Moral Mind / Moral Consciousness
The “moral mind” refers to people’s awareness of moral principles. It is set in contrast to the “human heart,” and appears in classics such as the “Old Text” version of The Book of History, and Xunzi. Confucian scholars in the Song Dynasty attached great importance to both terms and made interpretations and expositions about them. They believed that the conscious mind, or heart involved two aspects: one, conscious of moral principles, was daoxin, or the “moral mind”; the other, consumed with human desires aroused by the sensory organs such as eyes and ears, was called renxin, or the “human heart.” The consciousness of moral principles in the “moral mind” comes from innate human nature working in agreement with heavenly principles, but it is elusive. It needs to be allowed full play so that the excessive desires of the “human heart” can be held in check.
The human heart is beset by danger, while the moral mind is subtle and elusive. Concentration of mind is required for sticking to the path of justice and uprightness. (The Book of History)
Consciousness and senses from the heart are ultimately the same thing. A distinction, however, may be made between the “human heart” and the “moral mind.” This is because the former refers to selfish desires brought about by the bodily senses, whereas the latter comes from heavenly principles of justice. Human desires are dangerous and lead to uncertainty. Consciousness of moral principles is elusive and rarely exhibits itself. (Zhu Xi: Preface to Annotations on The Doctrine of the Mean)