Our History

“Truth lives in each one of us, waiting to be revealed … In truth, each is made whole, all are united. No happiness is like to that in which people move together, manifesting the truth in all of them, showing unity in diversity and permanence in change.”
Leon MacLaren, Lectures

Throughout history, schools have arisen to make eternal wisdom available to those seeking the ultimate truths about themselves, the world, and the creator. While the structures of these schools and the details of their teachings have varied, the philosophical aims have been consistent: to help members discover the truth and to use that knowledge for the well being of all. Schools in this tradition have included Plato’s Academy in Ancient Athens, Marsilio Ficino’s Academy in Renaissance Florence, the American Transcendentalism movement in Massachusetts, and The School of Practical Philosophy (SPP) in New York City.

The School of Practical Philosophy was established in 1964 as an independent not-for-profit organization. It arose from the School of Economic Science (SES), founded by Leon MacLaren in 1937, with which it remains affiliated. The work of SES initially focused on economics and justice; however, the need for deeper insight into the nature of humanity led to the study of philosophy, which literally means “the love of wisdom.” By the late 1950s philosophy became the central subject and has remained so ever since.

The arrival of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to London in 1959 introduced the School to the practice of meditation, which remains the core practice of the School. In the mid-1960s the School made contact with one of the great philosophers of India, Shri Shantananda Saraswati, who, for over thirty years, provided invaluable guidance in the study and practice of philosophy and meditation. Through this connection, the School was introduced to the philosophy of non-duality, known as Advaita. Since his death in 1997, similar guidance has been provided by his successor, Shri Vasudevananda Saraswati.

The School of Practical Philosophy is pleased to offer a systematic teaching through which students may enjoy life more fully, achieve full potential and serve selflessly while evolving one’s innate spirituality. We welcome you to join this endeavor.