A Case Study on Repetition

10 Feb 2008

I am reminded of an experience from the past. Statistics happened to be a subject in my syllabus for Chartered Accountancy. I had two books, one concise and to the point, and the other fat looking. Naturally, I began to study the subject from the first book (who cares to read a fat book when there is so much to read). Well, I studied that book written by some learned author but when it came to testing my own understanding of the subject by way of solving questions set in prior CA examinations, I wasn’t quite satisfied with my progress. I realized that it had something to do with the concepts that I had learned from this book as I could not very well apply them while it came to problem solving. Now that I was left with no alternative, I had to turn my attention towards that fat book which was still resting on my book shelf. I took it and started reading it. It so happened that I just kept reading and reading it without bothering to break my head on concepts that were new to me. Finally, after completing a couple of chapters I sat down to problem solving. I was a bit amazed with the results. That made me put to thinking as to what difference this fat book made to my study that now the things looked so much simpler than they were ever before? As I pondered over the issue the only fundamental difference I could notice between the two was this: the second book was fat because it went about dealing with same concepts again and again, revisiting them in different ways, such that I did not need to tax my brains. As I simply went about reading through the pages, it took me through a journey that was repetitive but I never found it boring because it had been explained differently. Of course, there would be some similarities (probably) here and there but then they hardly were noticeable enough to become a source of annoyance. The sheer repetition itself made the concepts clearer, dealt with from different angles, and they went on cementing those concepts on my mind. The result is, today after thirty five years I do not even remember who wrote that compact and presentable looking book on Statistics but I still remember the author of that fat looking book, and that too with profound respect towards him.

Now, come to think of it, if I already knew that subject then I would have found those repetitions quite irritating. But then, if I had “truly understood” that subject, would I have at all needed to read “any” book? When do we need to read a book? It is when we haven’t assimilated the subject fully well into our system. Then, whether I have read thousand books or tens of thousands, it matters not! Probably, what we fail to appreciate that “knowing” and “assimilating” are two different things. Reading becomes redundant when the “subject” and your “whole being” becomes “one”. Then, you do not need reading any book at all. For, reading can “now” only crowd your mind. And any such crowding is not desirable when you have attained “clarity”. This is something very fundamental. It applies in every field, even spirituality. When you have attained God, that is, when your whole being has become “one” with that of God, then you do not need any reading, any preaching, any meditation, or any kind of ritual. But then, this is a state which can only be experienced, not read, learned, taught, passed on as a legacy or whatever...

You need repetition for good reason. It is the repetition through which Christian Missionary Education System, and it legacy system that prevails even today, have been able to brainwash you so thoroughly that it is now a daunting task to make you see the other side and accept the “real truth”. After all, six generations of grinding has had the effect of penetrating through your ‘genes’, and your thought process has been “genetically altered” such that it would now take hell of an effort to substitute the “lies” that you have come to accept as “truth”.


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