Spiritual Integrity – Thinking vs Conforming
Spiritual Integrity consists of searching for Truth, willingness to recognize truth when it presents itself to you in its various aspects, and genuinely living Truth to the best of your ability, regardless of the opinions of others. In this way, whether you join a spiritual organization or not, you retain your individuality, and your ability and willingness to think.
As I mention “willingness to think”, you may wonder what I mean. “After all”, you may say, “everybody thinks”. But unfortunately, as history has shown, this is not the case. Numerous people give up active thinking when faced with church membership, or membership in any group that has an agenda. They sometimes swallow the belief system whole rather than examining and questioning the parts, and without realizing it, they get locked into conformity rather than retaining the responsibility of thinking for themselves. They still call it “thinking” but that is a misnomer. When people unquestioningly accept unexamined tenets, they are not thinking. They are conforming.
Why do people conform?
The pressure to conform is a strong motivating factor, and it is common for people to begin their sentences with the words, “I think….” when what they actually mean is, “I conform…” or, “I have been told…”.
Conforming means accepting and copying other’s thoughts and actions often without close scrutiny. Accepting and copying without scrutinizing does not require thinking. It is easy and does not require much effort, but the results can be devastating. Because it is easy to conform, and thinking takes effort, many people conform and call it thinking because they are unwilling to make the effort to think, and they often do not recognize the difference.
The dictionary definition of the word think is: to employ one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation.
With this definition in mind, clearly, you cannot simply conform to others’ opinions without due deliberation, and accurately call this thinking. Anything short of careful consideration and deliberation before making decisions is mere conformity, and does not deserve the word “think” attached to it.
For instance, as a member of an organization that you agreed with at one time, after careful consideration, you may change your mind about some of the basic tenets. You always have the right to rethink, and to possibly change directions. When this happens, in order to stay in spiritual integrity, you need to follow your inner truth.
How do you follow your inner truth?
An example of this was when I decided to become much less active in a spiritual organization I had been involved in for over twenty years. My decision came as a result of inner realizations that surprised me.
While the espoused goal of the spiritual organization was to reach a certain level of consciousness, I noticed that no one I knew claimed to achieve this state. This bothered me, because when I reached that state, and I tried to share, my words were met with silence rather than acceptance.
I found this disconcerting because it seemed obvious that if the group believed people could reach that level of consciousness through meditation, they ought to believe that it was possible. Instead they seemed to feel threatened and disbelieving. The feeling I got from them caused me to feel the need to separate, and ultimately led me on a personal journey that brought me into my own individual path which tested my spiritual integrity. While I still honored my spiritual teacher, and fully intended to follow the teachings, my path became strikingly independent.
The change was not so much a choice as it was the natural result of many years of meditation, for, as I opened up spiritually, my personal path called me. My inner peace, developed from many years of meditation, made me certain. It told me that this was the time to make a change, and whatever I learned along the way, I would share with others.
Simultaneously going through many major changes in my life, it was a tumultuous time for me. Some relationships disappeared. New relationships developed. Regardless of others’ opinions, or earlier beliefs of my own, spiritual integrity called me to make many radical changes very quickly. Eventually things smoothed out, and I found that my purpose in life felt more intact than ever before.
Living Your Higher Purpose
Along the spiritual path, many true seekers come into circumstances in which they are forced to prove their mettle. This individual testing seems to be a required step after a certain point. For instance, your inner guidance may lead you to make an uncomfortable change in your life, and as you meditate and look within, you will be helped to make the right decision. When you know what the right thing is, do it. In this way you will be standing for the Truth you know within.
When this happens to you, if you simply understand that you are being tested as to whether you are willing to recognize and stand for the Truth you find, eventually your circumstances will get easier, and you will find that you are living your higher purpose.
Love and Blessings – ZARA