Difference between revisions of "Conscience"

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<blockquote>The voice of conscience, vaguely and confusedly regarded as supernatural, as the voice of God, is for [most people] the only manifestation of the higher ''manas'' on the psychic plane.<ref>Annie Besant, ''Karma'', (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, ???), ???.</ref></blockquote>
 
<blockquote>The voice of conscience, vaguely and confusedly regarded as supernatural, as the voice of God, is for [most people] the only manifestation of the higher ''manas'' on the psychic plane.<ref>Annie Besant, ''Karma'', (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, ???), ???.</ref></blockquote>
  
Despite the fact that conscience is a manifestation of the higher consciousness, it has limitations. In the words of [[Koot Hoomi|Mahatma K.H.]]:
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In [[Mahatma Letter No. 85b#Page 24|one of his letters]], [[Koot Hoomi|Mahatma K.H.]] stated that the "remorse of conscience" proceeds "always from the [[Sixth Principle|6th principle]]".<ref>Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ''The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence'' No. 85B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 264.</ref> However, we must keep in mind that in the letters the sixth principle frequently refers to buddhi-manas of higher manas.
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Despite the fact that conscience is a manifestation of the higher consciousness, it has limitations. In the words of Mahatma K.H.:
  
 
<blockquote>With all the formidable importance of this moral factor, it has one radical defect. . . . Conscience may perchance tell us what we must not do; yet it never guides us as to what we ought to perform, nor gives any definite object to our activity.<ref>Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ''The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence'' No. 11 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 36.</ref></blockquote>
 
<blockquote>With all the formidable importance of this moral factor, it has one radical defect. . . . Conscience may perchance tell us what we must not do; yet it never guides us as to what we ought to perform, nor gives any definite object to our activity.<ref>Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ''The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence'' No. 11 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 36.</ref></blockquote>

Revision as of 21:30, 23 October 2020

Conscience is defined as the sense of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character, together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.

H. P. Blavatsky stated that the source of conscience is the higher Ego:

The impressions projected into the physical Man by this Ego . . . constitute what we call "conscience."[1]

Annie Besant also placed the origin of conscience at the level of higher manas:

The voice of conscience, vaguely and confusedly regarded as supernatural, as the voice of God, is for [most people] the only manifestation of the higher manas on the psychic plane.[2]

In one of his letters, Mahatma K.H. stated that the "remorse of conscience" proceeds "always from the 6th principle".[3] However, we must keep in mind that in the letters the sixth principle frequently refers to buddhi-manas of higher manas.

Despite the fact that conscience is a manifestation of the higher consciousness, it has limitations. In the words of Mahatma K.H.:

With all the formidable importance of this moral factor, it has one radical defect. . . . Conscience may perchance tell us what we must not do; yet it never guides us as to what we ought to perform, nor gives any definite object to our activity.[4]

The reason for this, is that conscience is a manifestation of the experience already acquired by the Ego in its evolutionary journey. When an individual faces a situation that has already been encountered in past lives, the voice of conscience will warn about taking an action which was found to have lead to pain. This faculty, however, will remain silent in connection to new experiences. As Annie Besant explained:

It is from the mental images of experiences, and more especially from those which tell how suffering has been caused by ignorance of law, that conscience is born and is developed. . . . At the present stage of evolution all but the most backward souls have passed through sufficient experiences to recognize the broad outlines of “right” and “wrong” . . . but on many higher and subtler questions, belonging to the present stage of evolution and not to the stages that lie behind us, experience is still so restricted and insufficient that it has not yet been worked up into conscience, and the soul may err in its decision, however well-intentioned its effort to see clearly and to act rightly.[5]

In spite of these limitations, Blavatsky recommended aspirants to develop and follow the voice of their conscience:

No one else’s opinion should be considered superior to the voice of one’s own conscience. Let that conscience, therefore, developed to its highest degree, guide us in all the ordinary acts of life.[6]

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 249.
  2. Annie Besant, Karma, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, ???), ???.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 85B (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 264.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 11 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 36.
  5. Annie Besant, Karma, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, ???), ???.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 173.