Quick Key version


by David Truman

Integrity is the key to a good life. Destiny and well-being depend on it. Our confidence, our openness to love and intimacy, our ability to stay close to God, all come and go according to how well we follow our hearts.

In integrity we live; without it we die. Being untrue to your heart will destroy your life, and create your own personal hell. But if you follow your heart, it will create heaven on earth for you. Each moment in life, each choice, is a fork in the road. Which way will we go? Where will we end up? It depends on how well we obey our hearts.

When we violate our own feelings about what's right and what we should be doing, we shut down, and turn away from happiness, love, and all the most beautiful things in life. But when we follow our hearts and our conscience, we open up to life, and let it flood in.

You can see it in the lives of everyone you know. When a person does wrong -- unless they decide to fix it -- they will quickly distance themselves from everyone they love. They no longer want to be happy, because it just doesn't seem fitting. And if you reach out to them in such a compressed state, you will have a hard time getting through.

On the other hand, when a person is living rightly and beautifully, they become bright and happy. They want to relate closely with people. They become permeable to love; and they become robust on the basis of receiving love and exchanging love in helpful, meaningful, uplifting ways.

"To thine own self be true" ends the destructive cycle that is put in motion when we ignore our heart's own feelings.

What we feel is important is what matters

Of course, not all negative actions are equally consequential, and neither are all positive actions. How strongly an action or choice affects your destiny depends on how important it is to you. If it is crucial to your heart, then it is crucial. No matter if it seems trivial to others, no matter if it would be called unimportant by religion or culture.

For example, if a person sincerely believes they should become more disciplined, they will feel terrible if they don't. It will hang over their head like a dark cloud, changing the tone of their life for the worse -- even if nobody else cares about it.

That shows exactly how personal this really is. It makes no difference what anyone else says; a person is condemned only by their own hand.

And that's the long and short of our entire existence. We are condemned or resurrected by our own fidelity to ourselves; by our integrity, as measured only by our own heart standards. No other measure stands.

Condemn wrongdoing, not oneself

But in truth, self-condemnation is never appropriate. It is not God's will that we should so harshly condemn ourselves. Only the ego would interpret our wrongdoing to mean that we are bad, irredeemable, wretched creatures. Only the ego would respond to guilt by shutting down, and dropping out of life. The spirit knows better. The spirit recognizes that no matter what we do, we are good, and we are capable of good. And when we see that we have done wrong, the spirit would jump to correct it, and to heal it; rather than steep in shame and self-hatred.

We don't need to condemn ourselves. But it is true integrity to condemn the actions your heart hates -- actions that violate the law of love, which is your heart's law. Those actions should be condemned, because they are hurtful, and they are not true to who you really are. To be true to yourself is to renounce bad, and turn to the good that your heart always calls you to.

Two apparent problems with "to thine own Self be true"

1. What about God? When I say, "It doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. You have to do what your heart says is right," one question that may arise is: "But what about the promptings God gives in every moment? Don't you need to surrender to those in order to be right?"

It may seem like a contradiction, but the conflict is overcome when you realize that God's Heart is your own heart. God gave you His Heart. Your sensibilities and sensitivities are no different than God's. When you feel moved to help someone in need, when you feel guilty for doing wrong, when your heart responds lovingly to another human being, that is God in you.

Thus, there is no difference between satisfying God, and satisfying your own heart. The two are the same. Isn't that beautiful?

2. What about others? Following your heart has been given a bad name in this world. Many people think that to "follow your heart" means to be whimsical, inconsiderate, selfish, and non-committal. But tell me honestly: how do you feel about whimsical, flakey people?

In truth, no human heart would ever approve of selfish, whimsical living. People who say they are "following their heart" when they are actually living selfishly are confused. They are ignoring the cries of their heart for rightness, love, commitment, loyalty, reliability -- all qualities that the human/Divine heart values highly.

So, once again, there is no conflict. As long as you are in line with your own heart, you will do right by God and all others.

"To thine own self be true,
and it must follow, as the night follows day,
thou canst not then be false to any man."

-- William Shakespeare

Life is an integrity test

So now you understand the whole thing. Life is an integrity test. Everything else is absolutely irrelevant. Until heaven and earth pass away, not a single letter will be removed from the law of your heart -- which is the law of love and rightness. That's all that counts in life. So, be true to yourself; and all will be well.