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அழகி மென்பொருள்
Tamil-English bilingual webmagazine dedicated to education of the masses through E-books, articles, worldwide informations, Slideshows,
Presentations on various subjects, photographs and images, moral and objective oriented stories and Lectures including audio and video

Self Management Series
The Compass of Conscience

Courtesy: Stalin, Mumbai

During the last few weeks weve been exploring what we do within our consciousness. Our mind and intellect are both faculties and resources that no one really teaches us how to use. These faculties are then fed by the energy of the heart, the original dwelling place of what we all seek in life, peace, love and contentment. This week we go to the heart of our heart to explore the pivotal resource known as conscience. It is here that we find our personal source of truth. Not a truth in the dualistic what is right and wrong sense, but truth in the absolute sense. What some call a truth in a spiritual sense, what others call truth in an eternal sense. For them truth has a simple a clear definition which is that which never changes.

Our conscience is like a gyrocompass which, regardless of the turmoil or chaos that surrounds it, has the ability to show the way, to point the traffic of our thoughts and actions in the right direction. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to steer a ship across the oceans without an accurate gyrocompass. One degree off course across thousands of miles will ensure the ship will miss its destination by hundreds of miles. Each wave will throw the ship off course a little more and, without a good compass course corrections will be impossible. Similarly, human beings who are not connected to their conscience will be easily led astray, act without a clear sense of the right thing to do, perhaps without realising it, and live a disoriented life. Our conscience is our inner guide, like a gyrocompass it will always give us a true sense of what we need to think, feel and do and a clear signal when we dont. We all have a conscience but for many it is either suppressed, ignored or denied, depending on the past 'influences' which have been allowed to shape our thoughts and behaviour.

The habitual smoker occasionally hears a quiet voice that tells them that smoking cigarettes is not good for their physical health, that it is not an action that is designed to sustain harmony and well being for their body. But having learned to smoke by watching others, having developed the smoking habit, the self ignores and may even kill the voice of conscience that says this is not the right action. After some time, if the voice of conscience is repeatedly ignored, it will become quieter and quieter, gradually fading into an imperceptible whisper. In some instances we develop the habit of drowning out the conscience as it speaks against certain habits that have become pleasures and possibly unhealthy addictions. But even then, in the words of Henry Mencken, Conscience doesnt always keep you from doing wrong, but it does keep you from enjoying it.

Our conscience is essentially that aspect of our consciousness, our self, which innately knows what is true. It is the heart of the heart of our being. It is not a place or a thing, more a vibration. Think of a tuning fork. No matter what position in which you hold the fork, once the note is sounded it will continue to sound at that tone.

Our conscience is similar but obviously quite invisible, quite internal, quite inaudible to physical ears, but very audible to the 'inner ear' of our consciousness, our self. Our conscience sounds a note; it emits a vibration, which is the true, original vibration of our being, of the self. It is a note that never changes tone, can never stop sounding, never stop emitting. However we may lose our ability to hear it, feel it, sense it and be guided by it.

The process from belief to perception to thought to decision to action is just one long movement of energy. Subtract the physical aspects i.e. what you see, which is behaviour, and you are left with what you cannot see but is just as real i.e. belief, perception, thought, decision. While breaking up this expression of our energy in terms of concepts like beliefs and thoughts etc it is really just one long vibration of energy, one long transmission from inside out. If that vibration does not originate from the heart, if it is of a different vibration from the note of our conscience, we will feel a jarring effect in our consciousness. Our conscience will bite. We will sense discomfort internally, and may even think that something is not quite right.

For example, if you react angrily to someone who has offered to help in some way, but perhaps their communication wasnt so clear, immediately after you will likely feel a little guilty for reacting slightly angrily, and perhaps offer an apology. Deep within you know that you acted against the natural tone of your being which is not anger but love, not irritation but appreciation. You were momentarily out of tune with our conscience!

Similarly if you bribe someone to do something against another you will also feel a pinch in your conscience, albeit more subtle. And maybe a thought will form to say, Was that really the right thing to do?

If you consciously tell someone a lie you will know immediately something is out of alignment within yourself as your conscience will send you a mental text message in the form of a thought, You know that was wrong dont you?.

Just a few examples of thinking and acting against our truth, and how we innately and intuitively know by the messages that our conscience sends us. If we repeat such acts over time then habits form, and in parallel we create the habit of suppressing our conscience.

When we think and act against our conscience, in each case the basic message is guilt. The feeling of guilt is the sign we have acted against the true note of our being which is essentially what is true. Not to be confused with the guilt that others would like us to feel so they can manipulate our feelings and therefore our behaviour. A guilty conscience is always worth taking note of and enquiring into its cause. But the guilt that comes up as a reaction to someone elses judgment of us deserves to be ignored. It is likely to be a throwback to some relationship, often with a parent, where we learned that we were responsible for their happiness. And they then used their unhappiness to induce guilty feelings within us. When we realise we are not responsible for the happiness of others, when we stop seeking the approval of others, we release ourselves from the prison we have built for ourselves in our own minds. It can take time to break out of this mindset as both parents at home, and managers at work, often learn to induce our guilt to get us to act in ways they want. And when they do seem to be successful in exploiting our guilt they create the illusion that they are able to control others.

The classic image of the tension that emerges when we lose touch with our conscience is of two little figures sitting on each of our shoulders. Each is whispering in our ears. One is a little angel and other is a little devil. One is trying to remind us that there is a right way to live, a right way to be and do, a right way to think and feel, while the other is trying to tempt us to ignore all that and just party! Which is shorthand for do anything you want to get what you want. But often we do not realise that in the words of an old Chinese proverb, He who sacrifices his conscience to ambition burns a picture to obtain the ashes. Ultimately these voices must war within us until we ignore the little angel of our conscience enough that the discomfort and suffering reaches such a pitch that we are forced to review and change our way of living. This means re-aligning with our little angel! In the meantime others may attempt to interfere with this process and take advantage of our growing sense of guilt in order to manipulate our thoughts, decisions and actions. A process found in some religious contexts and in some political processes. But only some!

Ultimately however, guilt and a guilty conscience creates its own self-perpetuating image which is I am a person who does bad things, which eventually becomes, I am a bad person. It is in this negative self-image that another face of the ego will come to reside. Any suggestion that we are an innately good person, a being who is a source of goodness in life i.e. a source of love and joy, will be resisted in order to sustain the negative self-image. Which means the conscience, which is simply designed to signal us when we veer off course has been hijacked by the ego and poisoned by the idea that guilt is necessary in life, that guilt is natural, guilt is good, get used to it. When that happens, as it does for many years for many people, it means the little devil has won. But it is a temporary victory because if the truth is that which never changes and our conscience is our indestructible source of true guidance then ultimate victory is assured. We can avoid it, suppress it, even try to kill it, but we cannot escape our conscience. We will eventually return to save and then be saved by the heart of our heart, which can never be destroyed. At least that is the spiritual theory! Which is good news when we remember that old French proverb There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience?

Question: When was the last time you acted against your conscience? What did you feel? Why do you think you did?

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