The Beginnings

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Find out more about the origins and the history of the School in the 7 minute video below.

Leon MacLaren…

During the 1940’s and 50’s the founder of the school, Leon MacLaren, began to develop the Practical Philosophy course out of his study of economics and philosophy.

leon maclarenIn the mid 1960’s he was introduced to Shri Shantananda Saraswati, a leading figure of the Vedantic tradition in India.

Over the next 30 years Leon MacLaren paid frequent visits to India; receiving guidance in the study and practice of philosophy from the holy tradition known as Advaita, which literally means ‘non-duality’ or ‘unity’.

Shri Shantananda Saraswati

At the first meeting, Shri Shantananda Saraswati talked about the direction of enquiry and the part he could play in it.

sri shantananda saraswatiHe said “It is not my desire which has to be carried out. The desire, which has to be helped, is that which arises in people looking for the truth, wishing to acquire the divine life, and to make efforts in that direction; and so far as I can, I will always be ready. My door is always open to anyone, known or unknown, eastern or western, irrespective of his upbringing or culture, because in fact we all come from the same stock. As long as that desire and the decision are strong, permanent and stable, the help will always be available.”

The School found this to be so: for the next 30 years he gave fully of his wisdom and guidance upon it through a series of conversations with the School’s leader at the time, Leon MacLaren.

How it works on our courses

A tutor presents material, and leads a discussion based on what arises. Being practical rather than academic, the emphasis is on personal knowledge. Students are encouraged neither to accept nor reject the ideas put forward, but to test them in practice for themselves, in the light of their own experience.

What some of our students say...

“Absolutely loving the course!! …Really changing how I think about things and life in general.”
“...I am benefiting greatly from the content and the practical nature of it. Thank you, it is enriching my life.”
“The daily awareness exercises … have changed my thinking and I feel more relaxed about situations in the media and other aspects of my daily life.”
"The knowledge and experience that I have gained from the philosophy classes has helped me to discover more about myself and better prepare for dealing with life's daily surprises and challenges."