Category Archives: Education

Research & Contemplation

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Once you have your own glossary for a subject you may continue with your original research. This requires deep contemplation. The secret of contemplation is to find out what you are (a) denying, (b) avoiding, (c) resisting, and/or (d) suppressing. Then look at that area more closely. Most importantly it is looking at things that you are taking for granted.

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Earliest Postulates

The earliest postulates in a subject determine how that subject has developed. If a new discovery is made in the area of those postulates, it may change the look of the whole subject.

Just imagine if somebody discovers the nature of electric charge or the nature of gravity. Or explains the very idea of force of attraction and repulsion differently. It will revolutionize the whole subject of Physics.

Or, just imagine if the gap between physics and metaphysics has been bridged and thought is discovered to be the lower part of the electromagnetic spectrum. It will revolutionize the whole subject of knowledge itself.

Or, just imagine if you could look at the ideas of “self” and “God” objectively. It will revolutionize the whole subject of religion.

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Inconsistencies

The modus operandi of Subject Clearing is simply this:

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

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 them. For example, the concept of Brahma (God) in Vedic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism) is very different from the concept of God in Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Clearing up the inconsistency between the words ‘Brahma’ and ‘God’ can be quite enlightening.

Study of inconsistencies may lead to discovery of arbitrary beliefs that were advanced in the absence of knowledge, or simple notions taken for granted. This may reveal gaps in the subject. Try to fill these gaps by further study and research.

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The Subject of Self

In subject clearing, getting rid of the past misunderstandings in various subjects is just the beginning. All the work done so far simply prepares you to clear the most difficult subject of all—the subject of “Self”. This is the most intimate subject, and also the subject that is misunderstood the most.

The subject of self has been dealt by religion and psychology. These are subjects where inconsistencies abound. As you follow up these inconsistencies you encounter dubious explanations and fixed beliefs. These are indicators of gaps in general knowledge. When the exact gaps are revealed, real progress becomes possible.

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The Future

Discovering gaps in subjects and filling them is the direction of evolution. Use direct experience and experimentation to make your favorite subjects as complete as possible.

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Subject Glossary

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

As you clear a subject, it is helpful to create your own glossary for that subject. You may have that Glossary arranged like a Key Word List or sequenced alphabetically. By putting that glossary on an Excel Worksheet, you can easily switch back and forth between these two arrangements. This will be your own glossary in which the key words are explained the way you understand them. This glossary is dynamic in the sense that you will be updating it continually as your understanding of the subject increases.

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Making the Glossary

The material for the glossary may be prepared during the general study as follows.

(1) Obtain the materials as an editable document on computer.
When you have the study material in an editable format on the computer, you can divide them into manageable paragraphs in each chapter.

(2) Check the paragraph for key words/ideas.
After studying and understanding a paragraph check it to see if contains a key word for that subject and defines it in some way.

(3) Note the key word/idea.
You may note that key word and idea in a different color right after that paragraph, along with any other comment you wish to record.

(4) Summarize all your notes and comments at the end of the chapter.
This keeps your data compact and to the point.

(5) Make a final summary at the end of the study of those materials.
Make this final summary in the form of a glossary on an Excel Worksheet.

(6) Build up the glossary on that subject.
As you study more materials on that subject, follow the procedure above to keep building up the glossary.

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Filling Holes

Set up a view of the glossary that arranges it from the earliest to the latest concepts in the subject. Review these concepts to see if they lead you logically from one to the next. The most important area is the fundamental concepts, where some starting postulates have to be made.

See if there are any gaping holes in the sequence of concepts.  Such a conceptual hole can hide behind an assumption. It can also be an “everybody knows” type consideration. If you find a hole, look for any research done in that area. If not, then there is an opportunity for you to make a discovery.

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Summary

A unique personal glossary is a valuable asset for life. It will grow as you grow. It will come handy in many different ways. It can even become a window into yourself.

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General Study

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

When you are studying a subject from a textbook or any other material, it is very important that you do not go by any word or symbol that you do not understand the meaning of. The moment there is confusion look back for a misunderstood word. A word behaves as a misunderstood when the right definition is not being used for it. You may think that you know the word, but you may not have the right definition. This is specially true for small words like ‘of,’ ‘in’ and ‘on’ because they are used in many different ways.

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Common Words

Here is the recommended procedure for handling common words that are misunderstood.

1. Read one paragraph at a time.
If the paragraph is too long, you may break it down into sub-paragraphs of reasonable size.  If the paragraph is too small, and the thought continues to the next paragraph then read the two paragraphs together. 

2. Take a pause to see if the paragraph is fully understood.
Summarize the paragraph to its main thought. If you can do it easily then you have understood it fully. If you can’t, then find the sentence in that paragraph that is a bit troublesome. Then locate the word in that sentence that doesn’t seem to fit quite right.

3. Look up misunderstood word or symbol if there are any.
A misunderstood word does not always stand out. It may be a familiar word for which you may be using the wrong definition. So, you check the word out.

4. Determine the broad concept of the word from its etymology.
You may google the etymology or look it up in a simple dictionary.

5. Check its definition in the present context.
A common word has many different definitions. Apply each of them in the present context to see which one fits the best. To do so, visualize each definition. You may use “google image” to visualize something concrete like “oak”. Or, you may make some real-life examples from your experience to visualize something abstract like “love”.

6. Familiarize yourself with that particular usage of the word.
Make some sentences of your own using the word in the same sense as used in the given context to become comfortable with that meaning.

Hopefully the above will resolve the difficulty with the sentence and the paragraph. If there are more such words, handle them in the same manner.

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Word Chains

Sometimes the definition of a word may contain words that are not fully understood. So you look up that word. The same thing may happen again and you may get in a long word chain. This usually happens when you are using a dictionary that is using big words. So a simpler dictionary may be the solution. But a dictionary that is too simple, may get you into circular definitions without clearly explaining the word.

Some word chains are simply not avoidable. When that happens, note down the words on a separate paper as you look them up. The word chain may branch out in many directions. You simply continue noting down the words. At some point, the words will start clearing up. When that happens you cross the word out of the word chain and work your way back. 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.

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Clarity of Understanding

You will be amazed at the clarity a proper understanding can bring. After using word clearing for some time, your general vocabulary will increase by leaps and bounds and you will start making much faster progress in your studies.

It is the tendency of the mind to fill the missing definitions by preconceived notions. This leads to contradictions and conflicts in the mind. Therefore, it is very important to examine the definitions of the words in the context at hand. Correct definitions bring continuity, harmony and consistency to the understanding of the materials.

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Key Word Clearing

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

In today’s world the understanding of a subject depends on the words and symbols used to express its basic ideas. When there is confusion in a subject, the first thing to do is to create a list of its key concepts from the earliest to latest in the form of words. You not only clear up those word but also relate them to each other until you have a clear picture of the subject. You will need a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and a basic textbook for this purpose.

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Key Word List

Every subject has its own vocabulary. Knowing the purpose of the subject, one may easily arrange its key concepts from the earliest to the latest in the form of words. We know that if it takes ‘concept 1’ to understand ‘concept 2’ then ‘concept 1’ must precede ‘concept 2’ on the list. For example, the purpose of Mathematics is to learn about quantities in a systematic manner. Knowing that, we may arrange its key words as follows: Counting, Number, Digit, Place Values, Unit, Tens, Hundreds, Groups (in reading and writing numbers) , Addition, Addend, Carry over, Sum, and so on. 

As you become more aware of the key words, you may sometimes find that a different sequence provides a more consistent picture. It may even reveal some holes in the sequence. Therefore, there is need for dynamic sequencing of the Key Word list. An Excel worksheet may fulfill this requirement nicely. 

Keep building up the Key Word List, and clearing the words, as you study the subject.

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Clearing the Words

As the Key Word List comes into existence, we start clearing these words. It is important to clear the most fundamental concepts first. The steps to clear up a word are as follows.

  1. Determine the broad concept of the word from its etymology.
  2. Determine the most appropriate definition of the word from dictionary.
  3. Visualize that definition by means of “google image” and/or real-life examples.
  4. Contemplate on the word in relation to nearby key words.
  5. Meditate on the concept underlying the word in the context of your experience.

These steps lead you to deepening awareness of the ideas associated with the subject.

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Studying a Subject

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

A subject is studied best on a gradient. In other words, you start studying a subject using simple materials that introduce you to the basic ideas in that subject; and then you gradually study more complex details. Trouble arises when you miss understanding the basic ideas in a subject, because they are fundamental to the understanding of all its details.

In subject clearing, when you have made a list of all the subjects that you had trouble with, it gives you an overview of your “mental tumor”. To start resolving that tumor, you start as close to the core of the tumor as possible. So you pick up the earliest subject  that you recall having trouble with. And then you focus on the fundamental ideas in that subject.

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The Earliest Subjects

Anything that influences a person becomes a part of his learning in some way. There is some evidence that a child’s learning starts from the perceptions reaching it in the womb. We are interested in clearing the perceptions that did not get assimilated. Such perceptions may be beyond the awareness of the person for now, but they will, ultimately, get assimilated during the process of subject clearing. 

We, therefore, start with the subject in which the person can recall having his earliest confusions.  These subjects may be identified as,

  1. The subject of expressing oneself (language), and
  2. The subject of thinking coherently (mathematics).

This boils down to learning different sounds and the meaning of different symbols.

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An Example of Clearing

As a math tutor, I get a kick out of asking my students, “What is the difference between a digit and a number?” Sometimes I ask this question to the parents too, in order to demonstrate how I am tutoring their child. There is hardly a more basic question in mathematics. It quickly reveals the depth of understanding a person has of fundamental concepts.

Most people fumble around for a precise answer. They have some inkling of the difference between a digit and a number but they can’t seem to put it exactly in words. Then I ask them, “Okay, can you tell me the difference between a letter and a word?” The response I get here has more certainty. Most people know that there are only 26 letters in English that are used to make the thousands of words that you find in a dictionary.

Then I point out that digits are like “letters” and numbers are like “words”. There are only ten digits in math that are used to write infinity of numbers. All of sudden I see bright smiles and shining faces. Some intractable confusion apparently got cleared, and got replaced by a certainty.

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Study

It is simple clearing of confusion as above, and new realizations about things, that keep a person motivated about learning. His curiosity is kept alive and he wants to study all kinds of things.

The word ‘study’ comes from Latin studium ‘zeal, painstaking application’. When a person is curious and motivated, he or she studies naturally in the real sense of the word.

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