The law of Karma and Integrity

What is integrity and how is it related to Karma?

CS Lewis defined it by saying  “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” So it is a question of aligning  our actions with our words.

I would like to define it as : “the choice of non-violence when standing in front of a decision, because we have faith in accomplishing what we wish without having to corrupt our essence. Without having to split ourselves.” 

Of course, if we do not have that faith, it will be very hard to choose integrity. 

For me integrity is not imposing rules on myself but instead the shift that happens when it flows naturally. By this I mean, I do something that is indeed righteous but I don’t do it because it is. It’s the good deed we do without anyone watching and not feeling as if it was less important because of it. When we stand in our own integrity, we do it for the sake of doing, not for an expected result. We do not have the need to justify our “spontaneous right actions” and we do not feel the need to convince anyone else of the “rightness” of those actions. 

This relates very much to the modern world of social media of course because there is a complete lack of integrity in it. Everything is actually done FOR an expected result these days. I even see so called “reel” reels of people “showing” their true selves by being sad, angry, unfiltered etc. Yet none of that is authentic. None of that shows integrity because it is all done with the need of external validation. 

Can I act in the right way without anyone watching? Without any other intention than that it is what flows naturally through my veins?

As soon as there is an alternative motive, a hidden intention, I manipulate the action. It is not spontaneous anymore and it is not genuine. 

And this is most of the actions we take and we see around us. I do not wish to judge this or to create division by pointing at certain people doing this and other, righteous people not doing it. Instead I want to take a very honest look at it so that we can choose integrity as our way of living. Understand why we went another way at some point. Only when we address it without shame and blame can we truly make the change towards it, because we feel safe doing so. 

When we use manipulation it has one single purpose : to change the way we are / or how we are seen so that we will be accepted. So that things will go the way we want them to. 

If we do so, it is because we do not believe that things will go our way if we don’t manipulate, if we don’t modify. That by just being ourselves, things will not go our way.

So we split ourselves in two and this is where the true meaning of the word integrity comes in. Because to be integral, to have integrity means of course to be whole. To be ONE and not two. 

To be undivided, unstruck as the meaning of the word Anahata in Sanskrit is (which is the name for the heart chakra).

 When we are one, our actions and words align naturally because they are the same. The spontaneous right action is our nature, hence the “spontaneous” part. 

So please understand that we all have integrity inside of us but at one point we went another way.

I would even stretch as far as saying that probably everyone in the industrialised world is affected by this action. The reason is of course that we created a structure of society which is not humane and organic but instead artificial, linear and result oriented. And I think I have spoken over and over about how disconnected we have become to our true nature that today, I instead want to look at how we come back to integrity. 

The hardest part of this is actually that we don’t know ourselves anymore. When I have spoken to patients about why they feel lost and lack purpose, why they don’t take action or why they keep compensating their own health for other people’s benefit it really comes down to the fact that they don’t actually know what they want. 

The reason they don’t know what they want is because they have not asked themselves that for so many years that they don’t hear the inner voice anymore. 

Just like our body keeps sending us messages when we are mistreating it : at some point it will shut down. So does the inner voice of our preferences. So then we don’t know how to listen to it again.

Our bodies, when they shut down we begin to experience ailments and disease. Our psyche, when the inner voice is hushed, begins to experience boredom, sadness, frustration and ultimately depression. When we do not know what we like and dislike, we become very vulnerable to abuse because we do not have any boundaries anymore. 

We allow for our wellbeing to come second, third or worse and one day, when the bill comes in, we don’t understand what happened to us. We do not understand how to reverse it or where to begin. 

And this is where the beautiful teachings of Yoga and Ayurveda come into play. 

If we look at these philosophies of life from the perspective of integrity, their whole purpose is to strengthen it. The reason we call them self realisation is because they lead us to wholeness again.

This is of course why we feel less of a need to go out late at night and party when we have been living according to their principles for some time. Little by little, breath by breath, our true nature is starting to shine through. Our integrity is becoming more prominent. 

As I mentioned earlier on, an act of integrity is one where we do for the sake of doing, not for the result we hope for. And this is actually the law of karma.

Everyone has heard of Karma these days but many have a very misunderstood concept of what it is. 

Karma means action and karma yoga is the yoga of taking action. That every single act you do has an impact and an effect somewhere. 

The epic called the Bhagavad Gita teaches us what Karma Yoga is from the perspective of the warrior Arjuna and his conversation with lord Krishna. 

There are many beautiful and valuable teachings in this book but my teachers would narrow Karma yoga down to five essential points and those are our backbone to learning integrity.

So you are in luck! All you need to do is to learn these 5 principles and apply them to your daily life in order to integrate some of the most important learnings from the ancient scriptures of the Hindu philosophies. 

5 laws of karma:

  1. Have the Right attitude : no duty is higher or lower in value. Therefore, do your dishes with the same care as you apply yourself to your favourite activity. 
  2. Focus on action, not on motive : this is what I mean about spontaneous action. 
  3. Do your duty/dharma : do not try to convince others, instead focus on where you are at with yourself. 
  4. First take care of yourself / start with you : essential to seeing things clearly. Essential to coming from the right place when you take action, not from scarcity. 
  5. Always do your best: any action you take, be in it fully. Commit to it. The lack of commitment we see around us really just shows people living life (pardon the expression) half-assed. 

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞