官: Dú Shū Bǎi Biàn
-- From Sānguó Zhì
, Bk. 13 "Biographies of Zhōng Yáo, Huá Xīn, Wáng Lǎng" (《三國志》卷13 〈鍾繇華歆王朗傳〉)
Rough translation: Read the book hundred times
Chén Shòu says:
The story of the Three Kingdoms is better known through the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms
(三國演義) by Luó Guànzhōng (羅貫中). However, the "original" historical records of the period was made by Chén Shòu (陳壽), and his records form a part of the celebrated Twenty-Four Histories
of China, a millenarian collection of historical records which are considered to be the "orthodox" canon. The episode here is, however, not from the original but the later commentaries made by Péi Sōngzhī (裵松之).
Dǒng Yú (董遇) was a Confucian scholar of Late Hàn to the Three Kingdoms period. A distinguished scholar, his commentaries on Lǎozi
(老子) and Zuǒ Chuán
(左傳) remained popular up until Táng Dynasty period. He was famed to be very studious since childhood, and his fame as a scholar grew. Naturally, there were a lot of people who wanted to learn from him - but he wouldn't be quite willing to take them.明帝時，入為侍中、大司農。數年，病亡。初，遇善治老子，為老子作訓注。又善左氏傳，更為作硃墨別異。人有從學者，遇不肯教，而雲「必當先讀百遍」。言「讀書百遍而義自見」。從學者雲：「苦渴無日。」遇言「當以三餘」。或問三餘之意，遇言「冬者歲之餘，夜者日之餘，陰雨者時之餘也」。
During the reign of Emperor Míng of Wèi (魏明帝), he arose to the Great Magistracy of the Agriculture. He lost many years from illness. Earlier, he loved Lǎozi, and made commentaries on it. Also he loved Zuǒ Chuán, again made commentaries anew in crimson and black. There were people who wanted to learn from him, but he would not take them, only saying: "You must read hundred times first." Again he said: "Read it hundred times, the meaning will appear by itself."
The student said: "I would never have time for it."
Yú said: "There are three leisures."
Again he was asked what these leisures were. He replied: "Winter is the leisure time of the year, night is the leisure time of the day, and rainy days are additional leisure days."
Note that these three "leisures" are simply the times where one cannot work on the field; China was still agrarian. Similar to Confucius and his story of I Ching
binding, this became one of standard model of Confucian pedagogy. The "hundred times" may just be a common Chinese exaggeration, but who would deny that one ultimately understands by reading repeatedly? We just don't have as much patience.
Usage: to encourage a student to go back to the study of the source material, or even just textbook. One may use this while adminishing a student who asks silly questions without even doing the readings, etc.