For me this has always been an internal matter. From the time I was a young girl I sought spiritual meaning. My grandparents were deeply religious in a real and humble way. However, my experience with certain family members who claimed to be religious, or who attended church did not attest to a lived moral code. This lead to a lifelong exploration of religion, until I realised that ultimately what was needed was to become a better person, not according to external values, but according to what it meant to me.
Then I discovered Buddhism and it appealed to me that I have to do the work, every day, in each moment and encounter, to be patient, kind, avoid anger etc. I don’t feel called by a superego type structure, but rather do what I think is right, which often does not accord with current cultural norms. Such as, not harming animals, or eating meat, or using products tested on animals etc. My conscience is my internal voice, but I am also guided by trying to live according to Buddhist moral precepts, (there are others).
The five basic precepts are:
1. I observe the precept of abstaining from the destruction of life.
2. I observe the precept of abstaining from taking that which is not given.
3. I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.
4. I observe the precept of abstaining from falsehood.
5. I observe the precept of abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.