Study or meditation?
When people hear the word ‘Buddhism’, the first thing that comes to mind is probably meditation; they feel that meditation is the essence or the root of Buddhism. There is good reason for that but there is another perspective that is less common, which is that study is foremost in Buddhism.
One of the many meanings of the word ‘dharma’ is to transform, and both study and meditation are used to bring this about. But which do you think is the most effective? For us ordinary beings, study is the speedier and more effective path. In the strict sense of the word, meditation is what we do in order to stabilise what we have understood, so if our current understanding is incorrect any meditation will merely stabilise our erroneous ideas and concretise our confusion. So first we need the right understanding, and that is why study is first and foremost.
As Gampopa Taught in his Precious Garland of the Supreme Path:
When a beginner, persist in study and contemplation.