Thursday, August 27, 2009

爲學

爲學一首示子姪
作者:彭端淑(1699年-1779年)

天下事有難易乎?為之,則難者亦易矣;不為,則易者亦難矣。人之為學有難易乎?學之,則難者亦易矣;不學,則易者亦難矣。

吾資之昏,不逮人也:吾材之庸,不逮人也。旦旦而學之,久而不怠焉;迄乎成,而亦不知其昏與庸也。吾資之聰,倍人也:吾材之敏,倍人也。屏棄而不用,其昏與庸無以異也。然則昏庸聰敏之用,
豈有常哉?

蜀之鄙有二僧,其一貧,其一富。貧者語於富者曰:「吾欲之南海,何如?」富者曰:「子何恃而往?」曰:「吾一瓶一缽足矣。」富者曰:「吾數年來欲買舟而下,猶未能也。子何恃而往?」越明年,貧者自南海還,以告富者,富者有慚色。西蜀之去南海,不知幾千里也;僧之富者不能至,而貧者至焉。人之立志,顧不如蜀鄙之僧哉?

是故聰與敏,可恃而不可恃也;自恃其聰與敏而不學,自敗者也。昏與庸,可限而不可限也;不自限其昏與庸而力學不倦,自立者也。

<http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E7%88%B2%E5%AD%B8%E4%B8%80%E9%A6%96%E7%A4%BA%E5%AD%90%E5%A7%AA>

Here's a retelling of this story in English:

Once upon a time two monks lived in Sichuan Province. One monk was
poor, the other rich. One day the poor monk told the rich one, "I want
to go to the South Sea." "But how, by what transportation?" the rich
monk asked. "All I need are one bottle and one bowl," the poor monk
said. The rich monk replied, "For years I have been planning to rent a
boat to go there, but I still have not been able to go. What makes you
think you can go there?"

A year later the two monks met again after the poor monk returned from
the South Sea. He told the rich monk about his trip. The rich monk
felt very ashamed.

The famous Qing Dynasty literati Peng Duanshu told the above story in
his work "On learning, to my children." His story reveals a principle:

There are no easy or hard things in the world. As long as you are
making the effort, the hard things can become easy. If you don't take
any action, then the easiest things can be hard. The same is true in
learning. If you really study, then even the most challenging subject
can become easy. On the other hand, if you don't want to study, then
even the easiest assignment becomes difficult. If one relies on his
own intellect and educational background but refuses to study more,
then the person will destroy his future. Those who refused to be
discouraged by their own average intelligence and capability and
continued to learn did obtain success through their own efforts.

I am deeply touched by this story. When dealing with issues, if we
don't take action, but focus our effort on looking for "shortcuts" or
we postpone our action by saying, "Wait until tomorrow," or "I will do
it later," we are no different from the rich monk who waited for years
to rent a boat. As the old poem "Tomorrow Song" says, "Tomorrow and
tomorrow; how many tomorrows are there anyway? If one always waits for
tomorrow to do his work, then he accomplishes nothing in his life
time."

When we walk, we take a step at a time. Every step leads us forward.
All big things begin from little things. We achieve success through
gradual accumulation of effort. If we only want to score big but
ignore the little things then we will eventually get nowhere, like the
rich monk.

<http://www.clearwisdom.net/emh/articles/2005/12/15/67920.html>