In the past few years I have read a lot of articles regarding the over-priced post-secondary education system and the disappointment of many who come out of the system with a degree that does not offer them any sense of job security. This seems to be the goal of the majority of post-secondary students and I can see the benefits of such security, Yet this has been troubling me over the past few months.. Over the past year I have tried to practice Zen Buddhism in my everyday life, listening to complete sets of lectures from the likes of Alan Watts and reading historical texts such as the Diamond Sutra. From these incredibly enlightening sources of information my own consciousness has expanded and it is giving me a refreshed perception on life. One of these perceptions regards post-secondary education.
The idea of going to university (or college) just to get job security is a decision made out of fear. Fear of not having the resources to live and fear of potentially being seen as a failure to those you hold dear. As anyone who has studied Zen would know, decisions made in fear are those that will lead to unhappiness or discontent. Making the decision to go to university is an important decision for all teenagers on the brink of adulthood. But this decision should not be shrouded in fear of not being able to support yourself in the future.
The decision to go to university should be a decision in which one realises the love of knowledge itself, and understands the way in which knowledge will ultimately better one’s experience on Earth. Going to university should be a decision born in the heart, one that will offer the opportunity of mastering that specific study.
There is no point, with the exorbitant price of study, to do something that will not offer you a better quality of life. In my opinion too many young people are prioritizing future money, over their quality of life. I have met countless people at my time at university who are doing degree’s they hate just to obtain a sense of wealth in the future. Whenever I talk to these people about university I always here the same remarks “God I hate this subject” and “why did I ever take this subject”. While these questions seem very simple to answer, their roots lie in fear that by doing what they love they will risk being homeless their whole lives. An example of this that recently came to light was the Commencement speech that Jim Carrey presented to a class of graduating students. Carrey explained the decision his father made to obtain job security instead of following his dreams. Carrey explains this was a decision made out of fear, and that he (Carrey) made the opposite decision in his life, to follow what he loved. Jim Carrey’s speech is very similar to Paulo Coelho’s book called “The Alchemist”. Just like Carrey, Coelho illustrates in a beautiful story, the importance of following one’s personal dreams, and not giving into the fear of failure. This book I believe should be compulsory for all students at high school about to enter the big world as adults. It offers advice that has seemingly been forgotten by modern society and replaced by the desire to be wealthy and have job security. I believe that instead of being a means to an end, university offers a higher purpose in helping people find their personal dreams. My flatmate Judd offered me a nugget of gold the other day when he explained how he came out of school.. “I remember coming out of high school and not knowing what I wanted to do at all.. All I knew is that I should go to university, do a degree that will get me a good job and that’s my life sorted.. It was only a month into my first semester that I realised I had no interest in law and that I had chosen it on the basis of how much I will get paid when I come out of university. I quickly dropped that degree and choose a degree I knew I loved (environmental and development studies). Since making this change my future has opened up in front of me with possibilities, all of which I dream of doing”. Judd made a decision I hope that all of you, the readership of an enlightened and loving community, can or already have made. Drop the fear and do something you love, I guarantee the universe will provide for you! .
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