Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Even a monotonously undeviating path of self-examination does not necessarily lead to a mountain of self-knowledge." -

"The first step to self-knowledge is self-distrust. Nor can we attain to any kind of knowledge, except by a like process." - Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855) and his brother Augustus William Hare

"If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Self-knowledge leading to self-hatred and humility, is the condition of the love and knowledge of God. Spiritual exercises that make use of distractions have this great merit, that they increase self-knowledge. Every soul that approaches God must be aware of who and what it is. To practice a form of mental or vocal prayer that is, so to speak, above one’s moral station is to act a lie: and the consequences of such lying are wrong notions about God, idolatrous worship of private and unrealistic phantasies and (for lack of the humility of self-knowledge) spiritual pride." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Without self-knowledge there can be no true humility." - Aldous Leonard Huxley

"Self-knowledge is the primary step in conscious evolutionary change. When people confront and integrate their individual fears and limitations, they facilitate the confrontation and integration of our racial, national, and planetary fears. Lasting social change is only possible when individual consciousness has first been changed." - Gloria D. Karpinski

"Self-knowledge brings tranquillity to the mind, and then only can truth come into being. Truth cannot be sought after. Truth is the unknown, and that which you seek is already known. Truth comes into being unsought when the mind is without prejudice, when there is the understanding of the whole process of ourselves." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"What is important is to free ourselves from ideas, from nationalism, from all religious beliefs and dogmas, so that we can act, not according to a pattern or an ideology, but as needs demand... It is only when the mind is free of idea and belief that it can act rightly... and freedom from ideas can take place only through self-awareness and self-knowledge." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Man gains freedom only through the use of his highest faculties. Materialism makes him more and more a slave to the forces of the phenomenal world... Our present-day materialism points in this direction - that is, in the direction of the enslavement of man by mechanisation and by its direct results, by state organisations, uniformity, the sacrifice of independent intelligence, the sweeping away of individual differences, local customs, local diversity, and all the infinite branchings of humanity that enrich life... Man is made free by ‘truth’. The truth spoken here is equated with mind. This kind of truth begins with self-knowledge." - Maurice Nicoll

"We ourselves possess beauty when we are true to our own being; our ugliness is in going over to another order; our self-knowledge, that is to say, is our beauty; in self-ignorance we are ugly." - Plotinus NULL

"If self-knowledge be a path to virtue, virtue is a much better one to self-knowledge. The more pure the soul becomes, it will, like certain precious stones that are sensible to the contact if poison, shrink from the fetid vapors of evil impressions." -

"Failure changes to success when one acquires self-knowledge." - Louise A. Vernon

"It is my belief no man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge." - Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski

"You are surprised at your imperfections, why? I should infer from that, that your self-knowledge is small." -

"Self-knowledge is that acquaintance with ourselves which shows us what we are, and what we ought to be, in order to our living comfortably and usefully here, and happily thereafter." - John M. Mason, fully John Mitchell Mason

"Man only knows that there exists something more in the things than perception gives because this other element lives in his inner being. Thus world knowledge and self-knowledge are inseparable." - L. Francis Edmunds

"The pain that gives us self-knowledge, willingly sought and moved through, is at the heart of repentance of any kind. Pain is… the open space - one meaning of the ancient Hebrew word for salvation - the point of intersection and integration of our selves with one another and all the Creation." - Maggie Ross, pen name for Martha Reeves

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control. These three alone lead life to sovereign power." -

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead to sovereign power." -

"Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It's the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life." - Ann Landers, pen name created by Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist Ruth Crowley in 1943 and taken over by Eppie Lederer in 1955

"A man can know nothing of mankind without knowing something of himself. Self-knowledge is the property of that man whose passions have their full play, but who ponders over their results." - Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield

"Self-knowledge is an everlasting taske." - Christopher Harvey

"The road to knowledge does not pass through faith. But only through the self-knowledge we gain by pursuing the fleeting light in the depth of our being do we reach the point where we can grasp what faith is." - Dag Hammarskjöld

"Self-knowledge is not the end; it is only the beginning." - Dan Millman, born Daniel Jay Millman

"Assurance is contemptible and fatal unless it is self-knowledge." - George Santayana

"The fact that the eye constantly thrusts outwards distracts us from self-knowledge and the way inwards. It dissipates attention... The eye says I. We sense when someone is looking at us. Their gaze insists: Pay attention to me! Almost everyone is also aware of that when the observer is standing behind us. We notice after a while. Someone is there. Who is it? Who would not, however, know if someone were listening to us if he or she did not say so. The listener does not put the emphasis on himself or event the other person. He does not insist on a separation between subject and object. The ear establishes a 'more correct' relationship between ourselves and others. It implies unity rather than division. Eye and ear need one another. Ear and eye are not alternatives." - Joachim-Ernst Berendt

"We cannot achieve self-respect if we are afraid of self-knowledge." - Morris Raphael Cohen

"Consider! Behind you lie the confusions and inadequacies of that remarkably over-rated period of human existence known as youth. Youth has vitality, its true; youth has a superabundance of “free energy.” But it has little else. It lacks poise. It lacks experience. Above all, it has neither judgment nor wisdom, the two qualities which make life supremely worth while... the rewards of self-knowledge are enormous... self-knowledge is the key to self-mastery... Calm, assured, integrated people have a way of making considerable impact on reality. By changing themselves, they change the world around them." - Norman Vincent Peale

"Self-knowledge is temperance." - Plato NULL

"Sleep takes off the costume of circumstance, arms us with terrible freedom, so that every will rushes to deed. A skillful man reads his dreams for his self-knowledge; yet not the details, but the quality. What part does he play in them - a cheerful, manly part, or a poor, driveling part? However monstrous and grotesque their apparitions, they have a substantial truth." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Only two kinds of people can attain self-knowledge: those who are not encumbered at all with learning, that is to say, whose minds are not overcrowded with thoughts borrowed from others; and those who, after studying all the scriptures and sciences, have come to realize that they know nothing." -

"For the most part, the human mind cannot attain to self-knowledge otherwise than by making trial of its powers through temptation, by some kind of experimental and not merely verbal self-interrogation." -

"Nothing we ever imagined is beyond our powers, only beyond our present self-knowledge." -

"The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one's own mind." - F. H. Bradley, fully Frances Herbert "F.H." Bradley

"The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one's own mind." - Francis Herbert Bradley

"The significance of that 'absolute commandment', know thyself — whether we look at it in itself or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance — is not to promote mere self-knowledge in respect of the particular capacities, character, propensities, and foibles of the single self. The knowledge it commands means that of man's genuine reality — of what is essentially and ultimately true and real — of spirit as the true and essential being." - Georg Hegel, fully Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

"The guru cannot awaken you; all that he can do is to point out what is. Truth is not a thing that can be caught by the mind. The guru can give you words; he can give you an explanation, the symbols of the mind, but the symbol is not the real, and if you are caught in the symbol, you will never find the way. Therefore, that which is important is not the teacher, it is not the symbol, it is not the explanation, but it is you who are seeking truth. To seek rightly is to give attention, not to God, not to truth, because you don't know it, but attention to the problem of your relationship with your wife, your children, your neighbor. When you establish right relationship then you love truth, for truth is not a thing that can be bought, truth does not come into being through self-immolation or through the repetition of mantras. Truth comes into being only when there is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge brings understanding, and when there is understanding, there are no problems." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Do what you will, withdraw to the mountains, sit in a forest, you cannot live in isolation. You can live only in relationship, and as long as relationship is not understood, there can be no right action. Right action comes in understanding relationship, which reveals the process of oneself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom, it is a field of affection, warmth, and love, therefore a field rich with flowers." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"So, life has problems and conflicts and miseries only when you use relationship as a means of becoming, that is, when you gratify yourself through relationship. When I use another, or when I use property or an idea as a means of self-expansion, which is the perpetuation of gratification, then life becomes a series of ceaseless conflicts and miseries. It is only when I understand relationship - which is the beginning of self-knowledge - that self-knowledge brings about right thinking with regard to what is; and it is right thinking that dissolves our problems - not the gurus, not the heroes, not the mahatmas, not the literature, but the capacity to see what is and not escape from what is." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Self-knowledge is not something acquired from a book or from a guru or teacher. Self-knowledge begins in understanding oneself from moment to moment, and that understanding requires one's full attention to be given to each thought at any particular moment without an end in view, because there cannot be complete attention when there is condemnation or justification." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"To understand yourself is to understand the giver of values. Without understanding yourself, there is no renunciation of the world; without self-knowledge there can be only escape, called renunciation, which gives birth to endless problems and miseries." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"To comprehend the whole we must first understand ourselves. The root of understanding lies in oneself, and without the understanding of oneself, there is no comprehension of the world; for the world is oneself. The other - the friend, the relation, the enemy, the neighbor, near or far - is yourself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of right thinking, and in the process of self-knowledge, the infinite is discovered." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Without self-knowledge there is no individuality." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"A mind that has self-knowledge is learning, whereas a mind that merely applies acquired knowledge to itself and thinks it is self-knowledge is merely accumulating. A mind that accumulates can never learn." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Right thinking alone can bring about right action; self-knowledge yields right thinking." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"The first step to self-knowledge is self-distrust. Nor can we attain to any kind of knowledge, except by a like process." - J. C. Hare (1795-1855) and A. W. Hare

"You are surprised at your imperfections, why? I should infer from that, that your self-knowledge is small." - Jean Grou, fully Jean Nicholas Grou

"If self-knowledge be a path to virtue, virtue is a much better one to self-knowledge. The more pure the soul becomes, it will, like certain precious stones that are sensible to the contact of poison, shrink from the fetid vapors of evil impressions." - Jean Paul, born Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, aka Jean Paul Richter

"Fear is a question: What are you afraid of and why? Just as the seed of health is in illness, because illness contains information, our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them." - Marilyn Ferguson

"Say, "I do not want any-thing," and be happy. The continuous realization of the futility of wants will eventually lead you to Knowledge. This Self-knowledge will give you the freedom from wants to the road to abiding happiness." - Meher Baba, born Merwan Sheriar Irani