Centre for Continuing Education

Art and Philosophy of the Spirit Course

Religion and spirituality. Learn about systems of faith and worship.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

Our contemporary definition of ‘spirit’ is based on the convergence of three streams of knowledge: the impact of Eastern spiritual systems on the West in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the parallel re-emergence of the Western stream of esoteric knowledge; followed by a 21st century global culture shaped by internet technology.


The aims of this course are to:

  • investigate a global culturally inclusive interpretation of contemporary spirituality, separating the spiritual from the religious
  • define the narrow focus of spiritual systems and how it relates to the 21st century
  • interpret art representing spiritual practices and spiritual philosophies
  • present an unbiased, non-denominational overview of a sensitive domain.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify the concepts underpinning a spiritual system
  • decode spiritual images as references to spiritual concepts and practices
  • differentiate between a spiritual system and an organised religion
  • discuss the implications of consciousness and energy in spiritual practices.


Key concepts in spiritual systems

  • Defining the difference between the ‘Spiritual’ and the 'Religious'
  • Case studies of contemporary spiritual systems including Kundalini tantra (Eastern), Spiritual Science (Western) and Pranic Healing (Eastern/Western)
  • The function of art in a spiritual system. Examples: Nath Charit Folios; Splendor Solis Manuscripts; The Hermetic Library

Spiritual images and spiritual narratives in contemporary visual culture

  • Spiritual narratives in popular culture
  • The martial arts and the Tao
  • Hatha yoga, Raja yoga, Jnana yoga
  • Art and magic; hierarchies of demons; sigils
  • Healing and art; the sand paintings of Native Americans; the sand mandalas of Buddhist monks; the healing paintings of Emma Kunz; ‘Pranic Healing’ diagrams

Being and non-being in spiritual art

  • God and Gods – the ‘psychic symbol’; formlessness meditation
  • Hierarchies of angels – Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Colour for Artists’; William Blake
  • Images of the Ineffable – Modernist art; mandalas and yantras in yoga; Neo-tantric art
  • The relationship between planetary forces and deep ecology in spiritual science

Death, dying and higher consciousness

  • Texts examined include:
    • How to Know Higher Worlds, Rudolf Steiner
    • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche
    • Sure Ways to Self-Realisation, Swami Satyananda
    • Meditations for Soul Realisation, Choa Kok Sui
    • The Bliss of Inner Fire, Lama Yeshe
    • The Upanishads
  • Reincarnation in the Western systems of Anthroposophy and Theosophy
  • Yoga Nidra and visualisation techniques
  • Techniques of transformation in Western and Eastern systems

Intended audience

Anyone with a general interest in spiritual philosophy and practices.

Delivery style



Handouts are provided electronically.

Recommended reading

Lander, J 2014, Spiritual Art and Art Education, Series: Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies, Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, New York and London.

Lander, J 2020, Art and Philosophy of the Spirit, Atropos Press, New York and Dresden.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • This course has been so enlightening and I have learnt so much in such a short space of time! The presenter really knows the stuff and explains everything thoroughly making sure that you understand everything. Definitely recommend this course if you are interested in spirituality, art and meditation.

  • The material was well chosen, and offered a marvellous opportunity to hear the guest speakers share their experiences, while working on set in Venice.

  • I really enjoyed being able to take a course on such an esoteric subject. It was incredibly dense, covering huge concepts in 4 weeks, so very stimulating.

  • The course material was delivered in a clear, simple and straightforward way. It covered what was promised and I enjoyed it immensely. The presenter was simply a breath of fresh air. I hope to attend more classes at Sydney University – sharing an abundance of knowledge. A big thanks to you all for creating this course at an affordable price, they’re not easy to find!

  • Thank you for including this course on spirituality in your program. I loved the content. Very stimulating, thought-provoking and reassuring.

What others say.

  • An interesting and stimulating course that looks at three different branches of Spirituality, and decodes the hidden language of these systems, and many others. I am now better able to decipher the images in various traditions. It dealt with some of the more intangible and ungraspable elements of the spiritual in art, and art making practices. It has awoken a deep curiosity about this subject.
  • Absolutely loved this course. I was sad for it to finish. I was wonderfully nourished with knowledge and research!
  • The material was well chosen, and offered a marvellous opportunity to hear the guest speakers share their experiences, while working on set in Venice.
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