Most people would follow their conscience. No two persons can have the same conscience because a person’s conscience is moulded by the tendencies instilled in him as per the environment he has been brought up in. Also, it is subjective and can compromise on what is right when one’s own self-interest is involved. One’s conscience can be a reliable guide in determining right and wrong only when one is pure of mind, pure of heart and strong of will. Such people are rare, and most peoples’ conscience changes to suit the occasion as their interests prevail.
Man philosophically lays down ethical principles to determine right and wrong. But ethics will differ in different society’s cultures and traditions and, therefore, cannot be applied universally. The dictum, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”, could be a convenient guide too is subjective and one may be tempted to do the wrong thing hoping that it would not be found out, and again hoping that others will not do the same.
Another way is to follow the conduct of wise and great men. No human being is perfect and the conduct of the best of men can be downright questionable; for example, some of Lord Krishna’s actions went contrary to normal social norms; although in His case there was always a higher and justifiable purpose for His ‘unconventional’ behaviour.
The most reliable guide to moral conduct is the scripture or shastra. Every religion has a scripture that is based on wise teachings. These scriptures contain simple commandments on what one should do and what one shouldn’t; for example, the Ten Commandments in the Bible. Hindu Shastras consist of shruti – non mutable eternal truths enshrined in the Vedas – and smriti, man-made rules and regulations to suit the time and place but derived from shruti. Several such shastras, which contain broadly similar moral principles, are based on the Vedas. Muslims follow their Quran, Shariat etc. for regulating the conduct of life etc.
The one scripture that might be acceptable to all is the non-sectarian Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is widely acknowledged as the essence of the Vedas. Lord Krishna says in the Gita, “He who discards the injunctions of the scriptures and acts as his desires prompt him, attains neither worldly happiness, nor spiritual perfection, nor liberation. Therefore, let the scriptures be your guide in determining what should be done and what should not be done. Understand the injunctions of the scriptures first and then act according to them”. He warns that those who ignore the injunctions and guidelines given in the scriptures and act dictated by their whims, are doomed.
Be Happy – We may accomplish our Dreams by regulating our conduct according to guidelines mentioned in scriptures or as be thought the best as per the prevailing circumstances in interest of humanity. We must strive for the best.