Passionate Presence For Precarious Times

Due to COVID-19, we are cancelling all public and business events until the end of April, including this course - in both Melbourne and Sydney, from 16 March. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our community and we would like to do our part in being a part of the solution.

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There is a tremor in our world.  The news on many fronts, particularly that of the climate crisis, is deeply troubling.  Consequently, people are becoming increasingly anxious and depressed.  To stay steady, it is helpful to use our attention in ways that both calm yet also remind us of our aliveness, in ways we might experience our own presence as the only true sanctuary we can know. In this four-part course, Catherine Ingram will guide us through reflections, discussions, and awareness experiments that we will use across the four weeks.  Based on her book Passionate Presence (a copy of which comes with the course), we will explore seven qualities of awareness as the basis for an enriched life and how we can cultivate them into our lives through habitual practice.

Catherine Ingram is a spiritual leader of profound teaching and experience. From moderating silent retreats and dharma dialogues to interviewing the likes of the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen, she has travelled the world on her own inner journey toward heightened awareness and stillness, or as she describes, passionate presence.

Through this four week journey we will explore:

  • Meditation through stillness
  • Dialogue-based learning to cultivate the seven elements of passionate presence in our everyday lives
  • Reconnection with our childlike selves
  • Realignment with humility, stillness and presence

Part 1: Silence

We will enhance the experience of our internal quiet.  This is not a cessation of speech or activity but the quietude within us that allows clear communication and action to occur.  We don’t need to find it as it is not lost.  It is there, even as you read these words.

Part 2: Tenderness and Authenticity

When we are at rest in our own presence, we more easily sense life around us in all its poignancy, quirkiness, joy, and sorrow.  A natural tenderness—unsentimental yet engaged—comes with this relaxation. 

This understanding also allows us to be more authentic in our relationships, to not fear speaking our truths in matters of the heart, and to not compromise our integrity.

Part 3: Discernment & Embodiment

Discernment can be effortlessly heightened in passionate presence because information is not being overly processed through the filters of fear and desire. One sees more clearly.  This also allows an ability to show up wisely in all that we do. 

We become embodied in the real, in present time, rather than in fantasies of the future. In discernment and embodiment, we also recognize that our home is this earth, and we walk as lightly as we can upon it.

Part 4: Delight & Wonder

In passionate presence, there is delight in simply being.  It is a causeless joy that is not bound to particular circumstances but is rather an inherent feeling, much like we felt when we were children. 

Just as we knew simple joys in those early years, we also lived in wonder. We become comfortable with the unknown, the mystery.  We release the furrowed brow of the questioner who demands answers to life, and we relax into the face of who we were as a child, looking at the night sky, awestruck.

The School of Life is thrilled to be presenting this profound journey in presence and spiritual wisdom with Catherine Ingram.

Timetable: Parts 1-4

18.15  Doors Open
18.30 Course Begins
20.15 Break (times vary)
21.30 Course Ends

This event is suitable for all ages. 


'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.'

– Marcel Proust

Course Leader

Catherine Ingram is an international dharma teacher with communities in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Since 1992 she has led silent residential retreats and public evening sessions called Dharma Dialogues.  A former journalist specializing in issues of consciousness and activism, Catherine is the author of two books of nonfiction: In the Footsteps of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual/Social Activists (Parallax Press, 1990) and Passionate Presence: Seven Qualities of Awakened Awareness (Penguin Putnam, 2003); and one novel, A Crack in Everything (Diamond Books, 2006).  She is the host of a podcast channel called "In the Deep with Catherine Ingram," and the co-host, along with Berry Lieberman, of a new podcast channel called "Refuge with Berry and Catherine."  Catherine is founder and president of Living Dharma, an educational non-profit organization established in the USA in 1995.  She has also served on the board of numerous non-profit organizations for human rights and is currently a board member of Global Animal, which is dedicated to the rights of (non-human) animals.  

About Courses

Courses allow time for an in-depth exploration of the topic through conversation and activities. Our courses provide an opportunity to work with leading members of our faculty over the course of a structured period.

Buy tickets for
Passionate Presence For Precarious Times


When and where:
  • 14 May - 4 Jun 2020 6.30pm – 9.30pm
    11 Princes St, St Kilda VIC 3182, Australia



Full price: $350
Concession: $350
+ booking fee 

Health Care Card, Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card and current Student Cards.

Please note that we are unable to offer refunds or transfers. If you can no longer attend this event you are welcome to share your ticket with someone else, which they can present at the door to gain entry. Please see our Terms & Conditions on Refunds, Transfers & Credits for further details.

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