School of Philosophy & Economic Science

Frequently Asked Questions

Thinking of signing up to the Introductory Course in Philosophy and Meditation but have questions?

Philosophy & Meditation Introductory Course

Most of our students come to the School because their friends or family have come along and enjoyed the classes. If you found us online, you might not be as familiar, so these are some questions and answers to help you know what to expect.

Q. I've never studied philosophy before - will I be lost?

A. No. Most students come to the classes with no prior knowledge. Indeed, if you have studied philosophy academically, you will find this quite a different format from how you may have studied previously. Don't be put off by the word philosophy; it simply means the love of wisdom, and it is that wisdom that allows us to lead a happier life. This is a practical course designed for ordinary people to put the words of the wise into practice and to learn stillness and meditation practices.

Q. What is the format of the class? What can I expect?

A. The class is 2 hours long, with a break for a cup of tea or coffee. The tutor goes through the material and introduces concepts and questions for us to think about and discuss. The tutors are also students of the School, so the discussion is an inquiry style, where each question opens up interesting perspectives from the students. What may appear like a cold piece of text on the page can suddenly open up to be so much more interesting when we apply the concepts to our own lives and situations. It is a really practical application of wisdom, not a lecture style of learning.

Q. What kind of people go to the class?

A. People of all ages and backgrounds attend the classes. Anyone with an interest in learning more about themselves and the world around them tends to be interested. The diversity in the class is what makes the classes much more interesting than just reading a book on your own.

Q. What if I sign up for a class but I'm not able to attend every week - will I be able to catch up easily?

A. Yes. The classes have a flow and a theme over the 10 weeks, but we recap the previous class at the beginning of each class, so you won't be lost. In some locations we offer classes on multiple days throughout the week, so if you normally come on a Tuesday, but can't make it this week, you can attend a Wednesday evening or a Saturday morning as you wish.

Q. Is there a reading list?

A. Each week you'll receive a handout that contains some of the quotations from the class material; this short amount of text is enough for some people to contemplate over the week ahead, but many do like to explore the writers and philosophers more fully.

Q. Do you teach mindfulness?

A. Many of the practices taught do encourage awareness and a gentle stilling of the mind which has a similar effect to mindfulness, but the tradition of this School has a different lineage to mindfulness.

Q. Do you teach meditation?

A. Yes. We practice a mantra-based meditation which has a similar lineage to Transcendental Meditation, or TM. Once you have signed up to the Introductory Course, you are invited to a shorter course on mantra - based meditation, which is offered free of charge. If you decide to go ahead with a meditation practice, you have the full support of trained meditation teachers and a supporting mentor to help you with your practice.

Q. Do I have to speak in class?

A. Not unless you wish to, but keep in mind that these classes are not lectures and discussion is encouraged, but you can participate just as well by listening. Sometimes it takes a few weeks before you are comfortable to speak in the group, but the groups are generally small and you get to know one another quite quickly to be comfortable. Many of us make good friends for life with our fellow students.

Q. Are there further classes after the introductory term?

A. Yes. The Introductory term is part of a foundation year of philosophy which will also cover happiness and love. These three, wisdom, happiness and love are central to human life and so are important subjects for philosophic inquiry.

The courses after the Introductory Course are called Happiness, Love, Freedom and Presence. After that, people attend classes often for many years purely for the love of discussing and practicing philosophy and meditation.

Q. Why study Philosophy and Meditation?

A. Philosophy means the love of wisdom. This is a course in practical philosophy that can be used in everyday life. By integrating philosophical inquiry with contemplative practice, we can deepen our understanding of ourselves, our place in the world and the nature of reality. Studying philosophy together with meditation helps us to integrate mind, body and spirit.

Q. What are the benefits of studying philosophy?

A. Philosophy gives us the opportunity to think more deeply about the subjects that really matter to us:

Who am I?
What is this universe?
What is my part in it?
What is freedom?
How can I find meaning and satisfaction in life?

Philosophy deals with the big ideas, which govern human life.

It affects all of our lives much more than may be obvious.
For example, Plato lived over 2000 years ago and what he said about subjects such as truth, beauty and justice have influenced the western world to this day. During this course we will be considering some of these ideas.

The world in which we live is shaped by philosophy, whether we know it or not.

When other areas of life fall into a state of uncertainty or doubt, philosophy can provide direction, and a sense of certainty.

Philosophy can give us a greater sense of perspective on life.

Philosophy can simplify, clarify and enrich our lives.

Philosophy can raise awareness, to enable us to see things as they are and bring us closer to our true selves. It is the supreme means of self-discovery.

Introductory Course (Part 1)

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