The observation, that emotion and consciousness are not the same thing, tells us that we do not have to be controlled by our thoughts and emotions. Prior to our every action, there must be mental and emotional event to which we are more or less free to respond, albeit that until we have learned to discipline our mind, we will have difficulty in exercising this freedom. How we respond to these events and experiences determines the moral content of our acts, generally speaking. In simple terms, this means that if we do so positively, keeping others interests before us, our acts will be positive. If we respond negatively, neglecting others, our acts will be negative and unethical.
According to this understanding, we might think of mind, or consciousness, in terms of a president or monarch who is very honest, very pure. In this view, our thoughts and emotions are like cabinet ministers. Some of them give good advice, some bad. Some have the well being of others as their principle concern, others only their own narrow interests. The responsibility of the main consciousness--the leader--is to determine which of these subordinates gives good advice and which bad, which of them is reliable and which are not, and to act on the advice of the one sort and not the other. Mental and emotional events which, in this sense, give bad advice can themselves be described as a form of suffering.
--from Ethics for the New Millennium, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama