A Bahá’í recognizes that one aspect of his spiritual and intellectual growth is to foster the development of his conscience in the light of divine Revelation—a Revelation which, in addition to providing a wealth of spiritual and ethical principles, exhorts man “to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye”. This process of development, therefore, involves a clear-sighted examination of the conditions of the world with both heart and mind. A Bahá’í will understand that an upright life is based upon observance of certain principles which stem from Divine Revelation and which he recognizes as essential for the well-being of both the individual and society. In order to uphold such principles, he knows that, in certain cases, the voluntary submission of the promptings of his own personal conscience to the decision of the majority is a conscientious requirement, as in wholeheartedly accepting the majority decision of an Assembly at the outcome of consultation.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Feb 08, Materialistic Elements in Academic Scholarship, p. 3
Conscience, however, is not an unchangeable absolute. One dictionary definition, although not covering all the usages of the term, presents the common understanding of the word “conscience” as “the sense of right and wrong as regards things for which one is responsible; the faculty or principle which pronounces upon the moral quality of one’s actions or motives, approving the right and condemning the wrong”.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Feb 08, Materialistic Elements in Academic Scholarship, p. 3)
For in the realm of conscience naught but the ray of God’s light can command, and on the throne of the heart none but the pervading power of the King of Kings should rule. Thus it is that one can arrest and suspend [the action of] every faculty except thought and reflection; for a man cannot even by his own volition withhold himself from reflection or thought, nor keep back his musings and imaginings.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 40)
For opium fasteneth on the soul, so that the user’s conscience dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 149)
I considered the meanings of thy letter and my heart overflows with perfect and spiritual love unto thee and unto the beloved ones of God, whose eyes are brightened by witnessing the lights of God and whose innermost hearts are purified by the love of God and whose consciences are made clear by the knowledge of God and whose hearts are tranquilized by the commemoration of God. Theirs is the treasury of the Kingdom and the abundant wealth of the storehouse of the divine world! They are wealthy, not poor; they are powerful, not weak; they are grandees, not mean persons; and they are kindred, not strangers! Because, verily, their wealth and honor is divine and supreme and will never be consumed. Blessed are they!
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 60)
Now hath the Truth appeared, and falsehood fled away; now hath the day dawned and jubilation taken over, wherefore men’s souls are sanctified, their spirits purged, their hearts rejoiced, their minds purified, their secret thoughts made wholesome, their consciences washed clean, their inmost selves made holy: for the Day of Resurrection hath come to pass, and the bestowals of thy Lord, the Forgiving, have encompassed all things.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 39)
The conscience of one person may be established upon a disinterested striving after truth and justice, while that of another may rest on an unthinking predisposition to act in accordance with that pattern of standards, principles and prohibitions which is a product of his social environment. Conscience, therefore, can serve either as a bulwark of an upright character or can represent an accumulation of prejudices learned from one’s forebears or absorbed from a limited social code.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)
The spiritual love of God maketh man pure and holy and clotheth him with the garment of virtue and purity. And when man attacheth his heart wholly to God and becometh related to the Blessed Perfection, the divine bounty will dawn … The souls whose consciences are enlightened through the light of the love of God, they are like unto shining lights and resemble stars of holiness in the heaven of purity.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 22)
There is not one soul whose conscience does not testify that in this day there is no more important matter in the world than that of universal peace.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 297)
Your letters were received. They showed that ye have investigated the truth and have been freed from imitations and superstitions, that ye observe with your own eyes and not with those of others, hearken with your own ears and not with the ears of others, and discover mysteries with the help of your own consciences and not with those of others. For the imitator saith that such a man hath seen, such a man hath heard, and such a conscience hath discovered; in other words he dependeth upon the sight, the hearing and the conscience of others and hath no will of his own.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 29)