Community Connections – Introducing the School of Philosophy

Our community includes a range of independent organisations running their own programs, events and workshops on a regular basis in various venues across our park on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis. This month we would like to introduce Stewart Morritt from the School of Philosophy.

  • Please introduce yourself and let us know how you are involved with the School of Philosophy

My name is Stewart Morritt and my role is that of tutor for the Introductory course beginning next term (September) at CERES.

  • How did you get involved with the School of Philosophy? What brought you to where you are now?

I have been a part of the Melbourne SOP since my arrival in Melbourne in 1996 – previously I had been at the schools in London and Sheffield. My first involvement was when I was 19 and I worked with the director of Sheffield Youth Theatre on many productions of Shakespeare’s plays. My director friend had fascinating and (at times) infuriating insights into the philosophy behind the bard’s words. One day I asked her where she had met such concepts. She silently handed me a flyer for the Practical Philosophy course. I was hooked from the first session – I started on Saturday mornings and I would enter the building feeling a bit flat and grey and when I came out two hours later it was like someone had painted the world in bright colours.

The unique thing about the Melbourne SOP is that it is all run on a voluntary basis. Every role within the school is performed as a service. No one benefits financially from their work in the school. Over the years the practices that are given start to change one’s outlook on life and with this increase in happiness and capability it is natural to want others to have the same opportunity.

  • Why do you think School of Philosophy is so important? What do you get out of your experience?

It presents material from the greatest minds so you can be assured you are receiving the best food for mind and soul. Plato, Jesus and Shakespeare from the west, Advaita Vedanta, Zen and the Yoga sutras from the East. More modern writers such as Jaques Lucyran and Helen Keller are also quoted making it wonderfully eclectic and nourishing. However, these are of limited significance if they are not practiced in daily life and this is the great gift of the school, along with the study comes many opportunities to practice the philosophical premise under consideration. Students are asked neither to accept nor reject what is heard but to practice it and simply observe the effects. Knowledge then becomes experience and experience leads to wisdom.

At the School of Philosophy I find answers to questions that continually expand my understanding.  The other students in my group have similar enquiries and this makes for a very open, non-judgemental environment. I believe there is, at a fundamental level, something that unites humanity and this is (sometimes) experienced in School activities. Having experienced it, even briefly, how could you not want the experience to be permanent?   

  • Why would you suggest other people get involved?

We live in an age of great uncertainty and transitoriness, nothing much seems to have any permanence in our lives. But all wisdom traditions speak of finding the permanent in the midst of change – ‘the still centre of the turning world’ as TS Eliot puts it. It gives an alternative perspective and reference point from which to view the events of life and it is invaluable. It has the potential to change things such as the choices you make; feeling more at peace; and relating more intelligently with others as your circle of compassion widens. The courses at the school are recommended for anyone that would like more balance, peace, love, happiness and unity in their lives.

  • Anything else you would like to share?

One of my favourite recollections from the course is a question put to my group, ‘How much would you sell your happiness for?’ And after some consideration the answer came, ‘Not for any money in the world’. And yet we all do it and on a daily basis – we give up our happiness for the slightest of things; we get really agitated if someone ‘steals’ our car park or we are overcharged at the bakery. With increased observation these reactions are illuminated and we start to get more distance on our habitual thought patterns. Over time we become less reactive and more reasonable when dealing with the changing circumstances of life. This can be both profound or pedestrian, and sometimes both at the same time.   

Introduction to Practical Philosophy is a ten week course offered by the School of Philosophy three times each year, in January, May and September at a range of locations. The Spring Term commences the week starting 11th September, with classes held at CERES on Wednesday evenings from 6:45pm.

You can find out more about the School of Philosophy and the Introduction to Philosophy course on their website and facebook page.

By | 2017-08-29T17:19:40+00:00 August 28th, 2017|Venue Hire|0 Comments

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