Knowing How to Know by Idries Shah

‘A blueprint of the human mental structure.’

Robert Ornstein, author of The Psychology of Consciousness

Available worldwide in all formats – including ebook and audio – on Amazon worldwide. In the USA go to, in the UK, in India You can also order Knowing How to Know in paperback and hardback from your local bookstore — and in the UK and USA we also recommend; and in Australia and New Zealand Booktopia.

Considered one of Idries Shah’s cornerstone works, Knowing How to Know was published posthumously by Octagon Press and builds on the foundations laid in the author’s previous landmark books: Learning How to Learn and The Commanding Self.

Knowing How to Know is an incisive compilation of stories, observations, epigrams and question-and-answer sessions designed to render clarity and deeper understanding as part of Shah’s wider course on contemporary Sufi studies. It looks at the often-unrecognised barriers which prevent knowledge, and the necessary conditions and factors which must be present for learning to take place.

The book opens with a preface insisting that human learning only occurs through a proper balance of inclusion and exclusion. The ensuing pages expand and contract around this central theme: that optimal human learning can only occur if the operational elements are present and the dysfunctional ones kept at bay.

Like an ultraviolet light shone onto the petals of flowers, Knowing How to Know reveals concealed patterns, normally invisible to our customary modes of thought.

‘This would not be a book by Shah if it were not often very funny. In short, those who know Shah's work will not need to be told it is a cornucopia of very various delights; those who do not may find it a fascinating introduction to the Sufi view of life.’

Doris Lessing, Sunday Telegraph