Leon MacLaren, born Leonardo da Vinci MacLaren, (1910–1994) was a British philosopher and the founder of the School of Economic Science (SES). MacLaren was inspired by Henry George, Socrates, Dr Francis Roles, Pyotr Ouspensky, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and finally the philosophy of Advaita Vedānta through the Shankaracharyas of Jyoti Math.
MacLaren's influences include his father Andrew MacLaren, Henry George, Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky, Francis Roles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. According to the Henry George Foundation, MacLaren joined the Henry George movement in London in 1931, serving on the executive committee from 1933 until 1937. At the 1936 International Conference of Georgist Organisations held in London, a contingent from the US presented a question-based method of teaching Henry George's ideas. MacLaren created a similar method and taught the course in London. In 1937 MacLaren left the Henry George movement and founded the School of Economic Science (SES) with the support of his father. In 1938 he was called to the bar and practised in Chambers at 2 Paper Buildings in the Inner Temple. Some sources say MacLaren's father founded the school, while others state it was Leon. According to the SES web site, MacLaren introduced and developed philosophy courses to complement his economics courses. Over time the philosophy courses became SES's principal area of teaching. According to the group's literature, from the mid-1960s onwards, MacLaren presented, in addition to some of the ideas of P. D. Ouspensky, the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, a philosophical theology of absolute non-duality as taught by the eighth-century Indian philosopher-theologian Śaṅkara.
MacLaren was the prospective parliamentary Labour candidate for Epping in 1939 where Winston Churchill was the sitting member but the election did not take place due to the outbreak of war. He later stood as the Liberal candidate for Yeovil at the 1950 election and then at Hendon South in 1951 without any success. According to the SES web site, MacLaren studied Advaita Vedanta philosophy in 1965 with Shantananda Saraswati the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math. MacLaren attended a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Albert Hall in London in 1959 and became a student of the Maharishi.
According to Practical Philosophy's (founded by MacLaren) web site MacLaren spent three months in the early 1970s traveling around the world visiting the SES affiliated schools. MacLaren's illness came during his final world tour. He was brought back to England from South Africa and died in a London hospital on 24 June 1994. According to his foundation web site, MacLaren wrote a book called The Nature of Society. In 2009 MacLaren's former personal assistant, Dorine Tolley, published a biography of MacLaren's life called The Power Within: Leon MacLaren, A Memoir of His Life and Work.
According to MacLaren's foundation web site he married twice, had two daughters and lived in Hammersmith and later Hampstead and Oxfordshire.
- Brian Hodgkinson (2010). In Search of Truth. Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers). ISBN 978-0-85683-276-5. pp. 2, 34, 48 and 59
- MacLaren Foundation web site Archived 23 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- Dorine Tolley (2009). The Power Within: Leon MacLaren, A Memoir of His Life and Work. BookSurge Publishing. ISBN 1-4392-1030-6.
- Land and Liberty, Henry George Foundation of Great Britain, 1933 p 231; 1935 p89; 1936 p94.
- Land and Liberty, Henry George Foundation of Great Britain, 1937 p97
- John Stewart (2001). Standing for Justice. Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers). ISBN 978-0-85683194-2. p.65
- Henry George Foundation web site Archived 6 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- George D. Chryssides, Exploring New Religions, Continuum International Publishing (1999), page 374.
- George D. Chryssides, Exploring New Religions, Continuum International Publishing (1999), p.293.
- SES website
- Report of the Annual Conference of the Labour Party, 1939
- British parliamentary election results, 1950-1973 by FWS Craig
- Mason, Paul (1994). The Maharishi—The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World. Shaftsbury, Dorset: Element Books Ltd. p. 28. ISBN 1-85230-571-1.
- Wellbeloved, Sophia (2003). Gurdjieff: Key Concepts. London and New York: Routledge. p. 250. ISBN 0-415-24897-3.
- Unknown author Practical Philosophy web site accessed 4 February 2013
- MacLaren Foundation Official Web Site
- School of Economic Science Official Web Site
- Leon MacLaren and the origins of SES