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Internal struggles of a spiritual seeker
July 1, 2013  |  radhanath-swami

After surviving the attack of the wild dogs, Richard (now Radhanath Swami) also recollected an analogy of the American Indians. The Native Americans say that within every heart dwell two dogs, a bad dog and a good dog, and both are battling with one another. Our negativities like lust, anger, greed and envy are represented by the bad dog. Our inherent divine nature like forgiveness, love, humility, and compassion is symbolized by the good dog. Radhanath Swami says whichever dog we feed the most by the choices we make will cause that dog to bark the most. As spirituals seekers, we must starve the bad dog and feed the good dog. Radhanath Swami felt the incident with the wild dogs that night at the outskirts of Khatmandu was a graphic visualization of what he was up against in his own internal journey.

The good dog bad dog analogy has been a repeated theme in Radhanath Swami’s discourses. He says the moment we decide to approach God and seek a solution to life’s problems we are immediately declaring war with our lower baser instincts. These material desires then surface with vengeance and challenge the seeker to fulfill them. It’s then that we have to make a choice for God. It’s a moment to moment struggle, says Radhanath Swami. God wants to test us if we are really serious about developing our love for Him. Therefore he allows our negative nature to surface and challenge us.

Radhanath Swami often compares the internal struggle of a spiritualist to the cleansing of a room. When we begin cleaning a room that has been dirty for years, a lot of dust starts rising in the room. We may cough and find it very uncomfortable initially but the need is to continue the cleaning despite the inconveniences. Eventually the room is cleaned of all dirt. Similarly when we begin chanting God’s names and show interest in spirituality, the cleansing process has started. A lot of our previous impressions of dust like negative thoughts churn in the heart. If we give up the cleansing process, it won’t solve the problem. Although we may be ‘coughing’ or struggling while cleansing the heart, the initial struggle will eventually bear fruit. The peace and joy that fills the consciousness when the mind and hear gets cleansed gives us tangible evidence of the practicality of the process of God consciousness.

Hearing that spiritual life also is a struggle may discourage some seekers. However Radhanath Swami brilliantly allays such fears. He says if we can constantly remember God as we are struggling in our internal journey, the struggle becomes tolerable. To the extent we remember God and offer our prayers and will to Him, we will find joy and shelter in God. Then the struggle is welcome. He also says that many times in retrospect our initial days appear wonderful because there was intense remembrance of God during our initial struggles. Radhanath Swami’s yardstick for success in spiritual life is refreshingly different from the popular myriad gurus. He says even if we are surrounded by difficulties and internal strife, if we can somehow remember God that is a more desirable state than a situation where there is no internal struggle and no remembrance of God. Radhanath Swami asserts, “A stage of uncertainty and internal struggle is healthy if we can somehow take exclusive shelter of God in that condition.”

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64 Comments


  1. Wonderful analogy of us having 2 dogs within us – the bad dog (representing all material desires and anarthas) and good dog (representing our spiritual nature). so we should feed the good dog and starve the bad dog.

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  2. Wonderful analogizes

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  3. thank you for such a hope giving article

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  4. To the extent we remember God and offer our prayers and will to Him, we will find joy and shelter in God.

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  5. Wonderful point on continuing remembrance of God even during our various internal struggles with Life

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  6. Very deep philosophically and hope giving article. Will surely apply this in life. Thanks for sharing it.

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  7. Kalpana Kulkarni

    Very good advice – Feed the good dog and starve the bad one and to always remember the Lord in all situations specially in times of struggle.

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  8. Radhanath Swami has given good example .. bad dog and good dog … to whom we fee will be powerful…. hare krishna

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  9. It was really great to know and understand about the 2 differnt dogs , which always fight within everyone self. people in th world always have the issue in making decisions, if we know this simple fact of , which dog to feed that adds color to the life. thanks to Radhanath swami for sharing such imp message with all.

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  10. Amazing example, I m trilled by reading this most most important very practical and most logical analogy of the goo dog bad dog. I would always wonder and have lot of confusion about decisions making. Now i m happy to know that i should feed the good dog. Thank you very much to Radhanath swami for such wonderful analogy.

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