Beyond colleges & varsities
This kind of unique cultivation surpasses every soul-less discourse
FREEZE FRAME BY SYEDA AFSHANA
Learning is an interminable process. It transcends beyond what is taught in the class-rooms. Learning, in fact, is re-education. It starts once we come out of higher institutions of learning, and begin to re-locate ourselves. Harsh it may sound, whatever we study at colleges or universities has never been of direct use to a majority of our youth who engage themselves in various occupations. Their experiences and observations have taught them that it is not so much the formal education that counts: it’s the re-education, the self-development and the self-motivation that drives a person towards hard and distant goals. The first class certificates, gold medals and merit scholarships hardly come to anybody’s help.
The real education starts when a real-life scenario is confronted, and all the dogmas and doctrines parroted in academic life receive a dressing down. Only those who have cultivated their souls can wade patiently through such tormenting situation.
Soul-cultivation is primarily the responsibility of family, at least in our society. Our ‘educational’ centers have never ventured in such a task because of their insular concept of ‘education’, which is confined only to producing of a herd of graduates and post-graduates annually. It’s an open secret that our institutions have degenerated into construction companies, fashion centers, social clubs, event-management bureaus, gossip spots, conspiracy sites and lobbying leg rooms. Also, included is a tattered entity called ‘rules’ or ‘discipline’, enforced or preached for the institutions/departments by the people who are miles away from straightforwardness and honesty, let alone their being disciplined or scrupulous in any manner. Manipulation, mockery and marketing is their hallmark.
The alma maters just wrap their alumni in a few inches of paper degrees and throw them into the abysmal depths of the ocean of uncertainty. Amid stormy billows, so many of them are drowned and so less succeed in reaching up to any shore. And they are, perhaps, those whose families have cultivated strong shock-absorbers in them during their upbringing. In a society where your qualification becomes a point of disqualification, families have to rear iron souls. Where educational centers fail to deliver, parenting has to be extra-ordinary. Remember—
Yeh faizane nazar tha ya maktab ki karamat thi
Sikhayay kis nai Ismail ko aadab-i-farzandi
Where thinkers, policy-makers and initiators are self-centered, one has to rely on self-help. Where obstructionists, conspirators and nuisances surpass doers, one has to look for a safe haven. As such, when one can’t have the big achievement, one has to accept small ones. One has to create a space for oneself when there is actually no space at all. And for that too, one has to strive constantly, brushing aside the system infested with some rotten elements and tailored only to promote mediocrity.
A German thinker and statesman, Rathenau, held the portfolio of economics in the new government of Germany, when it became republic at the close of the First World War. It was a period and stress and strain in Germany. Rathenau looked around, surveying the situation of his country. He studies, specially, the state of German youth. He felt their pulse, listened to their questioning minds. And for their benefit, he wrote a book named ‘The Way of Economics’. Towards the close of this book, he indicated what was the most urgent need in Germany. Addressing himself to young men, he said—“One and only one is your urgent need:
Cultivate the soul”.
Ours is the same urgency. What are we and whither are we going? Our past has given us a sorry legacy, and our present is no improvement upon our past. We too require to cultivate the soul—an inquisitive, inventive and indomitable soul. To be like that, is open to our every educated youth in particular, and rest of the people in general. And it’s the kind of career that the nation cannot live without. To be a good soul, a good human being, and of course, a good Muslim—it’s surely a lifetime career. It essentially involves nothing more than being a good member of your community; helping those who need your help; giving of one’s talent to the common good; striving for a sympathetic understanding of those who oppose you; doing each new day’s job a little better than before; and placing the common interest before personal profit.
Our degrees, doctorates and scholarly attainments would be absurdly incomplete if we haven’t ever attempted to cultivate our soul on such lines. It is presumably due to the lack of this ‘cultivation’ that we are witness to a state of spiritual and moral asphyxia, where the mighty hand of Man (supreme creation) lies powerless or else is convulsed into aimless movements. Where man is practicing a galvanized mockery in the name of survival and so many other silly tags. Where he moves about with a strong body, while the soul is shrunk and shriveled.
Soul-cultivation is no formal education. They say ‘it is the education which remains, if one has forgotten everything one learned in school’. If raised, it grows with age. If not, growth is retarded: both mentally and spiritually.
Perhaps, it’s this point that is emphasized in the following verses of Holy Qur’an:
He will indeed be successful who purifies it (soul), and he will indeed fail, who corrupts it.
(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, Kashmir University.)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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