Is the course available online as well as in-person? Yes, the same course content is available in a nationally organised online format as well as in-person in Guildford and other locations around the country. To enrol for for the national online course please follow this link and select ‘ONLINE’
How is the course run? 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.
In this way, for those who wish, the whole week between classes can become a learning opportunity. As the course continues, the most vivid and valuable part of the evening meetings is often sharing what has been seen in daily life between individual sessions.
Do I need any previous qualifications? No. The course is intended for everyone, regardless of education, occupation, race, political or religious belief.
Will I get a certificate or qualification? No. This is not an academic course. There are no exams.
What does ‘practical philosophy’ mean? The course is practical in the sense that it is designed to be of direct use in our everyday lives. The intention is to stimulate enquiry and through this expand the way we look at the world and ourselves, conferring happiness and freedom.
What do I need to bring with me? Just an open and enquiring mind, and an interest in the subject matter. At the end of each evening a handout with key points and any quotations used is provided.
What time does the class finish? The 10am classes finish around 12:15 and the 7:30pm classes finish around 9:45pm. In both cases there is a refreshment break about half way through.
Does the course include the concept of mindfulness? Throughout the course, great emphasis is placed on the importance of being in the present moment. Exercises and practices are provided to encourage this connection. These increase the value of each weekly session. More generally, they deepen and enrich awareness of the vibrancy of the world around us in our daily lives.
Does the course include meditation? There is much focus on the direct experience of stillness as the underlying basis for clear observation and connection with oneself. However, the practice of mantra meditation as such does not form part of the course. Meditation is introduced a few terms later for those who wish it. Over time it becomes an increasingly central practice. Further information is available on the School's main website.
Who are the course tutors?
Our philosophy tutors have all been studying in the School for some time. All have considerable experience of applying the lessons of philosophy to their everyday lives. They come from all walks of life and many different professions, but all share the same love of passing on knowledge in order that people can get the most out of their lives. None are paid for being a tutor.
Who are the students? Our students in Guildford come from across Surrey and beyond and represent a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life. This diversity holds true for all School locations.
Are there any trial sessions? No, you need to enrol for the full ten week course, but is been hugely discounted to only £10 to make is accessible to all.
What if I can’t manage to come every week? While we of course encourage regular attendance, it’s quite normal for students to miss one or two evenings. This should not be a problem as each week we give a brief recap of the previous week and also provide a detailed hand-out which captures the key points.
Will the course give me a good basic understanding of ALL the main philosophical traditions and approaches? No. As we try to make clear in our communications, the course doesn’t aim or claim to cover all the main philosophies or philosophers. Instead it draws on those found in practice to be most conducive to the discovery of happiness and truth. However, along the way, we hope you will learn about some of the world’s great philosophers and teachers, eastern as well as western, including Socrates, Plato, Confucius, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Epicurus, Emerson, Shankara, Vivekananda and many others.
Is the course ‘religious’? In the end, that’s for you to judge, but in our view the course is not religious as such and certainly follows no particular religion. What it certainly does do is address the spirit in Mankind and doesn’t shy away from including quotations from great religious leaders where these are relevant. It’s designed to be suitable for people of all faiths – and those who follow no particular faith – and over many years this has been found to be so.
Does the School offer further studies in practical philosophy after the introductory course?
Yes, for those who wish. Some people find that the introductory practical philosophy course, which is intended to be of real value in its own right, satisfies their interest. Others want to continue their studies. The School caters for this, offering additional courses and the chance to penetrate further the great questions of life. This can last for another term, another year, or longer. However long or short a time people may wish to study in the School, the hope is that everyone will find something of true and lasting value.
What form do these further studies take?
The basic format of a group discussion remains unchanged.
In terms of content, the next few terms examine the subjects broadly covered in the introductory course in more detail, exploring further ways to make the study practical.
After that, the study increasingly turns to deeper understanding of the philosophy of Advaita. This can go on for as long as the individual wishes. Each term has the capacity to add something of real value to those whose interest persists.
What is ‘Advaita’? The main exponent of Advaita philosophy was Adi Shankara who lived some 1200 years ago. He is regarded by many as India’s foremost philosopher and thinker.
The word Advaita means ‘not two’. The emphasis is on the unity between people and throughout the whole universe. That unity is not seen at the physical or worldly level of actions, but may be experienced in the underlying level of feelings and emotion. Advaita philosophy provides a practical way of finding freedom from the limits and movements which often affect the mind, and it provides profound insight into the reality of our existence. It also helps with the knowledge of how to live harmoniously and justly in the world.
Advaita philosophy is not a religion and requires no conversion. In practice it is seen to help people come to a fuller understanding of their own religion and traditions. Adi Shankara established a tradition of teachers to hold and pass on this timeless wisdom. It continues to offer freedom, happiness, knowledge and love to all.