Courses in Practical Philosophy

Please refer to the Schedule section for timetable and course fee

Part 1 – Philosophy Works !

The most valuable 2 hours of your week!

This 10-week course offers participants a golden opportunity to explore timeless, yet deeply reflective questions in a beautiful space filled with like-minded people. The human mind and heart have been challenged since the beginning of time by such questions as: What is my purpose in this life? Why am I here? What is my relationship with this creation? Who am I? Those who engage in Practical Philosophy report that personal pursuit of the answers to these questions bring them peace, clarity and understanding.

The course brings together the wisdom of Western and Eastern philosophies, and it allows participants to uncover their own love of wisdom, self and all. A stillness exercise is practiced at each meeting and theoretical ideas are applied in real-world situations each week. Participants share their observations and insightful discoveries about themselves and the world around them.

There is no need to take notes, as handouts are distributed at the end of each class. There is no need to purchase additional books. Classes run for 2 hours with a short refreshment break at half time. At the break there is the opportunity to mingle and share, if one so desires.

Give yourself a treat and meet new people. Attend on the day of your choice. It will be the best investment that you will ever make in your own development.

I went to Canada Blooms and saw the beauty around me in a new light.  It was quiet and peaceful in this crowded room.  My feet did not grow tired and I was not thinking about time or what was ahead at the next landscaped venue.  This experience is another gift I have received since the class began.” Helen, re Philosophy Works!

Course Outline

Every session is accompanied by HANDOUTS.

Week 1: The Wisdom Within

  • Why study philosophy?
  • What is wisdom?
  • What would a wise person do?
  • Practice

Week 2: Know Thyself

  • Self-Knowledge
  • How do we proceed?
  • Practice

Week 3: Being Awake

  • Levels of Awareness
  • Waking Sleep
  • Practice

Week 4: Attending to the Present Moment

  • The four states of Attention
  • Pausing – a practical tool
  • Practice

Week 5: Living Justly

  • Plato on justice and injustice
  • The six tyrants
  • Living wisely
  • Practice

Week 6: The Three-fold Energy

  • The three-fold energy
  • Use & Misuse of energy
  • The transcendent Self
  • Practice

Week 7: The Light of Reason

  • What is reason?
  • How is reason to be used?
  • Practice

Week 8: The Power of Beauty

  • The Power of Beauty
  • Practice

Week 9: Unity in Diversity

  • Separation
  • Experiencing Unity

Week 10: The Desire for Truth

  • What the wise say
  • Review of the term

REFINE YOUR THINKING. OPEN YOUR MIND

Early School

In the first 3 to 5 terms, classes focus on Philosophy and Happiness, Philosophy and Love, Philosophy and Presence of Mind and Philosophy and Freedom.  These foundational courses allow students to journey to their inner being, focusing on ideas and concepts encountered in everyday living.  Each week a practical exercise is given and students learn to objectively view their responses to the world around them.  Conversations are illuminated by words of the wise and spiritual development leads to insights and deeper understanding.

The Early School is somewhat of a journey of discovery, and it all takes place in a safe space where people gather for the same reason – to be happy.   A stillness exercise is practiced in every class.

Part 2 – Philosophy and Happiness

Though familiar to all, “happiness” can be somewhat of a mystery to many. This course presents a deep inquiry into the true nature of happiness. Topics covered in Philosophy & Happiness include:

– Serving others as a source of happiness
– Seeking happiness for oneself and others
– Finding the difference between pleasure and happiness

Part 3 – Philosophy and Love

Love is one of the most investigated topics in Western society, and yet we want to know more about it. This course builds on foundations established in the introductory course as it uncovers, answers to the question: Is love universal or limited? Using the process of self-examination, topics covered are:

– Pure love expressed through the creation
– The nature of love in overcoming all limits
– The healing effects of Gratitude

Participants reflect upon the unity of knowledge and love, and the concept of  that the true meaning of work is love made visible. Discussions reveal open-heartedness and the sometimes surprising connection between law and love.

Part 4 – Philosophy and Presence of Mind

Finding peace and wisdom in the present moment is the theme of this course. Inquiry is guided by the principle “using wisdom to extract nectar from poison”, in daily life.

Plato’s analogy of the cave is the backdrop for realizing the truth about any situation and participants share lessons learnt by trusting the present moment.

Presence of mind shines light on effective decision making and the nature of criticism. Tools and strategies for nourishing the mind are presented as well as practical tips for getting in touch with the present.

Part 5 – Philosophy and Freedom

This course takes a close look at the ways in which preconceived ideas, worry, fear, pleasure and pain tyrannize the mind and the heart. It focuses on techniques that allow the individual to be truly free from the grips of habitual ideas, thoughts and actions. Discover the true nature of freedom by experiencing and understanding what it means to be free. Uncover how freedom is lost and how it is regained in daily living. Study of Philosophy & Freedom:

– The truth shall make you free
– The Self is indeed below, above, behind…
– The creation is one big play…

Practical exercises include: Listening, Remembering, and Remaining Free.

Intermediate School – I Level

The journey continues …

After three terms of classes, students are offered meditation.  Students who choose to accept the offer of meditation are taught how to meditate and how to incorporate it into daily life.  This gentle, yet powerful practice cultivates inner stillness and peace.  It furthers the discovery and experience of unity through diversity and brings more understanding to one’s life. Meditating students report experiencing inner peace and clarity of mind.

Daily meditation is supported by weekly classes, which have the practice of meditation integrated into the program.  One-on-one tutorial sessions, daily meditation meetings, study days and weekend retreats, give students the opportunity to get help with the practice.

Part 6 – The Way of Action

Meditation is usually introduced after Part 5. Students can pursue further studies in Practical Philosophy through coursework, meditation classes, retreats and volunteer service at the school. Exploring the following ideas:
– Discovering our own true nature
– Discovering oneself
– “Full Realization”

Principles:
– Aspects of action
– Starting actions from stillness
– Discipline in action

Practices:
– Stillness
– Observing the real intention of any action
– Discipline

Part 7 – The Way of Devotion

SESSION 1 – DEVOTION IN ACTION

  1. The Lion Looks Around
  2. The Three Ways
  3. Devotion (as the enactment of love)
  4. Devotion to Freedom (Nelson Mandela)
  5. Devotion to Wisdom (Socrates in The Apology)
  6. Discovering devotion (in where the attention goes again and again)

SESSION 2 – DEVOTION, LOVE AND KNOWLEDGE

  1. Review
  2. Love and the Three Gunah (love as prema, raga and moha)
  3. Knowledge and Devotion (Bṛhad. Yājñavalkya, Maitreyī and Kātyāyanī)

SESSION 3 – DEVOTION AND THE GOOD OF ALL

  1. Review
  2. Strengthening the pause (Step 1: reflecting on the sound of the mantra)
  3. Devotion and the Three Gunah (quality, focus and effect of each on devotion)
  4. Philosophic devotion (love of truth & devotion to wisdom; reason and devotion)
  5. Effect of devotion in action (effect on love, discipline and duty)

SESSION 4 – TRAVELLING THE WAY

  1. Review
  2. Strengthening the pause (Step 2: atha, iti)
  3. Travelling the way (1974 4.1 on the destination of the Ways)
  4. Desire for truth (1978 4.4 on the desire for truth as the river Ganges)
  5. The Tunnel (devotion in the story from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones)

SESSION 5 – DEDICATING AND SURRENDERING AN ACTION

  1. Review
  2. Dedicating an action (Step 3: Om Paramātmané namah)
  3. Surrendering an action
  4. Henry David Thoreau

SESSION 6 – ARTISTIC SERVICE AND DEVOTION

  1. Review
  2. Posture
  3. Three Aspects of Service
    1. Emotional (bhāvanā)
    2. Mental or intellectual (bamboo jackets)
    3. Physical (Mr MacLaren on service in the School)
  4. Work and Artistic Service (Kahil Gibran)

SESSION 7 – GRACE

  1. Review
  2. Grace
  3. The Primavera (the three graces)
  4. Grace, Love and Devotion
  5. Grace of Self
  6. Thomas Traherne

SESSION 8 – HARMONY

  1. Harmony
  2. Music
  3. Harmony and Truth

SESSION 9 – THE HEART

  1. Review
  2. The heart
  3. Devotion and the three lines of work
  4. The Self within the heart

SESSION 10 – POEMS OF KABIR

  1. Review
  2. Background to Kabir
  3. Selection of Poems

SESSION 11 – TERM REVIEW

  1. Term Review
  2. Next term – The Way of Knowledge

Part 8 – The Way of Knowledge

The knowledge that we are interested in is the knowledge about how to live in such a way that is liberating, satisfying and full.

Part 9 – The Way of the Householder

The house represents life. The issue is how may philosophy help life to be founded on a truly solid basis? There are also practical and immediate matters that touch on the householder’s way of life. One of these is wealth, and another is the family. How may the principles of philosophy help to ensure that these are founded on a solid basis? These are some of the matters discussed in this course.

Middle School – M Level

And continues …

The School’s main area of study is Advaita philosophy.  Advaita philosophy encompasses a broad range of spiritual and philosophical teachings from both East and West.  Studies include the teachings of Plato/Socrates, Hermes, Sri Shantananda Saraswati, other Shankacharyas and many other wise persons.  In the Middle School students continue to be provided with opportunities to put theoretical ideas into practice, especially in our relations with others in everyday life.

Study of scriptures provides a enriched backdrop for all work at this level.  Spiritual principles become integrated into the life and living and one begins to further appreciate one’s circumstances and those of others.

Middle School exposes students to further studies of such wisdom texts as the Gita, the Upanishads, the writings of Marsilio Ficino, William Shakespeare and many others, as well as such subjects as Sanskrit, Economics, Dialectic and so forth.  The learning is endless.  The company is wonderful.

Plato: The Apology

Part 1 – Introduction to Practical Philosophy is the prerequisite for this course. No other background knowledge or familiarity with names and events mentioned are necessary. Details are revealed in the text. The statements Socrates makes are crystal clear.

The Apology offers an extraordinary portrait of Socrates – time and place are secondary – artfully painted by Plato. Socrates embodies the man who lives by the truth, speaks the truth, and who will not compromise even if it means losing his life. This is the speech of such a man.

The Apology is not challenging philosophically, but Socrates is challenging. Students will be challenged by him. Not by arguing with him, but by hearing clearly what he has to say and by examining their own lives.