“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” — C. S. Lewis
Did you know your body completely regenerates every seven years? Not a single cell stays present for more than seven years, and yet, we have an emotional and spiritual integrity that seemingly transcends the body that contains it. How is that possible? Where does it live?
Like it or not, we are thrust into a world where everything changes. So that impulse to hold and support integrity seemingly sits above and on top of all that change.
And no wonder we are resistant to change. But it’s not for the reasons you might imagine. We don’t resist change because we are frightened, or feel small, or helpless, or because we are unsure of ourselves. Those are the reasons we give ourselves. We resist change because our minds won’t “let go” of their attachments and because our most prized possession, self-awareness, is dependent on sharing “who-we-are” with “the-here-and-now” (a shared dependency which makes them both unknown).
Yesterday, I made the point that we are dependent on our awareness to both manage and focus our attention. I also made the point that we share this dependency with the unknown. No matter how much we try, the unknown is constantly entering our awareness simply because life itself unfolds. (see …sharing our dependence…)
And guess what? The unknown predictably unfolds within certain areas: body, mind, and environment. If you look carefully at your attention, it can only be placed upon three things: whatever is happening with your body (your breath, your movements, your inner sensation of touch, taste, sight, smell or sound), or it can be placed on your mind (on your thoughts, attitudes, or feelings) or on your environment (on people, objects or conditions which occupy your attentional space). That’s it! Just three possible locations. And that’s why the serpent devouring its tail (the Uroborus) is primarily concerned with these areas: Bodily integrity, mental integrity, and environmental integrity.
And what (you ask) does “personal integrity” have to do with bodily integrity, mental integrity, and environmental integrity? Well, actually quite a bit.
Integrity is not just a “constancy” in our approach to the challenges we face, it is actually a constancy of belief and value … which we can confirm bodily, mentally and environmentally (and I might add “spiritually,” but then I would be getting ahead of myself).
You see, when the unknown is unwanted, we do our best to push it aside. When it fails to conform to what we believe or value, we do our best to make it go away (or make things up which then make it go away). In the extreme, we become angry and afraid. And both of these are self-perpetuating. Fight or flight. It’s hard-wired.
So why all this attention on the unknown and on sharing the unknown? Isn’t it? … well, unavoidable. Yes, but most of the time that’s exactly what we are trying to do: avoid the unknown.
Change is the constant cause in all our living. It causes all the pain AND all the joy. And it happens in the meeting. Personal integrity meets the need for bodily integrity, (what happens if my body doesn’t work?) or the need for mental integrity (what happens if my perceptions are wrong?) or the need for environmental integrity (what happens if my home is destroyed?)
Our joy and pain sit above and on top of everything that changes. There’s a constancy here that defies explanation. Life evolves and erupts, but it never breaks the spiritual completeness that supports our self-awareness; we become different but always with integrity.
“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” The aim is in the attention, in the awareness. What other explanation can there be?
Thanks for listening!