Another in my continuing series of posts on my 13 virtues. For more information see the beginning of my wisdom post here.
Dictionary Definition. Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: the quality or state of being complete or undivided.
Dedicant Handbook Definition. Honor; being trustworthy to oneself
and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence.
I’ve meditated on this virtue for months and I keep coming back to the concept of wholeness. I’m not sure if I like either definition I’ve used here. My favorite discussion of integrity was on a podcast that featured Thorn Coyle, a Feri Priestess. She said that to her, integrity was really integration of the disparate parts of the soul to form an undivided personal divinity. While much of what she said referred to specific Feri theology – the tripartite soul and its division – what struck me most was the idea of integrity being action which comes from an un-divided self. This implies that we have to be able to know ourselves well enough to know when we are acting from a divided sense of self. For example, how can we be honest – a quality the dedicant handbook attributes to integrity – if we do not understand when and why we are lying to others or ourselves?
The only problem with this approach is that someone can be undividedly bad, having integrity according to this definition by knowing why they are lying and doing it with their whole consciousness. So, I also see integrity as meaning that one must connect that whole self with one’s gods and the other virtues to form a whole of how one’s actions interact with the rest of the world. To have integrity, therefore, is to be able and willing to act from a grounded sense of self and one’s place in the world.
I believe this would mean most people would try to actively live in accordance with their own virtues and values and enact them in the world. So a hypothetical woman, who was unaware of her lies because she was coming from an internally divided place, would try to become whole through self-observation – like meditation – and discussions with trusted friends and her gods. When she started to have a sense of her own wholeness and her place in the world she would then begin to act with integrity, seeing her lies as not helpful to herself or the people she told them to. She would be more willing to see the hurt and confusion they caused, instead of being willingly or unwillingly blind to them because she was not acting with integrity. This awareness would then lead to acting in a truthful manner, because she had come to it from a sense of wholeness.
Others in this series: