About Us Ongoing Study
For some, the introductory philosophy course is as far as their interest takes them. For those who wish to continue the studies and practices proceed through four main stages.
During the fourth term students are offered the opportunity to take up meditation. This practice gradually helps to bring about inner peace, stillness and clarity of mind, and also to generate finer energy for practical use in daily life.
The introduction to meditation is regarded as a significant event. It is marked by a simple, dignified traditional ceremony. Students are asked to present some traditional offerings, including a gift of money that is used solely for the purpose of making meditation available as widely as possible.
There does come a point, generally speaking during the third year, when it is not really practical for students who have not taken up meditation to continue with philosophical studies at a more advanced level in the School, although they are welcome to rejoin an earlier group if they wish to do so.
After students have been introduced to meditation, an additional feature of this stage is the introduction to voluntary service within the School. This has both a philosophical and a practical aspect. Philosophically, it provides a specific opportunity to work with others in the School in an atmosphere that is conducive to putting the philosophical teaching into practice, not as an end in itself but as an aid to applying it more frequently and effectively in daily life. Practically, it provides the resources necessary for the School to function in a manner that allows course fees to be kept to a practical minimum. Right from the start it has been a basic principle that as far as possible activities such as the preparation and serving of refreshments, cleaning and maintenance of buildings should be undertaken on a voluntary basis as an act of service.
The next stage for meditating students, usually after about three years, is the opportunity to participate in residential events at the School's residential centre at Townley Hall near Drogheda, County Louth. These involve study, group meetings and discussion, periods of work and twice daily practice of meditation. There is generally an introductory weekend followed by a full week. Then students move on to the normal annual residential programme of two weekends and a week spread over the spring, summer and autumn terms.
When the residential programme and voluntary service have become established, students are introduced to the study of Sanskrit as an important aid towards the deeper penetration of philosophical texts such as the Bhagavad Gita and the principal Upanishads. Linguistic scholars generally acknowledge that this ancient language, described in the Shorter Oxford dictionary as "the oldest known member of the Indo-European family", has a most refined grammatical structure and a profound spiritual content. This study paves the way for a move, in due course, to the senior part of the School where students continue philosophical studies and practices at a deeper level, and many take on tutoring or other responsibilities concerned with the organisation and running of the School.
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