Courses

Our ten-week introductory course provides a foundation for further learning and inquiry. There are three terms each year: in January, April, and September.

We are now enrolling for our next session, which begins on September 13, 2017.

Classes are held on Wednesday evenings from 7 - 9:30 pm at The First Unitarian Church of Rochester at 220 S. Winton Road (between East and Highland Avenue). There is a short break each class for refreshments.

All lessons are interactive, accessible, and informal.

Meditation training is offered in the second and third years.



Course Descriptions:

Part 1, Wisdom - Drawing on the philosophic ideas of East and West, past and present, this introduction to the school explores the meaning of wisdom, truth, consciousness and the real nature of human beings. Wisdom is the knowledge which allows life to be lived in such a way that is is true and happy.

Part 2, Happiness - This term we concentrate on one essential aspect of self-knowledge, true happiness, and how it may be fully experienced. We ask what happiness is, whether it’s innate in human beings, and permanent or transient. Also considered is the difference between happiness and pleasure, and how one might increase happiness while working.

Part 3, Love - This semester looks at the nature of pure love. We ask the following questions and more: What is love and is it who we really are? Is love innate and how is it increased or decreased? What is its source? What are the different expressions of love when it is enlightened by wisdom, and how is it affected when wisdom is absent?

Part 4, Presence of Mind - This course is designed to help you to live in the present. We will consider the nature of the mind and how greater presence can lead to more self-awareness, insight and foresight. Being present may even allow one to find something valuable in difficult situations. We will also cover Plato's Allegory Of The Cave as well as the very current topic of “Mindfulness”.

Part 5, Freedom - The desire for freedom is common to everyone. What is the true nature of freedom and how may it be experienced fully and continuously? In what ways is freedom lost? Freedom depends on our use of reason, so this course looks at models of the mind to learn some principles for reason.

Part 6, The Way Of Action - This term looks at the importance of the impulse and intention, patience, and one’s attachment to the outcome of an action. Also discussed, with a look at the Bhagavad Gita, is that the greatest power of action comes from Love. Failing this, one can resort to discipline & duty, which can grow into Love.

Part 7, The Way Of Devotion - In this course we study a powerful force both within individuals and societies. Devotion can lift people to the most extraordinary heights, but when it is misplaced it may cause great destruction. An understanding of devotion, what it is, what its effects are, how it may best be directed, is essential if we are to understand our own nature and the forces that are at play in the world.

Part 8, The Way Of Knowledge - Learn how to develop hindsight, insight and foresight and to observe the underlying cause of events. Practice the use of worldly reason to distinguish between the transient and the eternal, and the artificial and true nature of people. Learn how the true nature can be awakened for the benefit of all rather than just oneself.

Part 9, The Way of the Householder - Is it possible to live a full life in the modern world on the firm foundation of philosophy? Life can seem full of pressures, both internal and external, as well as activity which easily causes stress. All this may leave one with a feeling of being depleted or exhausted. Is this way of living inevitable, or can better way be discovered through practice?

Part 10, The Law Of Three - Detachment and observation is key to not being bound to our typical reactions and ways of thinking. This semester we study the three primary energies in nature, looking at both their positive and negative influences, and how we may control their levels to appropriately balance our lives? This knowledge is a key to self mastery.

Part 11, The Five Sheaths - This term looks at how to discover the essence of our true self by temporing the parts of our nature that are identified purely with the physical. We practice transcending the the over-active mind, letting it and body be our instruments, not masters.

Part 12, The Law Of Seven - In this term we consider the succession of events which move us from ignorance to realization. Among these are Good Impulse, Decision, Effort, Insight and Abundance.