Since Buddhism came to China in 67 CE, monasteries have become primary places for Dharma propagation as well as training Dharma propagators. For much of that time, education at the monasteries followed a basic pattern. For their first five years, practitioners were not allowed to go into the cultivation hall. They first needed to increase their virtues. And so they worked sixteen hours a day at various jobs around the monastery and recited the sutras to build their good fortune and increase their virtues. These virtues included respecting parents, teachers, and all beings; humility; sincerity; truthfulness; courtesy; and integrity.
After this initial period, the practitioners spent eight hours a day in classes and eight hours on cultivation. For cultivation, they either meditated or chanted the Buddha’s name. Therefore, they spent their sixteen hours a day on study and cultivation. Studying and cultivation complemented each other. In class, they listened to lectures, studied, and held discussions. Then they cultivated awakening, correct understanding, and purity of mind. Spending sixteen hours a day on study and cultivation left them with little time for wandering thoughts. This way they could advance in their practice relatively quickly.
Master Chin Kung, understanding that people today are not at the same level of those in the past, modified this sixteen-hour schedule to ten and one-half hours at the PLLCA.
Buddhist Education in China