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.
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.
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.
The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one's own mind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.