Leon MacLaren’s Course Material
Leon MacLaren’s Course Material
Leon MacLaren was only twenty-seven when he started writing the weekly course material for The School of Economic Science and he continued to do so until very shortly before his death. He regarded this material as the life blood of the School. If all the material he wrote in his lifetime had been published it would have filled a library.
This amazing life’s work can be divided into three distinct periods in the development of the School. In 1937 he wrote the economics material inspired by Henry George, an American economist. In the fifties, when he moved into the direction of philosophy, and was inspired by the material of P.D.Ouspensky and the teaching of the Fourth Way. In the sixties there was a third change, when, having become a disciple of H.H. Shantananda Sarsaswati, he began to expound the teaching of Advaita Vedanta. He continued this until his death.
As his personal assistant I witnessed the writing process from close quarters. Every morning from Monday to Friday his secretary would arrive armed with an old fashioned typewriter, later to be replaced by a laptop, and take dictation from him from morning till afternoon. He would sit down in his usual chair by the fire with the inevitable cup of strong tea, and after a deep silence he would just start speaking, the words flowing from in a continuous stream. At times this could go on for hours without stopping, at other times he would need to wait until the flow started again. The secretary typed the words straight onto the type writer and he rarely made mistakes or changed what he had said.
Sometimes he would want to sit outside to work as he loved the fresh air. This could be in the middle of winter. I remember them sitting both rugged up in blankets on the lawn of Waterperry House, the poor secretary freezing with cold, her fingers stiff in spite of her gloves. I also remember that sometimes we drove all the way to Poole Harbour on the South Coast. There he sat dictating on the terrace of a small seaside hotel. The waiters were intrigued as they supplied the ‘professor’ with endless cups of tea, thinking he must be someone important.
His writing covered all age groups, the four year olds in the day schools, teenagers, the youth, the most senior groups, special groups abroad. They all received material suitable to their needs. All these weekly courses were written after he had heard reports on the previous week from the relevant tutors. It was his complete dedication which helped to sustain and nourish the tens of thousands of students during all the years he was their leader and all of us are indebted to him.
In the light of this I felt it was time to preserve what I can from his writings, before the words on the old stencils fade completely. I chose his earliest material, Part One to part Seven, which covers two and a half years of teaching material. He regarded it as the most important as it was the first ‘sound’ people heard when they came in through the door. This Part One material was used for thirty years by all the schools worldwide.
It was originally seven sets of twelve lectures for a course of twelve weeks each. I have had to edit the text slightly, reordering and abridging it to make it more accessible. I have also added more practices where needed and gave the whole series a new title: Know Thyself.
Practice was the key throughout his material and one important practice is what MacLaren called: The Exercise. It was an exercise spelt out in full, which the students had to practice a few times every day, and which they were asked to report on the next week. It took central place in the weekly readings of the material, as a reminder that this is a teaching to be practiced, and not just a theory to be discussed in groups.
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Anyone who would like to have this material, please email me.
I will send the material as a pdf file free of charge.
See also for further information:
The Power Within – Leon MacLaren, a memoir of his life and Work
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