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.


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.


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.



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.


Subjects that do not Make Sense

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

Self-Learning speeds up as one clears up the subjects that do not make sense to the person. These are the subjects that the person struggled with and then gave up. He still has many confusions and unanswered questions in those subjects. These confusions and questions are buried deep in his mind and they influence him in ways that he is not aware of. They are part of his mental tumor, and the earlier is a subject the more central position it has in the tumor. Tremendous gains come about when these subjects are finally cleared up.

Your first step is to make a list of all the subjects that you struggled with. Usually, these are the subjects that you encountered in school, such as, language, grammar and mathematics, but there are practical subjects also, such as, money, adulthood, and life itself, in which your questions were rebuffed and you were left wondering. In addition, there could be subjects of health, illness, depression, etc., that concerned you when you were growing up.

The list of subjects does not have to be exhaustive. Just make sure the main subjects are there. You can always add more subjects to this list at any time.


Clearing up the Titles

The purpose of this step is to get you an overview of the subjects you had trouble with. The title of a subject usually gives you a clue to what that subject is about; so, you may clear a subject title by looking up its origin or etymology. You just want to get a broad sense of the subject in order to have an idea of its purpose.

For example, you may clear the subject title MATHEMATICS by searching the origin or etymology of this word on Internet. We get the following results:

From Wikipedia: The word mathematics comes from Ancient Greek máthēma (μάθημα), meaning “that which is learnt,” “what one gets to know,” hence also “study” and “science”. 

From Webster dictionary 1828: MATHEMAT’ICSnoun [Latin mathematica, from Gr. to learn.] 

If you meditate on this etymology a bit, you may find that the purpose of mathematics is to learn systematically.

You clear up all the subject titles on the list. This will familiarize you with what each subject is basically about. Now arrange these subjects in a list from earliest to latest. This will provide you with the order in which to clear these subjects fully until you have no attention fixed on them. 



Subject Clearing is done starting with the earliest subject that you had difficulty with in your life and then coming up to the present. But if your attention is fixed on a later subject then that should be taken up first. As you start clearing up a later subject, it will eventually lead you to the earliest subject that you had difficulty with.

As you fully clear up a subject your attention is no longer fixed on it, and you can make better sense out of it. You are now able to evaluate its actual importance in your life.


Self-Learning and Assimilation

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

As noted earlier, Self-Learning is the most vital part of one’s continuing education. It helps one clear any past conditioning of the mind and further develop the ability to think critically.

Self-learning involves the assimilation of the incoming perceptions and symbolic data into the mental matrix. A healthy mind naturally breaks the perceptions down into fine “mental pixels”, which are then absorbed into the mental matrix.

The symbolic data reaches one through spoken and written language. For proper assimilation one should be able to visualize the symbolic data in real time so it could be broken down into fine “mental pixels” and assimilated.

Assimilation mean absorbing incoming pixels in the “data matrix” of the mind. This requires arranging new pixels in existing patterns in the matrix, and, as necessary, modifying the patterns and extending them, removing duplicate pixels, and supplying the correct time stamp. Ideally, incoming pixels are continually assimilated.



Assimilation does not take place when incoming perceptions and symbolic data cannot be broken down into pixels because they are distorted due to pain and confusion. The unassimilated perceptions and symbolic data get bunched up like a tumor in the mental matrix. They have only a few connections with rest of the matrix.

Obviously, a mental tumor is formed when there is physical injury or sickness in life. But a more insidious mental tumor grows out of sight as misunderstood words and symbols accumulate throughout a person’s life. 

It is a common observation in schooling that a child’s eagerness to learn declines as he moves up the grades. Very soon, he is no longer motivated to learn. By the time a child reaches middle school, he is studying only because he is afraid of being punished for low attendance, low marks, or for failing the exam; and not because he wants to learn. The cause of this declining motivation is the accumulation of misunderstood words and symbols entirely.

The mental tumor of accumulated “misunderstoods” is the most destructive of all, as it is spread throughout the mental matrix without being assimilated. It robs the incredible potential of a person, and makes his life full of confused struggle.



An interesting phenomenon occurs when you start handling the mental tumor of accumulated misunderstood words and symbols. All other mental tumors also start to come up by themselves exactly when they are ready to be resolved. This is because the common denominator of handling is,

(1) Finding that which doesn’t make sense.
(2) Studying up on data relating to that subject.
(3) Not going by any word or symbol that you do not understand the meaning of.
(4) Finding the meaning of the word or symbol and contemplating on it within the context it is used.
(5) Clearing up all thoughts, emotions and effort related to that concept in meditation.
(6) Following up on what is not clear. This may require repetition of these steps.
(7) Keep at it until the doubt, confusion, perplexity and difficulty is fully cleared up. 

This may sound like a lot of work but as you follow these steps, you soon start to have little wins. These wins soon start to add up to make the journey worthwhile. Finally, the major win occurs in terms of the difficulty fully handled. And that is always a life changer.



The above steps lead to increasing assimilation of past and present perceptions and education. The progress may appear to require effort at first but soon it becomes rewarding. It leads not only to self-learning but also to self-healing to some degree. Each of these steps are taken up in greater detail in subsequent issues.


Education and the Mind

Reference: Course on Subject Clearing

From my personal experience, and from my long term experience as a tutor, I find that education itself can be a forgotten trauma in every person’s life. It is rarely that school and college education has been uniformly a pleasant experience. Normally, many other things are going on in adult life to think about one’s education. But past education has been the source of most of a person’s conditioning. It may, therefore, be necessary to run out the trauma of education at some point in one’s life.


Levels of Education

The most basic level of education is through direct perception. We perceive through the physical senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. These perceptions then get absorbed or assimilated in our mind and become a part of our being.

The second level of education is learning of a common language through which one can express and communicate to another what one is observing and feeling. It is the means through which one may flow out one’s beingness.

The third level of education is inflowing through that same language the beingness and experience of another. That experience then gets absorbed or assimilated in our mind to become part of our beingness. At this level beingness and experience are almost synonymous. Beingness builds up through layers of experience from the environment and others.

Higher levels of education are simply an expansion of these three basic levels in other dimensions. Education expands from the  dimension of speech to the dimensions of reading and writing. Most education starts to become indirect through the medium of language and its symbols. This indirect education, however, requires translation into “direct perceptions” through the faculty of visualization for proper absorption and assimilation in the mind.


The Deeper Level of Abstraction

Another interesting dimension that starts to enter into picture at this stage is ABSTRACTION. It sort of develops as an intuitive sense because it is mostly “under the radar”. Abstraction requires physical perceptions to be broken down into finer “pixels” for  deeper assimilation in the mind.

Abstraction is a dimension most peculiar to the human mind. It puts the human mind in a class of its own, way above the minds found in other species. The human mind starts to appear like an incredible matrix of “mental pixels” that are interconnected with each other in an extremely large number of intricate ways. The total number of “mental pixels” may be quite large and the relations among them may easily be infinite.



A person has control over his mind to the degree it is assimilated to the deepest level. To the degree the mind is not assimilated, the effect appears in the form of conditioning. It is the conditioned part of mind that is out of one’s control.

We shall be introducing the concept of Self-learning in the next issue. Self-learning is the process of assimilating perceptions and symbolic data in one’s mind. It helps one overcome past conditioning by fully assimilating the past experience one has been exposed to. Self-learning is the most vital part of one’s continuing education.



Reference: The Bhagavad Gita



I taught this imperishable Yoga to Vivasvān (the sun-god); he told it to Manu and Manu proclaimed it to Iksvāku. (IV-1). This, handed down thus in regular succession, the royal sages knew. But through long lapse of time this Yoga was lost to the world, O oppressor of the foe (Arjuna). (IV-2). This same ancient Yoga has been today declared to thee by Me; for thou art my devotee and My friend; and this is the supreme secret. (IV-3).

This Yoga presents universal principles.



Later was Thy birth and earlier was the birth of Vivasvān (the sun-god). How am then I to understand that Thou didst declare it to him in the beginning? (IV-4)

This is an intelligent question because it is not obvious how one could have instructed somebody who existed way before one in the past.



Many births of Mine have passed as well as of thine, O Arjuna; I know them all but thou knows not, O scorcher of foes. (IV-5). Though I am unborn, of imperishable nature, the Lord of all beings, yet, governing My Nature (Prakrti), I manifest Myself through my Yoga-Māyā (divine potency). (IV-6)

Krishna is speaking from the universal viewpoint that is imperishable, and has always existed. The universal principles of Yoga have been known to those ancients who had attained the universal viewpoint.



Whenever there is a decline of righteousness and rise of unrighteousness, O Arjuna, then I manifest Myself. (IV-7). For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of the righteousness, I am born from age to age. (IV-8).

When the average viewpoint of humanity really narrows down and the situation becomes unbearable, then someone with a universal viewpoint comes along to lead humanity out of its problems.



He who thus knows, in their true nature, my divine birth and action, having abandoned the body is not born again; he comes to me, O Arjuna. (IV-9). Freed from attachment, fear and anger, absorbed in Me, taking refuge in Me, purified by the penance of knowledge, many have attained to My Being. (IV-10)

That universal viewpoint inspires others to broaden their viewpoints and attain their true nature of non-attachment. Thus they can acquire the real knowledge and also attain the universal viewpoint that frees them from all bondages.



O Partha! As devotees approach Me, so do I accept them; for all men follow My path in every way. (IV-11). Those who desire the fruition of their actions worship the gods; because success is quickly attained by men through action. (IV-12)

The only way forward is the broadening of viewpoint, and the results depend on the manner people do it. Many desirous of results worship gods. But results are attained most rapidly in this world through action. 



The fourfold caste (order) was created by Me according to the modes of nature and action. Though I am the creator, know Me, the immortal Lord, to be a non-doer. (IV-13). Since I have no craving for the fruit of actions, actions do not taint me. He who know Me thus (in reality) is not bound by actions. (IV-14)

The society is organized by the natural order of four main functions: acquisition of knowledge, protection from danger, equitable commerce, and adequate labor. These universal principles of action are simply there. Actions according to these principles simply flow in nature without binding anyone.



Having known this, the ancient seekers of liberation also performed action; therefore do thou also perform action as the ancients did in former times. (IV-15). What is action? What is inaction? As to this even the wise are confused. Therefore, I will explain to thee what action is, by knowing which thou shalt be liberated from its evil effect (worldly bondage). (IV-16). The truth about actions must be known and the truth about forbidden action also must be known; even so the truth about inaction must be known; for mysterious is the nature of action. (IV-17)

The results in this world are attained most rapidly through action. Having known this, the ancient seekers of liberation also performed action. In the same way you will be performing actions, but you must clearly understand the concept of action, inaction and forbidden action.

It is interesting to note that a misunderstanding of action led to the corruption of the division of social activities into a rigid caste system in Hinduism. This is the evil effect of misunderstanding of scriptures that have immense power.



He, who sees inaction in action and action in inaction, is wise among men, he is a Yogi and he has performed all his duties. (IV-18). He whose undertakings are all free from self-centered projections of the mind and desire and whose actions are burnt in the fire of wisdom, him the seer call wise. (IV-19). Having abandoned attachment to actions and their fruit ever content, without any kind of dependence he does nothing though fully engaged in action. (IV-20)

When one is not attached, the actions flow naturally according to universal principles. Such actions are effortless because they are free from self-centered projections of the mind and desire.  Thus, there is no dependence, and it is as good as doing nothing (inaction) while being fully engaged in the happenings (action). 



Having no desires, with his mind and body fully subdued, giving up all sort of possessions, even performing action necessary only for the maintenance of the body, a karmayogī incurs no sin. (IV-21). Content with what comes to him without desire for fruit, free from the pairs of opposites and envy, even-minded in success and failure, ever though acting, he is not bound. (IV-22). All the actions of a man who is devoid of attachment, who is liberated, whose mind is established in knowledge, who works for the sake of sacrifice, are dissolved. (IV-23)

When one totally is detached, one has become an instrument through whom the nature is operating. Of course, that “instrument” needs to be maintained according to its nature. As mind becomes established in the knowledge of nature, and self-interests are sacrificed for the sake of welfare of the world, there comes about harmony, contentment and equanimity that is not bound by actions. 



For him the ladle with which offering is made is Brahma, the fire is Brahma, the act of offering oblation is Brahma. By Brahma in the form of sacrificer is the oblation poured  into the fire of Brahma. Brahma shall be attained by him who is absorbed in Brahma as the act of such sacrifice. (IV-24)

Ultimate harmony is achieved when everything becomes the pure experience and expression of the innate impulse (Brahma).



Some Yogis perform sacrifice to God alone; while others offer the self as sacrifice by the self in the fire of the supreme. (IV-25). Some offer hearing and other senses as sacrifice into the fires of restraint; others offer sound and other objects of sense in the fires of sense. (IV-26). Some others again offer (sacrifice) all the functions of the senses and those of breath (vital energy) into the fire of the Yoga of self restraint, kindled by knowledge. (IV-27). Others again offer as sacrifice their wealth or their austerities or their Yoga while others of self restraint and rigid vows offer study of the scriptures and knowledge as sacrifice. (IV-28). Others offer as sacrifice the outgoing breath in the incoming, and the incoming in the outgoing, restraining the course of the outgoing and the incoming breaths, solely absorbed in the restraint of the breath. (IV-29). Others who regulate their diet offer life-breaths in life-breaths. All these are knowers of sacrifice and by sacrifice have their sins destroyed. (IV-30)

To attain the union with Brahma (the innate impulse) different methods of sacrifice are followed as referenced above.



Those who eat the sacred food that remains after a sacrifice, attain to the eternal Absolute; this world is not for him who performs no sacrifice; how then can he have any other world, O best of the Kurus (Arjuna)? (IV-31). Thus many forms of sacrifice are spread out in the face of Brahma (the Vedas). Know them all as born of action and thus knowing, thou shalt be liberated. (IV-32)

You cannot have a world unless you sacrifice and live with what remains. There are many forms of sacrifice but they are all born out of selfless action.



Knowledge as a sacrifice is superior to any material sacrifice, O harasser of the foes (Arjuna). All actions in their entirety, O Arjuna, culminate in knowledge. (IV-33). Learn that by prostration (humble reverence), by question and by service; the wise who have realized the truth will instruct thee in (that) knowledge. (IV-34)

Sacrifice in the form of knowledge is superior to any material sacrifice because all actions culminate in knowledge (experience). For this sacrifice one must question with a sincere attitude full of reverence and service.   



When thou hast known it, thou shalt not, O Arjuna, again get deluded like this; and by that thou shalt see all beings without exception in the self and then in Me. (IV-35). Even if thou art the most sinful of all sinners, thou shalt undoubtedly cross all sins by the boat of knowledge (wisdom) alone. (IV-36)

Once you know you no longer get deluded in that area, and you start to acquire a broadening viewpoint until you reach the universal viewpoint. You thus overcome the effects of even the worst of your sins.



As the blazing fire reduces fuel to ashes, O Arjuna, even so does the fire of knowledge all actions to ashes. (IV-37)


Verily, there is no purifier in this world like knowledge. He who becomes perfected in Yoga finds it in the self in course of time. (IV-38)


He who has faith, who is devoid to it (I.e., knowledge) and who has subdued his senses, gains knowledge (wisdom) and having gained knowledge he attains at once the supreme peace. (IV-39)


The man who is devoid of discriminative insight, who has no faith, who is of a doubting nature, perishes. For the doubting soul their is neither this world nor the world beyond, nor any happiness. (IV-40)


He who has renounced all actions by Yoga, whose doubts have been destroyed by knowledge and who is self-possessed—actions do not bind him, O winner of wealth (Arjuna). (IV-41)


Therefore, having cut as under with the sword of knowledge (wisdom) this doubt in thy heart that is born of ignorance, resort to Yoga and stand up (for the fight), O Bhārata (Arjuna), (IV-42)