Frequently Asked Questions
Scroll down for answers to the common questions we get asked
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Frequently Asked Questions
What does the School of Philosophy do?
We offer a series of ongoing courses in practical philosophy; some delving deeper into philosophy in general and others focussing on a specific aspect of philosophy for more in-depth study. Beginning with an introductory course, further courses are available for as long as students wish to pursue their love of wisdom.
How much do your courses cost?
Do you provide financial aid?
What is your refund policy?
If for any reason you want to cancel after your first session you will receive full refund.
Please contact us on 0800 610 539 to make arrangements or discuss how we can make your experience better.
What philosophy does the School of Philosophy teach?
We draw inspiration from many philosophies and religious traditions from around the world including the Platonic tradition, the Judaeo-Christian. We are particularly inspired by the ancient concepts of Advaita Vedanta. Our aim is to discover and realise in life the truth about one’s self and the unity that lies within creation. This study leads our students to a conclusion that all religions and philosophies reflect differing aspects of the one truth. This can help us in practice to find our own inner strength, freedom, intelligence and happiness. Qualities which then reflect naturally in life.
What do you mean by “philosophy”?
The Greek philosopher Socrates defined philosophy as “the love of wisdom”. Our goal is to discover truth and develop wisdom by the practical application in our daily lives of what has been discovered through philosophical teaching.
Practical Philosophy is a journey of discovery through study, discussion and reflection. Where the truth of what we have learnt is then applied to and tested against the experience of everyday life.
Why do you teach about meditation and what kind of meditation do you practice?
Meditation allows the experience of deep inner peace and happiness and, over time, can make these qualities part of everyday life. We teach and practice mantra meditation based on the Advaita Vedanta tradition because we’ve found through long experience that it works. We begin to explore meditation as part of the introductory course and expand on this in later courses. As a member of the school you can also take part in a traditional initiation into this meditation involving a short ceremony honouring the lineage of teachers.
A once-only donation is requested for the initiation. Following initiation, the School offers free and continued care and support for meditation as long as you want it, even if you stop attending courses.
What do you teach students about mindfulness?
We approach mindfulness by learning how to practically develop a better understanding around self-awareness. Mindfulness is first explored in our introductory course and throughout later courses and students are encouraged to practice mindfulness techniques to experience a positive impact on their daily lives. Want to find out more? Head to our information page about mindfulness here.
“Perhaps the simplest way to describe it is to say that mindfulness is the practice of paying attention: knowing where our attention is and being able to choose where to direct it” – Dr C Hassed.
I have attended a course in the past and would like to return, can I do that?
The answer is yes. Get in touch through our contact page or by calling us on 0800 610 539 and let us know your details and the last course you attended and we can let you know about your next course and upcoming start dates.
We understand that from time to time it is helpful to take a break from studying and we want to make returning to the school as straightforward as possible.
What do you do with my course fees?
The School of Philosophy is entirely supported by course fees and donations. As a not-for-profit, charitable organisation our funds go entirely to support courses, events and retreats, to maintain buildings and to advertise courses. All our tutors and administrative team are volunteers who do not receive payment for their services to the school. Over the 50 years that we have been in existence we have purchased two buildings, funded by fees, donations and loans.
Are your courses open to anyone?
Yes, our courses are open to anyone regardless of age, race, sex or religious or other belief. Many students actively practice their own faiths and beliefs and are supported in this by our tutors in an open and inclusive manner.
Do you have any age restrictions for your courses?
Generally, we would advise that the level of maturity required within our group sessions would not be suitable for children. We have no upper age limit for attending our courses.
If you would like to discuss your own situation with on of our team please fill in our form on the contact page.
Do I need to have any previous qualifications or higher education to take part in the courses?
No. Our practical approach to philosophy is open to everyone, from all walks of life; working, professional, at home or academic. Our courses deal with the experience and challenges of everyday life. If you are interested in this practical approach, willing to join in discussions and ready to enter into the spirit of the investigation then that is all you need. If you have studied philosophy before in an academic setting you may find this a different and intriguing approach.
How academic is the course?
Our courses are not academic qualifications. The only test that is given is everyday life: are we happier, more effective, more peaceful? There are no certificates, diplomas or qualifications; just the opportunity to examine life and keep growing and learning.
Our classes are open discussions based on readings and observations where we encourage group participation facilitated by a course tutor.
Is there any preparation or reading I should do before attending your introductory course?
Are there further courses I can attend?
Yes, if you have already attended one or some of our courses there are even more on offer. Most people find substantial benefit in expanding their knowledge of philosophy both in general and in some of more specific courses that cover topics such as; True happiness, Love, Presence of mind and Freedom. We have students who have been participating in the School’s courses and retreats since it was founded in the 1961 and find a strong sense of community.
To sign up for your next course speak to your course tutor or get in touch through our contact page.
What happens in a typical class?
The group sessions take on a different topic each week. In each weekly class a discussion is facilitated to combine relevant excerpts from a variety of philosophers and as each student’s own experience of the topic. Students are asked to observe what goes on in and around them during the week in relation to the topic and these observations form the basis for the following week’s discussion.
The basis of the approach is reasonable enquiry and students are asked to neither passively accept nor reject what is discussed, but to actively seek to discover for themselves whether what is proposed is true or false.
Who are the course tutors?
Our tutors are all men and women who have studied philosophy in the School of Philosophy for many years. They come from all walks of life, united by a shared love of wisdom, and volunteer their time to teach. Tutors are selected for the breadth of their understanding, their character and their devotion to principle. Every tutor in the School remains a student in their own group to help them grow in their own understanding.
What days do the courses run?
Our course Introduction to Practical Philosophy and Mindfulness is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Auckland and on a Tuesday in Hamilton. For details about the next introductory course dates and times please head to our dates page.
*The same material is taught in each of the sessions during the week so it is possible to vary your attendance between the different sessions.
For further courses your course tutor will give you information directly.
When does your next course begin?
For information about the next Introduction to Practical Philosophy and Mindfulness course please head to our dates page.
To find out about the dates for any other courses please contact us on 0800 610 539.
I recently completed a course and would like to share feedback; how can I do that?
We appreciate all feedback (both good and bad) as it lets us know what we are getting right and where we can make your experience even better. If you have something to share please head to our contact us page and share your comments in the “Got a Question” section.
Alternatively, you can review us on our Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/schoolofphilosophynz/reviews/.
I don’t live in Auckland or Hamilton are there similar schools you can recommend?
The School of Philosophy has a sister school that offers courses in Wellington, Palmerston North, Masterton and Christchurch. We also have a list of schools that we can recommend internationally.
To find out how to get in touch with these schools please head to our affiliations page.
The original school is the School of Economic Science in London, England, founded in the 1930’s. As students relocated over the years, new schools began around the world, each reflecting the society in which it is established. Like our Auckland school, each is legally autonomous and administered by the more senior students. The Schools maintain regular contact with each other and share a common approach to the subjects studied.
Is it possible to attend a one-off meditation class?
If you are already enrolled in a course at the School of Philosophy we make meditation retreats available for our students at intervals throughout the year.
Because it is essential to have a foundational understanding of philosophy, meditation and how the school works to receive the benefit from our retreats we only make these events available to current students. If you are interested in joining the school our Introduction to practical Philosophy and Mindfulness is the place to begin.
How do I sign up for your “Thought for the Day”?
If you would like to receive our thought for the day visit our contact us page and fill in your details in the “Register” section.
Philosophical, Spiritual and Famous Quotes sent to your inbox each day, reminding you about the important things in life.
Are you on Facebook?
Yes. You can find us at www.facebook.com/schoolofphilosophynz/ please give us a like to keep up to date with what is happening at the school.
I attend the school and am interested in joining a social group with other students, what would you recommend?
Subjects such as; drama, music, art, calligraphy, economics, mathematics, Sanskrit, the education of children, the Renaissance, dance and more are explored in greater depth in study groups formed by interested students. If you would like to find out what groups are happening near to you and how to contact them please call us on 0800 610 539 or speak to your course tutor.
Are you a religious organisation?
No, although we do welcome all people from all beliefs and religions. The school of philosophy has a simple goal – to facilitate classes and discussions for thoughtful people that cover key areas of philosophy.
Though we are affiliated with other similar organisations around the world we are legally and financially autonomous and have intentionally structured the school to be transparent in its role as a facility for study.
What do you say about some people saying the study of philosophy is a cult?
Philosophy schools have attracted criticism over the years and we have generally found these criticisms to be inaccurate or incorrect and often ill informed. The School of Philosophy would like to state that it is not a cult and that it openly welcomes all people.
We have come to the conclusion that this accusation, of being a cult, has more opportunity to arise when there isn’t clear understanding of what we offer. Therefore, we make considerable effort to be overtly transparent and candid in our activities and in our exploration of the Adviata Vedanta philosophy. If you have questions about who we are and what we believe please read on in our About Us section or contact us directly and we would be happy to talk further with you.
If this area is of particular interest to you we have written an article about detractors here.
Why should I study philosophy?
Is the Glendowie retreat centre available to hire?
Under special circumstances we can make the centre available for hire. To enquire please fill in the form on our contact page.
*Please note that this facility is in frequent use by the school and we reserve the right to decline a booking enquiry.
I want to find out more, what should I do?
If we haven’t answered your questions on this frequently asked questions page already then please head to our Contact Us page and fill in our online form. Alternatively, if you would like to call us you can get in touch on 0800 610 539.
You might also be interested to read some comments from students about their experiences at the School of Philosophy.
You can also find our details in the Citizens Advice Bureau directory.
Want to know more about us?