tied to the left hemisphere of the brain, and the "blissfully happy" part of us (which we are much less aware of) is tied to the right hemisphere.

So which wolf do we want to feed? The one that can never be satisfied, or the one that is already happy?

Most of us want happiness, and yet we keep thinking that doing more and having more will get us there. But the left side of the brain will never be satisfied, because it can't be. Its job is to find division and create need and separation. Yes it creates solutions, but only because it creates the problems in the first place. We are very good at feeding the left side--for most of us it is all we know.

But what would happen if we fed the right side?

We're already happy just by our very presence. But what would happen if we recognized that?


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