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Column: The Spiritual Realist

Raymond Siew

Thinking with Integrity

by Raymond Siew

Integrity: The coming together, the melding, of our words, our values and our actions....the act of integration — In this context, INTEGRITY can also be defined as the opposite of compartmentalisation.

Thinking with INTEGRITY involves
the act of INTEGRATION

We start out in life learning about things in compartments. Over time, we see that certain compartments share similarities and we begin to integrate them... until finally, we begin to see things as a WHOLE.

But integration is not always so easy. I have argued that it seems to be designed that way in order for us to learn. And I have suggested that "imagined fears" are the cause of the difficulty in learning.

We are born with a body. The body has a built-in response of "fight or flight" - an instinctive response. However, that response may not serve us until we are able to distinguish between REAL dangers from PERCEIVED ones. For until then we are fighting with shadows, and in that state create a jungle... an imagined jungle.

But let's first overview what fear does — Fear closes down our minds. It tenses the body. It causes us to forget (compartmentalise). If you have ever spoken in public, or competed in a sport, you'll know what I mean. Examine what fear does to you in your own context.

Thinking with integrity means the consideration of ALL (REAL) relevant factors towards the resolution of a problem.

Note: Knowing which factor is relevant, and which isn't, is itself a process. So decision making with integrity, at any one time, can only be performed with ALL known and relevant factors at that time (since there will be unknown factors). Decisions are best made with an end goal, a strategy and a plan to get there. Decision making with integrity should be accompanied by thinking with integrity. And that is not easy. I hope to show that in the example below.

When fear is present (imagined or real), instincts kick in, and we will deny, rationalise, compartmentalise, forget, selectively hear, slectively read — We will make assumptions based on our history, we will create a story. When fear is present we CANNOT SEE REALITY. With imagined fears, that is apparent. However, with real fears, the correct response may not be that apparent. The answer may be in front of us and we won't know if we cannot separate real from imagined, and we may even create our own admixture. That is why Zen masters have described life as an ILLUSION, and developed intuitive responses.

An example from chess...

It is a game played with set pieces, on a board with 64 squares. Now, in any scenario or given position, the chess grandmaster will see more posibilities than a rank beginner. Both are looking at the same thing, and yet one sees much more. He sees more because he understands the parts and the whole better — Let us look at some of the parts:

  1. He understands the relationships between the structure and the placement of the pieces.

  2. He understands the limitations of the strengths and weaknesses of each peice in any given scenario.

    These are the technical aspects of the game which must be learned over time, and the grandmaster understands more because he has dissected the parts and drawn CORRECT conclusions. But there is more....

  3. He understands the illusion of fear caused by the reputation of his opponent — He believes that any opponent can be defeated on a given day. He knows that if he has more fear than his opponent before the start of the game, he is already defeated. He understands the spiritual principle of the laws of attraction that with fear, he has attracted defeat. And in doing so, he has also transferred his energy to his opponent.

  4. He understands the illusion of time — Under intense pressure in a timed game, perception is distorted. What seems like a few moments (or a long time) in one's mind is not reflected on the clock:

    When he is close to winning, he experiences euphoria and that causes him to rush a decision (even when he still has a lot of time on the clock). When he is losing, he is attacked by endless chatter which muddles his thinking, and a lot of time has elapsed (although he thinks he's only spent a short moment mulling the problem).

  5. Therefore he understands the illusion of emotions — Emotions cloud thinking (see my definition of "emotions and feelings" in my previous article) — Emotions take him away from reality, he had time to consider carefully; negativity and negative emotions obscure the solution to his, possibly temporary, losing position (see 4 above).

    Note: The extreme vacillation of emotions also uses up a tremendous amount of energy, causing exhaustion - and that affects his chances of victory in a drawn out competition. (Like life?)


  6. He understands the laws of quantitative addition, qualitative change — He understands that he has to learn things, over time, by integrating theory and practice. He will experience confusion but by struggling with new information and understanding of himself, he experiences a sudden jump in understanding and level. (For those who have a science background, this comes from studying chemical reactions.)

    He understands that he may spend a long time in a plateau, or even experience reversals in his growth, when he is attempting to integrate his understanding... for during the process of integration, energy is spent. However, upon integration, there is new clarity and understanding.


I have chosen to use chess as an example because it is a non-violent game, and as such poses no REAL danger — It is highly unlikely that a tiger will break out of the zoo, find the chess auditorium and devour the participants — Yet, there is much fear.

Chess is also a good illustration because it demonstrates the 3 levels of illusions. On the surface, chess looks like a simple game. There are only 64 squares and limited pieces. For those who delve deeper into its technicalities, new truths about its complexities arise. There are many chess exponents who focus on the technical aspect of this game. Yet mastery is only achieved when the emotional (spiritual) aspect of the game is integrated into a whole. If I may put a proportion, I would say the technical aspect is only the tip of the iceberg. It is in understanding and integrating all relevant factors (that affect the outcome), that true mastery is born. And a relevant factor is that he is playing a timed game.

In last issue's Ask Ray! Q & A, I spoke about intuitive thinking — I said intuitive thinking happens when there is sudden clarity. This is because there is a sudden de-compartmentalisation (or sudden integration) of knowledge. This creates a jump in knowing.

Note: This can only happen with known knowledge. That means, a chess grandmaster can achieve sudden clarity in competition because he already has all the component knowledge. And a businessman can suddenly find a new way of solving a business problem because he has the component knowledge of business. Intuitive insights do not happen in a vacuum.

My example also implies that winning is a good thing. And I think it is. It is necessary in the path towards the attainment of one's goal - to be the best that you can be, the best that you are meant to be - and as such, the examination should be on what the GOAL is, and the MOTIVE.

Although my example is not exhaustive, I hope it demonstrates that integrity is needed to do anything well — The grandmaster himself may be the master of chess but he may not be the master businessman, master politician, the master of life, etc. For that he has to integrate the lessons he has learnt about chess to his other endeavours, if he so chooses. Nevertheless, he is one step closer. He has peered through the illusions of one thing, at least, and is closer to reality. But he remains the grandmaster of chess because he has integrated all that he can and know about chess.

The universe moves inexorably towards integration... and so do the laws of attraction. If you do not integrate, the universe will continue to bring you the lessons that help you to do so.

Observe carefully and you may see that much of our own personal conflicts and confusion are caused by the lack of integrity — If we look at the drama around us, in business and in life, we'll see that the conflicts are also around the lack of integration. And this is called the drama.

Therefore, spiritual growth must be towards integration - for in integration we come closer to reality. But integration, integrity are not bought cheaply - for there is conflict in the act of integration. But after the conflict, there is calm. Spirituality is the movement towards more and more moments of intuitive insights. It is the movement towards releasing the genius in us.

An aside: You'll find that in your studies, if you integrate all relevant information (instead of studying a subject in isolation), there will be much clearer understanding. With integration, you'll also find you remember more. Another interesting thing you'll find is that when there is integration, healing also takes place (both in body and mind). The conflict has abated.

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NOTE: Techical integration, in examples 1 & 2 above, are easier to achieve, at least when you're younger (or less burdened). However, to integrate the other examples can create a lot of conflict, which can be exhausting — I sometimes refer to it as "opening Pandora's box".

I will write on this next issue in "Will the Real Inner Child Please Stand Up?" — This is a standalone work which will be made into a viral eBook and given away free. There are advertising slots available, so look out for the announcements. After that, I will continue the series with "The Universe in The Moment".

Ask Ray !

From Jing Wen, Malaysia...

What do you do when you meditate? Just let your mind run free?....

Click here to continue reading & for Ray's reply

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About the Author:
Raymond Siew is the CEO and business development strategist for eMasters as well as her two online publications: It's My Life! (lifestyle ezine) and in-the-loop (business ezine). eMasters' core business is Design, Advertising & Promotions — Visit to view eMasters' suite of products & services, or to read Raymond's bio.

About It's My Life! content: All content on It's My Life! belongs exclusively to eMasters and may not be reproduced or reprinted in any manner without permission from eMasters. If you wish to use any of our content, please contact us.

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