Our conscience is like a customizable security setting. We customize to increase the security, not decrease it. We often have in our doors some security mechanisms which will identify or authorize people and let them through, and identify all other people as unauthorized and ring an alarm whenever they try to enter.
If a friend or a relative comes to stay with us, we will customize the setting so that it doesn’t identify that person as a stranger or a threat. Suppose this customization is done wrongly – that means the person who we think is our friend, but actually has malicious intentions gets a favorable security setting – then they can come in with impunity and rob us totally.
Something similar things happens to us in our inner world with respect to our conscience which is like our internal security setting based on our past impressions – our upbringing, our education, our culture – we see certain things as wrong and certain things as right, and whenever any immoral, anti-devotional desire comes within us we resist it and reject it. It rings an alarm within us, and we start using immediately our intelligence and our will power and we refuse to indulge in it, but suppose we indulge in something once, twice, thrice – the more we indulge in something, that is like the more times we let that person to enter into our door – then our conscience is automatically customizable or customizing security device.
If we do an activity repeatedly even it is wrong, and even if we know that it is wrong, our conscience starts desensitized to it. That means that our conscience no longer sees it as wrong, and thus we start doing that activity nonchalantly. When this happens again and again, we may even start rationalizing it, and then maybe do it with brazenness. Thus we not only do wrong but we also stop feeling that it is wrong, and we stop trying to stop ourselves from doing it. Such is the characteristic of the ungodly who Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, 16th chapter that they delight in vicious activities.
In Bhagavad-gita (16.9) he states that, “This godless people have rejected God, and they engage in and delight in ugrakarmana- deadly destructive activities.” And we too can degenerate to that level if we let our conscience become dumbed and numbed by repeated indulgence in that we know is unhealthy, unwise and unbecoming.
That’s why if we live in a culture where the immoral is normal, where the immoral is even glamorized, then we especially need protection coming from scriptural study – which reminds us of what is right and what is actually wrong, and thus it resets our conscience, and when we have studied scriptures repeatedly – and after that we start getting tempted to do which we know is wrong from scripture, then our conscience starts getting activated even if we have been doing it habitually, and with the conscience getting alerted, with our inner security setting set to protect us from immoral and anti-devotional, then we can act for our wellbeing.