How do we decide what is the right thing to do and not do? Can our conscience help? Let's look at what is conscience with yogi and mystic, Sadhguru, as he explores the limitations of morality and contrasts it against our humanity.
Question: What is conscience? Should we allow it to guide us in life?
Sadhguru: Conscience means that which hurts when everything else is feeling great! What you feel guilty about or what you feel is right or wrong is essentially a social phenomenon. That has been injected into you by social norms. Morality is of the society and it is different from one group of people to another. Different times in history and different points of geography have had different moralities. Whatever your grandmother thought was absolutely immoral is something you do shamelessly today. So morality always differs from person to person according to times and situations. It has no existential relevance. But your humanity has existential relevance.
If your humanity was alive and active every moment of your life, it wouldn’t be necessary for somebody to tell you to behave this way or that way. It is only because people failed to keep their humanity up that society has tried fixing it with morality. But though everyone has received every kind of moral that they should, we haven’t been able to fix the world. With morality you have just learnt to pretend with the rest of the people around you. Within yourself all the nonsense is still going on. If your humanity is full-blown, you wouldn’t need morality. You would be fine the way you are.
Consciousness vs Conscience
With morality, you will develop a conscience, not consciousness. If your humanity is full-blown and on full-time you will not need any morality. Morality is an imitation of humanity. Morality may fix a few things in society but it will cause complete havoc within the inner nature of the human being. Humanity will also bring social order, but in a loose way without any enforcement. It will make the human being beautiful. That is what is most important. If humanity flowers and overflows, then divinity will be the next natural step. Only if you allow your humanity to overflow within you, then divinity will flower. Without the richness of humanity, divinity cannot happen, no matter what you do.
Morality never brought divinity. It has brought guilt, shame and fear, because no one can fulfill the kind of morals which have been set. Make a list of all the things that the major religions of the world call as sin. You will see, just to be alive is a sin. Anything that you do is a sin. Your very birth is a sin. Since the very process of life is supposed to be a sin, you always feel guilty and terrified.
India is a culture without morality. There are no morals carved in stone to tell you, “This is what you do and this is what you don’t do.” We never depended upon morality because we created human beings who are capable of stirring up humanity in such a big way. So the need for morality or a moral code never arose in each generation.
Three keys for humanity
To stir up this humanity, we set up three fundamentals. One is, absolute passion towards the source of creation. This is manifested in this culture in a million different ways. When we wanted to build a town or a city, the first thing we built was a grand temple. The people who built this temple lived in huts but they built a phenomenally grand temple. This is especially so in the south of India. The other two fundamentals are, compassion for all life around you and dispassion towards yourself. If you maintain these three things, your humanity will be always on. Otherwise your humanity will get switched off and you will have to pretend like a fake human being with a set of morals. Then you will develop a conscience.