St. Thomas Aquinas’s “Sixteen Precepts for Acquiring Knowledge”

Because it was asked of me, John, my beloved in Christ, how you ought to study in the acquiring of a treasury of knowledge, such counsel is delivered to you by me:

  1. That by rivulets, and not immediately into the sea, we choose to enter, because by the easier we must come to the more difficult. This is my warning then and your instruction:
  2. I bid you to be slow to speak
  3. and slow in coming to the place of talking.
  4. Embrace purity of conscience.
  5. Pray unceasingly.
  6. Love to keep to your cell on a regular basis if you wish to be admitted to the wine cellar.
  7. Show yourself amiable to all.
  8. Pay no heed to the affairs of others.
  9. Do not be overly familiar with anyone, because excessive familiarity breeds contempt and yields subtraction from the ability to study.
  10. In no way enter into the sayings and doings of secular persons.
  11. Above all, flee conversation; do not omit to imitate the footsteps of the saints and the good.
  12. Do not consider from whom you learn,
  13. but commit to memory whatever good is said.
  14. It is the same with what you read and hear, work so that you may understand; resolve each of your doubts.
  15. And busy yourself to store whatever you are able in the closet of your mind, as desiring to fill a vessel.
  16. Do not seek what is too high for you.

Following these footsteps, you will put forth and bear branches and fruit in the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts as long as you have life. If you pursue this, you will be able to obtain that which you desire.