“Integrity is defined as “the quality or state of being complete or undivided”. While you aspire to have integrity, many of you do not feel either complete or undivided. You feel discouraged when you look within and your search for happiness with others exacerbates your deepest wounds.
There are no magical fixes for this condition. it is the raw material of life which has been given to you to transform. You must mold it and craft it into a work of art.
It would be easy for the potter to reject the clay as inferior or unworthy of him. But were he to do so, his life would have no meaning. He is not defined by the clay, but by what he chooses to do with it.
What do you choose to do with the hand you have been dealt? How can you work with the challenges of life to come to peace in your heart and in your relationships?
The answer is a simple one, but it may not be the one you expect. The answer is that you don’t have to do anything.
“Well“, you ask, how does the clay get molded if I don’t have to do anything?“\
The clay gets molded by your willingness to stay with and in your process. In your struggle, and in your surrender, the clay gets molded. The work of art is offered torn part, and offered once again. At some point, you know it is finished and you can work on it no more. The you walk away from it and, before you realize it, more clay is given into your hands. It has a different consistency, a different potential. It brings new challenges.
Just being in your life is the molding process. Even when it seems that you are resisting or denying what is happening, the clay is still being worked.
“What about the criminal?”, you ask. “Has he created a work of art with his life?”
Yes, he has. His life is the record of his journey through his fears, just as your life is your own record. Each of you has told your story. If you look into his heart, you will see that his story is not that different from your own.
There are no failures n this planet. Even the homeless, the prostitutes, the drug dealers, are molding the clay that was given to them.
Because you don’t like a particular piece of artwork does not mean that it ceases to be a work of art. There are no boring stories out there. Each tale is a gem. Each sculpture has genius.
Integrity is a universal gift. Everyone has it. It is part of the clay itself. Whatever you build with your life will stand up. It will be there for you to reflect on and for others to see.
You may choose to leave it standing or to tear it down. That is your choice. Other may stare at it and say unkind things. That is their choice. None of it means anything.
There is no right and wrong in this process.
You cannot say that what one person builds with his life is less valuable than what another person builds. All you can say, in truth, is that you prefer what one persona has built to what another has built. You have your preferences.
Fortunately, God does not share them. Not yours or anyone else’s. God listens to everyone’s story. His ear is to each person’s heart. Nobody has pushed Him away by making a mistake. All He ever wants to know is: “Did you learn from your mistake?”
Integrity is not something you have to earn. It is essential to who you are. There is no one here who does not have integrity, just as there is no one here who does not deserve love.
Of course, there are plenty of people who don’t think they have integrity. And they have the unfortunate habit of trying to find their wholeness by demanding the time, attention, possessions of others. These people are not evil. They are just confused. They don’t know that their life is a work of art. They don’t know that they are master sculptors. They think that they got a lousy hand.
One day they will realize that they got the perfect hand. And they will start to work with it consciously and energetically. Until then, they are playing at being victims. They are playing at being broken, unhealed, unwhole.
A black person confined to a wheel chair may not feel whole, but he has no less integrity than anyone else. He has not been given inferior clay. There are no accidents in this life. Nobody got anyone else’s clay.
You see, the problem is not existential. Integrity is there in each one of you. The problem is that you believe you are not whole. You believe that you need to be fixed or that you can fix someone else. You feel a false sense of responsibility and you do not take enough responsibility for yourself. You are driven by desire, greed, guilt and fear. You attack, defend and try to repair the damage. Of course, it doesn’t work.
In truth, nothing is broken and nothing needs to be fixed. If you could dwell in this awareness, all your wounds would heal by themselves. Miracles would happen, because the ego structure that is blocking the miracle would dissolve.
This human drama seems to be about abuse, but it is really about learning to take responsibility. All suffering is a temporary construction created for your learning. And all the tools that you need to end your suffering have been given into your hands.
When you are not blaming each other for your problems, you are blaming God. You think it’s His fault that you are unhappy. You don’t like being put to the test. Neither did Job. It’s not fun to have your magical beliefs smashed.
But you need to realize that no magical incantation is going to open the door to the prison. It doesn’t work that way. Freedom is much more simple and close at hand.
“Well“, you say, “if I only had a helicopter or a 747 I could get out of this hole!“. You don’t realize how absurd that sounds.
Forget about that 747, brother. Just use the ladder.
“That old thing? That can’t possibly get me out of here!”
You know the dialogue. We’ve had this conversation before.
Others keep pointing to he ladder, but you keep looking away. You have a certain attachment to being a victim.
The problem is that the victim will never acknowledge the ladder. He will never admit that he has the tools he needs to extricate himself from the suffering. For, as soon as he admits that he has these tools, he ceases to be a victim. Nobody feels sorry for him anymore. The game of being a handicapped creator comes to an end.
So if you want to discover your integrity you need to stop pretending to be a victim. You need to stop pretending that you were not given the right tools. You need to take the clay and work with it.
Anyone who does this stops complaining and gets on with his life. He learns to take care of himself and he gives others the space to take care of themselves. Indeed, he releases all sense of obligation to and from others so that he is free to follow the promptings of his mind and heart. For him, there are no excuses and so there is no need to procrastinate. Nothing stands between him and his joy.His life is his work of art and he is busy about it even as a bee is busy pollinating flowers. If you speak to him of sacrifice, he will laugh and say: “Work that is not joyful accomplishes nothing of value in the world”. And, of course, he will be right.
One artist does not wok for another unless he is learning something of value to his craft. When he stops learning, he moves to another teacher, or begins working on his own. Nobody can keep him from his craft. No one can take him out of his life. For his life and his craft are one.
In a world where everyone is a genius, there are no bosses and no employees. There are only teachers and students in voluntary association.
If you do not like where you are, you must leave that place or you do not honor yourself. Do not force yourself to stay in an environment in which you cease to remember that you are a creator of your life.
I once told you “leave your nets“. Do not struggle to be worthy when you already are. Leave the job or relationship in which you are unable to be yourself. Let go of your neurotic bargain for love and acceptance. And walk through your fears. You will never find your wings until you learn to use your arms and your legs. Don’t ask God to do for you what you must learn to do for yourself.
In honoring yourself, you needn’t make anyone else wrong. Just do what is good for you and express your gratitude to others. When you are stepping into your life, you do not leave others hastily or in anger. You say your goodbyes. You bless the person whose life you’ve shared and the place where you have lived. Because you can bless the past, you are free to leave it.
You cannot “leave your nets” and take the fish with you. In time, the fish will rot and leave a terrible stench. For miles around people will anticipate your arrival.”The Fisherman is coming”. Your past walks in front of you. This is not the way to freedom.
Be strong in your conviction about your own life, but gentle with others. Do not judge their needs just because you cannot meet them. Just be honest about what you can and cannot do, and wish them well. Remember, the one whom you reject follows you. Only acceptance brings completion.
When you are ready to leave the entanglements of your life and step out on the simple path of love and forgiveness you will now it in your heart and mind. There will be no struggle, no deliberation.
In your clarity and your generosity, others will relax and release you. And you will hold them in your heart wherever you go.
The only prisons in the world are the ones of your own making. And only one who is ignorant of his own genius could hold another hostage against his will.
Remember, for every prison you create in your mind there is a key that unlocks the door. If you can’t erase the prison, at least claim the key to the door.
You are not a victim of the world, but the one who holds the key to freedom. In your eyes is the spark of divine light that leads all being out of the darkness of fear and mistrust. And in your heart is the love that gives birth to all the myriad beings in the universe. Your essence is unbroken, whole, dynamic and creative. It but awaits your trust.”