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The Power of Words - Part II

July 25, 2015

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple. - C.W. Ceram

Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind. - F.Scott.Fizgerald

Failure to learn definitions results in a later inability to understand explanations, which include definitions. Easily the most important factor in any study is a comprehension of what is meant by certain words. -Ron Hubbard

In Chapter 5 of The Power of Words, the author tells the fascinating story of how Malcolm X’s transformation and journey into history started with a dictionary:

“Malcolm dropped out of school in the eighth grade after his teacher told him that his goal of becoming a lawyer wasn’t realistic as a black man. By the time he was 13, he had lost both of his parents-his father had died and his mother had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized.

In 1943, Malcolm was 18 and living in Harlem. He was involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery and prostitution. Two years later, he was involved in elaborate burglaries of residences of wealthy, white families. He was arrested for larceny and breaking and entering in 1946 and was sentenced to spend eight to ten years in Massachusetts State Prison.

He was 21 years old and could barely read. ‘Every book I picked up had few sentences which didn’t contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might have been in Chinese,’ he wrote. He simply skipped the words he didn’t know and had little understanding of what the books were actually saying.

He met a self-educated man in prison by the name of John Elton Bembry, a well-regarded prisoner. Malcolm would later describe him as ‘the first man I had ever seen command total respect… with words.’ The two became friends and Malcolm decided to educate himself as Bembry had.

Painfully aware of his illiteracy, Malcolm got his hands on a dictionary and began copying every entry – it took a day just to do the first page. Every day, he would copy out a new page and then read aloud each word and its definitions. Slowly but surely, he began to remember them and what they meant. He realized that a dictionary is really a ‘little encyclopedia’ that taught him about people, animals, places, history, philosophy and science.

As his vocabulary grew, so did his understanding of life and the world around him. He found that he could pick up a book ‘and now begin to understand what the book was saying.’ He said that ‘from then until I left the prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading in my bunk. You couldn’t have gotten me out of a book with a wedge. Ten guards and the warden couldn’t have torn me out of those books. I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life.’

This new course in life led him to become one of the most prominent figures in the American Civil Rights Movement – something he will forever be remembered for.”

This is truly an inspirational story, which perfectly illustrates the power of words. Now the question is, how do we unlock the power of words? According to the Mr. Sean Clouden:

“You must understand words conceptually; if you merely memorize words but have no true understanding of them, you may pass tests, but you won’t be able to build machines.

Remember, words represent concepts and things. A concept is an idea of something formed in the mind. One has the concept, for instance, that another person is tired, that people are bored, or that someone feels sorry for himself. Thought and emotion both are included in concept.

Think of a picture of the inside of your car. Look at the steering wheel, the gear shift, the pedals. Good. Those are pictures you are looking at - that isn't conceptual understanding. Now get the idea of how you drive th car. Get the idea of how it feels to coordinate the gas, brake and clutch pedals and use the gear shift. Did you have to think of a bunch of pictures to do this? No, you just know how it feels. That's conceptual understanding.

Realize that words mean nothing on their own. They are simply vehicles for expressing ideas, feelings, and experiences. You need to have full conceptual understanding with no confusion and the ability to immediately do it.

Naturally, the next question then becomes how to conceptually understand a word? In Chapter 7 of the book, Mr. Clouden provides us with the steps devised by L.Ron Hubbard, which will be exploited in detail in the next part of this article series.

About the author:

A global value investor constantly seeking to acquire worldly wisdom. My investment philosophy has been inspired by Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Howard Marks, Chuck Akre, Li Lu, Zhang Lei and Peter Lynch.

Rating: 4.9/5 (8 votes)



Tmp - 4 years ago    Report SPAM

Quoting from Scientology dude? Nice.

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