Looking at Knowledge

knowledge paradigm

December 15, 2013: This essay has been superseded by:

TRAINING: Word Clearing

TRAINING: Subject Clearing


From Wikipedia: Knowledge is a collection of facts, information, and/or skills acquired through experience or education or (more generally) the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); and it can be more or less formal or systematic.” 

Knowledge is acquired through personal experience, but much of it consists of the use of observations made by others. We absorb this knowledge when we listen to our parents, go to school, go to the church, work on a job, read books and use Internet.

Full benefits may be obtained from observations made by others only when we can grasp the facts as clearly as the original observer grasped it through direct experience. As knowledge travels via different routes, and passes through various hands, it may acquire opinions and distortions. A person, looking at the knowledge coming from others, may not know of the distortion present. It is important to detect such distortion and the underlying filters. This is especially true when one is looking at the fundamentals of a subject.

Knowledge is imparted primarily via written and spoken “words” (NOTE: “Word” is used here to include all symbols). Therefore, the first step in looking at knowledge is to recognize the meaning of words that are being used.


Words and their meanings

We have dictionaries available to help us find the meaning of words. When doing so, keep in mind that words have evolved over time and they have acquired different shades of meanings.

(1) Start with the root meaning of the word.

A good place to start would be to grasp the common denominator of the various meanings attributed to a word. The derivation of a word may help you understand how the various meanings have evolved. Look up the derivation of the word first. Follow the derivation back to its roots to find the “root meaning.”  For example, when you follow the derivation of the word study, you may come up with the root meaning “eagerness.” This may be the common denominator of the various meanings of the word study as “eagerness to know.”

Dictionaries usually provide useful derivations of words. You may use dictionaries on Internet, such as, link http://dictionary.reference.com. To really get the history of a word, you may have to go to a reference, such as, “Dictionary of Word Origins” by John Ayato. Check out the derivation and history of the word arithmetic.

(2) Look up and visualize the various definitions of the word.

Next, look up the definitions provided for that word. As you look at each meaning, relate it to your experience and visualize it in your mind. If the word is exuberant then look at the times when you felt exuberant, or perceived somebody else being exuberant. It is much easier to visualize when the word refers to something concrete. You can find the actual thing to look at, or you may find a model or, at least, a picture of that thing. For example, for the word archipelago, you may easily find models or pictures in an encyclopedia or on the Internet.

If the definition refers to something abstract, then you can still find examples that illustrate that idea or concept. For example, the word ineffable is very abstract; but you can find enough examples to define it for yourself. Look up as many examples as necessary, and follow it up with your own examples. You may even work out how ineffable is that way, or not that way until it starts to make sense. Use your experience and visualization.

(3) If there are words in definitions that you don’t understand then look them up too. 

It is possible to get into long word chains when looking up the words in definitions, but this needs to be done. Keep in mind that words are only approximations. What is important is getting a clear visualization of what is meant. So, get enough understanding of the word to be able to visualize the context. Keep on visualizing that word in different contexts until suddenly the meaning becomes clear.  A skillful use of visualization may help you keep the word chains short.

Keep a record of the words as you look them up. Cross out a word as soon as its meaning is understood. Sometimes a word may come up again that you had looked up earlier. But this time it may be used differently. It is okay to look up the same word as many times as necessary. Each time you look up a word you may pick up a new dimension of its meaning.

(4) Select the definition that clarifies the context the most.

A dictionary may provide several definitions for a word. Check out how each definition fits into the context through visualization. Even if the right definition is not there, the visualization will help you work it out. Once you have a clear idea of the meaning that fits in that context, use that word in several sentences. This is so that you feel comfortable with using the word when writing or speaking.


Subject and understanding

Sorting out the meaning of words, as above, removes the initial hurdle in understanding a subject. But the distortion due to unknown filters (viewpoints) may still be present. The following steps may help detect unknown curves present in a subject.

(1) List the key words of the subject.

Scan through the material to be studied and list all the key words. These are the words that carry the key concepts. For example, in the subject of mathematics, some of the key words are: mathematics, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, number, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, equation, unknown, variable, space, and direction, distance, position, etc. This list may grow as you get deeper into the subject. Words may also be added as the definition of a word may refer to additional words in that subject that may carry key concepts.

(2) Arrange the key words in the sequence in which the concepts have evolved.

Start by arranging the words in the sequence that they appear in the material being studied. As you gain familiarity with their meanings, keep rearranging the key words in the sequence they seem to have evolved. Move the words embodying more fundamental concepts toward the top. Move the words embodying derived concepts toward the bottom. You may attach brief clues to the words as to what they mean.

(3) Use the list as the “context” in which to understand the key words.

Go up and down the sequence of the key words. Clarify and align the meanings further as necessary. Notice any gaps or inconsistencies and try to resolve them. Include them in your list if they cannot be resolved.

(4) Study the subject in detail to resolve gaps and inconsistencies.

The purpose of study is not to memorize any information, but to resolve gaps and inconsistencies in understanding. What you already understand should be of no further concern. Make sure you understand the materials as you proceed. The moment some material start to become confusing, stop and locate the source of confusion. Clear the confusion; or, at least, note it down in your list, before proceeding further.

Note that there are likely to be many contributors to a subject. For example, you may look at religion as a subject contributed to by many different cultures. You may find different contributors referring to similar concepts by different key words. Add such keywords to your List. If more than one key word seems to embody the same concept, then note down the similarities and differences among the meaning of those key words.

(5) Clarify the fundamentals of the subject as a priority.

Your Key Words List may branch out and grow into an inverted “Key Words Tree” as you move lower and lower down the list. The gaps and inconsistencies at the lower part of tree may depend on those at the top. It is, therefore, worthwhile to start addressing the gaps and inconsistencies closer to the top as a priority. This is where the fundamentals of a subject would reside.

Study the fundamentals from various sources. You may create a Key Word List or Tree just for these fundamentals. It is the most important part of any subject. You may create experiments where you find obvious gaps in the fundamental knowledge. Fill these gaps with research and make the whole subject as much complete and consistent as possible.


Gaps and Inconsistencies

It is believed by many that, “God created the universe” and that “God is good.” An inconsistency comes about when one observes that there is evil in this world. Rationalization then enters into the picture in the form of Satan who is created by God, but who has a mind of his own. One then wonders if it is bad to have a mind of one’s own. Any consistency then just falls apart.

Again, if God created the universe then God must have created space too. Then, God would have no location in space in the beginning. Similarly, God will have no form or identity either.

These are some obvious examples of inconsistencies that indicate that there are gaps in knowledge that are rationalized by a large number of people. A gap in knowledge would be obvious if one simply looks and does not rationalize. It is rationalization of such gaps that generates inconsistencies in knowledge.

The whole concept of looking with mindfulness goes against rationalization. It makes the gaps stand out quite uncomfortably clear. However, mindfulness is necessary if any progress is to be made in the field of knowledge.


The Ultimate Filter

Rationalization comes from attachment to one’s ideas or considerations. One wants one’s considerations to be right. But, more important than any one consideration being right, is the consistency among all considerations.

The more basic is a consideration the stronger seems to be the desire for it to be right. Thus, the strongest attachment seems to be to the idea of self. Even when the body is known to be mortal, one still wants to believe that one is immortal as soul or spirit. This is believed almost universally. In all religions, self is believed to be everlasting.

There is nothing wrong with having such ideas and considerations. It is the attachment to these considerations which creates a filter. It attaches unnecessary importance to those considerations and prevents one from researching and filling the gaps in knowledge.

The attachment to self seems to be the ultimate filter that distorts knowledge.



Any subject must be looked at mindfully starting with its concepts expressed as key words. The key words should be listed starting with those that express the fundamental concepts followed by those, which are derived from earlier concepts.

As the study of the subject progresses and better understanding comes about, the list of key words may be continually rearranged to achieve a sort of consistency of ideas. This may reveal inconsistencies and gaps in understanding. This then motivates research deeper into the subject.

The consistencies of the fundamental concepts in a subject are far more important as that affects all the derived concepts. Thus, any worthwhile research shall naturally gravitate toward the study of the fundamentals of any subject and the consistency therein.


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  • Elizabeth Hamre  On May 29, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Vinaire, Simply, beautifully written, and what you write, it can be used, you are a very good teacher. Thank You Elizabeth.

    • vinaire  On May 29, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      Thank you, Elizabeth. You are very gracious and generous.


      • Elizabeth Hamre  On May 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM

        Vanaire thank you, when it comes to be gracious i can be one of those huge armored vehicles, there is that side too but graciousnes have many different levels or flows. A tiny spring water bubbles out of the earth someplace high up in the green valley, than look at Ganges Delta! Woof, woof! About generous, there is nothing I need therefore I have everything. the concepts= the universe flows, there is experince. You are a wonderful student therefore you are a wonderful teacher. yes I see you have changed some concepts. Later my Dear later, get your boxing gloves out.

      • vinaire  On May 29, 2011 at 1:07 PM

        I have my boxing gloves out for ignorance at all times. I don’t fight viewpoints.


  • Elizabeth Hamre  On May 29, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    PS: In the last paragraph I have recognized a addition on energy flows; [yours, the original] buried under the words which were put there as sort of challenge, at the moment my little gray cells are in over drive since I written about 90 comments in very short period of time and some were verrrry looooong. But today we finally have a sunny day in Paradise. My garden and I we, have decided to spend a day together. So you too have a lovely day. Elizabeth.

  • thetanforever  On June 1, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Interesing essay. This may be useful.

    I did something very similar during past few months, like you described here in “Subject and understanding”.

    I was experimenting with some Scientology basic processes, but doing them in my way and doing them solo, and i reduced some of them to something i called “spotting processing”. (i had in mind your ideas of looking and doing things simply and not digging into inaccessible areas)

    I used a concept or idea, and then just spotted various things connected to that idea (and i wrote that in txt files, because writing helps me in processings).

    For example i tried to do things from book Self Analysis, but i find it very hard to reexperience incidents from past, so i reduced the ideas to just spotting things that are connected to that area.

    For the first command in SA, “can you recall a time you were happy”, i reduced it to a concept of happiness, and just spotted things closely connected to happiness, so i listed: pleasure, nice feelings, fulfilment, hope, succes, relaxation, things going right, goals attained, friendship, good fun, etc etc.

    I focused on spotting things that bring happiness to me and other people, and gennerally things connected to it, and of course then some real incidents also appeared. And i ran the process this way, just spotting things and concepts i am certain (and are connected to the area). This approach was much easier.

    And i also noticed that this “spotting” way can be applied in various ways in various processes. Like you described here for searching for keywords.

    • vinaire  On June 1, 2011 at 7:20 PM

      What is missing in your approach is selecting the area to look at in the first place. Do a bit of practice on spotting non-optimum attention per KHTK 5.


      • thetanforever  On June 6, 2011 at 6:00 AM

        Yes. But i do sometimes choose an area where to look.

        I realised one thing recently, that i do not need to finish cycles of action when i try to do something, studyiing an area does not need to be finished in one blow.

  • Marildi  On June 3, 2011 at 7:47 PM

    Hi, Vinaire. This looks like Method 6 Word Clearing expanded with some very good additions. In the additions, I see a corollary of Geir’s principle regarding less freedom in any area where there is an urge to reject or defend, or even LRH’s principles of “words and associations” and “rejected definition.” Not a criticism, mind you – you put together good applications of good principles.

  • vinaire  On November 24, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Today, I introduced this essay to my High School student. He wanted to get ahead in his class by starting on the chapter on MATRICES.

    The chapter lists the key vocabulary in the begiining. We looked up WORD ORIGIN & HISTORY of each key word and visualized the definitions.

    He had a ball! 🙂


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