Ahmed Afzaal

Freedom

Freedom of will and action, of choice, is real but precarious.  I do have the freedom to choose what I will feel on a given day or in a given moment, how I will experience the objective situations that present themselves to me, how (and whether) I will react and respond to them.  Yet, this freedom is too subtle, too faint, and hence too vulnerable.  It’s real, but always under the threat of annihilation, of being erased completely. Like political freedom, the freedom of choice is forever threatened by its enemies, both internal and external.  Like political freedom, the freedom of choice can increase under certain conditions and decrease under other conditions.  Like political freedom, the freedom of choice is our birth right but it is not an automatic privilege that will be simply given to us because we deserve it; instead, it has to be obtained, nurtured, kept safe from its enemies, made to grow, and used with great caution.  Like political freedom, the freedom of choice can take a life-time to acquire but can be lost in a moment.  In fact, the process through which we acquire political freedom is very much like the process through which we acquire the freedom of choice; both kinds of freedoms are to be acquired again and again, in each moment, indefinitely.  The moment we stop acquiring our political freedom, we lose it.  The moment we stop acquiring the freedom to choose, we no longer have it.  While political freedom is a social phenomenon and the freedom of choice an individual one, the former is pretty much useless without the latter.  There may be perfect guarantees of rights and freedoms in a Constitution, but whether the people supposed to be enjoying those rights and freedoms actually have the capacity to choose at an individual level is not guaranteed in any Constitution.  That capacity is highly fragile, one may even say that it is volatile; to aquire, maintain, and cultivate this capacity an immense amount of consciousness, attention, alertness, and discipline are required…each moment.

Teaching

Real teaching is a paradox because it is an illusion. It doesn’t exist.  Galileo said: “You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.” Teaching, in the sense of conveying an insight to another person, is an impossibility. Information, in the form of words, can be communicated; insights, on the other hand, are incommunicable even when they are perfectly expressed in words. The obstacle is not in the imperfection of language, for people learn invaluable lessons all the time even with little or no involvement of language-based communication.  The obstacle to learning is simply that one is not yet ready. This is evidenced by the fact that if one is not ready to learn a particular lesson, one would not learn it no matter how many times it is repeated, how eloquently it is taught, or how competent the teacher is. One learns only when one is ready, and one learns by finding (i. e., discovering) the truth of the matter for oneself and within oneself. The role of the teacher is to figure out what lessons the student is ready to learn, and then to facilitate the learning of those lessons whenever possible (and to stay out of the way when there is nothing to be done). At other times, the role of the teacher is to figure out what lessons the student needs to learn, and to help prepare the student to become ready for learning those lessons.

Gratitude

Gratitude is a prerequisite for receiving.  We are thankful first, and then we are given. Read More