I had been reading "Living a Life That Matters" by Rabbi Harold Kushner.
I didn't finish it before it was time to take it back to the library, but I got some good stuff out of it nonetheless.
However, I'm still pondering over a particular passage to decide what meaning it has for me.
Rabbi Kushner writes:
“integrity means being whole, unbroken, undivided. It describes a person who has united the different parts of his or her personality, so that there is no longer a split in the soul. When your soul is divided, part of you wants to do one thing while part wants to do something else…. You are at war with yourself, and the struggle leaves you uncomfortable. When you have integrity, all of your aspirations are focused in one direction. Like the karate expert who can break a board with his bare hands by focusing all his strength on one spot, the person of integrity, the person whose soul in not fragmented; can do great things by concentrating all of his energies on a single goal. For the person of integrity, life may not be easy but it is simple: Figure out what is right and do it. All other considerations come in second.”
I can't even imagine a world of such consistency. My inner experience has always been filled with tremendous contradictions.
The thing is...I'm wondering if I am prone to reject Kushner's definition of integrity simply because to accept that view would so utterly disqualify me, or if I sincerely believe in an alternate model of what it means to bear integrity.
In my mind it's about being honest, principled, trustworthy. To me, it means doing what's right even when my inner self may be warring, fractured and inconsistent - much the same way that true bravery is NOT the absence of fear but rather taking courageous acts in the face of abundant fear.
I believe I can experience and express integrity even though my inconsistent soul often tumbles and turns through a myriad of different longings, beliefs, behaviors, and ways of being.
Or am I just kidding myself?