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 A Christmas message

December 2015

As Christmas approaches it is worthwhile to consider the significance of the Christmas celebration from the point of view of Advaita Philosophy.

It is difficult to say exactly what events happened in Palestine, more than two thousand years ago, which we still commemorate. The Gospel accounts are almost the only descriptions available to us and they are very brief. It is worth taking the time to read them.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a child. Despite our views on the significance of that birth in religious terms, or whether we consider that it even happened at all, the story can be taken as a symbolic description of every human birth, a reminder that every child is the embodiment of the divine, that every child, every human being, is the embodiment of consciousness, which is pure and unaffected by the events of the world.

The story tells us that the physical, the material, is insignificant when compared to the world of spirit.  At a time when the material aspect of existence seems to take an inordinate amount of our attention, it is good to be reminded that there is a world beyond the physical which is far greater in dimension and effect.

The story reminds us that wonder and awe are essential parts of human experience when so much of our experience can be dulled by the mundane and the trivial.

The message of the angels to the shepherds, as it is related in St Luke’s Gospel, is applicable here and now, universally and at all times.  The Authorised Version of the Bible puts it this way.

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will towards men. 

To hold the resolution that there should be peace on earth and good will to all is crucial, not just in the days ahead but, at all times.  Religious conviction is not needed to appreciate the first half of the statement. One way of understanding it is that the glory of consciousness shines in and through all things in extremity at all levels of existence. It is our aim as philosophers to recognise that this is so.

Finally, it is good to refer to Shakespeare on the matter of Christmas.  As far as I know, there is only one description in all of Shakespeare’s works. This occurs in Hamlet.  As he so often does, he manages to capture the essence in just a few words.

Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.

(Hamlet, Act I, scene i)

May this Christmas be hallowed and gracious and may there be peace and good will towards all.

With best wishes
Rex Howard
Head of School


 Going back to school to learn how to find peace

612 ABC interviews the Head of School, Mr Howard, to learn all about the School.


Meditation challenge

Do you like the idea of meditation, but aren’t sure how to get started?

Join the teams from Life Matters and ABC Health and Wellbeing as they take a Meditation Challenge and try to bring some inner calm to our frantic lives (especially as the year draws to a close). We know meditation can help you feel less stressed, boost your concentration and improve your sense of wellbeing, but to get the benefits you need to do it regularly.

Their website has fantastic resources about meditation.

Hugh Jackman talks about the School of Philosophy

‘The word philosophy sounds high-minded, but it simply means the love of wisdom. If you love something, you don’t just read about it; you hug it, you mess with it, you play with it, you argue with it.’

Read more

Public Lecture Series

Mr Shane Mulhall from the School of Philosophy and Economic Science Dublin visited Brisbane in July to give a series of lectures. You are invited to download these lectures.  A small donation ($10) to help cover the cost of the lecture series would be appreciated, and can be made at the enrolments desk on any group night or via direct debit.

Philosophy and the Purpose of Your Life – What is the real purpose of yours?’ DOWNLOAD

‘Philosophy and Marriage’ DOWNLOAD

Philosophy and Unconditional Love – Is there anybody out there who can meet my particular requirements?’ DOWNLOAD

‘Philosophy and Parenting’ DOWNLOAD

Shane Mulhall has been head of the School of Philosophy & Economic Science in Ireland for 20 years which primarily presents philosophy courses to over 1500 students on a weekly basis throughout Ireland.  He has written two courses on parenting which have been attended by over 3500 people.  He has also lectured extensively in Ireland, UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Israel, Trinidad, Canada and South Africa on a variety of topics including parenting, love, desire, happiness, reason, careers, decision making, fear, freedom, compassion, success, communication, ambition, family, marriage, grief, leadership, patience, true service, ethics, relationships, purpose of your life, spiritual endeavour, responsibility, caring for yourself, the end of suffering, realising your potential and stress.