My favorite definition of integrity is: that state in which ones principles and ones life choices are in harmony. That captures the essence, I think.
Ive been contemplating integrity a great deal. Many people define the word according to extrinsic characteristics. For example, a person with integrity is someone who keeps their word to others. This strikes me as only the shallowest expression. I think that a person with integrity is one who keeps their word to themselves. Does someone who sticks to external commitments, even once they realize those commitments are wrong, have integrity?
Who had more integrity, racists who kept their word and remained loyal to other racists... or those who realized their wrong and betrayed their former allies? Id argue that the latter displayed more integrity because they served their own conscience rather than public opinion and external promises.
Its so easy to become trapped by our pride and our fear of judgement. I remember that moment three+ years ago when I decided to leave Japan and set out on a hobopoet life. I agonized over that decision. I had a CONTRACT for one year and I broke it. I worried about that for a long time. That contract kept me trapped.
In retrospect, I realize it was ridiculous. Was I an indentured servant? Could I not come and go as I wanted? Would that CONTRACT have kept them from firing me- if it was convenient to them? Wage slave contracts are always one sided.... they expect two weeks notice from you, but will fire your ass without notice should it benefit them.
All of which is to say, in pursuit of ones bliss it is necessary to develop a mercenary warriors mentality. We must be willing to sacrifice anything and anyone that tries to thwart us. We must cultivate inner integrity, often at the expense of public reputation. While we strive to be compassionate, we must give up the notion of being nice.
Freedom, bliss, and genius are not given to nice people... they are seized by those who refuse to compromise for the sake of public opinion.
[Matt Salleh has a great example of this in relation to his last employer in KL... which I hope he will write about soon].