Playing With Words: Integrity

Where does the word integrity come from? It has both Latin and Old French origins, and it means wholeness, perfect condition, and complete.*  The root word integer is Latin, meaning untainted, upright, untouched.  It also means a whole number.  It’s root, tangere, means to touch and is related to the word tangent.  And tangent can be traced back to mean to stroke or strike gently.  All of this is fascinating.  There are powerful forces behind the subconscious use of language.  Words resonant with meanings, just as sound resonates from a bell. 

When I am in integrity, I am in wholeness.  My outsides match my insides and vice-a-versa.  The Design for Living that works for me is practiced on a daily basis and it shows.  I am in fit spiritual condition.  And to keep spiritually fit, as the AA Big Book says, I can’t rest on my laurels.  I need to keep moving—to keep discovering things about myself, and to make necessary changes.  As Charles Hannel says, “all power is developed like everything else—through exercise.”

It is important to keep the objectives in mind as to why I am getting spiritually fit in the first place.  One is to become, “happy, joyous, and free.” The other is to “become of maximum service to God and my fellows. (AA Big Book).”  And these go hand-in-hand.

As I seek wholeness and a sense of completeness, I need to realize there is no finish line.  Being in the now moment of a circle of completeness is a non-linear experience—it simply is wholeness—no beginning, no end.  It’s not even a feeling.  It’s a consciousness of perfection.  And the perfection doesn’t end.  My ability to stay consciously attuned to that relationship however, does.  And while I can strive to keep my soul untainted and untouched by the cares of the world, I will still only be striving.  If people like Jesus and Siddhartha wept, so will lowly Joseph.  The point isn’t to avoid being touched by the world anyway–it’s to touch and be touched gently; I need to stroke the strings of the heart with purpose; and the heart needs to be in tune for beauty to stream forth, like fragrance from a flower.  Integrity is the music of right living.


*As usual, all etymology information comes from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

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