If you would like to participate in this course, please click on the button below to email the Ashram with your intention to register, including your name. 


Registration is free.

Once you have registered, you will receive a password that will enable you to access the course on this website. 

See full course details & weekly schedule below.


This free 12 week course sets out an effective template for living well. The course format includes self journaling, meditation and an opportunity to put forward your questions in response to the material presented.

This course provides a contemporary exploration of section 1 of Adi Shankaracharya’s TATTWA BODHA (The Understanding of Reality). This section systematically unfolds the answer to humanity’s fundamental question “Who am I?”


Our Presenter Phil Gatt is a senior Mental Health Professional and Yoga & Meditation teacher. His book “The Smooth Guide to Self-Knowledge” which he wrote in 2002 and inaugurated at the Sivananda Ashram in Fremantle WA in 2003, is the foundation of this course. 

Listen to a chapter of this book each week, then reflect, self-study & ask questions in the week following. In the third week, listen to recorded answers to questions posed by participants. Follow this pattern for 12 weeks.


The Course includes;

Book reading

Guided meditations

Contemplative journaling


See full course details & weekly schedule below.

from left; Phil Gatt, Lakshmi & Swami Suddhananda at the launch of Phil's book at the Sivananda Ashram, Fremantle WA in 2004.

Phil Gatt is a senior mental health professional and Yoga & meditation teacher. His book "The Smooth Guide to Self-Knowledge" will underpin our course which has a range of diverse components to engage and inform participants.

Phil Gatt began his Yoga journey in 1994 with teachers of the local Westerm Australian group FinY (Friends in Yoga). It has been an amazing journey that brought him in the late 1990s to the Beacon Yoga Centre Sivananda Ashram.  On seeing the photo of our beloved Swami Venkatesananda in the Yoga Hall and attending a yoga day he knew at some stage he would live here for some time. Between 2001 and 2003 Phil lived at the Ashram, made many friends and contributed to the teaching programme; teaching the 4.30pm Intermediate class from 2001 to 2008, editing the monthly journal, organising the yoga days, learning how to do Havans and Venkateswara pujas.  The notice board presented wonderful opportunities for learning at the feet of Yoga and Vedanta teachers from around the world. 

In 2001 whilst studying to become a yoga teacher he noticed a flyer for talks on chapter 2 of the Holy Text, the Baghavad Gita by Swami Suddhananda entitled “Profile of a Wise Man.”  Attending these talks changed Phil’s life path and precipitated a 6-month stay in India in 2002 soaking up the teaching of Advaita Vedanta in a traditional Gurukulam setting.  His book ‘The Smooth Guide to Self Knowledge’ was written as a sincere response to the teacher’s suggestion to write up a summary of all that he had learnt in the first few weeks of the 3 month course. Swami Suddhananda was deeply touched and vowed to publish this book to stand alongside his many publications. It was launched in 2003 in Chennai and later in 2004 at our Ashram in Beaconsfield. Swamiji joked that the book was the best seller (of his many publications) in India when it was published 😊


All of the credit of course goes to Ishwara (the meaning of which is the name for all names and all forms and formlessness) and the teacher-student tradition (the Guru-Shishya Parampara). 


Phil fully recognises that he still has a way to go in terms of abidance in that ‘true nature’ even though the tradition points it out as all-pervasive, spontaneous and effortless. This course seeks to help sincere seekers after Truth in their journey.  Rather than any rough guide, Phil extolls the need for a smooth guide -  meeting people where they are at and never consciously going against the grain. His time in India catalysed a desire to move into the area of mental health and wellbeing which he pursued with gusto in 2003 and which continues to this day….

The Smooth Guide to Self-Knowledge is based on Adi Shankaracharya's Tattwa Bodha (The Understanding of Reality).




In the first week, listen to the Invocatory Prayers followed by the Audio Book Part 1. Listen to the meditation.


In the second week, revise the first week's material, then listen to the second week's meditation) and journal your response to the first chapter. If you have any questions you would like Phil to answer, these may be emailed to him.


In the third week, listen to the Invocatory Prayers. Listen to Audio of participants questions with responses from Phil (uploaded to website in week 3).

Listen to the meditation.

Repeat this process until 12 weeks are completed.

be sure to read the study guide before commencing the course.