INTEGRITY – WHAT IT MEANS
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© February 2018, L.D.Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
1. Integrity is about honesty, truth-seeking, reliability, authenticity and consistency in all parts of your life. These must be your principles of living. Truth is so important for integrity that it is discussed again later in this article.
2. The word integrity can mean whole or complete. The word is related to the word integer, which means a whole number, not a fraction or partial number.
3. Integrity is when the seven physical energy centers of the body all spin and function in a harmonious way. For details about these, read The Energy Centers.
4. Integrity can also refer to a condition of being integrated, rather than fragmented. Integrity as a way of living has to do with having all parts of one’s life flow smoothly together.
5. Integrity can also mean connected, in touch or well-coordinated, rather than isolated, neurotic or psychotic.
6. Integrity also means grounded and centered, rather than confused.
7. Integrity also means being balanced in one’s life and lifestyle. However, the balance must work for you, and not be just what society suggests. For example, society might say you must get married and have a family. However, if this does not suit you, then to be balanced in your life need not include a family or a partner.
8. Finally, integrity suggests a quality of being deeply in love with yourself as a soul so that you live as your own person, unaffected or minimally affected by what others want you to do or be.
WHY ARE HONESTY AND CONSISTENCY ASSOCIATED WITH INTEGRITY?
The answer is that without basic honesty and consistency with yourself and with all others, one’s life will simply not flow smoothly in an integrated and coordinated fashion. The man and woman of integrity knows this. As a result, the person will be very reliable, honest and consistent in speech and behavior.
It is not so much for their own sake, but rather because such behaviors fit into the larger picture of a life that is whole and runs smoothly, like a well-oiled machine with the gears meshing properly.
Lying, cheating, exaggerating, acting flighty or disrespectful tend to destroy this quality of integrity or wholeness, so a person who wishes to live in integrity avoids them.
However, a person of integrity may not always be fully honest if to do so would threaten his or another’s life. For example, if a person comes to the door and wants to take away your child, a person of integrity might say the child is not at home, even if this is not true.
Another example is that if brute honesty would be tactless and harmful, one can soften it so as to communicate better, for example. If you don’t like someone, at times it is best not to blurt out the truth, but to simply hold your peace and move on, for example.
So integrity is about honesty, but it must serve the higher purpose of an integrated and safe life. In general, however, people of integrity are very honest.
This quality of integrity – that behavior and thought must serve the whole person’s higher good – pervades all behavior of the person of integrity.
For example, to live in integrity may mean to be inconsistent, now and then. If you see that one of your ideas or behaviors is not correct, then the person of integrity admits it and changes, which to the world looks like inconsistency. From the higher perspective, it is simply what must be done to stay in integrity.
In the same way, a person of integrity may seem to be unbalanced or uncentered or ungrounded, because a certain behavior might be required at a particular time for the person to stay in integrity. An example is the Bible story of Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple. One could say Jesus was unbalanced and even crazy to do this. However, he clearly knew what he was doing and did it for a particular effect or reason that was in integrity with his view that the temple should not be defiled by the presence of money changers.
WHY IS INTEGRITY OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE BIBLE AND PRINCIPLES OF LIVING SUCH AS THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE GOLDEN RULE?
The reason is that these principles promote integrity. They are sensible, simple rules that keep life orderly and whole. They are universal principles, in fact, and not religious, in and of themselves.
In fact, one can be a so-called “religious person”, and yet live very much out of integrity. Some go to church on Sunday, but cheat people in business or other ways all week long.
WHY IS INTEGRITY ASSOCIATED WITH A SEARCH FOR TRUTH?
A person of integrity seeks the truth in all things, and attempts to apply it all the time as well. Truth simply means that which explains life the best. It may be a physics truth, or a psychological truth, or a nutritional truth. Truth is that which best explains how life is to be lived, and what life is all about at the deepest level.
Truth is different from honesty. Honesty has to do with one’s speech and perhaps actions. Truth is a more of an ultimate and broader subject that has to do with seeking for and being guided by the highest wisdom at any time.
The person of integrity also knows deeply that by seeking and living the truth as it is revealed to you, life becomes more worthwhile, even if living this way might cause some hardship.
A person of integrity tends not to be too fearful of living the truth and following the truth of life even if it never brings great financial or other rewards, and even if instead it brings scorn and humiliation.
However, people of integrity are not martyrs and do not willingly submit themselves to any type of physical or other type of torture. Harming the body or mind, or allowing others to do so, is not a very wholesome and integrated way to live. A person of integrity might decide to die for a cause, but this is very unlikely.
CAN A PERSON LIVE IN INTEGRITY IN ONE AREA SUCH AS FAMILY LIFE, BUT BE OUT OF INTEGRITY IN OTHERS?
Yes, this occurs all the time. A crooked businessman might be a wonderful father, for example, or a cheating wife might love and care well for her children but cheat on her husband. In these two cases, neither person is living in integrity or they would correct their behavior in all areas of their lives.
WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF LIVING A LIFE IN INTEGRITY?
All of the aspects of integrity discussed above – to be integrated, truth-seeking, truth-following, complete, wholesome, principled, honest and authentic - tend to blend together in wonderful and beautiful ways to produce a human being who is superior in wisdom, intelligence and judgment. This is the ultimate goal of living a life in integrity.
In addition, living in integrity tends to promote health in a powerful way and can help a person develop mentally and spiritually, as explained in various articles on this website.
LIVING OUT OF INTEGRITY
This means living in some way or other that does not harmonize with one’s highest purposes or understanding of the truth about life. It is a life out of balance, and usually a life of secret dishonesty, cheating and/or lying. Examples of areas in which people live out of integrity are:
1. NOT CARING CORRECTLY FOR THE BODY. This includes areas such as the diet, drinking water, exercise, rest and sleep, keeping the body and home clean, allowing the body to be cold, becoming exhausted, negative or deathly thinking or torturing the body in some other way.
2. EMOTIONAL ABUSE OR PROBLEMS. This includes sentimentality, excessive emotion, no emotional expression such as inability or unwillingness to cry, or inappropriate emotion such as yelling, hitting or something else.
3. MENTAL PROBLEMS. These include becoming mired in guilt, fear, anger, depression, or lust. It includes being egotistical or egomaniacal, narcissistic, power-hungry, controlling, prideful, selfish or self-centered, giving away too much power, putting oneself down, dishonoring the self, and taking advantage of others mentally.
4. SOCIAL PROBLEMS. These include isolating oneself, being a social butterfly or superficial, and being a vampire in various ways. This means stealing energy from others through your thoughts, words or actions.
It also includes all sexual aberrations. These are: pornography, homosexuality, bestiality, anal sex or sodomy, rape, seduction, molestation, incest, promiscuity, fornication, or just too much ordinary sex or excessive focus on sex. Down sex is much healthier and difficult to overdo.
5. EXPRESSION AND WORK PROBLEMS. These include work that is stupid or harmful in some way. It could be obscene, illegal, pornographic, exhausting, trashy or very wasteful.
It also includes idleness, and possibly other work and expression problems such as incorrect or inappropriate work for a particular person.
6. KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM PROBLEMS. These include falseness in knowledge, beliefs, dogma, or ideas. It includes a lack of knowledge or ignorance. It also includes arrogance – thinking one knows when one does not know very much. It can include confusion about knowledge and wisdom, memory problems or inability to think logically, clearly and thoroughly.
7. INTEGRATION PROBLEMS. This includes living without principles, or with wrong principles. It includes evil intentions. It includes being shattered in the mind, disconnected and “up”. The word up here means that instead of the mind ruling the emotions and the body, feelings and thoughts from the body and the emotions well up into the head and control the brain.
Our language has many words to describe this common condition. They include mixed up, screwed up, messed up, knocked up, upset, uptight, beaten up, given up, hyped up, puffed up, and roughed up.
HOW TO MOVE INTO INTEGRITY
We find this requires a rather constant re-examination of all aspects of one’s life. One must look for incongruent or unwholesome ideas, beliefs or behaviors that have entered your life, and then purge them.
Also, one must look at one’s past in a rather critical, though not punishing way. Just because the family seemed happy or successful does not mean they lived in integrity. If one clings to old friends, old ways of doing things, old ideas, and so on, it is always more difficult or impossible to live in integrity as one moves on in life.
To live in integrity, one must also listen to many sources of news, and read books or at least newsletters that are out of the mainstream, somewhat, and pray often for guidance, wisdom and truth. Otherwise, it is easy to get out of touch with reality and with truth. The reason is that life moves on, and our understanding of events and people must also evolve or we stagnate in some ways.
The Pushing Down Exercise is very helpful to move into integrity. This exercise, unlike most meditations and prayers, is not selfish at all, and is very grounding and centering. It greatly helps to integrate the body and mind, bringing more of the mind to bear on the body and on life in the physical universe. This is not necessarily the intent of most other meditations and prayer exercises.
In many cases, living in integrity requires a development program. It can be difficult impossible to think clearly and examine one’s ideas and life when one’s memory and other brain do not function well. So working on one’s physical health with nutritional balancing may also help a lot in a few cases.
Living in integrity also requires a certain amount of courage and intelligence. It often means “going against the grain of society” in some ways. It is not about being a rebel without a cause, however, or about being a conformist to some ideology. It is about having the courage of one’s convictions, following one’s hunches, learning new ideas, and having the courage to implement them and alter them as needed.
As we grow older, we should begin to understand how to live in a wholesome and integrated way. If not, we just become old fools and so we develop diseases and often poverty. Living in integrity, in contrast, leads to wisdom, prosperity, comfort and usually leads to health and long life as well.