Posted by David Harper on March 15 at 4:20 PM
The Intellectual Life is a great read, and is available from amazon. It offers advice on improving your ability to gather information, to make better use of time for learning, removing distractions and developing the habits necessary to best live an intellectual life.
Begin by creating within you a zone of silence, a habit of recollection, a will of renunciation and detachment which puts you entirely at the disposal of work; acquire that state of soul unburdened by desire and self-will which is the state of grace of the intellectual worker. Without that you will do nothing, at least nothing worth while.
Sertillanges’ book is based upon these sixteen precepts of Saint Thomas.
My Very Dear Brother, Since you have asked me how you ought to study in order to amass the treasures of knowledge, listen to the advice which I am going to give you. As a mere stripling,
- Advance up the streams, and do not all at once plunge into the deep: such is my caution. I bid you to
- Be chary of speech,
- Slower still in frequenting places of talk:
- Embrace purity of conscience,
- Pray unceasingly,
- Love to keep to your cell if you wish to be admitted into the mystic wine-cellar.
- Show yourself genial to all:
- Pay no heed to other folk’s affairs:
- Be not over-familiar with any person, because over-much familiarity breeds contempt, and gives occasion to distraction from study.
- On no account mix yourself up with the sayings and the doings of persons in the outside world.
- Most of all, avoid all useless visits, but try rather to walk constantly in the footsteps of good and holy men.
- Never mind from whom the lesson drops, but
- Commit to memory whatever useful advice may be uttered.
- Give an account to yourself of your every word and action:
- See that you understand what you hear, and never leave a doubt unsolved:
- Lay up all you can in the storehouse of memory, as he does who wants to fill a vase. ‘Seek not the things which are beyond thee‘.
Following these ways, you will your whole life long put forth and bear both branches and fruit in the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth. If you take these words to heart, you will attain your desire.