‘When rich in integrity, you are subject to no sovereign
and the child to no father.’
The word integrity has two main definitions, one is honesty and the other is wholeness. While searching for an image that captured my relationship with this koan, the one that spoke to me the most evoked a sense of parts, not a whole.
Anyone who has paid attention to their experience will have noticed that we are composed of many parts. There is the one who wants to scratch the itchy nose, there is the one who resists. There is the one who drifts off into fantasy and the one who remembers he is meditating.
When we speak about koan meditation we use the word integration often. Integration in koan meditation practice is the bringing together all of our various parts with our meditation practice. It takes a lot of honesty and courage to bear witness to the devils whispering in our ears.
It takes an equal amount of honesty and courage to bear witness to the angels. Despite the fact that the role of father has shifted from the traditional one, where father was the sovereign of the family, who laid down the law, we nevertheless each carry a sovereign within us who legislates laws governing behavior in service of some sense of control. It is one aspect of the multitude we carry inside us. To be rich in integrity is to be honest about the existence of all the parts and any judgments we may have about them.
The ninth century Sufi teacher and poet Al Halaj, who was executed for refusing to recant his poetry, is an example of the courage it takes to bear witness to the Angel. Two of his poems were: ‘There is nothing wrapped in my turban but God.’, and ‘I saw God, with the eye of my heart and I asked, ‘Who are You?’ He replied, ‘You’.‘
The integration of the infinite and the finite allowed another mystic to say, “In every individual thing there is a wholeness.”