Society has become your guru; you have completely stopped listening to the dictates of your own conscience. Within you, society has created a conscience that is absolutely false. Whenever you think of committing a theft or some other evil act, someone within you tells you not to do it. But this someone, this conscience, is given to you by society; it is not the voice of yourself. Society teaches you what is good and what is bad, and so there are different kinds of consciences in different countries, in different communities. If your conscience were the one given to you by God and it had not been touched by society, its voice would be the same throughout the world, the same down the ages. That voice is eternal, perpetual.
If you want to kill someone, your conscience – a gift from society and therefore a deception – will tell you not to kill. But suppose you become a magistrate. That same conscience will not say to you now, “Don’t sentence anyone to capital punishment.” You will send hundreds to the gallows without any feeling whatsoever. Or say you go to war. Only yesterday the conscience given to you by society said that killing was sinful – even if you killed an ant you used to feel guilty inside – but now, on the battlefield, you will kill others with all your heart and with all your might. And that very conscience society has given to you will tell you that you are doing your duty, that you are doing a great thing, that you are a great hero. People will throng around your funeral pyre to pay their last respects to you, and your name will be immortal, written in the annals of history.
Whether you wanted to murder someone, were a magistrate in the court or a soldier on the battlefield, the voice of your own conscience, of your natural conscience would be consistent. It would say that you are committing a sin to kill, that it is wrong to destroy because God is the creator of all. It would say, “Who are you to kill, to destroy? If you do so, you are moving away from God.” In each and every situation your true conscience, you authentic conscience, will pronounce its judgment without any “ifs,” without any preconditioning; it will simply say that killing is bad. But your society-given conscience will advise you according to its own convenience or inconvenience. If it is in the interest of society it will even say that killing is a religious act, that it is holy. The real question is not one of killing or of not killing, it is one of convenience or inconvenience to society.
You will never be able to find your own conscience while you remain filled with the one society has given to you. You are using this false conscience in your attempt to seek your real conscience. You are trying to reach religion by the path of morality, but it is morality itself that has bereft you of religion.
These words of Kabir are very revolutionary. One would not believe a saint could utter such words. But remember, only a saint can say such things because a saint is a great revolutionary. He doesn’t care about the result; good or bad, he doesn’t care what society will think. Try to understand Kabir’s words:
Sadhu, consider this:
ride in a boat and drown midstream;
helpless, get across.
And then he says:
Reach the town by some back way;
get looted on the highway.