A Post Originally Published on October 2, 2009 and edited on July 30, 2010
Aliveness and integrity are neither things that I can have or a place to which I can get.
Neither are they necessary requirements or even virtues for being human on this earth. In fact, I could live very well on this earth with neither the experience of aliveness or integrity and wonder how many of us could ever appreciate how life would be if we never experienced either.
If integrity is not something to attain or a requirement for living, what is integrity, really?
I believe that integrity is “a state or condition of being whole and complete”, and as such, is a context. As a context, integrity is the container in which all the stuff of life, the content, takes place. Although I often use the idea of “having” integrity, what I really mean to say is that I am in a state of integrity and from a state of integrity, there is no way to either get to that state or to fall away from it, I simply experience myself in the state of integrity or I do not.. There are, however, ways for me to affirm when I am in this state of integrity, or not, by simply looking right in front of me to examine what is working or not working in the content of my life.
From a state of being whole, life simply becomes workable.
Without wholeness, I believe, all there can be to experiencing life is chaos and confusion and very little quality to the living, and, in my judgment, there can be no experience of aliveness.
What is this notion of aliveness?
Some schools of philosophy might say that the purpose of life is to find meaning in it, to find purpose in it. I believe that aliveness is the primary purpose of living, even though, as I said earlier, it is not a requirement for living. I will even venture to say that aliveness and purpose in life are one and the same. If this is so that aliveness and purpose are one and the same, then in seeking aliveness in my life, I am already fulfilling my purpose for living. All I need to do then to experience aliveness is discover the blocks to that aliveness, which is, in my belief, found in my shadows.
Holding onto my shadow rather than owning it prevents me from experiencing both aliveness and a state of wholeness called integrity.
Shadow is defined by the late Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Carl G. Jung as “everything in us that is unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied.” That leaves my work of experiencing greater aliveness as primarily bringing to the surface of consciousness all that which is unconscious.
Holding on to unconsciousness can turn events, people and things that I am trying to experience into concepts and stories that I can file away in my mind as memories.
And while concepts, stories and memories can give life meaning, they cannot be my reason for being.