Explore Life To The Full…
The Norwich course offers a practical means to discover fully who we are, understand how to relate to the world we live in and see what gets in the way of being happy, peaceful and free.
Students are invited to see life as a place to test the words of the wise through practical and mindful exercises.
10 weekly sessions
The 10 weekly sessions explore central human questions through discussion, practical observation, conversation and reflection in good company.
Themes included in the course: (click each title below for more details)
These opening sessions consider how philosophy can help us enjoy richer, less stressful lives. What is practical philosophy? ‘What would a wise person do here?’ Philosophy means the love of wisdom. Our course is intended to show how philosophy can help us enjoy richer, less stressful and more useful lives. This opening two sessions consider these aims, and introduces simple exercises in mindfulness and the application of wisdom you can practise in daily life. You can download or listen to the Awareness Exercise, introduced in week one here. To download, right-click, choose 'Save link as...' and save the MP3 wherever you want. You can also download a PDF of the Awareness Exercise
Who or what am I? What is my potential? Who am I, really? My body? My emotions? My strongly held beliefs? My soul? Possibly all of these? Possibly none? Such questions have preoccupied philosophers down the ages. We look at practical ways to explore who we really are and how to tap our true potential.
What is our state of awareness? Why does it fluctuate during the day? Often the most notable quality of wise people is their alertness to the subtleties of a situation. They are awake, perceptive and curious. We look at deeper levels of awareness, and consider how we may become more awake to ourselves, our surroundings, and the events we meet.
Living in the now, mindfulness. What is the potential of the present moment? We review our own experience of attention through a model featuring attention centred, captured, open and scattered, and how these each relate to the past, present and future. We examine the extraordinary brightness and freedom naturally available in the present moment. A straightforward practice is introduced.
Plato’s views on justice. What does it mean to live justly? According to Plato, justice and injustice do not start ‘out there’. They begin within us. For justice to prevail, Plato suggests that we must learn to avoid being ‘tyrannised’ by our passions and fears to the extent they overrule our reason. We discuss the practicality of Plato’s ideas on justice in our daily lives.
The Vedic model of three fundamental energies. Sometimes we seem not to have enough energy, or the wrong kind. A wise person can act consistently despite these varying conditions. We consider how to recognise differing energies, how to gain and conserve them and how to use them wisely.
What is reason? How can it enrich our lives? We look at guidelines for Socratic dialogue and how to use them. Developing reason in decision-making and action are also discussed, with practical applications. Obstacles to reason are considered. Everyone has the faculty of reason and we can all use it and develop it.
What is beauty?
Is there such a thing as absolute beauty?
Beauty has the capacity to open the heart and bring delight. In this session we discuss our direct experience of beauty in its different form: of the sensory world, of thought, of feelings, of the inner nature, and of conduct.
We consider Plato’s idea of there being ultimately one beauty – beauty absolute – ‘not knowing birth or death, growth or decay’.
Looking for the common thread in life. What is the effect of finding unity? When we look around, we see enormous diversity in nature. The wise person looks for the unifying factor: that which allows all this apparent diversity to be seen as part of a single whole. Seen in this way, life then has the best chance of being led freshly and openly.
What is truth? How does the desire for truth show itself? Practical philosophy is about discovering the truth of things – not theoretically, but in our own experience. In this final session we look back and ask ourselves how our search for truth has fared as the term has progressed. We discuss what has been discovered and how, in our own way, we may continue to develop it in our daily lives.
Holidays come and go. Clothes wear out. Bank accounts go up and down. Through all this,
the desire for happiness is a compass point.
The desire for happiness is hard-wired into human nature because happiness is part of our nature. But something’s blocking the flow. The Happiness course opens the gate and sets you on your way and focuses on meeting the perennial need for everyone to find the well-spring of happiness through all of life’s changing circumstances.
This course will calibrate your compass, provide a map and refresh your navigation skills.
Happiness and service. Is happiness natural?
What is true happiness? Is this natural to a man or woman? How may it be experienced fully and how is it lost? Is it permanent or transient?
Happiness and law; Happiness and utilitarianism;
Happiness and pleasure, Epicurus, Aristippus, Plato
The Platonic goods which lead to happiness
Lao Tzu, finding inner equilibrium
An introduction to Marsilio Ficino
Happiness: contentment, Patanjali
Finding happiness in work
Happiness and Wisdom