Seeking Constant Improvement in the World of Learning

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Learning is a translation of the Japanese word shomon, literally “voice hearer,” referring to those who directly heard and passed on Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings. Shakyamuni’s teachings have been preserved in the form of countless sutras, but the sutras were not written by Shakyamuni himself. He expounded his teachings verbally to his close disciples, who in turn transmitted them to the people. It was during this process of transmission from Shakyamuni’s close disciples to the people that the Buddha’s teachings were recorded in the form of sutras. The disciples who heard and passed his teachings on in this way were known as those who had “heard the Buddha’s voice,” and were thus respected as people of great knowledge.

The world of Learning is characterized by a desire to gain knowledge from others or to understand and absorb the ideas and experiences of others, while striving to enrich one’s own humanity and spirituality. The World of Learning is active within our life when we make a decision to study hard for the sake of self-development and improvement. It has been said that ignorance is tragic. In other words a person who does not attempt to learn and strive to improve will end up leading a base and miserable existence.

Youth, in particular, should study hard and learn many things with a strict attitude; they should work hard and become fully capable. Life is win or lose. Only when you strive to live each day earnestly can you begin to polish your ability and strengthen your character. A certain scholar once commented, “The one who takes pride in shallow knowledge or understanding is like a monkey who delights in adorning itself with garbage.” Our efforts to study, read books and learn from others will allow us to gain a fundamental understanding and develop a broader perspective on life, fueling our growth and giving us the power to display our human potential.

Inner potential remains dormant without some kind of stimulus. When our lives are stimulated, however, the power and ability we inherently possess will be activated. Moreover, our determination to overcome a severe situation or obstacle will unleash potential that we never thought we had, enabling us to surmount difficult challenges and accomplish things we never before thought possible.

Our growth stops as soon as we think that we are fine as we are. A person who passively accepts his situation, saying,  ”It can’t be helped,” is a person who truly cannot be helped. Our efforts to read diligently and study hard regardless of whether we are in school, can lead only to our ultimate growth. Though a student may not enjoy studying for an exam to do so will make him that much more capable in the future. Therefore, let’s continue to make efforts for the sake of our growth and development, never forgetting the value of learning.

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