Is your ‘inner self’ mind or heart or heart-mind?


My answer is the human spirit – her own and her pupils. How might we construe that spirit? My answer is as the flow of ‘spirit-as-the-life-force’ (chi?)

One analogy for the ‘flow of spirit-as-the-life-force’ is water flowing. Another analogy lies in the flow of energy as dancer dances. Another metaphor for ‘the flow of spirit-as-the-life-force’ is that of white light. These metaphors are the opposite of the mechanistic ‘human-as-computers’ or the older ‘humans-as-machines’ metaphors.

Since I see teachers as ‘developers of consciousness’ I here am focusing on the idea of the life-force, in a normal person, culminating in (raised) consciousness. I also use the term interiority to refer to consciousness. By interiority I mean ‘affective awareness’ and ‘moral awareness’ as well as ‘cognitive awareness’ – hence my preference for ‘heart-mind’ as a term for interiority.

I am grateful to Martin Cortazzi for pointing out that a unitive presentation of heart-mind has a long history. He tells me that heart-mind corresponds to ‘xin’ in Chinese, (sometimes transcribed as ‘hsin’). (Professor Peter Harvey of the University of Sunderland also points out that ‘citta’ in Sanskrit, as used in Indian Buddhism, has the same meaning)

Hansen (1989 p. 97) explains that ‘We use ‘heart-mind’ to translate xin. This is because the philosophical psychology of ancient China did not use a cognitive/affective contrast in their talk of well-honed human performance…’

He also points out (1992 p. 20) that ‘The common translation of xin as heart-mind reflects the blending of belief and desire (thought and feeling, ideas and emotions) into a single complex dispositional potential.’
Tu ( 1985 p. 32) provides further evidence in saying:

…the Confucian hsin [xin] must be glossed as ‘heart-mind’ because it involves both cognitive & affective dimensions of human relations. This ‘fruitful ambiguity’ is perhaps the result of a deliberate refusal rather than an unintended failure to make a sharp distinction between conscience & consciousness. To Yang-Ming [Wang Yang-Ming, neo-Confucian philosopher 1477-1529] consciousness as cognition & conscience as affection are not two separable functions of the mind. Rather, they are integral aspects of a dynamic process whereby man becomes aware of himself as a moral being. Indeed, the source of morality depends on their inseparability in a pre-reflective faculty.