ITIES 13-15: Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity

Swami Yogatirthananda Saraswati (Switzerland)

The 18 ITIES of Swami Sivananda are Serenity, Regularity, Absence of Vanity, Sincerity, Simplicity, Veracity, Equanimity, Fixity, Non-irritability, Adaptability, Humility, Tenacity, Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity, Charity, Generosity and Purity.
(For other articles in this series see
September 2001, November 2001, May 2002, September 2002 and July 2003 issues.)

INTEGRITY

Wholeness, the unimpaired state of anything, honesty, righteousness, honour and virtue, uprightness, purity - all these are part of integrity. A person of integrity is someone who can be trusted because he/she is true to him/herself. In the expression 'unimpaired state', there is no split, no doubt, no wavering. Body and mind are whole. Head, heart and hands are in harmony. There cannot be conflict where there is integrity.

I wonder about the relationship between external life, its situations and circumstances, and the ITY sadhana. Do I imagine that the ITY of each month has a special relationship to the life led during that period? Do I create the circumstances to suit the ITY? Do I see the circumstances through the eye of the ITY? Did Swami Sivananda have Sanskrit words in mind when he wrote the 'Song of the Eighteen ITIES'? Would the root of the Sanskrit equivalent reveal other aspects and ideas of each ITY?

Order, orderliness, tidiness must all be part of integrity. I realize how difficult it is to have integrity if the mind is constantly attracted to mountains of work left undone. Things lying around physically or mentally are definitely obstacles to integrity. Integrity is a sign of freedom while mess is like imprisonment. Integrity gives a sense of freedom. Sankalpa and awareness of the here and now help me to focus head, heart and hands.

I insisted today on running a class my way because I knew I could live the sankalpa and act with integrity. Usually I do not impose my way but listen to the desires of the others. At the end, I also had to take full responsibility for the outcome; that was already less easy and created a bit of emotional turmoil. Yet I saw that there was less fear and doubt as to the effect of my action. Acting with integrity has certainly an effect on those around, but the effect must or should be positive, if not immediately at least in the long run.

Today I admit that it is not integrity that is at fault, nor the strength and confidence generated by the ITY, but the problem is the expectation I must harbour somewhere. I want a return to my integrity, I want to see results. If I make the effort to be a person of integrity I want to see the effects around me. But of course, as long as there are expectations there will be failure.

Action must be an important part of integrity. Like all of the last six ITIES, it needs to be lived, expressed, put into action, shared and given. Yet I am aware of how much time management is essential here. Action done haphazardly without plan or structure loses a lot of its potential efficacy. Spontaneity is the outcome of a long preparation of aligning head, heart and hands.

Pleasure and joy are essential. Grumpiness and integrity do not go together. Unwillingness or reluctance to work is the death sentence of integrity and a sign of disharmony between head, heart and hands. Serenity is the first aid tool to get back a positive attitude. I wish I could remember or recall at will all the lessons of the previous ITIES.

Integrity is helping me to be more of an initiator. In order to express integrity, I must act. Often it is not enough to wait but it is necessary to take the initiative and find or create an outlet for the expression of head, heart and hands.

Other than through action, integrity can be shown in verbal communication. Speech free of hind thoughts, of anger or falsehood, has integrity. This brings back previous ITIES where clear straightforward speech was an important aspect. Speech is a medium to express the thoughts of the head and the feelings of the heart. It should be an integral representative of both.

'Do your best and leave the rest' - integrity in a nutshell. To do one's best, scrupulous honesty is required in regard to one's head, heart and hands, the willingness to take initiative in word and deed, faith in one's own strength and the guidance and love of guru/God. Proper and rigorous time management seems also very important, the awareness of what to do when and the discipline to carry it out. The outcome is strength, fearlessness and efficiency. The constant effort to find harmony within myself and to communicate this harmony has been the search for integrity.

NOBILITY

'Superiority of mind or of character, commanding moral worth or excellence' is the dictionary definition of nobility. My first association with nobility is sattwa. One must have a sattwic nature. A sattwic person is a noble person. Somehow the qualities of tamas and rajas don't seem to be part of nobility.

Swamiji said in Greece, in 2000: "The definition of dharma in Sanskrit is: the beauty that you hold within and that you express - dharyate iti dharma. Express the beautiful you, and you will be a dharmic person." Maybe knowing that we are all full of beauty and living this knowledge is nobility.

Humility is an aspect of nobility whereas arrogance and pride are the opposite of nobility. Admitting mistakes and expressing them to others in a simple and honest way is part of nobility. A noble person is a strong person. The strength of a noble person lies in the knowledge of being a tool in the plan of guru/God. Somehow the noble mind stands between the ordinary mind and the pure mind. Part of nobility is the desire and will to keep on striving, to keep on improving. To do that needs humility.

Nelson Mandela said: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us." Nobility is the knowledge of this light and power. The knowledge that this light and power are a gift to be used to help improve the quality of life of others.

Nobility may just mean kindness. There are so many ways, so many chances and possibilities in a day to be kind - and how few do I take up! There is a whole backlog of little acts of kindness, like letters, phone calls, visits. Besides the daily situations that happen and invite one to be kind, there are also possibilities that I can create myself. Kindness and more kindness must be part of nobility. I am thinking of characters from nineteenth century English literature where there are plenty of noblemen and women. The true nobleman though was the one full of kindness, compassion and humility. The others just carried a title.

Nobility is sacrifice. Sacrificing one's own interests in the interests and desires of others is an act of nobility, of course only if the intention is pure and not again self-motivated.

Sonia Jacobs, an American woman, spent 17 years in jail, five of those on death row, although she was innocent. She said that it was thanks to yoga that she kept her physical and mental balance and sanity. She is now campaigning or rather crusading against the death penalty. In her I found nobility incarnate. Having suffered so much, having overcome her suffering through healing and forgiveness and having been able to make a new life, she has become a truly noble woman. There was no bitterness at all, but a lot of lightness, jokes and tremendous humility. It seems that the more people have worked through their pain and suffering, the more their nobility will shine through.

The 'Bamberger Reiter' is a famous and very beautiful statue in the cathedral of Bamberg in Germany, built between 1230 and 1235. It is a nobleman on a horse (maybe the king of Hungary or maybe a local duke, the artist is unknown as well). The statue represents a demon, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, the realm of man and of the heavens. The statue symbolizes the virtuous noble knight of the Middle Ages. Man stands between the 'lower' worlds of demons, plants and animals and at the same time he aspires to reach the heavens. He is charged with great social responsibility for the kingdoms below him and has personal responsibility for reaching the goal above.

Nobility is courage, courage to act. It is the courage to look at mistakes, to take the first step, the courage to go towards the other without waiting to be asked. Nobility is the effort and the ability to make one's life a sadhana. To be able to live 24 hours with an attitude of sadhana is for me nobility. If all day I can have the same frame of mind, the same openness, serenity, gratitude and commitment that I have at the time set aside for 'sadhana', then my 24 hours have really been spent with nobility.

MAGNANIMITY

Magnanimity must start with one's self and maybe selfacceptance is the term for that. As long as there is rejection of one's self or a part of one's self, there can never be any true acceptance of another person. So today magnanimity means to accept myself, the whole of the SWAN, and to apply this acceptance to those around me.

The dictionary definition shows some unexpected associations with magnanimity:

  • a) Loftiness of spirit enabling one to sustain danger and trouble with tranquillity, firmness and courage.
  • b) Nobility of feeling that is superior to meanness, pettiness or jealousy and that disdains revenge or retaliation.
  • c) Generosity of mind.

I had to deal with a car burglary and go to the police station. But once this was done, the matter was settled. I had figured out how much I had lost, I attempted to reconstruct the deed, I asked myself a few questions and then that was it. Anger, revenge, worries, resentment, hankering over the event, endless calculations and speculations are all the opposite of magnanimity. Maybe it is a sign of a narrow mind, a small mind, a mind that cannot let go. Letting go is magnanimity. Magnanimity is therefore the opposite of attachment. Magnanimity also means giving the other person the chance to be generous and magnanimous.

Patanjali says: "Be kind to those who suffer, be joyous with those who are happy and ignore the wicked." Maybe that is all it takes to be magnanimous.

Cheerfulness is an expression of gratitude, of the knowledge that there is some greater force at work. Magnanimity can't be grumpy or bleak, it must be light and bright, it must have a smiling face.

The same balance between action and relaxation must be found. Or as Swamiji says: 'We must find the motivation to act and the time to relax." To be able to do that takes awareness as well as acceptance of the present situation, external and internal, or just simply unceasing discipline. But the result is a wide, generous view of others and of oneself and smooth sailing through life.

Time management for me means having a set plan and being flexible within that time structure. Somehow time management stands above many of the ITIES, for without it, the ITY cannot be lived or expressed. Time management is like the frame for the ITY, especially for the last twelve ITIES. The first six ITIES are different. Although the whole theme of regularity is of course nothing else but time management. Serenity, absence of vanity, sincerity, simplicity, veracity are more inner attitudes, a personal approach which is less dependent on outer circumstances and therefore relates less to time.

Humility is magnanimous and magnanimity is humble. This is not just a play of words but the meeting of two seemingly opposite ends. Humility, not fake self-effacement, is openness, the wide space of the earth. Magnanimity devoid of any showy effect is also an immense openness towards the other. Gratitude is an aspect of magnanimity. Gratitude towards guru/God, life and or destiny giving us all we need. The ups and downs of this week remind me of the famous saying from the Book of Job: "God has given, God has taken, praise be to the Lord." Magnanimity is the knowledge, acceptance and expression in daily life of that saying.

Faith and the courage to let things take their course are definitely important aspects of magnanimity.

And for Swami Sivananda magnanimity means: Take a broad view of things. Ignore the faults of others. Be great and broad-minded in whatever you do. Avoid idle talk and childish prattle. Let not the mind dwell on little and insignificant things.

When the courage of contentment humbly blossoms
Amidst the wavering weeds of dreary choices,

When the chains of expectation no longer bar
Beauty's tender touch from unfolding the unknown,

When to the clear and caring moment patience with
Respect replies - knowing of Time's present valour,

When the challenge of attention restores freedom
And faith, then I will know and be able to love.