Approaching Conscience?

Perhaps a way to shed light on where this track is heading is to introduce conscience.

We think of conscience as the internal touchstone for an externally directed morality. There is a superstructure of Good & Evil and conscience is where this battle is joined inside each of us.

This conception of conscience covers any form of rebellion against it. A “Bad Conscience” is still of this form. Even if we take it on as an attempt to break from an established morality.

What is morality?

Mores are ways of acting. Habits. We could say that a morality is a codification of a particular set of conditioning. It is an attempt to control behavior by circumscribing some habits and favoring others. It is an outside/in form, attempting to cope with what-is. It remains within and supports an attitude of Negotiation, Persuasion, and Control.

But what if this thing we call conscience were a reflection of something else?

Within the divisive path we find toxic simulacra. Something vital and necessary is twisted into something destructive and pernicious. It gains power from the way it can easily fool us into thinking it is the only way we can approach the vital and necessary core it masks.

So, what if our notion of conscience is a toxic simulacra?

What is it masking?

We’ve touched on the quietest voice. The last post introduces learning to learn. In a practice like Qi Gong there is attending to forms within the moment. Fulfilling the moment. This implies that we have a way of interacting with the moment. A way to – not know – but enter into the moment in a way that it expresses itself around us and within us… with our … participation?

In these hints there a stirrings of what might underlie conscience in its common interpretation. It could be that, just as with any other toxic simulacra, if we find a way through to its vital and necessary core we can pass from this state of “doing everything twice” and enter into flow.





Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

13 thoughts on “Approaching Conscience?

  1. I think I get what you mean. That little pinprick of pain that initiates every thought (every new fight or flight response of verbalization and everything else) is conscience. And if we look at that pinprick of pain “differently” it is proprioception. Or rather, the pain is thought running from proprioception maybe. And the conscience may suggest some lingering awareness of the mistake we make by running?


    1. Hadn’t thought of the “pain” aspect. That is the way conscience is described…. “The prick of conscience.”

      I do like what you’re saying about the faint warning that an opportunity is passing. That “lingering awareness” captures what appears to be presenting itself.

      It’s important to keep in mind that the real gulf isn’t between a “good technique” and a “bad” one. It’s between expecting any trick of any kind to work and just doing it. These insights or notions are helpful – in a way – but the trust and the action without decision it makes available is not dependent on them. We’re in a similar territory to that of Grace.


      1. Tony,

        Conscience, indeed. it is the wispy, sticky bond, that shows we are still aware. I am not talking about the constraint of rules and laws of social convention, but rather the unwritten rules of empathy. The truth that we feel, not by knowledge, but in wisdom. It is the umbilical stretched taught that still bonds us, to each other as a species, to our relationship between other species, to our environment, and all the resources within our grasp of a living planet. We try so hard to separate ourselves, as you so well put in an earlier post. We create all these divisions between us and all, and yet this tenuous thing makes us look back and feel that “OWIE”. Damned ,I hate that. About the time I am feeling comfort in my occupancy of my own little space, that focus on self, and the divine nature of my perspective of the world, I am slapped upside the head with the reality that I am still connected to a greater whole. The very idea that I can feel others pain, no matter how small the infliction of there which is perceived. IS conscience. I feel it while cutting this mornings rhubarb, while butchering a hen or a cow, when I push around a little dirt on the farm, fill my gas tank, or tease a friend.

        I don’t perceive it as toxic at all. That’s guilt. Something heaped upon us from the outside. Conscience is different. conscience is a cavity felt from inside. Guilt is a weight carried upon our shoulders. I am glad to have a conscience and to know I am still alive and aware enough to feel it.


      2. Well put!

        Yes, I was conflating conscience – as it’s known – with guilt. Out of zeal. Looking to carve space for this particular perspective of conscience as proprioception.

        Not so much because conscience doesn’t fit; but to keep the old assumptions from rushing in to paper it over.

        Glad this has resonated with you!


  2. Tony,
    I am thinking that somehow there is a bonding that hinges compassion, conscience, proprioception ,awareness, and attention. Like the legs on a chair they function together as one. These are the things that allow us the aforementioned plasticity. We would all be capable of being “Changelings,” to morph unconditionally in mind and spirit, not by trying, but by doing so in fluid like response. In union with our environment, moving within it, and through it, and always part of it, continuously sensitive to the nuances and changes from without and within.


    1. Yes. And while we’re using an intellectual exploration to feel our way there it is not something requiring any brand of thinking to achieve.

      I know you’re using “changelings” ironically; but even this puts a weight on what we’re looking at that makes it seem more “other” than it is.

      Every other form of life – and most likely lots of stuff we don’t admit is living – operates this way. It’s most likely the accident of a fast developing brain-size and the ideological horsepower it brought with it that knocked us off course.

      Am reacting to the whole cult of genius and the underlying Ladder of Progress™ assumptions that are so hard to shake. Not that you embody them! Seems like a good place to bring it up.

      It doesn’t take high intelligence to come to this change. It takes integration. We’re used to relying on a narrow sort of intelligence, calling it reason and ignoring how it functions more as fantasy than imagination. This is how we do everything twice. And therefore get in our own way.

      Is this behind “original sin?” The trouble stemming – way before even the first stirrings of Monotheism – from the phantasms projected by big brains?

      We don’t get better by progressing into some Future!™. We get better by integrating with the moment. Not leading by intelligence or by dumbing-down.

      Getting far from the meat of your comment! My response to what you did say is a resounding Yes!


  3. Tony,
    You have to wonder, though, as to whether we have been changed by genetic selection, to live in a “civilized” world. Certainly the Elite have tried in their perverse way. Have the changes been in place so long as to have modified us down to our genetics to survive this way, or have we just acquired the skill sets to survive in this chaos and economic conformity? Are we wearing a mask of sorts, with our hunter/gatherer beings hidden under the surface. Have we just lost the ability to hear the little wooden flute over the beating of the giant drum?


    1. Hasn’t been that long. Even ten thousand years. Just not that long. There’s also cultural evolution on top of physical. And the evolution of forms which takes place some other way re… Sheldrake.

      It’s just such an ingrained habit for those who benefit from an insane system to cry “human nature!” Plasticity is deeper. And ore powerful.

      Then again, what choice do we have?

      Conscience, if we call it that, calls in that quiet voice for us to do what we can.

      The short answer to all your questions here is, Yes. And What difference does it make?


  4. Tony,

    I would hope that plasticity is still within us, laying there dormant or lost form the conscious din. Possibly, it lies within us some latent or vestigial way, dormant and waiting for re-awakening. Maybe we near it in our dreams, or in a vision quest, trance or transcendental experience. Who is to say? We have many millions of years history in our genes, and capabilities that are encoded in those strands of DNA that we have forgotten and or fail to understand.


    1. No guarantees. It’s a hard one to get used to. Nothing but us expects to know things will work out in the future.

      It’s the trouble with hope. Why I prefer a shoal hope. Whatever that might mean. Maybe it’s what we get when we just do what comes to us? Get better at being able to tell it from the bs.

      Something to do with losing our addiction to explanations. There’s enough to engage without all those trappings/traps….


      It’s a big question. What if we face it without having to explain or worry about a sure thing.


      1. Tony,
        I have been thinking about the notion of conscience and guilt a lot, along with the notion of sin ( original or otherwise). As I sense things, conscience cannot be quantified. It is there, or it isn’t. One chooses to hear that smallest voice, or not. Guilt, by design most likely and by most accounts only increases in weight, becoming heavier as more is heaped upon us.It is most very quantifiable, the mere weight of it squeezes the humanity out of us. The “coeffecient” of guilt is shame. Guilt and shame are used to keep the present flawed social order, from the familial level all the way through the church, the courts, the prisons, and the electric chair. Guilt and shame self replicate like DNA. When we find it too burdensome, we deflect instinctively, with excuses, or blame. I think that is the original sin. From there we mitigate, negotiate, turn the blind eye, or bear false witness.

        As the oldest son in my family, guilt and shame was used to suffocate me, to stifle my free spirit, and pound me into conformity. I was expected to provide a good example to two younger siblings. When I broke free of it, I maybe overcompensated in rebelliousness for a while.But the old rules and associated suffering creeps back, insidiously,
        every so often. My life is permanently altered. I bear the emotional scars and an altered personality. I crawl out of it once in a while, but joy does not come to me freely. i have to make an effort to be joyful. As I get older,though, I do more often hear that smallest voice, and wisdom sneaks into play deep within, even in the ongoing melodrama we call life.


      2. Seeing conscious as weightless, non-quantifiable, and guilt as weight, mere weight; so well put.

        Seeing guilt itself as the original sin, is also a great gift. That’s something to stay with a while and see what comes.

        I can identify with your story. Our lives are permanently altered. It does make joy something we need to work at. But there is another side. I feel more and more that without the benefit of a healthy culture and suitable initiations, the only way anyone can get through suffering and into any sort of coherence is by having passed through great trauma and survived it. We are damaged; but we have survived. Not just left undead; as so many others have been. Not done ourselves in in any of the direct and indirect forms of suicide we see all around us.

        By some grace we are still here. We’ve been shown a glimpse of that quiet voice. The miseries of life are unavoidable. The suffering, the drama, the melodrama is a choice. Most people don’t get to see that. We have a glimpse. It’s a gift and a responsibility.

        It’s becoming more and more clear to me that the angry voices, the cutting, killing voices are there. They reached us through those we lived with as children. Those who were lost and succumbed to the suffering these voices bring. Our survival made it possible for us to begin to hear another kind of voice.

        They are out there too. We can cultivate our connection to them. Part of this task is to forgive. To understand that those who have hurt us were hurt before. It goes back a long way. It is not the only way. But the only way for anything else to be possible is if we take our strength away from those voices. They continually seek to recruit us to continue inflicting suffering and keep the pain and fear going. They want us to feel we are not strong enough to counter them. They want us to feel that their way is inevitable. It’s not.

        Fear and anger seem endless. They only last so long as we refuse joy. They strive to hold us in the past or send us rushing off into the future. Either way they can keep us from living. Keep us from joy.

        A moment integrated and connected through joy and compassion; a moment attended to; redeems all. This message has leaked out many times. It’s been obscured and twisted around many times. But it is still true. It is still present.

        Thank you for listening. Thank you for contributing. Thank you for helping me find a voice.


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