Integrity and Spirituality
The concept of integrity has arisen often in discussions of spirituality. What do we mean however when we invoke this concept in this context? What is the role of integrity in spirituality? How will we know it when we encounter it? More importantly what will be the consequence to us if we choose to remain ignorant of its crucial importance as a foundation stone to our spiritual enlightenment? Here I intend to address these questions and to give a fresh perspective on how to achieve what I will define as Spiritual Integrity.
The Oxford definition of the word "integrity" includes words such as honesty, soundness and wholeness. Interestingly these words themselves embody an enormous wealth of knowledge and intelligence that slowly unfolds upon reflection of their meanings. It is upon such reflection that I feel we can begin to get a clearer sense of the underlying meaning of the concept of integrity.
The concept of honesty basically refers to being truthful to one's self and others about everything. The concept of soundness refers to the "rightness" or "correctness" of one's position i.e. again referring to truthfulness. The concept of wholeness refers to a sense of completeness, i.e not leaving anything of significance out of the picture. The truth is not only, in and of itself "complete" it also gives one a sense of completeness or wholeness, because nothing is left out when one is living it. So, in summary, integrity appears to have a great deal to do with living truthfully or living a life in alignment with one's own truth.
Now living truthfully may at first seem like a simple task until we recognize that individuals clearly have diverse beliefs about many things and what the "truth" is, is one of them. Hence the concept of "truth" may be more elusive than at first thought. In fact, aren't people killing each other on this planet "in the name of the truth"? So, are we to conclude that killing others in the name of the truth is the road to spiritual enlightenment? Are we to conclude that being in or having integrity is "not" a key principle in achieving spiritual enlightenment? Perhaps we should choose to be out of integrity, i.e. be "untruthful" instead. So you see, it is not as simple as it first appeared. How do we steer through this morass of confusion without becoming hopelessly lost and disillusioned?
I would like to point out that such confusion largely arises out of our "beliefs" about where the "truth" resides in us. Most individuals turn to their repertoire of "beliefs" when asked to ascertain the truth about something. This repertoire is stored in the mind/brain and is added to and modified daily as the individual learns new information throughout their life. Mysteriously, at some given point in time, an individual "chooses" to "accept" one belief over another as being more credible for that day, week, month, etc. and hence it becomes the "truth" for them in that period of time. Sometime later, the tides might shift and the old belief becomes supplanted by a new belief that then becomes the "truth" for them.
If we choose to search for the "truth" in the vast repertoire of beliefs that is stored in our minds/brains then we find ourselves with a "truth" that is forever shifting, much like quicksand. Sounds paradoxical, doesn't it? After all, isn't the truth supposed to be something fixed, absolute, unmovable, eternal, solid, certain, and so on? You see, the very fact that we recognize the paradox suggests that something is not sitting right with us about the belief that the truth lives in our minds/brains. If this were not so, you would not have recognized the paradox, and would have thought and felt that everything was fine. So, there must be a deeper intelligence within you that is able to recognize this paradox and comment internally, to you that "something doesn't sit right about this situation".
The paradox arises here because of the "belief" that it, the truth, is to be found among our learned beliefs stored in the mind/brain. Perhaps this is not "the truth". As mentioned, there appears to be a repository of intelligence inside of us that is acutely aware of this and tells us this one way or another. So where is this intelligence and how do we access it? In order to answer this question I ask you to follow me in a short diversion.
Assess the two statements below:
a) I am sitting down.
b) I am standing up.
Which of these statements is the truth for you at this moment? Well if you are, in fact sitting down, the former is. Otherwise, if you are standing up, the latter is. If you are neither sitting nor standing at this moment (i.e. perhaps lying down) then neither of these are true for you.
Let us now suppose you are sitting down at this moment. If you aren't then please sit down for a moment. Now then, how do you know that statement a) is the truth for you right now? This may seem like a redundant question, especially since I just asked you to sit down, but bear with me for a moment. After some consideration you might say that a) is true because it reflects the posture of your body at this moment Correct! So what you have just done is used the sensory information about the posture of your body as the reference upon which you assessed the veracity of statements a) and b) against. In having done so you automatically came to the conclusion that a) and not b) is true for you at this moment. In other words you didn't have to think you just had to "feel" in order to determine whether a) or b) was the truth for you.
Another way of saying this is that you relied on your "feeling intelligence" to determine the truth. This is sometimes also referred to as one's intuition or inner knowing. I would like to point out that when you are sitting down, your sensory apparatus would always be relaying to your brain this information. Not surprisingly, however, sometimes this information can be tampered with, modified or distorted on its way to the brain. A simple example is when say, hypnosis is used to fool the brain into "thinking" that you are standing when, in fact you are sitting. This is done theoretically by tricking the brain into accepting a suggestion, or statement, that is contrary to the true sensory experience of the body. If one chooses to accept the hypnotic suggestion thereby over-riding their true sensory experience one is essentially choosing to "lie" to themselves about their actual state.
As just about any hypnotic suggestion can be made acceptable to the brain, i.e. you're flying, you're swimming etc., the truth, if gauged by the beliefs held in the brain, can be quite varied. Buying into any of these altered beliefs clearly disconnects you from the real "truth" of your reality and causes you to live in a false reality. So what would be the consequences to you if you "thought" that your reality (as gauged by your thoughts) was very different from your true reality (as gauged by your feeling experience)? I think that you can see that this would clearly put you in some danger of getting hurt.
Now you might say that this is only a minor problem as hypnosis occurs only as a stage phenomenon and that you're unlikely to experience this in normal daily life. I would however like to suggest otherwise. In order to show this I would like to elaborate a bit on this inner feeling intelligence. First, where is it? Let us say that this intelligence not only resides in you but also "is" you. In other words, "you" must be the source of this intelligence.
As you are the being that is trying to assess the veracity of a given situation for your self then, by definition, "you" must be using "yourself" as the reference point against which to "measure" or "assess" whether something is true for you. You couldn't possibly be able to determine whether something was true for someone else because you wouldn't necessarily have direct access to that other person's feeling intelligence. To highlight this, to ask you whether it is the truth that another person likes the taste of, say, ice cream, would be impossible for you to answer without having input from that other person.
Similarly, without you present and sentient to your ever present situation you would never be able to say what the truth about your situation actually was at any given moment. For example, if you were, say, rendered unconscious, you would clearly be at a loss to say whether you were conscious or not. So now the next issue that arises is the question of where you are in your body. This may sound like a rather odd question, as most people consider themselves in their entire body, or at least in their mind or brain. I do however wish to belabor this issue as I think it will yield some surprises that are unexpected.
So here we go. Now I want to suggest that you think of something, i.e. quality or characteristic that you appreciate about yourself. Then take a few moments and appreciate yourself for this and notice where you feel the feelings of appreciation in your body. Now most people feel this feeling of appreciation over their mid-chest i.e. over their heart. If this is not your experience then I ask that you spend some more time with this exercise.
Now because it is "you" who are doing the appreciating, then the feelings of appreciation "must", by definition, be originating from you. Consequently, because you feel the feelings of appreciation emerging from your mid-chest or heart area then this must be where you "are" inside your body. If this comes as a surprise, I'm not surprised. The reason for the surprise may be due to the fact that you probably "believed" yourself to reside in your mind or brain. Isn't this what most people "think"? Haven't we, since the time of Descartes, been "hypnotized" into "believing" that we are our minds or our brains?
So now that you know where you are inside your body, if you pay attention to the feelings that are coming from this "you", the only you, you will have greater clarity of assessing how your ever changing life situation feels like to you. It is these feelings then, that will help you determine whether something that you're living through at any given moment is what is desirable or the "truth" for you.
By focusing on these inner feelings, you will be doing all of the following: a) bringing yourself fully back into your life and beginning to feel more "whole" b) being truly connected to the source of your own inner "truth" which then allows you a reference point from which to be more "honest" with yourself about everything that is going on in your life, and c) sensing a rightness about things that will leave you with a feeling of "soundness" about your life choices. In summary, you will be in a state of personal integrity within yourself.
Now that we have found a way to integrity, how does this fit in with spirituality? We choose to define spirituality as the state of being and living as one's "true self". Well this is exactly what we described in the last paragraph. In other words being "spiritual" is the same as invoking the constant presence of "you" in your life. That is being present and sentient at every moment. In other words, according to our definition, being spiritual is essentially the same as being in integrity! Hence we introduce the term "spiritual integrity" to mean the constant presence and sentience of you as a human being.
The final question then becomes what is the consequence to you of not being in spiritual integrity. Well, according to our definition it basically implies that you are neither present nor sentient. So, if this is your situation, then where are you and what state are you in? One might describe such a predicament as one similar to being spiritually asleep. This is the opposite of being spiritually awake or enlightened. So finally, we can surmise that being in spiritual integrity is the essence of spiritual enlightenment.
Nick Arrizza M.D. is an Energy Psychiatrist, Healer,Speaker, Researcher, Developer of the Powerful Mind Resonance Process(TM) and is the Author of e-book "Esteem for the Self: A Manual for Personal Transformation" which can be downloaded from his web site at: www.telecoaching4u.com/ebook.htm">http://www.telecoaching4u.com/ebook.htm. He holds International Telephone and Teleconferencing sessions on Healing and Spirituality