Integrity and the Body

The Quakers have a testimony about integrity. In a nutshell, it instructs us to make our outside match our inside.  If you think about this for a moment you’ll see that this is not at all easy.  How many times do we keep our real thoughts hidden, while pretending to like what we’re doing or who we’re talking to? Our outside and our inside do not match.  No integrity.

The body on the other hand, has a natural integrity.  In Chinese medicine this principle guides diagnosis.  Some clue on the outside, in the form of a symptom, invariably leads to the source of the problem on the inside.  Those floaters in the eye, or that annoying ringing in the ear, can point to the unseen internal imbalance because the body does not lie or misrepresent itself.

To my delight, I found the following quotation in Hung Ying-ming’s wonderful Ming dynasty book, “The Unencumbered Spirit.” He wraps both of these ideas into one verse, giving us a poignant teaching on integrity and health all in one package.  Enjoy.

“When the liver ails, it will soon follow

That the eye is unable to focus.

When the kidney is afflicted, it will soon follow

That the ear is unable to distinguish sounds.

Illness begins in a place unseen by men,

But invariably develops to a condition

that can be seen by all.

Therefore, the gentleman,

If he hopes not to be censored in the light of day,

Commits no crimes in secret.”

(from the translation by William Scott Wilson, published by Kodansha International)