“We don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. “

–Howard Zinn

How often do we hear someone say, “I need to integrate that experience,” or he is a “well-integrated man.” What does it really mean to integrate something?

The word integrate comes from the Latin integrat-“made whole.” It is the bringing together of disparate parts, and in the psychological sense, the gathering of different parts of the Self, whether male/female, child/ adult, victim/perpetrator, etc. Note the connection to the word, integrity.

When I feel into what it means to integrate, my mind conjures up images of all my parts converging into one single self in a celebratory initiation by the fire. There is some validity to that image, as the fire represents the light of consciousness, the Self that witnesses all the parts, even the one into which all the others flow, itself.

Integration is often a sort of post inner-war celebration, because to become an integrated human being, is akin to earning a spiritual PhD.  Along the way you become a warrior of the mind and the heart, as you travel the greatest distance a human ever has to make, the distance between the head and the heart.

But it is more than that. There is the body, and true integration brings the jubilation of the deep peace between the mind and the heart into the body. You feel all that is without resistance.

Celebrating around a fire has been done by humans since time immemorial. We are deeply wired to become whole.

There will always be parts. We are not monolithic egos bound by time and space. All these parts are connected and led by what I call an Abiding Self—an inner self that is in the leadership position, and guides all the other parts. Another way of saying it is the Buddha Nature, or Higher Self, or Christ Mind. I call it the Abiding Self.

This Abiding Self stands in gratitude for its life midst a sea of human longing and at times suffering, exiling no parts. This Self is grateful for everything, and emanates compassion.

There is a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist mantra, called Om Mani Padme Hum.

People who learn about the mantra naturally want to know what it means, and want the direct translation. Like integration, the meaning of this mantra is not so readily translated into a simple phrase or definition. It is a felt sense that arises out of an inner process of integration.

The closest translation I have found is “the jewel of the mind rests in the lotus of the heart.” Imagine that right now.


To bring the energy of this powerfully integrating mantra into your body, visualize yourself to be the Buddha of compassion, Jesus of the Sacred Heart, Kwan Yin, the goddess of compassion, or whatever for you represents expansive compassion and love.

Now bring before your mind’s eye the current suffering that you read or hear about in the news, and/or some personal difficulty like a mentally ill child, or a broken marriage. Don’t hold back. If you are blessed and have simpler difficulties, bring them in and bring in some of a friend or loved one in need as well.

Breathe into the space between your heart and throat toward the back, expanding the high heart to make room for all things.

By replacing the thought of yourself as you with the thought of yourself as these transcendent beings, the stories and judgments of your mind are quieted, and replaced by deep and abiding peace and compassion toward yourself, others, and all that is happening, including the chaos and suffering.

Your emotional intelligence is elevated and your spiritual intelligence is awakened, which allows you to see all things more clearly and from a very high vibration. You see behind the defenses to the truth of other people, and the deeper meaning of all the suffering.

When the mind surrenders to the awakened heart, the entire truth about the nature of suffering and skillful ways of removing it or integrating it become apparent.

This is the real meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum.

For this miraculous transformation to happen, you must first face the fact that suffering exists. You must face the darkness to integrate it.

Here are essential steps to consciously integrate darkness:

  • Have the courage to acknowledge suffering, your own or that of others.
  • Be willing not to know. Lao Tzu said that the first step on the path to wisdom is the ability to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Expand in the high heart to include all things, and feel feel feel your gratitude for being alive.

Bring gratitude into the You of you, into the wide open space in your broken open heart.

Without the usual mental process, a transformation occurs. This is the alchemy of love. If you make this a practice, you will become a truly integrated human being, capable of miracles.

This is the real meaning of integration—to bring into You gratefulness for all that is. You become a visionary whose point of attraction has a high vibrational resonance.  You will be better able to fulfill big dreams and bring the energy of wisdom, courage and love to this magnificent planet.

That is the great service we do humankind when we integrate the darkness.