The one thing I value most is intelligence. It is not academic excellence - as a doctoral student, academics is evidently one of my major pursuits; however it is not everything I am after. I do not mean cleverness either. Being clever is a genius, a gift, and it is certainly fortunate that one is quick in mind; but it is not essential. A very intelligent man can be without an exceptional quickness.
By intelligence, I mean the sharpness of mind, the sheer ability to accept information and make sense of it, the ability to see things that are not apparent by sight, and to make out the interior of what has happened, and generalize it to a grander subject, grander than our own humble beings.
Scholastic pursuits, as a major part of my life, is like an art to me. It is like practicing calligraphy, one of my longest-lasting pastimes: The greater you learn, the abler you become to appreciate the beauty of it, once your proficiency in the subject has reached a level that provides aesthetic value to what you do. Yes, academics is an art to me, an enjoyment, and a means to make a reasonably comfort living, in a life filled with the amusement of reading and thinking.
I hope at the age of sixty, when I will be freed from earthly obligations, I can spend a few years in a Daoist temple, to reflect on all my life’s happenings, and find the truth of Dao. Fangjing