Question: I have been told that you do not read any philosophical or religious literature. I can hardly believe this as when I listen to you I realize that you must have read or have some secret source of knowledge. Please be frank.
Krishnamurti: I have not read any sacred literature, neither the Bhagavad Gita nor the Upanishads. I have not read any philosophical treatise, modern or ancient; and there is no secret source of knowledge either, because you and I are the source of knowledge. We are the reservoir of everything and of all the knowledge. Because we are the result of the past, and in understanding ourselves we uncover the whole knowledge and therefore all wisdom. Therefore self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom and we can find that ourselves without reading a book, without going to any leader or following any `yogi'. It requires enormous persistency, an alertness of mind and I assure you that when you begin to explore, there is a delight, there is an ecstasy that is incomparable. But as most of our minds are drugged with other people's ideas and books, and as our minds are constantly repeating what someone else said, we have become repeaters and not thinkers. When you quote the Bhagavad Gita or the Bible or some Chinese Sacred Books, surely you are merely repeating. Are you not? And what you are repeating is not the truth. It is a lie, for truth cannot be repeated. A lie can be extended, propounded and repeated but not truth; and when you repeat truth, it ceases to be truth and therefore sacred books are unimportant because through self-knowledge, through yourself, you can discover the eternal. It is really a most arduous task, for self-knowledge has no beginning or conclusion with a solution at the end. It has no beginning and no end. You must begin where you are, read every word, every phrase and every paragraph and you cannot read if you are condemning, if you are justifying, if you pursue verbally and deny the painful, and if you are not awake to every implication of thought.
You can only be awake when there is spontaneity because a controlled mind is a disciplined mind and it can never understand itself because it is fixed in a pattern. But there are moments when even the disciplined minds, the drugged minds are spontaneous and in these spontaneous moments we can discover, we can go beyond the illusions of the mind. So, as there is no secret source and as there is no wisdom in any book you will find that the real is very near for it is in yourself and that requires extraordinary activity, constant alertness. Self-knowledge does not come by studying in a room by yourself. If the mind is alert yet passive you can follow every second of the day and even when one sleeps the mind is functioning. If during the day you are alert, extraordinarily awake, you will see that the mind has received intimations, hints which can be pursued during the night. So really a man who wants to discover truth, the real, the eternal, must abandon all books, all systems, all gurus, because that which is to be found will only be found when one understands oneself.
Public Talk 16th November, 1947