The Chief Wolf and the Sermon on Kindliness

path in the trees The Chief Wolf and the Sermon on Kindliness
(from a talk by Vernon Howard, 3/22/80)
A chief wolf who lived in the woods one day called his pack of friends together. And the chief wolf stood up in front of them and he said, “Good morning. I will now give you our morning sermon.”

And the chief wolf told the pack in front of him how they should be kindly to other people. How they should love all the creatures of the world. How they should be gentle and considerate and think of other people. And as he made each point, all the wolves in the congregation nodded their head and said, “Amen.” Every point the chief wolf made, all the other wolves nodded in agreement that they should be kindly, that they should be gentle.

And at the end of the sermon, the chief wolf said, “Now ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make one final announcement before we’re dismissed. I would like to announce that we will all gather back here at 7 PM in order to plan our attack on the sheep in the meadow.” And all the wolves said, “Amen.”

And that’s what happened. At 7 o’clock they all came back and they planned their attack on the sheep in the meadow which they carried out. So this went on over the months and years.

And watching this at all times were a pair of wise old owls who were perched on a branch, low branch nearby where they could see everything happening. And as they saw what was going on in that sermon and in the audience, and in the atmosphere, as they saw what was going on, the wise old owls shook their heads in dismay and disbelief. But there it was right in front of them.

And one wise old owl said, “You know, they’re just like human beings. They say one thing but do another and they don’t see the contradiction.” The other wise old owl said, “Yes, they’re as schizophrenic as a bowl of split pea soup.” (Laughter)

Am I reminding you of the world you live in? Am I reminding you of the ideals you have about being kind to people, and yet you’re incapable of it. You’re incapable of being kind to other people because that’s not your nature. Your nature isn’t to be kind. It’s to attack. It’s to defend. It’s to be violent. Mentally at least. Emotionally at least.

Over the years as I have talked about these principles, I always come back to one great conclusion. That one of the single greatest problems that human beings have is the inability to see that very fact that they say one thing and do another. They don’t see the two at once. They are both in separate compartments.

Once a person says, “I will be gentle with you.” A man says to the woman, “I’ll care for you.” The woman says, “I’ll be considerate of you.” Once they say that, it’s all in a little compartment and they don’t see themselves when they do the exact opposite. Which is why the breaking down of the walls of unconsciousness, of resistance, of folly—the breaking down of the wall must happen so that we can see that we indeed say one thing and then go out and do another.


Inner Life Exercise

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  1. Steve Hunter on February 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    This story explains the state of society. How can people protest with anger and say they are doing it for love. Love doesn’t have anger in it for then it is anger masked as love…this is a no brainer.

  2. George H on February 7, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Spending time or hanging out with a bunch of hungry wolves is not my idea of a fun time.

  3. Melodie Machovina on February 19, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    How shocking it was for me to see that I do this in my everyday life, with everyone I know. The shock was good though, because now I’m able to catch hypocrisy in myself before it gets too far. The medicine is painful but it heals!

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