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Every June and July marks GWBI’s exam season. With three different exams held in succession of one another: recitations, written, and debate, you’d always find someone with their noses deep in their books, trying to make that final sprint. In fact, such scene is a common sight in the monastery regardless of time or season. After all, with the recitations exam over a four-day period, the number of words one would have to commit to memory range from ten-thousand to hundreds of thousands. If one does not persevere every day, it would be nearly impossible.

During this year’s Building Dreams Buddhist Retreat, Teacher Zhen-Ru mentioned a child she’d once met. Though not yet fully literate, he’d be able to remember whatever was read aloud to him just through listening. When asked what he found most challenging about recitations, he replied: giving yourself the reason to slack; if you look for it you’ll always find one. But because he didn’t want to stop, he’ll more often than not conquer his own afflictions. He didn’t surrender.

A lot of the nuns at GWBI entered the monastery at a young age. By persevering and not giving in to themselves, they’ve been able to develop an unwavering determination through each and every word they memorize.