When others are more learned, more moral, and more capable than we are, should we learn from them, or envy them?
We should learn from those who are more competent than us. We need to learn not only from our elders, but also anyone who is capable of being our teacher. Kumarajiva, the great translator of Mahayana sutras, and his Theravadan teacher learned from one another. Even Confucius once said that he was less knowledgeable than an old farmer! It is extremely rare and difficult for an individual to learn everything there is to learn in the world. Therefore, parents can learn from their children, and teachers can learn from their students. There is nothing shameful about learning. Those humble enough to learn from others earn the highest respect from those around them.
Aside from sages like the Buddha, no one is a real authority on truth and knowledge. Thus, we should all humbly accept truth and knowledge. However, in recent times, people seem to have forgotten the right learning attitude. Whenever we see people who are better or more capable than we are, we become jealous. We try to destroy them. We act like roosters, unable stand it if anyone else is a “crow.” In the end, our jealousy will bring ruin everyone and everything, including ourselves.
To learn is to progress, to grow. As the saying goes, “Azure comes from blue and is better than blue!” Teachers need not have higher achievements than their students. Parents should not be jealous of their children’s opportunity to receive higher education. This is their children’s chance to earn masters and doctoral degrees. If teachers and parents are jealous of the fact that their students have these opportunities and attempt to stop them, then society will never make any progress or achieve success.
There is a saying, “In seeing the wise, we want to be like them. In any group of three, there must be someone we can learn from.” We see many who are eager to learn. They grow and improve. Oftentimes, people refrain from complimenting on another’s accomplishments while they are still alive and do not commemorate them after they die. This is jealousy.
Jealousy is like fire. Not only does it consume talent, it also burns down all of society’s accomplishments! Many are jealous of others’ successes and even sabotage others’ achievements due to their own narrow-mindedness or partisan beliefs. Without the wish to learn, how can we become saints and sages? When we are faced with a wise and capable person of high morals and standing, should we learn from him or her or be jealous of him or her? Which would be to the benefit of our country and citizens? This is a question we should all ponder!