The Toronto School of Practical Philosophy is a non profit organization and one of many worldwide schools founded over the past 50 years. The School also draws on many traditions of wisdom and through these, students gain confidence in the intelligence that is inherent in the present moment and the unlimited potential that is available to every human being.
Writings and sayings of Plato, Shakespeare, Emerson and many Eastern sources others set the stage for enlivened discussions based on personal experience as students awaken to conscious living in today’s society.
The School offers classes, workshops and retreats that focus on the application of universal principles and students are encouraged to discover the value of self-inquiry. By putting philosophical principles into practice in their own lives, students journey inward to learn of their true nature and the unity that sustains the diversity which we witness in daily life.
The School also provides instruction and guidance in the practice of meditation by hosting individual and group tutorial sessions.
Fees are kept to a practical minimum. They do not cover capital expenditure, which is made possible by donations, loans and legacies from students with the means to contribute in this way.
Students are encouraged not to indulge in criticism of others, but to practice tolerance and respect towards fellow students.
The School was started in Toronto in 1976 by a student returning home from London, England where he attended the School of Economic Science (SES). The SES had its origins in the 1930s and is aimed at pursuing and gaining deeper insights into the natural laws governing humanity. Much of the initial efforts were directed towards appreciation and application of economic laws that could if applied alleviate the poverty of the time and allow human beings to reach their potential.
The School later pursued Philosophy and in the 1960s was inspired by the Eastern concept of Advaita (a Sanskrit word meaning non-duality). This development occurred through meetings between the founder of SES, Leon McLaren and Shri Shantananda Saraswati a leading figure of the Vedantic tradition in India. These meetings provided invaluable guidance in the study and practice of philosophy for over 30 years.
The original courses began in London, England in 1936 as a study in economics. Later it became obvious that the practice of philosophic principles was needed to lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
Philosophic studies and courses were started in the early 1950s. Inspiration for the courses was gathered from many sources including Plato, Socrates, the Judaic-Christian teaching, Renaissance humanist Marsilio Ficino, Shakespeare, Hermes Trismegistus, Zen and Sufi stories and the Vedantic tradition of the East.
The School of Practical Philosophy in Toronto was founded in 1976 by a Canadian who had studied at the School in London England for nearly twenty years.
The School in Toronto is a registered independent charitable organization. All functions, including tutoring of classes, are given on a voluntary basis by senior members of the School.
In his letter to distinguished lawyer and knight Bernardo Bembo (1433-1519), Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) praises Philosophy as he writes, “Philosophy removes misery from mortals and bestows happiness upon them.” He goes on to describe how Philosophy works: “Philosophy uses the tools of dialectic, created by her own hand, to discover the truth in things through contemplation, the virtue in them through use, and the goodness in them through both.”
To this end, the School of Practical Philosophy makes available a space for like-minded people to practice dialectic, ask difficult questions and associate with good company.
In the study of practical philosophy, the student advances by steps … steps in understanding. As understanding increases there is an increased appreciation of the enormous wisdom that remains untapped and waiting to be accessed. Conscious living gives one an inroad into this wisdom and sheds light on daily life.