Workshops, Courses and Events

Here are some recordings from past events and talks hosted by The Study Society


Philip Marvin and Dr Peter Fenwick ‘The Art and Science of Death and Dying’

Philip Marvin  Dr Peter Fenwick

What is it that dies? Am "I" nothing but my brain? Does consciousness depend on and die with the brain? Or is it an unchanging, ever-present reality that is neither born nor dies which invisibly sustains all life, with 'death' simply being a transition among the elements, leaving consciousness untouched? So a discussion about death becomes a conversation about the nature of life itself and the different avenues we have available to us to penetrate this mystery.

Talk One: Part 1


Talk One: Part 2


Talk Two: Part 1


Talk Two: Part 2


Talk Three: Part 1


Talk Three: Part 2


Talk Four: Part 1


Talk Four: Part 2


Talk Five: Part 1


Talk Five: Part 2


Talk Six: Part 1


Talk Six: Part 2


Talk Seven: Part 1


Talk Seven: Part 2


Talk Eight: Part 1


Talk Eight: Part 2


Talk Nine: Part 1




Paul Robertson: ‘What’s Real and What’s Not?’

Although we desire to know the truth, we know that the mind creates many illusions. How then can we discriminate reality from falsehood? Like many others, from childhood onwards Paul experienced transcendent episodes and as a performer was also often fortunate enough to become musically transported. During a clinical crisis in 2008 he experienced NDE (near death experience), clinical suspension (during which life-support is suspended and the heart and breathing stops) and extended coma. Vivid memories and insights have accompanied all these various episodes - including even during the periods of clinical unconsciousness. Paul has spent the last years considering these altered states and writing a book about his experiences which provides the basis of his talk.


After lunch Paul's wife presents some of her work using music to enhance self-esteem, mindfulness and confidence, and answers questions.


Paul Robertson

Professor Paul Robertson
For well over forty years Professor Paul Robertson performed throughout the world as leader of the internationally renowned Medici String Quartet, of which he was a founder member. He is Visiting Professor in Music and Medicine to the Peninsula Medical School where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate. He is also a Visiting Fellow of Green, Templeton College, Oxford, a member of the European Cultural Parliament and Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine.


He has played a significant role in educating the public about the burgeoning role of the brain sciences in Music. This work reached a wide public with a highly acclaimed Channel 4 television series, ‘Music and the Mind’. Paul has presented a number of ‘special feature’ programmes for Radio 4. The most recent, ‘Hearing Ragas’, exploring his Coma experience and Sir John Tavener‘s late masterpiece ‘Towards Silence’, won the prestigious Sandford St. Martin Trust Radio Premier Award.


Following severe health problems, Paul now focuses upon supporting his wife Chika as Joint CEO of the Music Mind Spirit Trust which is dedicated to furthering innovative community musical projects. For the first part of 2014 he was a resident Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, where he finished a book about Meaning and Music.

Paul Robertson

Dr Chika Robertson PhD, MMus, BA, HonARAM
As the recipient of numerous violin prizes, Chika Robertson was awarded full scholarships to study with Eudice Shapiro of the University of Southern California and Dorothy Delay of the Juilliard School. She led the LA Music Centre Quartet, led and managed the Schoenberg Institute's USC Contemporary Music Ensemble and was the operations manager/principal for the LA Chamber Players.


Chika has performed regularly as a principal player with highly acclaimed ensembles including the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and London Sinfonietta and played in a piano trio with Peter Donohoe. She was awarded a PhD in contemporary violin performance and pedagogy in 1999.


She is a professor of violin at the Royal Academy of Music, Junior Academy, and Diploma examiner, seminar presenter and Professional Development Mentor for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM).


Chika is Joint Chief Executive of the Music Mind Spirit Trust and directs award-winning programmes such as 'SongTrees' to further musical opportunities for young musicians.


22 February 2015

Paul Robertson, 110 minutes.

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Chika Robertson, 41 minutes.

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Maggie La Tourelle: ‘The Gift of Alzheimer’s’

Maggie La Tourelle

This talk draws on Maggie La Tourelle’s personal experience as a companion to her mother when she had Alzheimer’s disease. For three and a half years Maggie documented their conversations and these now form the heart of her book, The Gift of Alzheimer’s. Her experience shows that, contrary to popular belief, in late-stage Alzheimer’s when cognitive function has declined and the ego is no longer in control, people can show unexpected potential. They have intermittent altered states of consciousness in which they can be extremely lucid and slip into another world where they find deep wisdom, freedom from suffering and bliss.


Maggie La Tourelle book

Maggie demonstrates that by being present, feeling love and compassion, listening with an open mind and engaging in meaningful communication, she was able to help her mother to have very positive end-of-life experiences and a peaceful transition to the Other World. Maggie touches on recent research in neuroscience that supports her findings and shows that her mother’s experiences were not unique – others can find a positive way forward too.

Maggie La Tourelle has worked in the field of holistic healthcare for thirty years as an independent practitioner, educator and writer integrating psychotherapy, NLP, kinesiology and energy healing. She also has ten years experience helping to care for both her parents at the end-of-life. Her book, Principles of Kinesiology, has become a classic in the field. She was a member of the Study Society in the 1960s.


More information can be found at:

11 February 2015, 80 minutes.

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Miranda Macpherson
‘The Heart of Non-Duality’

Miranda Macpherson


19 November 2014, 112 minutes.

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7 May 2015, 119 minutes.

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Contact Magazine

You can view recent issues of the magazine online:
Contact Magazine issue 62, Autumn 2013
Contact Magazine issue 61, Summer 2013
Contact Magazine issue 60, Spring 2013
Contact Magazine issue 59, Autumn 2012
Contact Magazine issue 58, Summer 2012
Contact Magazine issue 57, Spring 2012
Contact Magazine issue 55, Summer 2011
Contact Magazine issue 54, Spring 2011
Contact Magazine issue 53, Autumn 2010



Ruth White

Open Sunday Meeting
Ruth White & Narain Ishaya:
‘Sweet are the uses of adversity’

‘Every cloud has a silver lining’: Often we are so focused on what we want to happen we miss the lessons and blessings found in what is happening. Our resistance causes us stress and suffering. Yet every apparent holdup or disadvantage can show us incredible amounts about ourselves, our judgements, habits and reactions. Seen this way, the whole universe becomes our teacher, a constant guide to letting go of limitation and stepping into greater happiness and stability.


Ruth White is a teacher of Iyengar Yoga who has developed a unique style of teaching that unites pupil and teacher in an atmosphere of happiness and well-being. She teaches with enthusiasm and a sense of fun, and brings the same warmth and clarity to her talks and demonstrations. She is well known for her attention to detail, and has the ability to enable people to see through their limitations, achieve their full potential and experience a sense of freedom. In her teens, Ruth had chronic back problems and as she says "happened to fall at the feet of a master". At that time B.K.S. Iyengar held classes in London homes, sometimes with as few as 12 students. He showed Ruth how to work to be free of the pain. She was so inspired by his teaching, that she travelled to Poona, India, and was later given a senior teaching certificate. She taught Iyengar's teacher training classes and assessed students for their certificates. She has since made a number of trips back to India to teach and study. Through her yoga teaching, she met Narain Ishaya and his now wife, Satta. Their paths are congruous and it was easy for Ruth, or Parasakti, to commit to the Ishaya promises


Narain Ishaya was born in England in 1969. His family moved to Australia when he was 7 years old. While always leaning towards the spiritual aspect of life, he had a series of expanded experiences in 1995 and beyond, and from that his search for spiritual truth was begun in earnest. This culminated in him learning the Ishayas' Ascension techniques in 1998, the practice he uses to this day. Since 1999, he has been traveling around the world, giving talks and lectures, weekend seminars and also in-residence retreats. His commitment is to expanding consciousness, having anyone that is ready to hear know that freedom from limitation is available to all, and it is easy. He knows that it starts within, and that to heal the world, first one needs to heal the self. Narain has been a teacher of meditation, consciousness, and spiritual discovery for over fourteen years, and has taught in over seventeen countries. He currently resides in the mountains of Spain with his wife and their very conscious dog, where he writes, teaches and rides his super fast motorcycle.

2 March 2014

Ruth White, 121 minutes.

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Narain Ishaya, 71 minutes.

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Open Sunday: ‘The Variety of Religious Experience’

Marianne Rankin

Marianne Rankin of the Alister Hardy Trust led the meeting, discussing and sharing ‘The Variety of Religious Experience’.

Marianne Rankin is Director of Communications for the Alister Hardy Trust and Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience. She is a former Chair of the SSSE, which is a national organisation supporting the work of the Religious Experience Research Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter. The RERC holds an archive of over 6000 accounts of different types of spiritual experience.

For almost twenty years Marianne lived in South East Asia, mainly in Singapore, where she worked as a teacher, translator and interpreter, and freelance writer. On her return to U.K. she took a Master of Studies in the Study of Religion at Oxford University. She is the author of An Introduction to Religious and Spiritual Experience as well as having written on Dame Cicely Saunders, Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement. Marianne is also interested in Oriental Art, has given workshops on Chinese Brush Painting and illustrated Hal French’s Zen and the Art of Anything.

17 February 2013, 113 minutes.

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Open Sunday Meeting: Rupert Spira
‘Contemplations on the Nature of Experience II’

Rupert Spira

In this meeting Rupert explores the perennial non-dual understanding that lies at the heart of all the great religious and spiritual traditions such as Advaita Vedanta, Mahayana and Dzogchen Buddhism, Mystical Christianity, Sufism, Zen etc., as well as the western philosophical tradition of Parmenides, Plotinus and many others, and which is also the direct, ever-present reality of our own intimate experience. This is a contemporary, experiential approach involving silent meditation, guided meditation and dialogue, and requires no affiliation to any particular religious or spiritual tradition. All that is required is an interest in the essential nature of experience and in the longing for love, peace and happiness around which most of our lives revolve.


11 November 2012.
Part 1 - Talk and questions - 116 minutes

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Part 2 - More questions - 88 minutes

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Dr Rupert Sheldrake: ‘The Science Delusion’
Freeing the Spirit of Inquiry

Rupert Sheldrake

The Science Delusion is the belief that science already understands everything, in principle. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in. The impressive achievements of science seemed to support this confident attitude. But recent research has revealed unexpected problems at the heart of physics, cosmology, biology, medicine and psychology. In his new book, Rupert Sheldrake shows how the sciences are being constricted by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. Should science be a belief-system, or a realm of enquiry? Sheldrake shows that the ‘scientific worldview’ is moribund. Increasingly expensive research is reaping diminishing returns. In the sceptical spirit of true scientific enquiry, Sheldrake turns the ten fundamental dogmas of science into questions, opening up startling new possibilities. The ‘laws of nature’ may be habits that change and evolve. Minds may extend far beyond brains. The total amount of matter and energy may be increasing. Children may inherit characteristics acquired by their parents. Memories may not be stored as traces in our brains. Mental causation may work from the future towards the past, while energetic causation works from the past towards the future. The Science Delusion will radically change your view of what is possible.

Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D. is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and 10 books, including The Science Delusion (January 2012). He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge University, a Research Fellow of the Royal Society, and from 2005-2010 the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. His website is

27 September 2012, 115 minutes.

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Dr Gino Yu: Science & Consciousness seminar

Gino Yu

Dr Gino Yu worked with Peter Fenwick previously and is now looking at the effect of video game usage on consciousness. The seminar was open to anyone with a serious interest in consciousness and the use of new technology as a means of developing enhanced consciousness.


25 June 2012, 102 minutes.

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See slides (PDF)



Philip Marvin: ‘Conscious Art’

Philip Marvin

The invisible made visible

Is there such a thing as conscious art? If so, what are its characteristics and how does it differ from other art forms?

This subject will be explored across a wide area. Four eminent artists in distinct fields — Jeffery Courtney (Painter), Rosalind Wyatt (Calligraphy/Textiles), James D’Angelo (Composer and pianist), Rosemary Barnett (Sculpture) — will discuss their own practical understanding of this term and its implications. Philip Marvin, a Shakespeare specialist, who will be leading the day, will also consider Shakespeare’s art in this context, and specifically the magical sonnets, one of which will be examined in detail.

An artist is not a special kind of man,
but rather Man is a special kind of artist.
William Blake

19 February 2012.

We have included only those parts for which visual appreciation is not essential.
Part 1 - Introduction - 44'00"


Part 3 - Calligraphy - 31'30"


Part 4 - Music - 37'40"


Part 5 - Poetry - 58'00"


Part 6a - Sculpture Introduction - 3'14"


Part 7 - Questions - 14'58"




Iain McGilchrist: ‘The Master and his Emissary’

Iain McGilchrist

In his remarkable and absorbing book, The Master and his Emissary, Iain McGilchrist argues that the two hemispheres have not only different specialities but different perspectives on the world. Making full use of the multi-faceted experimental research into the brain in the last two decades, he suggests that the left hemisphere’s main aim is self-interested manipulation, and it is narrowly-focussed, yet at the same time obsessed with theory at the expense of reality. It lacks empathy, construes our minds and bodies, as machines, and is unreasonably certain of itself. And it is in denial about its limitations. The right hemisphere, on the other hand, while having a much broader and more generous stance towards the world, lacks the necessary certainty to counter this onslaught. Traditionally the two hemispheres have worked together, but McGilchrist believes that in modern times the left hemisphere has grabbed more than its fair share of power, resulting in a society where self-obsession, greed and plodding rationality hold sway, at an enormous cost to human happiness and the world around us.

Iain McGilchrist is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and has three times been elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He intended to read theology and philosophy at Oxford, but was hi-jacked into reading English literature, and published Against Criticism in 1982. He retrained in medicine in order to understand better the ‘mind-body problem’, and has been a neuroimaging researcher at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital. He has mis-spent the last twenty years gestating this book, which relates the bihemispheric structure of the brain to the history of Western culture and its present predicament.

23 September 2010, 110 minutes.

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Dr Denis Alexander: ‘Science and Faith in 2007 - Where are we now?’

11 January 2007, 60 minutes.

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