False Conscience: Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

Jul 16, 2019
False Conscience: Doing the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason


False conscience breeds doing the right thing for the wrong reason. It is a term that describes seeing right and wrong from a conditioned perspective.

For example, we often vow to go on a diet after a binge, buried in guilt. This vow is not really a choice but a reaction to the immense guilt and self-loathing we are experiencing. The decision is a result of false conscience that simply wants to do “the right thing” to rectify “the wrong thing.”

We have developed ideas about ourselves based on survival tactics that kept us “accepted and loved.” In our past, when we saw that we were not accepted for who we were, criticized for being too loud, too dramatic, too messy, or too shy, we created personalities that would get us the acceptance we craved. 

We created hard shells of protection when we felt abandoned. Those tactics formed a false personality. False personality fuels a false conscience.

In this context, we create an extremely subjective world of right and wrong.

We may be identified with our role as “a good person” and find ourselves constantly pleasing others to fulfill that self-image. We end up resenting others for what they have asked of us, instead of creating self-respecting boundaries and holding ourselves responsible for our actions. It is hard for a pleaser to say no because they operate from false conscience. Their actions are not a result of conscious choice, but a conditioned response. 

If guilt or shame is the motivator in us, we learn to quell those states through false conscience. An abuser will often go overboard with gifts, apologies, and affection to alleviate their shame, but there lacks a genuine act of love in these kind gestures.

True conscience requires an awareness of self that enables choice. If we look closely at our actions, we will see that we are constantly trying to rectify and balance the workings of the ego’s evaluation of good and bad.

It all comes down to “should” and “should not” based on a false sense of right and wrong.

It is important to evaluate in all manner of speaking why we do what we do. Are we serving others as a selfless act or is it to fulfill a false sense of self?

When we see the inner conflict at play, there is an opportunity to struggle against false conscience. The inner work of transformation entails observing these inner conflicts in a way that allows another force to come through. That force allows us to actually choose instead of acting from the false sense of what one “should” do according to others: employers, society, or relatives. 

This is how real conscience and discrimination is developed.  

The development of real conscience is a key process in developing Being. One is freed from the confines of what has been a conditioned response.

It is in the present moment that one realizes how little choice there was previously. Most of our actions are reactions until we see that in action. When we do, we gain an understanding of the power that false conscience has over us.

This is the place of humility and the awakening of conscience.

There is a very specific meaning for the word conscience in the Fourth Way. With this specific kind of work, we are waking up to our True Conscience.

When true conscience emerges little by little, we see what we are not. It has nothing to do with public morality or social norms. It is self-understanding. We are able to see the truth about ourselves and others. 

We cannot have consciousness before conscience.

There are many terms to distinguish and define within our own experience. When conscience awakens within us, we see the difference between awareness and consciousness and conscience. There is a metric of inner seeing that increases with this awakening. The lights go on. It transcends the mind and opens the heart.

True conscience is a faculty that determines our actions from a clear standpoint. We understand the source of our negative emotion. We understand commitment and duty. We embrace humility and responsibility in a way that was not possible before. The awakening of conscience is to distinguish the onslaught of negative emotions and sensations within us.

Otherwise, we operate from something that holds things like guilt and anger as real. We say we have a “guilty conscience.” Those redundant survival mechanisms of the mind-body-emotional complex mainly emerge as imagined mental anxiety and fear that produce these “emotions.” They have nothing to do with conscience in the terms to which I am referring.

If we are to move beyond operating under false conscience, there must be a constant aim to awaken what is true conscience within us. It is the only way we even budge from the conditioning that keeps us in such negative feedback loops within ourselves. We can do things to relieve our guilt and shame, we can embark on all kinds of self-improvement, we can do good works to relieve our guilt, but false conscience is most often behind it all. 

Our ability to move through life with authenticity is a result of true conscience awakened within us. Only then will our standards for life rest in higher absolute values beyond conditioning. We choose from a deep truth within us regardless of what others think. We learn consideration not out of the necessity to be loved, but out of respect. We reclaim our dignity as whole humans, creative, connected and loving.

From the foundation of an awakened conscience, we build bridges between the seen and the unseen. We feel on a whole new level. We experience self-acceptance on a scale that enables us to love others. 

We do the right thing for the right reason.


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