To all our teachers, we say: 'Thanks'  

DAVID HORAN on why being the beneficiary of all this practical wisdom, from teachers past and present, should evoke a natural response of gratitude

The 24th of June this year marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Leon MacLaren, who founded the School of Economic Science in London in 1936. Mr MacLaren was also directly instrumental in the formation of The School in Ireland, through his visit to Dublin in 1967 to meet a small group of people who were interested in philosophy as a means for developing the full potential of the human being. These people were delighted to make contact with this larger, like-minded organisation.


They immediately took the philosophy material from the London School and ran their first part one course in Wilton Place, Dublin 2, in January 1968, just over 50 years ago. It is because of the inspiration of Leon MacLaren and the endeavours of those who followed him that we have a School in Ireland today with all the enrichment it has brought to all of our lives. We have much to be grateful for. The School in Ireland was led until 1973 by Koert Delmonte; until 1992, by Konrad Dechant; and from 1992 by Shane Mulhall, until his sad and untimely death in 2016. I have had the privilege of leading the School since 2016.


In his lecture on the history and origins of the School Mr MacLaren, telling the story as a personal account, speaks of a number of significant developments in its history and he says that:

“One of the marks of the School has been all along that when something was needed, someone turned up to either produce a book or give advice or give instruction, just as it was needed.”

And so, he speaks of the availability of meditation in the early 60’s and, shortly after that, the encounter with the Shankaracharya of Northern India initially through correspondence and second-hand accounts and then, in 1965, at a face to face meeting. He explains:

“…I was sent a record of what he said and one immediately appreciated true knowledge, the real thing, a man who really knew what he was saying… As we all know, he speaks in the simplest terms, and they’re not at all Indian terms. They fit exactly our own situation just as his speeches to other people fit their situations, whatever part of the world they happen to come from. This is the nature of wisdom. It is universal and doesn’t belong to anyone. It belongs to the Self and not to any individual other than the Self.”

The wisdom that is “universal and doesn’t belong to anyone”, is surely the single greatest benefit that has come to each one of us through our encounter with the School. By contributing to the work of the School we have the privilege of helping to ensure that the same wisdom, which has so greatly benefited ourselves, may be made available to others across the length and breadth of the island of Ireland.


In all of this we have much to be grateful for. The School’s founder, Leon MacLaren devoted his life to the promulgation of truth and justice through the School, and thousands of students thereafter, all over the world, have ensured that this work continues. But above all we now have direct and ongoing access to “…true knowledge, the real thing…” which has been made freely available to us by the Shankaracharya of the North, His Holiness Sri Shantananda Saraswati and his successor, Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati. Meetings have taken place in recent years — 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. These have provided an ongoing impulse for the work of the School, which is of benefit far and wide.

There is a tradition whereby students, like ourselves, who receive such wisdom in this way, show their respect and gratitude each year on a special day called Teachers’ Day. It is also traditional that those same students should, as they see fit, express that gratitude in financial terms through a contribution to the tradition in which these great teachers stand. This is purely a personal matter for each student. Donations made are passed on directly to the centre in India where the Shankaracharya is based, via an organisation called the Jyoti Trust, a registered charity especially established for this purpose.


Teachers’ Day this year will be celebrated in Ireland on Sunday 30th June from 10 a.m. until 11.30, in the School buildings in Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Derry. This quiet, reflective event will consist of readings from these teachers, including Leon MacLaren, a recording of whose words we shall hear. We shall also listen to some music composed by Mr MacLaren himself: a setting of one of the Upanishads, using the words of W.B. Yeats’ translation. I encourage you to attend.