ko wu, chih chih

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Chinese philosophical terms used in the Ta-hsüeh (Great Learning) to refer to two related stages or aspects of the self-cultivation process, subsequently given different interpretations by later Confucian thinkers. ‘Ko‘ can mean ‘correct’, ‘arrive at’ or ‘oppose’; ‘wu‘ means ‘things’. The first ‘chih‘ can mean ‘expand’ or ‘reach out’; the second ‘chih‘ means ‘knowledge’. Chu Hsi (1130-1200) took ‘ko wu‘ to mean arriving at li (principle, pattern) in human affairs and ‘chih chih‘ to mean the expansion of knowledge; an important part of the self-cultivation process involves expanding one’s moral knowledge by examining daily affairs and studying classics and historical documents. Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529) took ‘ko wu‘ to mean correcting the activities of one’s hear/mind (hsin), and ‘chih chih‘ the reaching out of one’s innate knowledge (liang chih); an important part of the self-culitivation process involves making fully manifest one’s innate knowledge by constantly watching out for and eliminating distortive desires.”

from The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy randomly arrived at by letting the book open where it may and reading the first entry that came to my eye like I used to do with the Bible.

Applying this principle, today I watched the last half of a PBS documentary on Gene Robinson, Love Free or Die. The first elected openly gay bishop is cuter and more compelling that I expected. So is his significant other. The most unfortunate part is the end statistics detailing how it is illegal to be gay punishable by jail and even death in some countries. This gives them the moral high ground to appeal for justice and equal rights. The most compelling voice for keeping the tradition of homosexuality is a sin was Bishop Rowen Williams. Someone told him that to take up one’s cross is righteous, but woe to those who crucify others. He paused and agreed that ‘not committing homosexual sin does need to be a voluntary sacrifice and not coerced. If it is not agreed upon, it reflects the very damaged state of the Church.’ The least compelling where the picketers that had signs saying “God hates fags”, and the scary, beefy motorcycle guy picketing people to split from the Episcopal Church and follow the Bible. Then there was the distraught, confused lady who was sad about it all, but had to vote against gay clergy and marriage anyway. The Gay Pride Parade freak show didn’t score many points, imo, either. Except for the few normal looking ones handing out water.

The fact that some gay people are so happy to have found love, to me speaks of damaged people who can’t turn their back on love. They sincerely believe that they will die without it. Maybe God is merciful to such as those who cannot accept being a eunuch, like Matthew says. But at the same time, I sense a bit of a latent acknowledgement that maybe they should have given up more in order to have a natural family. They are not ready to move on from their childhood baggage to a more sacrificial life.

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