PHILOSOPHY AND NATURE
PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHY WORKS WITH NATURE, NEVER AGAINST
Just as the natural world is ordered and balanced by discoverable laws and regulations, so is human nature.
The three courses in this fourth year of Practical Philosophy open the realm of nature to practical discovery. The first course, The Law of Three, explores the ancient sāṃkhya teaching of the three fundamental substances running through everything and reveals how this teaching can help to bring harmony and balance into life. The second course, The Five Kosha, seeks that essence which is beyond the laws and regulations of nature and looks at how it can be revealed.
The final course in this fourth year, Harmony, brings The Law of Three and The Five Kosha together in a discovery of how an event unfolds in harmonious steps, very like the seven progressive steps in the musical octave. Harmonious action means action in harmony with things as they are and includes the idea of universal harmony as well as harmony between human beings.
“Nature is a unity in diversity of phenomena; a harmony, blending together all created things, however dissimilar in form and attributes; one great whole animated by the breath of life. The most important result of an inquiry into nature is therefore to establish the unity and harmony of this, to comprehend nature, to lift the veil that shrouds her phenomena.” Cosmos Alexander von Humboldt
“Such is the lesson of ancient philosophy: an invitation to each human being to transform himself. Philosophy is a transformation of one’s way of being and living, and a quest for wisdom.” – Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life
“WHEN ALL THE FIVE SHEATHS HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED, THE SELF OF MAN APPEARS PURE, OF THE ESSENCE OF EVERLASTING AND UNALLOYED BLISS, INDWELLING, SUPREME, AND SELF-EFFULGENT.” (Vivekacudamani 151-2)
The idea that the essence of each being is hidden within five kosha, or sheathes, has its origins in the ancient Taittirīya Upanishad. The Upanishad shows how a knowledge of these five sheathes can lead to a positive realisation of who I truly am.
This course seeks that essence which is beyond the laws and regulations of nature and looks at how it can be revealed.
Different philosophies interpret the teaching on the five kosha differently. We will take our lead from Advaita philosophy, which shows how these five kosha protect and nourish the essence of the human being, but also how they can stop the unwary soul from discovering who or what they really are.
- The absolute hidden in all things
- The Taittirīya Upanishad on the five kosha
- ‘I’ and the body
- Breaking free of the Koshas as limits
- Food and the cycle of life
- Breath and life-force
- The knowledge-sheath
- The bliss-sheath and pleasure
- Senses and sense-organs
- Discernment between self and not-self
“HE WHO LIVES IN HARMONY WITH HIMSELF LIVES IN HARMONY WITH THE UNIVERSE.” (Meditations of Marcus Aurelius)
The final course in this fourth year, Harmony, explores the idea of harmony at the individual and universal levels. When a human being is in harmony with themselves, their minds and hearts are also in harmony. Action reflects that harmony in a creative and direct response to the needs of the moment. The aim is harmony with all.
Just as colours can be in harmony and just as the notes of the musical octave can be arranged harmoniously, so the human being can move harmoniously towards a realisation of his or her full potential. The course outlines seven steps through which the evolving soul can become more aware of that potential until there is full realisation.
- How events unfold step-by-step
- The law of harmonious action
- The value of a god impulse
- The nature of decision and efforts
- Insight and how it arises
- Cooperation and a wider order to things
- Resistance and making decisions
- The experience of universal harmony
- The function of a system and the purpose of discipline
- Living in harmony with oneself
- The power of habit
- Connecting the individual to the universal
- Speech, thought and action working together