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Archive for January, 2018

Gentle reader, if you have been following my postings these past six years you know that I love stories.   Frequently someone will say to me, ‘You tell us stories, but you seldom reveal their meaning to us.’  Sometimes I respond: ‘How would you like it if I offered you a piece of fruit and chewed on it before I gave it to you?’  The stories that I am attracted to are the ‘teaching stories’ – we call them ‘parables.’

The story-teller is the teacher in the sense that his or her charge is to offer up the story.  If the recipient of the story is a ‘student’ (think: searcher-seeker) then his or her charge is to be open to the lesson that the story might offer.  What might this mean?  Consider the following:

 Years ago I lived with two cats (and some human beings).  I remember one cat, her name was Demeter, would sit for a long time just looking at something.  It appeared that no thought distracted her, no worry about ‘what’s to come.’  Demeter was an example of pure contemplation.

You might have experienced some of this yourself when you were totally absorbed watching a child play, or when you were watching a sunset.  If you desire to experience contemplation you might try this: Be totally in the present.  Drop every thought of the past or the future, drop every image or abstraction and be in the present.  I have also found this to be helpful advice when it comes to contemplating teaching stories.

Here’s a twist on an old story: One day the teacher was walking along and saw two of her students on their knees frantically searching for something.  She joined them and asked what they were searching for.  She was told that one of them had dropped the keys to their house.  After some minutes of franticly searching the teacher asked if the student knew in what area the keys might have been dropped.  ‘Oh Yes,’ replied the student.  ‘I lost them over there, about 50 yards from where we are now looking’.  The teacher, paused, looked at the student and asked: ‘Then why are we looking here?’ ‘Because the light is much better over here!’ was the reply.

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have lived into and out of this story.

For thousands of years the great mystics went into the desert and upon returning their disciples inquired as to what the experience was like.  The mystics could not put into words, could not even begin to capture, the experience; but they tried.  The disciples then took the descriptions and wrote them down and passed them on to others and shared them across boundaries and years and finally the descriptions became the experience.

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The act teaches you the meaning of the act.  –Anonymous

Today, gentle reader, we will continue our brief exploration of ‘Integrity’ with the third criterion.

Stating openly that when you act that you are acting on your understanding of what is morally right from what is morally wrong.

This third criterion is a challenge for many of us because our ‘Culture’ wants us to conform; we are not to ‘rock the boat’ or ‘blow the whistle’ or ‘say the emperor has no clothes.’  There are many reasons behind our decisions to conform.  We all want to fit in.  Being shunned or marginalized or ‘banished’ is one of the most harmful things a human can do to another human.  Although I use the word ‘Culture’ for most of us it is the ‘Sub-Culture’ that demands we conform (think: family, ‘church,’ faith-tradition, political party, place of employment, etc.).  We learn early on in life that to proclaim an unpopular belief rarely helps endear us to our ‘Culture’ or to one or more of the ‘Sub-cultures’ that we are members of.

We – our ‘Culture’ and our ‘Sub-cultures’ – need moral dissenters.  We need people of moral conviction – of moral integrity – to show us the way by actively dissenting; by naming the immoral and by taking action against the immoral.  We needed the civil rights folks, we needed the anti-Vietnam War folks and we need those who stand up against the many types of harassments that run amok amongst us.  We need them to act so that we will also be inspired to act (think: find the heart and courage to act) and perhaps even become motivated to act.

Integrity can – and does – call us to break the rules rather than follow them.  Integrity can – and does – call us to ‘break the law’ and pay the price for doing so.  The dissenter, acting rooted in integrity, will be open and public about his/her dissent and his/her rationale for dissenting.

To put it another way: A person who lives an integral life will, at times, reach moral conclusions that differ from those of the majority.  Choosing to display and act upon those conclusions publicly is one crucial aspect of the wholeness in which integrity consist.

Today, are we a nation comprised of public dissenters or are we becoming a nation of ‘mis-directors’?  How often, for example, do our public figures beguile us into looking in the other direction in order to help us avoid ‘seeing’ or becoming ‘awake and aware of’ their true actions?  How often do we follow their lead rather than ‘call them out’?

The media is not helping.  How often does the media focus on ferreting out hypocrisy while ignoring powerful acts of integrity (the former is, of course, crucial AND so is the latter).  Although the media is ‘guilty’ we must remember that ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ are ultimately responsible.  We are both unconditionally responsible and unconditionally response-able – we have choice; we exercise our choice each day.

WE THE PEOPLE are responsible for ensuring that we are a ‘Culture’ rooted in, fed by and sustained by moral integrity.

How are we doing?

No betrayal is more damaging and harmful than that which comes from the denial of, or compromise of, my own integrity. –Attributed to R. Buckminster Fuller

 

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