Mindful Subject Clearing

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Mindful Subject Clearing is the most powerful tool currently available to bring clarity to the mind on any subject. It not only brings about a much better understanding of a subject but also helps detect the basic postulates, assumptions and erroneous ideas present in that subject.

The basic postulates help one understand the grounds on which a subject stands. Ideas based on these postulates must be demonstrable. There must not be inconsistencies among these postulates, ideas and reality.

If assumptions and erroneous ideas are not detected and isolated, it can cause serious problems with the application of the subject. Such erroneous ideas can be very pervasive, and may even enter the definitions of words provided in dictionaries. It is, therefore, very important not to miss them in your study. 

The true purpose of study is to resolve inconsistencies (things that do not make sense) as you come across them in a subject or in life. This develops clarity of mind and the ability to think fast on your feet.

Since additional information on a subject may easily be accessed through Internet these days, the purpose of study is to not memorize but to improve critical thinking.

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The Steps

Here are the steps to Mindful Subject Clearing:

1.    Make a list of key words in the subject.

Every subject has its own vocabulary. It may even use certain common words in a special meaning. Start making a list of key words used in that subject. If you are familiar with the subject you may already know some of those words. Otherwise, skim through the chapter that you are going to study, and obtain some key words from it. Put that list on an Excel worksheet. This list may grow as your studies get deeper into the subject.

2.    Enter the broad concept on the worksheet next to the word.

Look up the word in good dictionary. Read the ‘history’, ‘origin’, and/or ‘derivation’ for that word. Simply work out the broad concept underlying that word and write it down on the worksheet next to the word. Do so for each word on the list. Here are some broad concepts associated with some words.

STUDY = “eagerness, intense application”.
MATHEMATICS = “something learned”.
ARITHMETIC = ARITHMOS number + TECHNE skill = “number skill”.

3.    Read the subject material one paragraph at a time.

Procure the study materials in the form of an editable file on the computer. Study the materials of the subject one paragraph at a time. If the paragraph is too big, break it down into chunks of reasonable size.  If the paragraph is too small, and the thought continues to the next paragraph then read the two paragraphs together. Go over the paragraph as many times as necessary to understand the main thought.

4.    If the paragraph is fully understood, write down your understanding of its main thought along with your comments.

Make sure you fully understand the paragraph. If not then go to step 5. Once you have fully understood the paragraph, then summarize its main thought in your mind and look at your reactions to it. Write down below that paragraph your understanding of its main thought along with any comments. Treat this action as having a conversation with the author. Then go to step 7 below.

5.    If the paragraph is difficult to understand then look for the first word not fully understood.

If you find your mind going blank as you read the paragraph, something in that paragraph is not fully understood. Trace that sense of misunderstanding to the earliest sentence in that paragraph,  and to the earliest word in that sentence. Here you have to be very careful because the misunderstanding can come from having assumed the wrong definition for a simple word like “on”, “of”, “in”, et cetera. Usually there is an obvious word, whose meaning you may have guessed in the past, but never actually looked up in a standard dictionary. At least there is some uncertainty in your mind about how that word is being used in the given context. We shall call it MU (misunderstood) for short. Write that MU word down on a sheet of paper. 

NOTE: If it is a key word in that subject, then see if its is defined in that paragraph or in the glossary of that book. Then write its definition down on the Excel worksheet of Step 1 above.

Do not look for anything else in that paragraph until you have cleared up this MU. You must be very honest with yourself in keeping this discipline.

6.    Clear up the MUs in that paragraph until that paragraph is fully understood.

(6a) Look up the MU word in a standard reference — This reference could be a standard dictionary or an Internet resource, such as, Wikipedia and Google Images.

(6b) Understand the concept underlying the word — Per step 2 above.

(6c) Look up the definitions of the word — Look up the definitions of the word. Visualize the definition in the context in which that word is used. If it doesn’t fit go to the next definition. You may visualize a definition better if you make a few of your own sentences, or examples from your experience, with that word. Some words may require the use of “Google Image.” Always keep the basic concept in your mind that underlies the word . It is best to check out all definitions this way until you find the definition that clarifies the MU. 

(6d) Look up MUs in the definition — If a definition contains an MU then look it up per this procedure. Write that MU down below the earlier MU. This may sometime get you in a long chain of MU words. Keep an account of these words on the list as you add them or cross them out after clearing them. It is okay to look up the same word again several times. Each time you look up the same word you get a deeper understanding of its meaning.

(6e) Review the original sentence — Review the sentence in which the original MU was found. Make sure that it now makes sense. If not then there may be another MU word in the sentence. Repeat the above procedure until that sentence is understood.

(6f) Review the paragraph — Once the sentence is cleared up, go back to step 4.

7.    Check the paragraph for key words/definitions.

Check the paragraph for key words and/or key word definitions that do not already appear on the Excel worksheet. If a key word definition is expanded upon then add it to the Excel worksheet.

8.    Continue with subsequent paragraphs per steps 4 to 7 until the end of chapter.

Continue as above with rest of the chapter building up the key word list on the Excel worksheet.

9.    Gradually build up the key word list for that subject.

Build up the key word list, with broad concepts and meanings of the key words, as you study the subject chapter after chapter, and book after book. Note down any additional concepts and meanings next to the appropriate word on the Excel worksheet. Also note down the questions that may arise in your mind about the words.

The broadest case would be the subject of religion. You may first make a key word lists for Judaism by studying the scriptures and commentaries. Then you may make key word lists for Christianity and Islam respectively. Then you may combine these lists to generate a key word lists for Western religions. Similarly, you may combine the key word lists for the Vedas, Hinduism, and Buddhism, etc., to generate a key word list for Eastern religions. Finally, you may combine all these word lists to generate the key word list for religion.

Here you may find many different definitions for the same key word, such as, God, all written down in one place. You may also find different words used in different religions for the same fundamental concept.

As you work on this step for a subject you will have many realizations along the way. This is a continuing step. So, you continue with the subsequent steps as well.

10.    Arrange the key words in sequences appropriate for understanding.

The concepts in a subject always evolve in some sequence. This sequence may be linear at first but then it branches out in different directions like a network or a matrix of concepts. This can easily be seen in Mathematics and Science.

In Excel, you may separate the key words on two different worksheets categorized as “fundamental concepts” and “derived concepts”. Then arrange the concepts in each worksheet in the order they evolved.

Since the sequence of the evolution of these concepts is multi-dimensional, you may set up the Excel worksheet to sort out these key words in different sequences. To do this you may create different “priority columns” in the worksheet. In each “priority column” assign a unique number to the key word so it sorts out in the order you want. The whole idea is to arrange these words in different ways to examine the connections among them.

11.    Note any inconsistencies among the concepts and clarify them.

As the study of the subject progresses, you’ll be collecting more data to describe each key word. Resolve any inconsistencies among that collection of concepts and meanings for each word through careful examination and contemplation. Once resolved, express the broad concept for each word in your own words. There may be one broad concept but several distinct meanings for a word. If so, then express the multiple meanings by numbering them. You are creating your own glossary.

Next, examine the evolution of the key words by arranging and rearranging them in different sequences. You are looking for inconsistencies that do not make sense. Here it is very important that you do not inject justifications in your examination. Be wary of arbitrary notions, assumptions and beliefs that may be covering actual holes among these concepts that need to be filled. Trace existing ideas in that area of inconsistency one by one for arbitrariness. 

Deeper research may be required to clearly identify holes among the concepts and fill them. First review your study materials to clarify such inconsistencies. If it does not clarify easily then note it down on the worksheet and research through other materials in the library, or on Internet, until the inconsistency is resolved.

12.    Clarify the fundamentals of the subject as a priority.

The consistency of the fundamentals determines the consistency of the whole subject. Any inconsistency at the fundamental level must be handled as a priority. For example, a unified theory is desperately being looked for in the subject of Physics, which could bring the fundamentals of Newtonian Physics, the Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics in line. This means that inconsistencies exist in our understanding of the fundamental level of physics

There are likely to be many contributors to a subject who may use different words for the same concept. This is the case with religious knowledge from different cultures. Group such words together to discover inconsistencies among concepts.

Study of inconsistencies may lead to discovery of arbitrary beliefs that were advanced in the absence of knowledge, or you may find erroneous observation, or simply some notions that are taken for granted. This may reveal gaps in the subject itself. Develop your own understanding by seeking consistency among the fundamental concepts in a subject.

13.    Make the subject as complete as possible.

There are many examples in the subject of religion where gaps in knowledge are hidden under fixed beliefs and dubious explanations. This may be the case with any subject where inconsistencies abound. Follow up on inconsistencies, which may then reveal gaps in the subject. Real progress then becomes possible.

Fill gaps in the subject with wider research. Make the subject as complete as possible through direct experience and experimentation.

14.    Keep your viewpoint as objective as possible when you research a subject.

Any research into an intimate subject along the lines described above can easily be derailed if your viewpoint is heavily subjective bordering on mystery. This is specifically the case with research into subjects, such as, basic survival (food and sex), religion and politics. To handle possible subjectivity, you may contemplate on the items given below in the sequence presented. 

Simply observe if there is a mental reaction to that item. Then wait for that mental reaction to yield information. Be sure NOT to dive into the mind searching for information. That would only generate unnecessary confusion. If there is no reaction, go to the next item in sequence.

(14a) Contemplate on how UNCONSCIOUSNESS makes sense, or does not make sense.

Unconsciousness is a condition wherein the organism is uncoordinated to greater or lesser degree in its analytical process and motor controls. You contemplate on UNCONSCIOUSNESS to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on UNCONSCIOUSNESS are resolved. 

(14b) Contemplate on how WAITING makes sense, or does not make sense.

Waiting is inactivity or being in a state of repose, until something expected happens. You contemplate on WAITING to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on WAITING are resolved. 

(14c) Contemplate on how MYSTERY makes sense, or does not make sense.

A mystery is anything that remains unexplained or unknown. The anatomy of Mystery is an inability to predict, followed by terrific confusion and then total blackout. The person just shut it all off and said, “I won’t look at it anymore”. Mystery is the level of always pretending there’s something to know earlier than the Mystery. There really is nothing to know back of a Mystery, except the Mystery itself. You contemplate on MYSTERYto see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up, especially on the subject you are researching. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on MYSTERY are resolved. 

(14d) Contemplate on how SEX makes sense, or does not make sense.

When a person thinks he is not going to survive, he will go into the “sexing-ness band”. If you starve cattle for a while they’ll start to breed, and if you feed them too well, they’ll stop breeding. This shows that the fixation on sex is closely associated with the sense of survival. You contemplate on SEX to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on SEX are resolved. 

(14e) Contemplate on how EATING makes sense, or does not make sense.

Animals eat animals to stay alive. This is their level of knowledge. Here we have fixation on eating and the knowledge associated with it is very condensed. This is what we understand as the dog eat dog world. One has no appreciation of other people and things other than as means for their own survival. You contemplate on EATING to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on EATING are resolved. 

(14f) Contemplate on how SYMBOL makes sense, or does not make sense.

A symbol contains mass, meaning and mobility and it is in motion relative to some orientation point. At this level a person figures with symbols. His sense of knowledge is very literal, and it doesn’t go any deeper than the surface. You contemplate on SYMBOL to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on SYMBOL are resolved. 

(14g) Contemplate on how THINKING makes sense, or does not make sense.

At this level a person is fixated on thinking.  He is, forever, trying to figure things out. There is no progress because he cannot work or act. This is the “figure-figure” case. You contemplate on THINKING to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on THINKING are resolved. 

(14h) Contemplate on how EFFORT makes sense, or does not make sense.

At this level a person got to touch everything and feel everything before he can know anything. He’ll get a mental image picture of a past incident in order to get an idea of what is happening to him in the present. He cannot observe for himself. You contemplate on EFFORT to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on EFFORT are resolved. 

(14i) Contemplate on how EMOTION makes sense, or does not make sense.

At this level we have to have knowledge by emotion. A person has all kinds of emotions about things. He knows things by his emotional reaction to them, “Do I like it or do I not like it”. You contemplate on EMOTION to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on EMOTION are resolved. 

(14j) Contemplate on how LOOKING makes sense, or does not make sense.

At this level we have to look to find out as opposed to simply knowing. You contemplate on LOOKING to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or LOOKING on looking are resolved. 

(14k) Contemplate on how KNOWING ABOUT makes sense, or does not make sense.

At this level a person has indirect knowledge of something as opposed to knowing it intimately. You contemplate on KNOWING ABOUT to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on KNOWING ABOUT are resolved. 

(14l) Contemplate on how NOT KNOWING makes sense, or does not make sense.

There are things that we don’t know anything about and use speculation in their place. Then we start to believe that speculation to be the reality. You contemplate on NOT KNOWING to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on NOT KNOWING are resolved. 

(14m) Contemplate on how KNOWING makes sense, or does not make sense.

There are things that you are so intimately familiar with that they have become part of your nature. You don’t even notice them. You contemplate on KNOWING to see if any instance of it relating to you, or to others, comes up. If nothing comes up, go to the next item. Otherwise, contemplate on what came up to see if it makes sense or no sense. Do this until any doubt, perplexity or confusion on KNOWING are resolved. 

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Summary

These are the steps of SUBJECT CLEARING. You do them again and again for the same or different subjects. This includes step 14. These steps lead you to wonderful realizations that keep coming. As you assimilate those realizations your viewpoint moves up toward KNOWING on the Know-to-Mystery scale.

You may find examples of NOTES & COMMENTS resulting from Subject Clearing below.

Comments on Books

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Comments

  • vinaire  On February 22, 2020 at 11:39 AM

    SUBJECT CLEARING SUGGESTION

    The first key word list you start with should be the names of all different subjects that you have heard of. In other words, you are starting out with the subject of KNOWLEDGE itself.

    Clear up this whole key word list until you end up with a sequence of key words starting from the earliest subject.

    Then pick up a comprehensive text on that earliest subject (or a subject of your interest) and start subject clearing it.

    Please let me know how it goes. 🙂

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  • vinaire  On February 24, 2020 at 8:41 AM

    The most important step of subject clearing is STEP 12:

    12. Clarify the fundamentals of the subject as a priority.

    My only advice:

    BE AWARE OF YOUR ASSUMPTIONS AND FIXED IDEAS.

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  • Alfredo Illiano  On April 1, 2020 at 1:29 PM

    I must write on an Excel worksheet only the broad concept associated with words or the entire definitions?Thanks.

    • vinaire  On April 1, 2020 at 5:57 PM

      It is up to you. In the beginning you may just write the broad concepts associated with the words. But as you get deeper into subject clearing you may find that it is useful to write entire definitions and even some helpful notes.

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