Spirituality is a vast and multi-faceted subject. It is all too easy to get caught up in all sorts of esoteric ideas and neglect the basics, which, though prosaic and maybe even boring, are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to the successful deepening and advancement of spiritual practice. We will look at some of the things that are non-negotiable for genuine spiritual progress. Please bear in mind that the definition of spirituality that I am working from is "of Spirit" or in other words, to do with the Soul's Divine consciousness. This is not about 3rd dimensional emotional or energetic experiences. First, we will cover honesty, truth and trust. Together, these fall under the banner of integrity.
Integrity is an absolute non-negotiable on any spiritual path. Most codes of ethics speak of good actions, morality, uprightness etc, but seldom is the word integrity mentioned. Integrity means to be absolutely true to oneself in all respects and all circumstances. "First to thine own self be true..." It means practicing impeccable morality; it means being true to your word; it means honesty and respect for yourself and for everyone else. It may not be immediately obvious just why integrity is so vitally important, so let's discuss this in some more detail.
In the spiritual realms, there is no such thing as lying, cheating, misdirecting or deception in any form. Every thought and intention is crystal clear. One of the challenges of living in the physical world where our perceptions are obtained mostly via the body's 5 senses is the fact that people's thoughts and intentions are practically invisible to all but the most gifted psychics. As a result, a great many people in the world today think that it is more convenient or even clever to mislead others. They lie, cheat, omit facts, pressurise and influence people unduly as they try to manipulate their way through life.
It is also all too common for people to break commitments when more attractive options arise. There may well be times when it becomes impossible to keep an appointment or live up to a commitment. If this happens, the other party/parties should be advised at the earliest possible time and an alternative arrangement be set up if necessary. YOUR WORD SHOULD BE YOUR BOND (and I don't mean James Bond). There are tremendous advantages to being honest and trustworthy.
Your Soul is absolutely conscious of everything you do, think and say. You can't fool your conscience. Every attempt to do so will only result in more and more confusion. Eventually, the still, small voice of conscience will disappear behind the mental and emotional noise. This is unfortunately all too common in today's world, where many learn to lie and cheat from a young age. Some of these lies may seem quite innocuous at the time (for example, making up excuses for not doing homework, or for being late) but the habit of untruthfulness and manipulation is being built and strengthened with each act of dishonesty. It is far too easy to make a habit of untruth and when we do, we can forget about connecting with the Truth. To connect with Truth, we must align with It. WITHOUT TRUTH, THERE IS NO SPIRITUAL PATH.
Another unfortunate aspect of untruthfulness is self-decepion. The first major step upon the spiritual path is self-realization. "Man, know thyself..." While untruthfulness brings confusion into all of our outer relationships, it ALSO causes inner confusion. It cuts us off from who we really are and makes self-realization well nigh impossible. We need to be true to who we are before we can really know ourselves. Pretending to be something or someone we are not is a sure sign of an emotionally immature person.
Self-deception can also manifest among followers of a spiritual path, where it is very tempting to adopt an attitude of holiness, peacefulness or humility. Such behaviour reveals the seeker to be a neophyte, more concerned about the opinions of others than about truth. It is nothing other than an expression of ego. A spiritually mature person will typically be absolutely relaxed about and totally accepting of who they are - not because they are living up to some impossibly high standard, but because they fully accept themselves. They don't beat themselves up if they make a mistake, but they do look honestly at why it happened and try to improve.
An immature person rather makes excuses than admitting to being at fault. He/she makes the same errors over and over again. They are caught in a vicious cycle. They desperately want others to think highly of them, because they have such poor regard for themselves. To get approval, they try to keep up appearances at all costs, lying and misleading about anything that might show them up. This erodes their fragile self-worth. Unfortunately, this behaviour also puts them in the firing line for mistrust and criticism from others, thus adding further to their already damaged self-esteem. The pity of it is that they don't know how to approach life any other way.
Accepting the truth about everything makes life very straightforward and simple. It is so incredibly liberating. The mind becomes clear; relationships become easier and less fraught; spirituality is understood and lived at a much deeper level; connection with spiritual guidance becomes a reality. In fact, connection with spiritual guidance can only ever begin when we are living in truth. There is one caveat to bear in mind though. Truth should NEVER be used in such a way as to hurt the feelings of another. It should be used gently, with love and compassion.
In addition to the manner in which untruthfulness cuts us off from Spirit and Truth, there is the matter of trust and trustworthiness. Dishonesty breeds a state of mistrust. To live in a state of mistrust is to put oneself unnecessarily through a kind of self-created hell. What could be worse than feeling unsafe and tense with everyone you meet? You can't get away indefinitely with lying, cheating, manipulating and breaking promises. When you manipulate others and let people down, you will be found out sooner or later. Even strangers will be wary about trusting you. Dishonesty makes it impossible to trust oneself, which adds to one's misery. The result must inevitably be a state of fearfulness and feelings of incompleteness and inferiority.
When you approach life from a default position of trust, everything takes on a completely different complexion. It is common for untrusting people to adopt a stance of "prove you are trustworthy, then I will trust you". People will always respond in a guarded fashion to that approach. Apart from the fact that most people don't like to fall under suspicion, at some level they realize that suspicious people are usually not trustworthy. A much better way of approaching life is to assume everyone is trustworthy unless proven otherwise. The results of such a practice are very rewarding. Complete strangers will instinctively trust you in unexpected ways. You will feel open and relaxed with everyone. You will experience much more love and much less fear. You will develop a natural confidence in yourself and in the process of life. What's more, you will gain huge spiritual benefits from trusting.
Trust is a very valuable spiritual principle and is a much, much, MUCH more important issue than most people realize. One who cannot trust him/herself will not be able to trust their spiritual path. They will not even be able to trust God. One who truly trusts has a level of natural faith that makes travelling the spiritual path much easier; in addition, the Universe supports and responds to them in ways it will never support and respond to those full of doubt and mistrust.
Much has been said and written about positive thinking and having a positive approach to life. Some of the practices touted as "positive" rely on trying to build a type of emotional excitement that is unnatural, artificial and ultimately unsustainable (Rah rah positivity). TRUE positivity comes about by living in tune with the True Positive Power (God). Since one of the main attributes of God is Truth, then it follows that we need to be attuned to truth/Truth. The more closely we align with God, the more REAL positivity will manifest in our lives. What could be better than that?
From an energetic point of view, all forms of dishonesty carry a low vibrational frequency. They will ultimately lead you into unhappiness, depression, hopelessness, pessimism and fear. Truthfulness and honesty may appear naive to a dishonest person, but fostering these traits will bring you incalculable rewards in positivity, joy, optimism, hope, trust and Love. It is no accident that religious people wrote some of the most famous positive thinking books. That doesn't mean one needs to go out and join a religious organization in order to become truly positive; what it means is that true positivity has a spiritual element to it and you can only realized it through a sincere relationship with God/Spirit.