Thursday, May 5, 2011

Importance of Study

In the religious life of communities, study has always had an important place. We have the Benedictine tradition of work, prayer and study. We use our minds in search of wisdom, use our bodies to work and our hearts and spirit to pray and to practice the virtues. 
Consequently, it is not surprising  that  a word  Korean children often hear is 'study'. It may be the word they find most loathsome, according to the writer of the  Desk Column in the Catholic Times. Not only children but adults also hear the word, and it is not always welcomed for it implies  some fault is found with their behavior.

In jest, one often hears: "One more hour of study and the face of the husband changes." And "For three years you are nobody but you are changing who your husband will be." With words of this type, our high school girls are told to study not for itself but for what will likely happen if they do and if they don't; there doesn't seem to be any understanding of the value of study itself.  These two sayings are displayed on classroom walls in high schools for girls to prod them to study.  The message? The more you study, the better your chances of finding a husband that meets your standards.

The word for study comes to us from its use in Buddhism. It is the cultivation of the teachings of Buddhism, especially the earnest study of Zen meditation. For this reason study has to be done earnestly, getting rid of all distractions and, whether sitting or standing, giving yourself totally to the study at hand.
The word for study in Korean is made up of two Chinese characters: 工夫 (gong bu). The first character, with the two parallel lines, shows the joining  of heaven an earth, the effort to penetrate the truth of heaven and earth and humanity. The second character signifies man with his two hands outstretched and a topknot  on his head. The word contains the meaning that it is man's work. And even though the writer was somewhat embarrassed to say this, he explained that the Korean ancestors considered study as the means which enables a man to gain the ability and to fulfill the duty to feed and care for his family. It was also the way to cultivate a person who would be respected by society; in today's world, we would say "to become someone."

The writer reminds us that the parents of Jesus also told him to study. The way he related to the teachers in the temple and his disciples clearly shows that he studied. He has all the marks of a person steeped in the world of study. As in the world of Buddhism and Confucianism, study is an important part of what we do as human beings and as Christians.

In the last sentence of the second chapter of Luke there are the words: "Jesus, for his part, progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and men." Here we have the growth in wisdom, in the body and in grace; the  fourth, relating well with all our brothers and sisters.The lack of any one of the four leaves us less than complete. It is the sign of a whole person, and an important part of achieving this wholeness is the necessity of study.  

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