Understanding and Study
A student usually studies something to increase his or her understanding and knowledge about a subject. This is quite elementary. If we have a young woman, Jane, and she doesn't know anything about fine cooking and she needs or wants to know something about it, she will get herself a cookbook and start to read recipes. When she has done that for a while she will be ready to go out and buy some groceries and try to make some of the dishes the cookbook describes. It is also possible her mother will teach her to cook some fine meals and they will go through this together. Both these ways would be informal, of course. No exams to pass. No formal school to attend.
But let's say Jane wanted to become a nurse. She would realize she didn't know much about nursing, patients, medication, hospitals, and so on. She would soon realize that she would have to go to school for several years to learn it all. Jane would have to understand the subjects she was taught to obtain the needed information so she could actually practice as a nurse. She would of course also have to pass her exams in all the required subjects in order to get her certificate and to be able to get a job as a nurse.
There are a lot of skills and
Whether it is done formally or informally, learning is a process by which you increase your understanding, knowledge, and familiarity with a subject. Understanding plays an important and central role. If Jane was unable to understand any of the information she was taught in nursing school, she would flunk exams and leave the school. If she couldn't read and understand the concept of cooking from the cookbook she would be lost in this subject as well.
It is thus of great interest to any student, (and we are all students in the school of life), to know what understanding is and how to increase it.
Anatomy of Understanding
The interesting fact here is, that there is something to understand about Understanding itself. It is composed of certain elements. You may have thought of "Understanding" as something that needed no explanation or wasn't possible to analyze. But the interesting fact is, that it is composed of three elements. By understanding these three elements we will understand the idea of Understanding itself better.
The three elements are Affinity, Reality and Communication.
Affinity means degree of liking of
something or somebody.
Reality has to do with experiencing objective things, recognizing things that are, and also agreement with others.
Communication is the exchange of ideas and viewpoints.
These definitions are further explained below.
These three elements can be seen to be joined together in a triangle. There are always the three of them. They influence each other no matter which one you work on. Let's give some examples from life. Later we will give some examples related to study.
Example 1: You talk to someone about the weather; that's communication. You come to an agreement that this summer isn't really worth remembering. Agreement; that's a reality as we define it. You begin to think he's a great guy. That affinity is the first step to a better understanding, a beginning friendship.
Example 2: You ask your neighbor's little son, who is very shy, about his new bike. You ask him something that is very real to him - reality. He'll bubble over with pride and excitement about it; that's communication. You tell him you wished you had a bike like his when you were his age; that's agreement/reality. He'll like you better from now on and be less shy; that's affinity.
Example 3: You pat your dog - expressing affinity. He'll jump up and bark at you playfully; that's one way dogs communicate. You pick up the idea from him and take him for a walk; you establish a reality with your dog.
This, then, is the ARC triangle. By increasing or decreasing each or any of these points of the ARC triangle you can increase or reduce understanding. It all depends on your intentions. The relationship between A (affinity), R (reality) and C (communication) is the anatomy of understanding.
Understanding, then, consists of A, R and C. Affecting one element in a positive direction will cause the two other elements to move in a positive direction as well. The results would be higher or better understanding. A drop in any of the elements A, R or C will cause a drop in understanding.
Let us look at the definitions of A and R and C separately and add some more depth to them.
means degree of liking
Affinity is defined in terms of reaching or distance. One reaches for something in order to have it close to one. Lack of affinity would be expressed as a withdrawal.
Affinity is a phenomenon involving space. It expresses the willingness to occupy the same space as the thing which is loved or liked.
The reverse of it would be anti-pathy (dislike)... which would be the unwillingness to occupy the same space as or the unwillingness to approach something or someone.
It follows that the "mental space" of someone widens with the number of things or people he loves. It follows as well that someone with a lot of affinity finds it easy to include a lot of things and people in his space. He manages to look at life from other viewpoints as well as his own. That's a true sign of affinity. He is able "to put himself in someone else's shoes" and look at things from their point of view.
Put in more technical terms: he can assume the beingness of another; the other person's role or identity.
This doesn't refer to people only but to all things, alive or dead (matter), such as plants and stones. Given enough affinity, you can deliberately "become them". You can apply 'intuition', multiple viewpoints and imagination to achieve that.
Usually you have your viewpoint stably anchored inside your head.
Yet, some people have the ability to put a viewpoint into a withering plant on the table and "wander around inside it" to find out what's wrong with it. They have for a moment assumed the beingness of this plant.
has to do with
Reality is not looked at as something "objective" in our definition.
It is certainly observable but not necessarily objective.
Each observer of a situation takes his own viewpoint when observing it. This is true in two ways:
a) Mentally speaking: he sees things through the filter of his own attitudes and considerations, and by the amount of affinity he happens to have at the time. (Someone, who is sad or angry makes a bad observer.)
b) Physically speaking: each observer stands in a different location from the other and therefore has a different angle of view. Therefore each observation, to start with, exists for each observer individually only. This we call an actuality.
As soon as the observers share their
observations and come to an agreement with each other there is
"reality" in the full sense of the word:
An actuality can exist for one individually, but when it is agreed with by others it can then be said to be a reality.
This does not exclude that you might disagree with yourself occasionally. Off and on "one doesn't trust one's own eyes", as we all know. So even for oneself you sometimes have to work out what is real and what isn't.
Reality-changes can easily be brought about by drugs and hypnosis, also by physical threats and violence. An individual's own reality can be beaten out of him so he agrees with the agressor. He will agree with you because he wants to live. This way robots are made. In any case, when we talk about reality we talk about agreement.
Reality is the agreement of perceptions and data in the physical universe. (All we can be sure is real is that on which we have agreed is real. Agreement is the essence of reality.)
Just because a few people have agreed on something does not necessarily mean that it is "truly so". Who would determine that anyway?
Ask some other people and you're bound to find a different agreement on the same matter. Reality is therefore: the agreed-upon apparency of existence.
Communication is the exchange of ideas between two points or terminals. It can be between two living beings or between the physical universe and a being -- this last we usually call perception.
Simply put, by perceiving and sensing something you are already involved with communication and, thereby, with the ARC triangle.
The perceptions, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, are real to the extent that one can agree to them or not.
The use of the term "exchange" above shows that there are two terminals involved in a communication. "Terminal" means in our language "the end point of a communication line". It can be a person or a thing.
There are two end points or terminals (typically persons) in a communication: a source-point and a receipt-point.
The communication formula
Communication is: Cause, distance, effect, with intention, attention, duplication and understanding.
With the above, one important aspect of a study situation has been described: the student makes himself receipt-point of the data and particles of the subject - typically coming from a teacher or textbook writer. In case of printed information the author is 'Cause' the book is the particle carrying the message and the student is 'Effect'. He or she duplicates and understands the information contained in the communication until it has been fully included in her space (see illustration below). Now she really understands it. She will master the data to the point she has ARC for them. They are to some degree real to her, Reality. She can be around these data and occupy the viewpoint they express, Affinity. She can communicate about these data, such as discuss them or relay them, Communication.
When observing the ARC triangle in life and study, one finds it usually works in the reverse order: Communication, Reality, Affinity. Communication is the dominant part and "the easy way in".
The reason for this is, that the communication formula: Cause, distance, effect with duplication and understanding can be seen to have all the elements of ARC. The affinity part is overcoming the distance and the reality part is the amount of duplication taking place. It results in greater understanding when successful. If not successful it results in lowered understanding. The simple action of communicating causes therefore an increase or decrease in ARC.
This is how it works in study:
1. The student goes into communication with the subject by permitting himself to perceive it.
2. He duplicates its reality until he can agree with the thing being this way and no other.
3. He includes it in his space and thinking and can understand the reality and point of view expressed.
As the student progresses through a study he regains more and more certainty about what he learns and therefore becomes more relaxed and cheerful about it.
We here assume the subject studied is free of falsehoods, is useful, and worthwhile.
As the student has advanced through a longer study he should be able to learn related data faster and faster and often grasp new concepts even without having to read or hear it all. This indicates a heightened affinity; an increased ability to occupy the teacher's or the textbook writer's viewpoint.
A student with high ARC
No drawn-out or tedious communication is needed. No need to look at it this way and that way until finally the whole thing can be partially understood. No! It's one glance at the data and she has got it. Let's illustrate ARC and study with some examples:
Example: A green student is trying to learn to become a mechanic. When he is first thrown into it the teacher uses a lot of new words. Communication is completely cut. The communication formula states: Cause, distance, effect, with intention, attention, duplication and understanding. The student has no duplication nor understanding as he doesn't know what the teacher is talking about. He hasn't been around motors and can't agree or disagree with anything shown. He is completely incapable of "thinking like a motor", meaning mentally occupying the same space as the motor, and thus having a feel for what he is being taught. His ARC is at the bottom. If the teacher knows his business he will let the student look at different motor parts and name them for him. Then have him touch them and lift them. This gives the student some reality. The teacher will tell him the function of each part is. That makes duplication and understanding possible. Actual communication is being established. By holding onto, lifting, fitting together these parts the student will little by little loose his back-off and fear of these motor parts and feel relaxed and quite cheerful about the whole thing. His affinity will come up.
Example: A master mechanic who has repaired motors for years can just by listening to a motor tell exactly what is wrong or exactly what three things to look for. Through reading about it (communication) and repairing a lot of cars he has gotten experience (reality) and is completely capable of "being the motor" (affinity). He can feel any bad performance of the motor as a physical sensation as if it was happening to his own body. When he hears the motor going 'clank, clank' it is painful to him. When it purrs like a cat it is a great pleasure to him. Obviously he has high affinity for motors and high ARC = Understanding for motors.