Our lives depend on learning and training. We are constantly encountering new situations, meeting new people, or meeting familiar people in new circumstances. All of these experiences require specific actions, behaviour, and responses. Even the process of wholesome thought and cognition—the aspiration to live one’s life well and to cultivate virtue—requires a degree of effort. In relation to all of our experiences, we strive to live in harmony with our surroundings and to rectify any problems. This is the true meaning of education.
If one fails to make the effort to conduct oneself correctly and constructively in relation to one’s surroundings and environment, one will fail to live a good life. Failing to make this effort is equivalent to being deprived of a true education. The Buddha referred to such people who neglect the endeavour to improve their lives as bāla: ignorant or foolish. They are considered to be alive simply because they are still breathing.
To live a good life one needs to make the effort to improve one’s life, i.e. one needs to engage in study and training. Training or education is a lifelong pursuit, to be undertaken at all times. It is not limited to the classroom.
This reflection by Venerable Payutto is an excerpt from Education Made Easy, (pdf) pp.4-5; translated into the English by Robin Moore.