Not Two

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Dt. 6:5)

Most people think of the term “integrity” in the moral context of “honesty,” with the opposite being “dishonesty.”  That is technically not the case.  “Integrity”–which has the same root as “integer” or “one”–is more about consistency between thoughts, emotions and actions.  In that case, the antonym would be “hypocrisy,” which may or not involve telling the truth.

There are many such verses in the Bible–such as Philipians 2:2, “having the same love, being united in spirit and purpose.”  In the East, the phrasing is a little different, often referring to being “true to one’s nature” or generalizing to being “one with the Universe.”  For example, when talking about the Divine, Hindus often use the mysterious phrase “Not two.”  In any event, the implication is not necessarily moral.  If God creates “order,” the opposite is “chaos.”  In the body, disease is “dis-ease”–a lack of comfort caused by physical or emotional strife.  The cure involves restoring a state of harmony where the various physical and emotional aspects work together cohesively.

Our language can be important indicators of just what we are experiencing.  Consider the common line “I am not myself today.”  The comment is not about identity–after all, who else are you?–but about an inconsistency between who one wants to be and one’s behavior.  That inconsistency may be consciously undesirable, but it may very well be “true” in the sense of revealing our usually hidden weaknesses and impulses–what Carl Jung would call the “shadow self.”  

There are lots and lots of tragedies and problems in the world today.  However, as a practical matter, we have little control over most of them.  We need to be careful, though, that we do not become so preoccupied with all that goes on “out there” that we avoid addressing that over which we do have a great deal of control–“in here.”  If anything, our egos may be extraordinarily adept at distracting us from what we can do about our own integrity by obsessing about the chaos in the world.

As the once popular comic strip character, Pogo, once observed: “We have met the enemy and they is us.”

One Comment

  1. Arthur, you dear man, you have much more confidence in human nature than I. You write about the things where we “do have control.”
    My experience is that the subconscious runs the show. That our conscious decisions and aspiration are ever under the thumb of our deeper psyche, which ultimately wins the war. Sure, I arm myself with social graces and public integrity. I even win l battle here and there. But my Shadow self has proven worthy of respect whenever I think I’ve finally conquered insecurity or pride or unforgiveness.

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