Integrating INTEGRITY with SUCCESS

“By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascents to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descents below the level of a beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character; and man is their maker and master.”
Since time immemorial, man has tried to master his skills, become the maker of his fate and achieve success in all his endeavors. Everything invented, designed, refined and practiced by man in this world are for simplifying life by making things easy and creating things of comfort, which is commonly mis-perceived as attaining success. In this process of making things and life easy, we have simplified processes but has life become simple in true sense?
We are working under stress while creating easiness and hardly resting even while sleeping with the aid of pills on comfortable mattresses. One of the reasons for this ‘global phenomenon’ is a very common and experienced by everyone– Fear. Perhaps no one presently seems to be untouched by it. Moreover, this feeling is often used as a tool or a weapon to get our work done from others. But when this feeling bounces back at us, it hits really hard. The most common fear of all is the fear of loss (referred to as insecurity) and the fear of being exposed in front of others. In order to fight back the fear of being exposed in front of others, we grant ourselves a license to pretend, hide our feelings, put up masks and be the Hercules at all situations.
To safeguard ourselves from the fear of loss of identity or possessions, we take the support of multiple roles and worldly materials as backups- naming there acquisition as success, till the fear of their protection takes a toll over us. This also increases competition of acquiring more while adding on to the fear of the loss of these identities and possessions, entangling us in a vicious circle of fear and competition with few spurts of sense of being successful. This un-natural, fluctuating and un-sustainable success triggers our happy hormones for a few instants, leaving us at the mercy of adrenaline and cortisols for the rest of the day.
Attainment of success and maintaining it is a continuous process. But while working for, or in some cases, looking for success, seldom do we ask ourselves- “What is success?” Is attaining name, fame, money and the satisfaction of attaining all of these, success? If yes, we may not be considerate about the means to attain it. This transforms success from a journey to a destination and hands over the liberty to man to take any ‘way’ to get to this destination. Success may come and go but what is lost forever in this gain of success is the integral part of our identity- INTEGRITY.
Integrity is commonly defined as:
• The state of being whole and undivided.
• The quality of being uncompromisingly honest and having strong moral principles and always supporting what is right, whether or not others are supporting it.
Let’s look at the role of integrity with respect to these definitions and appreciate its contribution to our success.
1. The state of being whole and undivided.
* Often, we feel ‘unauthentic’ about ourselves. Or more often, we don’t even understand that what we are feeling about ourselves is un-authentic. When we go to a glass museum and stand in front of a convex – concave mirror, to watch a distorted image of the self, we do not shout or blame the mirror for showing the distortion in image nor do we cry at what is visible in the mirror. We enjoy looking at the mirror because we have the realization that whatever is visible in the mirror is not ‘me’ but ‘my image’, which is distorted due to the mirror properties and not due to any distortion of my true identity. Similarly, when people tell me their misconceptions about myself, do I need to tag myself with those ‘reflections’ from their mental mirrors which have different properties than mine? No one can make me feel inferior without my permission. But when I evaluate myself with the labels put on me by others, I give up my state of being whole or true and lose my integrity. Thus I land in the no-man’s land where I am hunting for my self-worth and finding ‘ways’ to win back my original ‘image’… anyhow!
* To be able to safeguard my integrity and also my originality, we need to make a shift from that no-man’s land, to the silent chambers of the soul- where I introspect in solitude and find answers. There, I see myself in the mirror of truth. When I find my innate, integral, unique and imperishable identity, I come out stronger, equipped with enough courage to face challenging situations and tough people. Thus integrity is strength and then I no longer have to rely on others to grade me neither do I have to ask for any favors to attain success. Let me understand that my success is not dependent on what others think of me (because most of the times they are worried about what I think of them). My success wholly and solely relies on what I think and do with myself and others.
2. The quality of being uncompromisingly honest and having strong moral principles.
* We all feel and complaint about the world going in a wrong direction and system or government being inefficient or corrupt. From newspapers and media channels to local discussions on bus stands or canteens/ cafeterias or family get-togethers, everyone is engaged in shifting fingers from one corner to another, blaming everyone for the current pitiable state of the moral structure of society and the world. Furthermore, it is believed that in the current global scenario, no one around us is trust-worthy. This reminds me of a child who looking out through the window of the room refuses to go to school because of the dusty and foggy weather outside. The mother then opens the window, only to find that the weather outside was perfectly alright and pleasant while the child’s spectacles were dusty. And as I do not suddenly wake up one morning to notice the dust accumulated on my spectacles, I don’t convert suddenly into a ‘bad person’. It happens by a thousand tiny surrenders of self-respect to self-interest. So if I don’t clean my spectacles every day and allow dust to accumulate on it, I don’t even realize or admit that my spectacles have a problem. Consequently, I continue to feel- why should I be so honest and upright in moral principles when no one around me is? Otherwise, I will be no more than a doormat, used by everyone to go up the stairs on the path of success. Then why should I go up the stream when flowing with the river is easier and seems ‘natural’? I even justify my dishonest behavior projecting that it is right to be wrong with those who are practising wrong. However, I fail to appreciate that there can never be a wrong way of doing a right thing. And this basic misconception kills the mother of honesty- the very need for integrity.
Until I clear my consciousness and make it more positive and healthy, the world will always appear colored. But how does my thinking of the world to become better make it better? Simply hoping and praying or chanting that ‘all is well’ doesn’t make anything well, as I will again look for someone else to set things straight. Honesty doesn’t mean to scream at the top of the voice and preach others to be just and honest. Neither does it mean to simply follow the rules and refrain from engaging in some form of corruption or breaking someone’s trust. Then what is honesty? How do we claim ourselves to be honest?
To understand this, let’s explore on an inner subtle mechanism-
One fine day, while walking across the corridor from lift lobby to my cabin in the office, I was thinking about someone- mentally fighting/ competing with my thought-so-competitor, or cursing my boss/ subordinate for not so good code of conduct. To my surprise, the same person happens to appear from the other end of the corridor. Being a common place, I feel awkward as I can neither turn back to take a different route to my seat nor do I want to start my day showcasing my feelings for the ‘gentleman’. Moreover, I don’t want to make the other person aware of my feelings. As we come closer, I make up my mind and prepare myself for a casual and friendly greeting. Garnishing my face with a warm and amiable smile, I look at the person pleasantly. Crossing by, I think saying a gentle “Hello, how are you doing?” would make his day. Now, looking at the scenario from the other side of the table, the person glanced at my looks and heard my greetings. According to natural law of physics, the sound energy of my greetings were heard and perceived only after the light energy reflecting initially my awkward and uncomfortable looks and then the one garnished with a smile, was received by him! Moreover, we fail to realize and acknowledge the power and effectiveness of the thoughts we create, which travel at the speed faster than light and cross any distances in non-scalable fraction of a second. So whether or not the person came in front of me, whether or not he looked at me, whether or not he heard my polite words, he definitely received the ‘signals’ of my mind, enveloped with my true feelings. There is no escape route, no diversions and no misinterpretations for this transmission. Any other information coming after these signals, be it in the form of looks or words, doesn’t create a difference in my feelings because- first impression is mostly the last impression!!! So even though I have tried my best to be ‘good’ the other person still perceives me as dishonest, and now we know why…
This reflects that today, by and large, man has entangled himself in his own web of thoughts, words and actions and their outcomes respectively. We think of something else, speak what others want to listen and do something else. This is the major loop hole that drains out our natural virtue called honesty. To be honest is to be the same in the thoughts, dreams, words and actions.
* This is developed through a clear mind and clean heart, leading to a pure consciousness. As discussed, a pure consciousness will help me have a clear vision of the world. This clear vision with the sense of personal responsibility to work for it (stirred by spirituality and the practice of meditation) can ignite the change in the self. When I follow the conduct of being honest, I don’t have to question myself about what am I up to. I don’t need to worry about hiding something or remembering my statement the last night. It creates a positive and productive work environment as I save my time and energy from getting wasted in thinking about the alternative ways to hide my feelings.
But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that if I have not-so-good feelings about someone, I continue to flaunt it or blabber it out to the world claiming myself to be ‘honest’; because integrity is not mere honesty. Integrity means to know what you truly are and to be what you know. When I know my true ethical nature which is peaceful, loveful, truthful, powerful, blissful, unadulterated, clean- clear, constant, undivided and immortal and I fall in love with myself for it, I don’t fall back even if others are not being honest to me. I realize that the problem was never outside. It is never the dishonesty or lack of integrity of others that troubled me. It was always a fight between my true self that pushed me forward to be upright in moral principles and my acquired and influenced self not allowing me to do so and holding me back due to fear of failure in competition or being cheated or being perceived as weak.
Also, I am just to everyone, in the sense that my decisions do not waver or change depending upon the recipient. I can standardize my behavior and this builds a deep trust of people on me. Initially I do need to protect my integrity, but later my virtue of integrity protects me.
This inner call for integrity in order to achieve success in personal, societal and professional spheres is heard and answered when a person connects with the self. Spirituality, the science of knowing and connecting to the authentic self enables us explore the deep rooted instincts and channelize them to make way for success. When we don’t know the difference between the true and acquired self, a confused self emerges which fluctuates between these two. Due to this fluctuation in the state of mind of the self, success, peace, happiness also fluctuates. Because of this disconnection, we start establishing that being true, authentic and working through integrity doesn’t work and is good as long as read in books. Spirituality practised through Rajyoga Meditation is the key to unlock and experience the true integral self and make use of our inner powers to attain constant and sustainable success.