Congratulations to all the graduates! Finally, after all your hard work, you have completed an important part of your life.
It’s not as simple as it used to be. High school graduates have made decisions to continue school or begin working. The choice may have been determined as much by economics as interest in a career. You may have decided to learn a trade or take some time to think about next steps. For students who have completed their undergraduate work or college degrees you may have debt that will now need to be repaid. That debt may follow you for many years affecting decisions you make on career, family, home. With the attention drawn to student debt by the Smith gift to this year’s graduating class at Moorehouse hopefully changes can continue to be made in how we value education.
One of the world’s oldest university is Nalanda University. It was an active center of Buddhist studies from the early 400’s CE until the 1100’s. Its origins go back even further. King Asoka may have built buildings at Nalanda and even earlier Shakyamuni Buddha may have visited the site. Students came from many parts of Asia to study. They came from as far away as Turkey, Japan and China. They came to learn and share knowledge of philosophy, science, history and culture as well as the study and practice of Buddhism and Hinduism. Now nearly 850 years have passed and Nalanda University is being rebuilt with the spirit of the ancient Nalanda University.
My brother once told me,”Go to school to learn to learn.” Going to school has become more complicated but at its base its still good advice. There’s so much to learn. There is value in the acquisition of knowledge but also in its application. Sometimes we become enamored with the accumulation of knowledge and we forget about the application of what we learned. When we learned that 1 + 1 = 2 that was exciting. When we learned 1 + 1 = 10 that was even more exciting. In the second example 10 is not ten but 0 in the first column carry 1 to the second column. With practice both these equations have tremendous application.
For Jodo Shinshu in the West we are fortunate that we have the Institute of Buddhist Studies. It too has a significant history. Many people have nurtured and guided the IBS since its beginnings. In that history there are individuals like Rev. Kanmo and Mrs. Jane Imamura, Rev. Haruyoshi Kusada and Rev. Dr. Seigen Yamaoka. Today the IBS, after years of hard work, is on the verge of accreditation. With accreditation opportunities for the Institute of Buddhist Studies students and the school will be greatly expanded.
Like Nalanda over two thousand years ago as it was just beginning, so too is the Institute of Buddhist Studies establishing itself. The students of Nalanda came to learn and share their knowledge. Like the commitment of students and teachers in centuries past the Jodo Shinshu community continues to share a living appreciation of the Nembutsu.
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