Starting Fall 2018 
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James Johnston 
Gifts Compass Inc 

The Art of Living Well Webinars: Happiness 

Six Seminars on Satrudays, Fall 2018

If you have ever wanted to study the wisdom of the great thinkers of East and West by encountering for yourself what they actually said and wrote--not mediated and simplified by a famous expert; and if you like the idea of doing this with a group of thoughtful people from all over the world, then we invite you to join us for a rich and rewarding adventure of discovery!

We are offering webinar discussions of ancient texts with a view to understanding what the greatest minds of the ancient world thought about the challenges of living and dying, and the nature of a well-lived human life. None of these books will give easy answers. They will leave you electrified, revitalized, and more deeply thoughtful about the unavoidable questions of our livesThe complexity and subtlety of these rich, many-sided books blossom in the best way possible in intelligent conversations between people who can consider ideas from mulitple viewpoints. Other series of The Art of Living Well will tackle topics such as the Emotions, the Soul, Dying, and God, but in our maiden voyage we will try to gain a deeper understanding of happiness


This series of six seminars will feature authors from the ancient world—three from the West and three from the East. Each two-hour seminar will be on a reading of 20-30 pages in length. We will all have done the reading at least once and when we meet online for our seminar we will have an open and candid conversation about the text. We will keep the group small enough so that everyone has an opportunity to share perspectives, but large enough to keep the conversation lively. This will be a video-streamed webinar, with everyone visible.

Readings for Each Webinar:

1. Plato, the Apology and the Meno: What is it to know, and why do we need to know rather than just believe? 

 2. Aristotle, the Nicomachean Ethics: What is happiness, and how does it relate to pleasure, virtue, and knowledge? 

3. The Discourses of Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher: How do we attain equanimity and live a life of quiet integrity? 

4. The Book of Mencius, Confucius’ greatest disciple: Can we achieve happiness in the messy entanglements of human relationships? 

5. The Book of Zhuangzi, the wildest and most imaginative of the Daoist philosophers: Can we only be happy if we free ourselves from judgment and moralism? 

6. The Discourses of the Buddha: Is happiness even possible, and if not, can we find a way out of suffering?  

Time: Saturdays from noon-2:00 PM Eastern N. America / 18:00-20:00 Central European Time

2018/19 Dates: September 22, October 13, November 3, December 8, January 5, January 26 

Tuiton: $240 (includes all six webinars) or $60 per individual seminar.

 About Your Guide, Krishnan Venkatesh

Born in Malaysia in 1960 to a South Indian Brahmin father and a Hakka Chinese mother, Venkatesh was brought up in England and studied English literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he obtained First Class honors. He subsequently did postdoctoral work for over four years on Shakespeare at the University of Muenster, Germany, as a wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter for the great Shakespeare scholar Marvin Spevack. From 1986-89 he taught literature and philosophy at Shanxi University, People’s Republic of China. Both his personal and academic background make him well suited to being a “bridge” between various traditions.

Since 1989 he has taught at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, both in the two Western Great Books programs (for which the college is most famous) and was one of the founders of the unique Eastern Classics Master’s program, in which he has taught for 20 years. The program involves close study of the classics of China, India and Japan, as well as rigorous immersion in Classical Chinese or Sanskrit for the sake of greater intimacy with the texts. Venkatesh has taught in all areas of the program, including Chinese and Sanskrit. From 2003-2008 he was the dean of graduate studies at the college.

With Socrates in the Phaedrus, he is skeptical of the value of publication and believes strongly in conversation as the most powerful mode of learning—the “writing in the heart.” St. John’s College has been an ideal academic home for him because of the shared belief in the power of discussion within a sincere community of learning.

In the last decade he has spent a total of about two years in India. His recent areas of work have included the Pali Canon of the Buddha, the Japanese philosopher Dogen, and the mathematical books of Johannes Kepler.