Integrity is More Challenging Than Enlightenment
by Andrew Cohen, December 15, 2012
Q: Doesn’t enlightenment automatically imply a rare degree of integrity in the self?
A: In the way I define Evolutionary Enlightenment, it definitely does. But too often, in the postmodern interpretations of enlightenment, there is not necessarily much of a correlation between the two. In fact, the cultivation of profound integrity seems to pose a much greater challenge to the postmodern self than the attainment of higher states of consciousness does. Even individuals who would typically be considered enlightened because of their consistent access to higher states can be sorely lacking in moral development. I’ve known many people over the years I’ve been teaching who were not afraid of letting go into deep and profound states of consciousness but were literally terrified of the call to cultivate integrity of self and soul.
Integrity means that there is a foundation of moral virtue in the structure of the self. In the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment, morality is not based on externally dictated traditional values and ethical codes, but rather is a naturally emerging result of the revelation that the creation of our future depends on what we do, right now and in every moment. That profound awakening to our inherent responsibility as evolving human beings at the leading edge becomes the basis for a new moral context for human life. So the expression of integrity or moral virtue would be that the choices we make and the actions we take would consistently express our recognition of this responsibility and our genuine care about creating our future. In such an individual, there would be a significant correlation between word and deed, and a steady demonstration of moral courage and soul strength. The fact that we are deadly serious about what it means to be alive would be demonstrated with unusual consistency. There would be a discernible hierarchy of values in our relationship to life, and that which we had recognized to be of the highest importance would be something that we would honor and respect in all the important choices that we make. So integrity of self would mean there is a significant correlation between our deepest ideals and convictions, and the way we actually live our lives.
Integrity, in a context of spiritual evolution, is always directly connected with the awakening to a higher meaning, purpose, and reason for being that one feels inherently beholden to. But we live in a culture of postmodern narcissism, in which most of us are unaccustomed to being beholden to anything other than our own desires and preferences. No narcissist, however profound his or her access to higher states, is going to strive for this degree of integrity merely for their own sake. The call for deeper wholeness and moral development for the sake of a higher purpose rains on the narcissist’s parade. It instantly corners the ego, and that’s the reason so few of us are actually interested in it.
So, surprisingly enough, there seems to be greater power in the cultivation of integrity than there is even in the experience of enlightenment. It’s much easier to have an experience of the enlightened state than it is to develop the kind of integrity I’m speaking about and to stand for that, as yourself, in the world, for the sake of the evolution of consciousness itself. That’s a step that few human beings I’ve met are willing to take.