In their pursuit of knowledge, intellectuals nowadays usually place much emphasis on either depth, breadth or height. Some PhD's today do not enjoy a broad base lacking breadth in their study, only paying attention to their specialty. Some people thus criticize, These are Dr. Vines. Other scholars are very knowledgeable and seem to have an understanding of many schools and fields of knowledge. However, their knowledge of each field is very general and loose. They are termed Dr. Bridges.
Scholars who take building a foundation for their knowledge seriously are like a hundred-story building. Their foundation is deep and broad and will not be shaken by either hurricanes or earth- quakes. These types of people with PhDs build up their knowledge the way a pyramid is built: broad, deep, and high. They are the true Drs.
As human beings, some people are very shallow, only having breadth and not depth. We can easily tell by talking with them that they have not explored any issue in depth because they only scratch the surface. Some people do not care for quick results. They will work at the basics for a longtime. Like building a skyscraper; the foundation alone takes a long period to finish, but constructing the many stories above may take only half the time. We can see that depth is much more difficult to build than breadth and height.
Scholars should start their studies by setting goals. Whether they prefer depth or breadth, each has its merits. What they should fear is ending up being a Dr. Vine who is neither high, broad, or deep. They will be valueless.
Actually, the alternatives are quite clear: depth, breadth, and height. While there are many means available, the path leads to the same goal. People who only go deep but not broad are sitting at the bottom of a well looking at the sky. However, if there is only breadth and no height, it is like a tree that only grows sideways. It cannot reach high into the sky. Some people keep going up and pay no attention to what is below. When they reach the top and discover that they do not have a firm foundation, they will be struck down at the slightest change over time. Besides, it is lonely at the top.
In reality, no matter how powerful a person is, he/she cannot control everything under the sun because one tree alone does not make a forest. The best thing in life is teamwork. To escape from a house on fire, a blind man, a deaf-mute, and a cripple can only do so by cooperating as a team. So scholars today should not discriminate against one another or worry about who is first or last. Rather, they should cooperate as a team. Many Nobel Prize winners these days work as a team in their research. It is proof that in pursuing knowledge, we need to cover all angles instead of just trying on our own to outshine others.
Buddhist Sutras teach, "Explain the profound in an easy manner."
In addition, we need to balance the highs and lows. The Buddha taught
according to the characteristics of the individuals and prescribed the
right dosage as needed, going deep or easy as appropriate. As the saying
goes, "The Buddha taught the Dharma with one voice and sentient
beings understand it according to their kinds." In studying or
just being human, Buddhists today must be able to go deep, broad, and
high because depth and breadth are just as important to have.