Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of October 12, 2009

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(Aspect 6 of 12 of the Path of Right Living)

To obey our conscience is our sacred duty, for conscience is how God speaks to us. That “still small voice” is the voice of conscience. If we cultivate our openness to it and abide by its promptings, our conscience serves as our individual compass to guide us through life. Conscience goes beyond what we learn from our parents, teachers, friends, society, and religion to a direct perception of the wisdom, creativity, and compassion at the heart of the world. Conscience is our channel of communication, our connection with the Divine.

And conscience is uniquely our own. One of the names of God is The Unique. The Source of wisdom, creativity, and compassion also has the quality of uniqueness. The more we open to conscience, the more we open to The Unique, and the more we become our unique Self. That is why as people progress along the spiritual path they become more themselves, more unique.

But it is not always so easy. Our conscience, our inner sense of right and wrong tends to emerge at inopportune and inconvenient moments. Often our first impulse is to quash it, brush it aside, pretend we didn’t hear it, and continue with a course of action that our conscience knows to be wrong. Every time we ignore our conscience, however, we bury this most precious part of us a little deeper. We can ask forgiveness for our misdeeds. But we must take care not to enter an action knowing beforehand that it is wrong and intending to ask forgiveness afterwards. That makes a mockery of conscience and forgiveness.

The practice of conscience arises in those unexpected moments of an intuitive perception of the rightness or wrongness of a choice we are about to make. The practice is to obey the promptings of conscience. But subtleties can and do enter. Our perception of right or wrong may not actually be from our conscience, but instead be from fear, anger, narrow-mindedness, over-eagerness, greed, lust, or some other identification. So we need to learn to discriminate conscience from the noise. We can apply basic sanity checks to the impulse. Will it harm anyone? Is it legal? Does it violate ordinary norms of society and morality? Does it make sense, common sense? But the surest way to learn is to see the results after we act. Do we later regret what we did or did not do? Extrapolating backwards by recalling the moment of choice, we may be able to see which impulse was the voice of conscience and which impulses were noise. In this way we gradually acquire the taste of conscience. And then by always acting in accord with it, we purify our heart.

Conscience not only guides us about right and wrong in the moral sense, but also in a wider sense. It shows us how best to meet our responsibilities, how to fulfill our potential, which opportunities to create, which to take, and which to set aside, when to say yes and when to say no.

A clear conscience is a treasure and a prerequisite for a happy life. Our conscience is not something outside of ourselves. Rather, conscience is the voice of our own higher Self, calling us toward our true destiny, calling us to become our higher Self. A clear conscience is also an absolute requirement for approaching the Divine. Nothing can be hidden from the Light and we do not wish to be too ashamed to stand before It, too ashamed to accept Its Grace. A clear conscience removes the obstacles to deepening prayer. Yes, we can ask forgiveness and make amends for past misdeeds, but even more important is how we act going forward.

For this week, practice listening for and acting in accord with your conscience.


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