“Conscience… is the impulse to do right because it is right, regardless of personal ends.” — Margaret C. Graham
Let me see if I can summarize everything I’ve introduced regarding conscience and the mirror of self-reflection.
- Conscience is one of our human endowments.
- It is the deep inner awareness of right and wrong which governs our actions.
- It possesses five qualities: reciprocity, social veracity, safety, diversity, and empathy.
- It encompasses the total picture of social learning throughout one’s lifetime.
- When we are in harmony with the five qualities of conscience, we are in harmony with ourselves; we can always possess peace.
- There is a cycle of return that always puts us back into the image we create; conscience possesses karmic implications: we are always responsible for the impact we have on others; even unintended impacts.
- The mirror works with memory to build a sense of timeless constancy and permanence.
- The mirror’s reciprocating image is a mind’s-eye image; we create it but we cannot control it.
- The mirror’s reciprocating image is perfection — we cannot create it through action, thought or feeling, so the best we can do is attend to its five qualities with absolute honesty.
- The mind’s-eye image resists change because it wants to hold us accountable to a lasting sense of integrity; change erupts and evolves only though honest appraisal; we are what we live and what we choose.
- The mirror asks us to confront how we hold and construct meaning, and to either support it or to reject it and then live with the consequences.
- The mirror asks us to take full ownership for our experience and to be willingly changed by it; the constancy of one’s conscience is not static, but it is spiritually complete and whole, even when it erupts and evolves.
- The mirror offers us a radical understanding of freedom and flexibility: we choose to give meaning to our actions – even if we stand against the social learning advocated by others.
- The dynamics which the mirror and conscience seek to regulate include self-reflective right and wrong, experiential ownership, and interpretive meaning; these we MUST supply for ourselves; they cannot externally generated (no matter how much they MAY BE informed by others).
The negative associations for the mirror and conscience include distortion, illusion, and the fragile sense of impermanence.
- Distortion influences our awareness, it occurs when we attached, or invested or self-interested in our own position.
- Illusion is the refusal to be changed by experience; it reflects clinging and attachment; a desire to be right (or wrong) despite the completeness we already have.
- Impermanence and fragility are reflections of insecurity. If we have been fully changed by our experience, then the meaning we give to our actions will be strong and possess constancy.
- A failure of conscience is a fall into distortion and illusion. We are like ‘Alice in the Looking Glass’ – no longer able to make sense of our own experience.
The mirror of self-reflection (and conscience) are about holding and maintaining trust and engagement with the meaning we create. Life asserts itself without our involvement, but what we make of it is up to us. One character trait that Stephen Covey talks about is “maturity.” Covey defined it as “the balance between courage and consideration.” Strong feelings and convictions must be balanced by the feelings and convictions of others. It “is the impulse to do right because it is right, regardless of personal ends.”
Thanks for listening!