Conscience: An Obligation to Truth

Swami Yogasagar Saraswati

We all have a conscience, an inner voice that will not leave us alone. Our conscience is the motivating force that comes as an unrelenting thought and reflects the truthfulness and honesty of our actions. It reminds us of our relationship with ourselves. Of course, there are many times when we are tempted to cheat and carry on as we please but, inevitably, we are unable to deny the truth and must accept responsibility for our actions. By listening to our conscience and following our intuition we can be at peace.

Intuition is an instinctive knowing that what we have thought and felt is absolute and correct. Our experiences of pleasure and pain, joy and suffering, are all relative to our ability to listen to our conscience and to follow our intuitive instinct which tells us that we have no choice. We must act according to our conscience.

We have all suffered from indulging in the temptations of life without regard for what is right and wrong action. When we are caught between our successes and failures, then it is our conscience that helps us to realize the truth behind our motivations, and it is at this point that we begin to develop a little self-discipline and a change of attitude. When we pay more attention to our conscience then we are at the beginning of spiritual life.

Common sense is the conscience within all of us. Truth and honesty in our relationships with each other and with ourselves leads to fulfilment and contentment in life. The correct use of common sense is dharma. Following the path of dharma maintains faith and trust in ourselves and others. A person who can remain within the flow of dharma and live according to common sense, performing the right and appropriate action, is loved and revered as someone special and worthy of respect. However, those people who carry on without regard for their conscience, colour their lives with misconduct and display a lack of faith and respect. Their intuitive ability to make good decisions becomes weak; they are often easily confused and in conflict. These people become lost in emotional tragedy, often isolated from happiness and security, and it is very difficult to work with them.

The whole of humanity is confused in a mixture of self-afflicted fears, faithlessness and a lack of integrity in their conscience, i.e. common sense of dharma. A real commitment is required and cannot be avoided. Commitment is an inner relationship between spirit and that part of us that is knowing of spirit. It is awareness that allows us to view this relationship. You cannot separate awareness from spirit; the two are inseparable in exactly the same way as sugar and sweetness are inseparable. Spirit and I (awareness) are one and it is the conscience that reflects the reality of spirit. Awareness of our conscience combined with the intuitive instinct is a recognition of spiritual existence. The awareness is consciousness looking back on itself.

Consciousness (shiva) in action (shakti) is spirit. Consciousness is the essence of being (existence). It is an absolute reality, formless and beyond description, yet evident and undeniably real. When consciousness acts then spiritual life exists. Spirit is all pervading, do not think of it as a separate thing. Spirit has by its very nature of existence generated a field of activity, an arena of consciousness in action. This vibrational activity is known as mind.

Mind is the interactive playground of consciousness. It is an inexhaustible matrix of chitta (mind stuff), a weave of impressions, patterns of movement and formula jumbled into active and interactive thinking. The brain is a functional apparatus that can receive, store and transmit chitta. This is why we become confused. We are under the impression that the mind, thinking and awareness is trapped within the brain and that it is a product of the brain's activity. It is a natural phenomenon and in yoga this phenomenon is known as maya. However, the truth is that the whole of creation, everything known and unknown, visible and invisible, is a reservoir of consciousness. We are a product of mind and in an effort to reach a point where consciousness can interact with itself, the world of object has evolved. Paramahamsa Satyananda has said, “In every pulsation of every animate and inanimate object, consciousness is constantly expanding in an effort to know itself.”

So, through the process of evolution, consciousness has emerged via vibrational energy through the primal forms of heat, sound and patterns of formation, into living matter. Eventually, the dimension of mind has reached human form. Mind includes all previous transitions of consciousness and in human form, consciousness has created an instrument of reflection. Awareness is made possible by the brain and developed mind in man.

Consciousness is always being (in existence), but the ability to communicate and realize is a quality which is highly developed in mankind. Evolution is unending and speculation can only imagine the possibilities. The realm of mind is both subtle and gross. With awareness we can influence the mind through dharma (consciousness), while it is consciousness that empowers the awareness. The future existence of spirit in form is the destiny of consciousness, while the path of dharma and acceptance of conscience is the destiny of spirit.

This breakdown of the process of life is an intellectual attempt to clarify the truth, but in the end, each of us as individuals must intuitively turn our attention and effort towards fulfilling our conscience and attaining the fruits of existence, which is self-realization.

The science of yoga offers a comprehensive variety of systems that empowers and enables us to perceive, permeate and imbibe the realizations of consciousness through our conscience. The practice of hatha yoga strengthens the body and develops will power, bhakti opens the doors to humility and reverence for life as divinity, while karma yoga is the way of living conscientiously within the laws of karma (dharmic living). So many ways exist within the yogic sciences to transform our experience, so that instead of becoming lost in the illusion of maya, we can realize the existence of spirit and enjoy the play of consciousness we call GOD.

It is a difficult achievement made possible through yoga. In the end only one thing is required. All the systems of yoga, religion and social reform are dependent on this one thing. It is so simple and yet it is the most difficult task any of us will undertake. The one thing is honesty, remaining true to ourselves and our conscience. Yoga and life are dedicated to this one thing. The prize is freedom from conflict and eternal contentment in recognizing the truth of existence.