Q53. What is conscience?
Within each individual is a source of inner judgement, which tells them what is right and what is wrong. Our conscience, is popularly called the voice of God. Even people who follow no particular religion have moral sense. They know what ought to be done and what ought not to be done. Even atheists who have done a wrong thing express remorse because they have later felt dejected and unclean, possibly due to the weight of public opinion or perhaps the moral sense that was engrained in them during childhood.
Sikhs believe in the moral order of the universe and know that God is both just and generous. He resides in the individual. The God within guides the human being through an inner voice. This is generally termed as conscience. Within the individual, there is a perpetual struggle between good and evil. The conscience denouces evil and supports the good. We feel happy when we follow its command and unhappy, if we disobey it.
The effects of conscience – Vivek – differs with each individual, it depends on their stage of spiritual evolution. It is necessary to educate the moral sense. This is best done by associating with Holy men and meditation on “The Word”. The conscience may waver at times in its firmness and power to control over human actions. Whenever we are in doubt, we must heed the voice of the conscience. We should respect its advice and follow it. In persons whose conscience is constantly overridden, this evil blunts and suppresses it.
A basic doctrine of Sikhism is to obey the Will of God. Where can we find the Will of God? According to Guru Nanak, it is embedded in the core of the human conscience. To follow one’s conscience is, therefore, to live up to the Will of God.