The word conscience has two basic meanings. The first, most common use, designates the priest or parent-code installed in the head; designed, more or less, to prevent you from doing anything that threatens The Way Things Are. This kind of ‘code-conscience’ (also occasionally called ‘care’, ‘respect’, ‘maturity’ and ‘responsibility’) is a kind of instinctive morality, a cultural bouncer at the doors of liberation and a brake upon spontaneity, individuality and free discernment. Code-conscience is the should bully that keeps the rich rich, the poor poor, the stupid stupid and the modern artist in pay.
But. If you are sitting down in your garden, say, and, at one with body and universe, meditating even, or just ‘okay’ - and there is toast burning in the kitchen, and you smell it; then you are going to have a feeling inside of something not being right - and this too can be called conscience.
True conscience is the whiff of burning toast - and toast will start to burn when any human needs are not met: food, warmth, water, air, creative physical exercise and rest, mental exercise and rest (meaning periods where no thought arises), a sense of autonomy and control, a sense of trust in what is happening, a sense of achievement and development (challenges overcome, fears met), privacy and society, infinity (the impossibleness of nature), freedom of expression, varied playful freely chosen creation, knowledge of limits and freedom to break them when the moment is right, the giving and receiving of attention and affection (good vibe), unconditional 'faults and all' acceptance and, above all, the rending impulse to give everything away, to blend into the mysterious moment and to choose the most joy at any given millisecond.
If these needs are not met you will sniff out smoke, as the body will feel restlessly hungry.
Most people can easily identify food, warmth, water and air hunger; but they usually have difficulty identifying their other hungers, and frequently misattribute them to remote or bizarre causes. One might, for example, blame a lack of praiseful attention on a need for chocolate, or confuse the nagging guilt caused by contempt for one’s wife with annoyance at one’s football team failing or interpret the enervating, clouding, clogging and bitter brain-fat of being at work, where very few needs are met, with a poor diet, or redirect an anxious clinging to money and status onto a need for yogic calm, or assume the glum torpor of indolence is caused by one's family, one's future, one's city... on anything but the unused roller blades in the hallway.
The burning toast of conscience (also known as pain), and acting on it, is the bridge between anarchism and mysticism, between sensuality and austerity and between action and non-action. It is a call to do what is right, once you’ve stood up to the should bully.