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October 2009

This issue of Yoga focuses on Swami Sivananda’s teachings on jnana yoga.

High on Waves

Jnana Yoga

Vairagya

Viveka Prashnottari

Shat-Sampat: Six-fold Virtues

The Voice of Conscience

Practice of Meditation in Jnana Yoga

The Experience of Silence

What is Brahman?

The Philosophy of Vedanta

The State of Jnana



The Voice of Conscience

Conscience is the light of the soul that is burning within the chambers of your heart. It is the little spark of celestial fire, which makes known to you the presence of the indweller, the author of the divine laws of truth. It raises the voice of protest whenever anything is thought or done contrary to the interest of its master.

Conscience is the voice of the Self which says ‘yes or ‘no’ when you are involved in a moral struggle. It raises the voice of protest whenever anything is thought of or done contrary to the interest of its master.

Conscience is a form of truth. It is the knowledge of our own acts and feelings of right or wrong. It is a sensitive balance to weigh actions. It is the faculty or principle by which we distinguish right from wrong. It is a guiding voice from within. Sense of duty is conscience. Scrupulousness is conscience. Conscience is a silent teacher.

Conscience is above reasoning and discussion. It is a dictatory command to plunge deep into the depths of virtue, or to rise high above the level of vice. The positive elements, which adorn conscience, are truth, courage and justice.

Conscience is the consciousness of the moral worth of one’s own conduct or motives together with a feeling of obligation to do right or to be good. Conscience is a needle that points steadily to the Pole Star of eternal justice.

Conscience is your preceptor. It dictates to you: “Do this action. It is right.” It warns you also: “This is wrong. Do not do this act.”

Conscience is a great ledger book. All your offences are written and registered in this ledger. It is a terrible witness. Conscience is the best minister of justice. It threatens, promises, rewards and punishes, and keeps all under its control. If conscience stings you once, it is an admonition; if twice, it is a condemnation. To act against conscience is to act against reason and divine law.

How conscience operates

When you do a wrong action, the conscience pricks you. You experience pinpricks. It says to you in a clear, small, shrill voice, “Do not do this wrong action, my friend. It will bring misery to you.” A conscientious person at once ceases to act further, and becomes wise.

Conscience warns you like a teacher or a friend, before it punishes as a judge. It tells you to do the right. Cowardice asks: “Is it safe?” Avarice asks: “Is there any gain in it?” Vanity asks: “Can I become famous?” Lust asks: “Is there pleasure?” But Conscience asks: “Is it right?” Conscience prompts you to choose the right instead of the wrong, and tells you that you ought to do the right. The first impulse of conscience is apt to be right.

If there are pinpricks and twists in the conscience, if there is a sense of shame, depression in the heart, know that you have done a wrong action. If there is exhilaration, cheerfulness, feel you have done a virtuous action.

Conscience of the sattwic mind

Do not mistake the prompting of the lower mind for the voice of the soul. That mind which tends towards luxury and evil is the lower or rajasic-tamasic mind. It is the impure mind, instinctive mind, or desire-mind. Voice from the instinctive mind will mislead you. This lower mind is the cause for one’s downfall.

The higher mind, which tends towards virtue, is the sattwic mind or shuddha manas. This higher mind elevates man. It guides him. It acts as a true preceptor. You should try to hear the voice of the sattwic mind. Annihilate rajas and tamas by increasing sattwa. You will be quite safe.

Conscience can act freely and fully only when one has abandoned self-interest in everything that one does. The conscience of one person will not allow him to do one thing, but the conscience of another may allow him to do that very thing. Therefore you cannot rely on conscience entirely, until you have cleared your mind and feeling from personal prejudice and predilections.

Pollution of conscience

Conscience is obscured through human weakness. The faint inner voice of the spirit is stifled by the rumbling of emotional conflicts, base impulses and dictates of the flesh. It is awakened and sharpened to new clearness through purity of conduct and practice of ethical virtues.

Through misuse, conscience becomes blunt. Through abuse or misuse, it is even destroyed. Through wickedness, it becomes perverted. Uttering falsehood and taking bribes destroy the conscience altogether.

In the world, people think of one thing, say another thing, and do another thing. This is horrible. This is nothing but crookedness. You must carefully watch your thoughts, speech and actions. The little gain that you get by telling lies is no gain at all. You pollute your conscience, and infect your subconscious mind. The habit of telling lies is carried to your next birth also, and you undergo suffering from birth to birth.

You have become insincere on account of intoxication from selfishness and greed. You do not know what you are exactly doing. You have a clouded understanding. Your conscience will prick you severely at one time. Your heart will bleed when you come to your senses. Your heart must bleed through repentance with a contrite heart. Then only you can purify yourself.

People are ignorant. Even the so-called educated people have no idea of the law of action and reaction, samskaras and their force. If you take a bribe, you will be punished for wrong action, and the samskara of taking bribes will force you to take bribes even in the next birth. You will be a dishonest person even in the next birth. Your thoughts and actions are registered in the subconscious mind. You carry your dishonesty from birth to birth, and undergo enormous suffering.

Reduce your wants and live honestly within your means. You will have a clean conscience. You will be ever free from anxieties and worries. You will have a peaceful death. I suppose you now understand the gravity of the law. Become an honest person and be true from this very second you read these lines. Never, never join those who are amenable to corruption and temptations. You will be corrupted.

The mechanism of conscience

A virtuous person alone can use the instrument of conscience. He alone can clearly hear the inner voice of the soul. In a wicked person, this faculty becomes dead. The sensitive nature of conscience is destroyed by base actions or corruption. Hence he is not able to discriminate right from wrong.

If you do wrong actions and treat them lightly today, you will not hesitate to do serious crimes the next day. If you allow one negative action to enter and dwell in your conscience, you certainly pave the way for the entry of a thousand more. Your conscience will become blunt. It will lose its sensitiveness. The habit of doing evil deeds will pervade the whole body like the poison of the scorpion.

If an honest person begins to take bribe, for the first time he shudders. His conscience quivers and trembles. He feels a lot of uneasiness. If he repeats it again several times, his conscience becomes blunt. He will not feel anything. The inner mechanism of conscience is very subtle. Keep it sensitive by doing virtuous deeds only.

Cultivating a pure conscience

Keep the conscience always bright and sharp by adhering to truth, dharma and virtue. It will be your constant, elevating companion. Virtuous acts, charity, benevolence, nobility, generosity, acts of mercy and practice of truthfulness, brahmacharya and ahimsa sharpen the conscience.

Food plays an important role in the development of a pure conscience. Sattwic food helps one to have a clean conscience. Animal food makes the conscience impure. It produces a hard crust on the surface of the conscience and blunts it totally.

Gifts of a clear conscience

A person of clear conscience is ever pure, joyful and cheerful. A man of guilty conscience is morose, cheerless. A person of pure and clean conscience sleeps happily and wakes up happily, and moves about happily in this world. He attains happiness in this world and in the next world. A person of guilty conscience is ever restless and unhappy in this world and in the next world also. A person of guilty conscience is dead even while living. A person of pure conscience is a veritable god on this earth.

A clean conscience discerns evil quickly and shuns it. A good conscience bestows on you ease, serenity, joy and happiness. It prevents calamities, troubles, afflictions and miseries. That noble man who has a clean and pure conscience is not afraid of anybody in this world. He is not afraid of death even.

A good, clear conscience is the temple of God. It helps the aspirant to reach the goal quickly. What good health is to the body a good conscience is to the soul. There is inward satisfaction of conscience when a good action is done, when virtue is practised, when you lead a virtuous life. The most natural beauty in the world is honesty and moral truth. Be beautiful within. Have a clean conscience. Be virtuous. Physical beauty fades.

Conscience or the voice of wisdom speaks in all of Lord’s creation, but the little, finite, impure human intellect does not comprehend it. Purify your mind. Tune your mind radio by brushing it, and hear His voice and become wise. The voice of the soul will lead you to safety, truth, peace and immortal bliss.

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