Every person has an inner guide. Swami Rama, often spoke of this inner guide, referring to it as the conscience. When he did so, he wasn’t referring to the Freudian super-ego, but rather to the whispers of the true-Self within—to our innate source of love, beauty, and kindness and sense of what is right and wrong.
By learning to hear and follow this inner guide, we are led on the path to enlightenment.
Here are Swami Rama’s own words on the topic from his book The Art of Joyful Living, Pp. 95-97.
“You should allow your good thoughts to be expressed through your actions. Many times your good thoughts are not fully expressed. In this manner you constantly damage and kill that sensitive inner part of you which would help to bring about your own enlightenment and growth. Then, a time comes when something negative has been built up inside you, because you are constantly hurting yourself, which is the greatest of all sins.
The only real sin in life is to kill your own conscience. If you do not kill your conscience then you’ll never commit mistakes, because your conscience will guide you wisely. But the more mistakes you commit, and the more you blame and condemn yourself, the more you hurt your conscience.
The conscience is the clear mirror within you; it is not your mind, urges or your emotions. Don’t allow your conscience to be enveloped by the dust of ignorance, and don’t shatter or damage your conscience, but keep it clear by listening to it. The conscience is very helpful in dealing with your mind and its problems.
In the Christian tradition…Saul was transformed and became Paul, because one day he listened to his conscience and understood that the path he was following was not the right path. Then he became a sage. In your case, however, you often knowingly continue to do things that are wrong. You know that one course of action is right, and yet you do not do it—which is a sin against your own conscience.
When you know that something is right, and yet you go against it, you act against your own conscience, and that weakens you. To act against your own conscience kills the powerful force within you, your determination and willpower. If you kill your willpower, you can never be dynamic; your dynamic Will will depart. You know what is right for you, and yet you often go on repeating wrong actions. This is a crime, and there is no remedy for it. You know that something is bad for your growth, and yet you constantly repeat it, because of your bad habits.
You need to put into practice this teaching: first, you need to understand what you are doing wrong. Next, you need to create new grooves for your mind, so that your mind does not automatically flow in its old grooves, but instead begins to flow in the new grooves. Learn to counsel yourself and have a self-dialogue. Learn to mentally talk to yourself. Sit down and have a dialogue with yourself; ask yourself why you are doing an action. Many times you will say to yourself, “I don’t want to do this, but I have been doing it, so now it’s a routine,” and then you’ll understand the process of habit formation.
With all your idealization of sadhana and gurus and teachers, you have neglected one thing: you need to know something practical. You need to know a practical method of gaining freedom from those weaknesses that you have formed in your childhood, which have become part of your life, and are difficult for you to resolve.
Learn to work with yourself: all your actions are controlled by your thoughts, and all your thoughts are controlled by your emotions. By comparison with your emotions, thought has little power, but if you can use your emotional power constructively, you can channel it and attain ecstasy. Then, emotions can become creative. Your emotional power can be utilized in a creative way and can lead you to a height of Oneness, which will give you real happiness.”
One of the main tasks of Yoga is to purify the mind and heart to the point where one hears, and can follow, the whispers of this inner guide. Then progress along the path may accelerate.