THREADS OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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The desire for freedom, happiness and fullness of life is like a thread running through humanity's best pursuits.

For well over a decade, students of the School of Philosophy in Sydney have been presenting lectures, discussions and workshops on areas of complementary study of particular interest to them. These presentations have been given during Sunday morning Threads of Consciousness sessions and at all-day Symposium events.

These very popular and well-attended events have allowed participants to spend their time and attention on core questions related to their essential humanity and understanding of the world.

On Sunday 16th September, the School is providing a whole-day opportunity to take part in lectures and Q&A discussions on five wide-ranging and interesting subjects.

Ready to book now? Follow this link to register

SESSION ONE

There are two talks to choose from in Session One.

 

SESSION TIMES

Session One: 9:00 - 10:15

Tea Break: 10.15-10.45

Q&A: 10:45 - 12:00

TRADITION - Anthony Renshaw

They but preserve the ashes, thou the flame (John Denham, 1614-1669)

Denham was comparing a brilliant poet with others less-brilliant, but the same metaphor also applies to the idea of tradition. Tradition tends a living flame rather than worshiping the ashes of a dead past.  This talk will explore the creative and sustaining power of tradition; how it nourishes and supports creative genius; how it vitalises and carries diverse societies, nations and cultures; how it can be seen as a singular thread upon which the great achievements of humanity hang as pearls on a thread.

THE SNAKE AND THE ROPE TRICK - Malcolm Lennox

The fundamental tenet of Advaita philosophy is that despite all evidence to the contrary, there is indeed only one and all else is a dream. For practical purposes the world of things and forces is taken as real, but for those seeking liberation the dream has to be dispelled and the unchanging One revealed.  The Vedic analogy is: one twilight evening a piece of rope lying on the path is mistaken for a snake, the whole being reacts to the snake – the terror, the loathing, the desire to flee etc; however, when the rope is eventually seen for what it is, the snake no longer exists, it never did exist, whatever the reaction.  However, the illusory snake cannot be entirely separated from the rope, nor the rope from the snake, there is a dependency.

This talk will examine what it is we actually see, how what we see is made to appear and what is there when we look at it deeply.  We will do this through an examination of matter, Quantum Mechanics, Space/Time, the nature of time and the birth of the Cosmos until just when we think we have got it the snake disappears!

SESSION TWO

There are three talks to choose from in Session Two.

 

SESSION TIMES

Session Two: 13:00 - 14:15

Tea Break: 14.15-14.45

Q&A: 14:45 - 16:00

PHILOSOPHICAL GYMNASTICS - William Fox

Socrates acknowledged two teachers: Diotima who taught him about Love and Parmenides.

When Socrates was a young adult he met Parmenides and Zeno who were visiting Athens.  Socrates in response to a reading of Zeno’s book defending Parmenides’ proposition that ‘All is One’, questioned Zeno.  Many of those present thought Parmenides and Zeno would be annoyed with Socrates’ questioning, but instead both recognised his talent.

Socrates then proposed the existence of a realm of Forms, non-physical realities, such as Beauty, Justice and Truth, but when questioned by Parmenides, Socrates was unable to defend the Theory adequately.  Parmenides said that although Socrates had a future in philosophy, he cared too much about the opinion of others and needed more rigorous training. Parmenides reluctantly agreed to give a demonstration of the sort of training that is necessary.

This talk explores this training that Parmenides demonstrated, namely considering a proposition eight different times from eight different vantage points.  At stake is the ability to rest the mind anywhere.

THE WESTERN CANNON: ARCHAIC CURIOSITIES OR A CONCISE GUIDE TO NAVIGATING THE MODERN WORLD? - Ross Farrelly and Simon Beissel

In this session, you will take a whirlwind journey through the classics of the Western Cannon. Focussing on the theme of reference and continuity, this talk will demonstrate the way in which many classics from the Western Cannon refer to and develop themes from previous works. The benefits of being familiar with these works will be discussed and their relevance to modern day life will be highlighted.

There will be a chance to read and reflect on an excerpt from one of the classics and discuss it in a group setting using the shared enquiry method, a form of enquiry based on the Socratic method.

For more than ten years Ross Farrelly and Simon Beissel have been members of a two-man book club dedicated to reading the classics of the Western Cannon. In this session they share their experience of reading numerous classics from Sophocles’ Antigone to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and discuss the practical benefits of reading the timeless classics.

SCRIPTURE FOR SECULARISTS AND SCEPTICS - Russel Layton

Australia is a secular society that is in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water.  Mankind’s ancient traditions have much to offer that is as relevant now as it ever was, however penetration and understanding is more challenging in a world that has lost direct contact with these traditions.  With lack of understanding comes lack of interest. It’s all too hard.

Many of today’s religions and philosophies are based on the words of teachers that were recorded long after the teacher’s death.  The teachings of Orpheus, Homer, Socrates, Moses, Jesus, Confucius and Buddha, for example, started as oral traditions.  Over time the original teachings have become buried in a confusion of fundamentalism, literalism, and a multitude of conflicting cults, sects, schisms, theologies, dogmas and commentaries.

The genuine seeker is left to struggle in the dark.

Penetration of scripture is not a theoretical exercise.  It is intensely practical, and during this session we will look at a technique for reading scripture and penetrating the layers of meaning held within.  We will be guided by a 12th century Christian mystic, but the technique he describes is ancient and appears in many forms.  During this session you will do most of the work.

This is scripture for the secularist, the only requirement being a vigorous spirit of enquiry and a willingness to offer free range to mind and heart to power the enquiry.

PROGRAM

Guests are invited to enrol for half a day (one session) or the whole day (two sessions). Each presentation session run for 1 hour 15 minutes and each are followed by a Q&A session.

Lunch and morning and/or afternoon tea are included in the admission price.

Doors Open:   8.30
Session One:   9:00 – 10:15
Morning Tea:   10:15 – 10:45
Session One Q&A: 10:45 – 12:00
Lunch:   12:00 – 13:00
Session Two:   13:00 – 14:15
Afternoon Tea:   14:15 – 14:45
Session Two Q&A:   14:45 – 16.00

 

BIOGRAPHIES

ANTHONY RENSHAW

Anthony Renshaw is the Head of the School of Practical Philosophy in NSW and ACT.

He has been leading the School since 2000. He has given talks and run residential retreats and philosophy programs here in Australia as well as the United Kingdom and North America. His programs and talks cover a range of themes, some of which include: Mantra Meditation – Meditation and the West; Philosophy in Focus – Attention in Action; Love and Reason – Hand in Hand; The Practical Philosopher – Master and Companion.

WILLIAM FOX

William has a classics degree, with a lifetime interest in the subject both as a scholar and teacher.  At present he is involved in an editorial capacity with a major new translation of the works of Plato.

MALCOLM LENNOX

Malcolm Lennox is a Geologist by profession with a long abiding interest in the relation between physics and metaphysics.

ROSS FARRELLY

Ross Farrelly has held roles during his career varying from self-employed sculptor (1998-1999) through to Chief Data Scientist at Teradata (2012-2016)   He has an abiding interest in all forms of culture especially the classics of the Western Cannon.  He has degrees in pure mathematics, applied statistics and applied ethics and also writes occasionally for the Spectator Australia.

SIMON BEISSEL

Simon is a career banker having worked for local and international banks for over 20 years in financing, strategy, investment banking and management roles.  He holds undergraduate and post graduate qualifications in finance and business administration, and has been an active volunteer throughout his career in not-for-profit and charitable organisations involved in youth and education.  Simon was delighted to discover a love of history and the classics outside of formal education.

 

RUSSELL LAYTON

Russ Layton is a retired ship’s master with a love of philosophy. He is married, has 3 adult children, and no formal qualifications in philosophy.

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