What the School of Philosophy means, and still means to me

By Irene Kloppers

Looking back now, after so many years since joining the school in 1969, it is abundantly clear to me, that before I joined the School of Practical Philosophy, I had so many questions that could not be answered no matter where I looked.

I reluctantly admit that a big motivating factor for my joining the school was that my Mother and I could not get on. She was extremely strict with me, and there were many questions as to how to understand her discipline and why she was so hard on me. Once I came to school however, I could handle her with confidence in myself. It was such a relief once I could stand on my own feet without hurting her.

The other was to interpret what the bible and Christian religion was teaching, not the way I thought I understood it because the way it was taught to me did not match up in real practical everyday life.

In short, the teaching corrected many misconceptions and misunderstandings of the Truth.

I remember in the earlier years, during the meetings with the tutors and the groups of students, I did not understand English very well (being Afrikaans speaking) but I had my husband sitting next to me and I whispered to him and asked him what a particular word meant, and he would explain to me in Afrikaans.

Understanding in that way, changes one’s actions to a different level and always for the better. This helped me to understand what was said, because it corrected the wrong ideas which I had previously believed to be true.  The first one was when we had a meeting, and it was stated that I am not this body. I realised that all my life I had believed that I was this body and that caused so many problems in my thinking and actions. Attachments to anything came with many problems.

We learned that we cannot get attached to our belief that we are our work, our name, our status etc.

That gave me freedom.  We were told that the world is a stage, that we each have roles to play, such as a wife in the presence of the husband, parent in the presence of the child, child in the present of parents. And so on.

After a few years in school, we were introduced to meditation and reflection. This had a profound effect on me resulting in members in the group becoming family.  And they remain my brothers and sisters.

The exercise to work with, and for others, taught me the purpose of work. That was the first step to learn how to give and serve.

Mr. McLaren, The Founder of the School of philosophy in London came to visit our school in Durban and many other schools in South Africa and the world to meet with a number of senior students  once a year for a 10 day residential.  He gave us lectures at night and during the day we were given the opportunity to put the teaching in to practice. That gave us all an opportunity to observe our thoughts. The other exercise which I found immensely helpful was to allow the attention to rest on the space where the knife touches the fruit.  It brought one to such stillness to work with that awareness that the time seemed to fly and yet the work was done perfectly.

Those actions gave such peace and happiness. We had to do what we were asked and behind that was the chance to not think whether one can, or cannot do it. It took away all the hesitation and habits of not trying and let go of the limitations we imposed on ourselves.

All I can say is that the school was my teacher to become a better person for myself and my family and as a result of that, everyone  around me benefitted.