Integrity is defined as “uprightness, soundness of character . . . moral wholeness. Honesty, entirety, completeness and purity.”
How do you demonstrate integrity in your day-to-day life? First, you must believe in yourself.
You must trust that deep inside you hold the answers. You know . . . What is best? What is right? What is true?
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
This is a very empowering statement, but I see the potential of misunderstanding and abuse in this idea. Emerson probably did too and qualified his point with the phrase, “in your private heart.” A superficial application of this idea could be unproductive; even destructive.
For instance, let’s consider the following attitude: “I believe it’s true that I am a wretched sinner, born with two strikes against me. Therefore, all men are evil and life is preordained to be a struggle — a living hell on earth.”
Did the person who adopted this belief system really take a close, honest look into his “private heart,” or did he check his heart at the door and mindlessly join the masses? Maybe he was unaware of the powerful personalities manipulating the crowd in accordance to their own hidden agenda. Or maybe the people in his immediate vicinity had the loudest voices, which made it very difficult for him to tune into his own still, small voice within . . . the one whispering in his “private heart.”
It’s much easier to conform to the masses, assuming that so many people can’t possibly be wrong. What can we learn from history about that?
· In medieval times, women were burned alive because they were interested in socially unacceptable practices know today as herbal remedies and personal development. The majority shouted their approval as they burned, so who was wrong?
· In ancient Athens, Socrates died prematurely by drinking hemlock because his society decreed that intellectual dissidents were a threat to society and must be eliminated. The majority approved as he swallowed the poison, so who was wrong?
· Two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, King Herod ordered that all the male babies should be killed. It was the law, and so it was done. Was it wrong?
· All over the world, in our recent history, it was considered normal and acceptable for one person to own another. One considered himself the master of another and treated his brother like . . . well, a slave. The majority approved, so who was wrong?
· Only three generations ago, an entire race was considered inferior. Everything they owned was taken from them and they were systematically murdered in an attempt to “purge the impurity” from the planet. To those behind the scenes, it was considered a cleansing of the gene pool. The majority approved, so who was wrong?
In all of these instances, the individuals who actually carried out these atrocities were following orders . . . obeying the law . . . playing by the rules . . . doing as they were told . . . and living in accordance with the laws and expectations of the people in power in their respective societies.
“Integrity has no need of rules.” – Albert Camus (1913-60)
Clearly, for conscious beings, playing by the rules of the day isn’t good enough.
None of the perpetuators seem to have consulted the depths of their beings to determine for themselves whether or not the actions expected of them were right . . . or just . . . or honorable. If they did bother to evaluate what was true in their own private hearts, they suppressed their own personal knowingness due to fear. (A previous article discusses fear in detail, “Facing Fear with Deliberate Awareness.”)
Your Personal Beacon of Truth
By tuning into the light shining within, we allow our personal sense of ethics and integrity to be our guide. A blind, mindless subscription to the rules, laws and doctrines so readily embraced by the masses has proven fatal over and over throughout history.
What is history good for, if not for learning from our mistakes so we can do better next time?
“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” – Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-84) – British writer, lexicographer, wrote “Dictionary of the English Language”
Courage to Do Right
It takes courage to do what you know is right, when the tide of humanity is turned against you. It takes self-confidence to strike out on your own rather than to go to bat for the faceless majority that has no sense of conscience — much less, consciousness.
“Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender liberty and culture of the eater . . . Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs . . . Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist . . . Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
The True Seat of Holiness
In his essay entitled, “Self-reliance,” Emerson, himself a preacher, points out that sacredness and divinity cannot be found in the institutions of society.
The true seat of holiness is not in the throne of kings or on the pulpit of churches. It’s not to be found in countries, or states, or towns, or governments, or corporations, or clubs or groups of any kind.
The true seat of holiness is within the mind, heart and soul of each individual. One person at a time can choose whether or not to pay attention to the sacred stillness within, beyond the noise of the outside world. That’s where truth is found — not the “flavor-of-the-day” truth as decreed by governments, religions and other special-interest groups, but the profound truth as experienced directly by one person at a time.
Instigating Change from the Bottom Up
As more and more people choose to tune into their own personal truth, something wonderful begins to happen. Since groups are made up of individuals, in time the consciousness of the group grows and matures to better reflect the insight and awareness of the individuals.
That’s why it’s necessary to change ourselves before we can change the world.
Profound, lasting change for the better, based on the expanding consciousness of individuals, happens one person at a time. Only then can societies, groups, institutions and laws change . . . because individuals demand it.
It just doesn’t work to try to do it the other way around. It is futile to legislate conscience, or pass laws to enforce awareness, or mandate enlightenment. Our institutions, governments and spiritual organizations are a reflection of the individuals who comprise them. (Or, who have comprised them in the past.) We, as individuals, are not reflections of any particular club of society.
There is a time lag involved, but eventually our culture “clubs” grow and evolve to better suit the needs and the personal realizations of the individual. Otherwise, they become obsolete and simply fade away (like the ancient, power hungry king/priests of the Mayan empire.)
Again, it’s up to individuals, one person at a time, to determine what is truth . . . what is good . . . what is right?
“I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Feeling Your Way to Truth
How do we know when it’s a mistake? We can feel it. Our emotions provide us with a clear channel of communication directly from our inner self. (This was discussed in detail in a previous article entitled, “How Do You Feel — About Inner Guidance.”)
This inner communication has been ignored many times by many people through the centuries as evidenced by our dubious, violent past. But, the tide is finally turning. More people are listening now. More people are willing to check in with their own mind, heart and soul before committing to questionable actions. People are learning to look beyond the fear to be able to find the courage to be their own person. Thinking and feeling individuals are emerging from the chaos of group mentality.
Gradually, as a species, we are waking up to the things that matter. As we deliberately focus our energy and attention there, the lights begin to come on inside, and our outer world begins to look a little brighter too.
How Do You Feel About Your Life?
When you base the way you live your life on how you honestly feel deep inside, you are living congruently, honestly . . . individually. How you feel doesn’t lie. Your feelings are not out to trick you or mislead you. They are there to help you continually fine-tune your choices to enable you to manifest your best possible life. They are whispering their wisdom from the depths of your being. Are you listening?
Can you be still long enough to actually hear them? Paying attention to these nudges, meant for you and you alone, are precisely what allows you to be an individual.
When you live your life as if the whisperings from your soul really matter, you are living life in your own way, on your own terms, based on your own realizations on what is right . . . what is good . . . and what is true for you. You are tuned into your own station. The signal you are receiving and the message you are broadcasting with the story of your life are both on the same frequency. You are joyfully and gratefully choosing your favorites from the buffet of life.
The Power of Choice
We are learning that we can choose. We are slowly recognizing that life is vast, our choices are endless, and our potential is infinite.
We are beginning to catch a glimpse of life being like a colossal buffet. We are hungry for diversity. We thrive on contrast, which helps us sharpen our desires. On the buffet of life, we discover things we like, things we are indifferent about, and things we don’t like. Each of us labels the entrees on the buffet with a different label. It is not necessary or desirable for our tastes and preferences to be the same.
Also, our tastes change at different times in our lives, just as favorite foods of childhood give way to more mature tastes later in life. All these differences make life interesting. Variety is good.
Whenever we see something on the buffet table of life that we don’t like, it’s not necessary to take it upon ourselves to remove it from the menu and put it in the garbage. If you don’t like it, that just means it’s not for you. Pass it by and leave it for someone else.
If you don’t like the song someone else chooses to listen to on the radio, it’s not necessary to throw your radio in the street and run over it with your truck. It’s absurd to think of grabbing your hacksaw and sawing down the radio tower just because you don’t care for the song they are playing.
That song is not being played for you. It’s for someone else. Let them enjoy it and in time, they will learn from your example and reciprocate. Listen and let listen.
Choose and Let Choose
Instead of trying to impose your choices, ethics, truth, and feeling of holiness on someone else, let them be. Your favorite song might not fit their style. If their song is not for you, just change the channel. That’s all.
Put your attention elsewhere. Focus on what you like and remove your attention from what you don’t like. Tune into your own sense of what is right and what is true for you, and live your life the best way you can from that inner sense of knowingness. Allow others the freedom to do the same thing. That’s what being an individual is all about.
When Personal Truths are Out of Sync
It may be necessary at times to be creative in order to live your own truth when immersed in a situation where the official, recognized “truth” is different from your own. This is an opportunity to brush up on your non-resistance skills.
Pushing against what you don’t want only makes it stronger in your experience because of your attention to it. (This principle was discussed in detail in a previous articles entitled, “The Law of Attraction” and “The Subtle Side of Manifestation.“)
This situation of divergent versions of truth allows you to see another principle in action — the Law of Economy. Use it to your advantage by removing your attention and energy from what you don’t like and refocusing it on what you do like. Save your energy. Make it easy on yourself. Change the channel and live your own truth with the expectation that eventually, the official recognized “truth” will catch up to the needs and inner knowingness of the individual — you.
Living a Congruent Life of Integrity
A life devoted to on-going personal development and spiritual growth is rooted in personal integrity. Wholeness. Completeness. Purity. In this look at personal integrity through self-reliance, we are reminded that integrity means oneness, entirety, and being in sync with your self.
It means your body, mind and soul are all playing for the same team, and you are the captain. Nobody is sending in plays from the sidelines. If they try, you politely ignore them, without making a fuss about it, and you continue to call the plays yourself. It’s your game and you can choose to play it your way.
“May your body, mind, and spirit be on the same team,
May you think and feel and do and say, what you really mean.
May your actions make a difference, and your conversations matter,
May your promises be easy, and your praise sincerely flatter.
May you be an inspiration, a lighthouse on the shore,
May your contributions make the world better than before.”
- from the song, “May You Have Joy” by Tupelo Kenyon
Living from the Inside Out
Whatever you choose to do in life, you do it because it comes from inside you rather than from society, culture, religion, or the peer pressure of the day. All these things change — they come and go with the seasons. With your ever-increasing self-reliance, you are on the leading edge of humanity’s expanding consciousness.
In time, the outer institutions will adapt to your needs and expectations and to those of other courageous individuals like you. You are a creator, the architect of your own life, as well as a cornerstone for the new, improved, more conscious, enlightened institutions of the future.
While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.
Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.
May You Have Joy
Have you ever felt a warm appreciation for someone in your life, and just wanted to wish them well?
Trash Our Treasures
It’ll Be All Right Now
Love is Who You Are
Songs by Tupelo
How Do You Feel About Inner Guidance?
The Law of Attraction
The Subtle Side of Manifestation
Facing Fear with Deliberate Awareness
Beyond Science, Philosophy and Religion
Belief Systems vs. Knowing
Take Time for You
Articles by Tupelo
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