The School was founded in London by Leon MacLaren (1910 – 1994), who at the age of 16 resolved to discover justice and truth. Leon MacLaren’s initial undertaking was the study of economics, which was a real need at the time when the world was still suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. He established the School of Economic Science in the United Kingdom. The study of economics involved exploring the nature of society, which eventually lead to exploring the nature of Man.
A fundamental shift took place with the introduction to meditation and the subsequent meeting with Śrī Śāntānanda Sarasvatī, the then Śańkarācārya of the North. Over a period of years (1965 – 1993), Leon MacLaren met with Śrī Śāntānanda Sarasvatī and their discourses formed the basis of the School’s understanding of Advaita philosophy. The dialogues continue with the respective successors to Leon MacLaren and Śrī Śāntānanda Sarasvatī, namely Donald Lambie and Śrī Vāsudevānanda Sarasvatī. According to the tradition, a Śańkarācārya is referred to as His Holiness.
In 1964, The School of Practical Philosophy was established as an independent not-for-profit organization in New York City. The Hudson Valley School is a branch of The School of Practical Philosophy in New York City.