AI Love

Chinese Character for AiRecently, thanks to Chris, I learned there’s a Chinese word for ‘love’ or ‘affection’ for which the Westernised letters and pronunciation are “Ai”.

With thanks to Wikipedia, I also discovered that the Chinese character for “Ai” (pictured here) consists of a heart (middle) inside of ‘accept’, ‘feel’, or ‘perceive’, which shows a graceful emotion. It can also be interpreted as a hand offering ones heart to another hand.

Apparently the concept of “Ai” was first developed by a philosopher called Mozi in the 4th century BC.  From Wikipedia:

Mozi believed that people in principle should care for all people equally. Mohism stressed that rather than adopting different attitudes towards different people, love should be unconditional and offered to everyone without regard to reciprocation. Later in Chinese Buddhism, the term Ai was adopted to refer to a passionate caring love and was considered a fundamental desire. In Buddhism, Ai was seen as capable of being either selfish or selfless, the latter being a key element towards enlightenment.

In modern times, Ai is more frequently used to refer to our Western concept of love.

But after reading about the elements that make up the Chinese character for Ai and about its original concept, I was delighted by the synergy and the connection I felt between this Chinese “Ai” and the AI of Appreciative Inquiry.

It’s certainly true to say that, as Appreciative Inquiry practitioners, we love what we do!  That’s one aspect of the synergy I felt between AI and “Ai”.

But for me the connection resonates even more deeply. How wonderful to think of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as “Ai”, meaning unconditional love or affection! After all, isn’t this one of the fundamental concepts underlying Appreciative Inquiry – the capacity to bring all voices together and honour the wisdom and world views of all those with whom we are connecting?

We do indeed need to accept, feel and perceive others and their worlds with graceful emotion; and in so doing, we hold out the hand of love and affection to offer our hearts into another hand.

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