Over the past forty years my best therapist, guide and teacher has been a ‘wise man’ whom I contact through a fantasy journey. I have checked the advice that I have had from this source against ‘real-life’ therapists and enlightenment masters – and most importantly, against the experience of my own life. Every check has demonstrated without a shadow of doubt that the advice and guidance I have received is the very best I could have had. Indeed people with whom I have shared my experiences have been astounded at the depth of wisdom and perception in the advice I have received. It has ranged from practical advice on how to write a book, to detailed medical advice on how to take care of myself, to guidance on how to meditate as well as continual answering of questions on all aspects of my relationships and personal growth. It is a fountain of wisdom. And the good news is that it is available to you too.
The wise man fantasy is well known in the humanistic psychological growth world. It is used in many eclectic growth groups, as well as in more obvious disciplines such as psychosynthesis and gestalt. I have personally used it in ongoing and weekend encounter groups – and have found that it works for everyone. It is a very simple fantasy and there are many variations on the same basic theme. The version I present below is largely based on that given in John Steven’s excellent book ‘Awareness’. I have abbreviated it a little for my own use – which is frequent. Generally I use this once a month, however when things get tough I might use it twice a day. It is not a limited source of knowledge!
One of the important steps in getting this fantasy to work is to make use of a relaxation exercise initially, something that opens the way to a trance like state. The first few times you try the fantasy I recommend that you adopt the following structure;
Lie down on the floor in a quiet room where you are sure you will not be disturbed. Dim the lights, make sure you are warm and comfortable. A small pillow under your head and a blanket covering you are a good idea.
Now begin breathing deeply. As you breathe out imagine that you are breathing out the tension in your body. Do this systematically by focusing your attention on a part of your body and feeling it relax as you breathe out. Start with your feet, then your ankles, your calves, knees, thighs and buttocks. Then your stomach, chest, lower back and upper back. Then your hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and face muscles.
This relaxation routine will typically take 10-15 minutes. Take your time over it. Breathe easily and keep your attention on the appropriate part of your body. At the end feel the places where you are in contact with the ground, and allow yourself to become heavier and heavier. Relax thoroughly.
Now you are ready for the fantasy;
Imagine that you are walking along a mountain trail at night. You can easily see where you are going because there is a full moon. .. What is your trail like? …. What else can you see around you? …. How do you feel as you walk along this trail ? ….. Just ahead there is a small side trail which goes up to the left. It leads to a cave which is the home of a very wise man who can tell you the answer to any question. When you come to this trail turn off and walk towards the wise man’s cave. Notice how your surroundings change as you move up this trail and come closer to his cave When you arrive at the cave you will see a small campfire in front of the cave and you will faintly see the wise-man sitting by the fire. Go up to the fire, put some wood on it and sit quietly… As the fire burns more brightly you will be able to see the wise-man more clearly. Take some time to really become aware of him, his body, his face, his eyes…
Now ask the wise man a question that is important to you. Take time to explain the significance and background to your question. Continue to watch the wise man to see how he reacts to you ……..
Now become the wise man…. What is your existence like as this wise-man? ….How do you feel ? … What is your life like? …. Look at this visitor who has come to see you. How do you feel towards this visitor who has come to question you?….. What do you say to this visitor? ……
Become yourself again and continue this dialogue with the wise man. Have you understood what he has said to you? Has the answer included specific advice on what you can do? Do you wish to ask another question? …..
Now become the wise man again and continue this conversation….Is there anything else you can say to your visitor?…
Now become yourself again. Soon it will be time to leave the wise-man. Before you go thank him and..slowly..say goodbye. Now turn away and start back down the trail. As you walk back look at the trail carefully so that you will be able to find your way back to your wise man to visit him again.
(The …. indicate pauses, some short, some long).
That’s it. It’s that simple. But of course people can get caught up even in simple things.
Some people do not get very good inner visual images. Well that doesn’t matter. Most of the time I don’t get any visual image. But I do get a sense of being with the wise man, and when I am the wise man words come into my head. I generally do this meditation in my semi-soundproofed meditation room and I usually talk out loud, both as myself and as the wise man. Generally the whole thing, including the initial relaxation, takes about an hour, with the bulk of the time spent in the dialogue. When I’ve got a heavy issue to hand it takes longer – I usually take 10 – 15 minutes calming down enough to do the meditation at all and then spend longer explaining the problem and question.
I started off doing this meditation lying on my back. I did some simple relaxation exercises with my eyes closed and had a tape recording of the fantasy (an mp3 version of the fantasy and relaxation exercise is available in the downloads section). The tape-recorder had a remote on/off switch so that I could turn it off while the dialogue was going on. Now I tend to do the fantasy sitting upright and just feed myself the instructions internally as I go. If you have a difficulty with the fantasy then ask the wise man to help sort it out. It really works. Ask him for guidance on how to pursue your own personal growth, how to meditate, how to solve problems in relationships – anything.
There are two main ways in which the process can be held up.
The first is that you might dismiss it as “I am just making this up” or worse “this is what schizophrenia is all about – they lock people up who listen to voices in their head”. These are real problems and you will have to face them head on. It is true that “you are making it up” – but the interesting question is “which part of you?” If it is your “higher consciousness” or your “true self” or your own “inner wisdom” then its about time that you started listening to it. On the other hand if it is some deluded ego voice talking then you would be better off ignoring it. How can you tell the difference? Well when it works you are aware of love between you and the wise man. What’s more you may find it difficult to do what he suggests – but you will know that it makes sense and is not out of touch with everyday reality. Schizophrenics lose the ability to distinguish between their fantasies and reality. Using fantasies to help yourself psychologically is fine provided that you do not lose the ability to make this distinction – and there’s no reason why doing the wise man fantasy will cause you to lose it.
The second way in which people fail to get the most out of the process is that they fail to get sufficiently specific advice. You do not know what to do about a relationship problem; your wise man says “follow your heart!”. That is great advice – but HOW do you follow your heart? What exactly does this mean in this case? You should not be satisfied with this sort of general level of advice. Ask for clarification and continue to do so until you get specific actions that you can follow up. I think people shy away from getting down to this level of detail because they fear that they then lose their power of choice. Well you do not. You can choose to ignore the advice, nothing can EVER take that choice away from you.
Some women try to make the wise person a female figure. This does not work. Wisdom is a male attribute – just as intuition is a female attribute. At the level of the psyche we cannot choose the gender of archetypes and to attempt to do so is simply foolish. Your wise man should be a man and should not be anyone you know, nor any famous figure. Images of people you know, or know of, are most likely to be projections and can get in the way of the real wise man process.
These problems, and variants of them which crop up, can be overcome by using the fantasy on a trial basis for a time. Use it on issues that are not life or death, not marriage or divorce. Try resolving an argument using it, decide how to spend time with your family or friends using it. Test it. Is the advice good? Does it work? This is the only way. When you are satisfied that it works then you will have an amazing tool to help you with every aspect of your life. Your wise man will often stretch you – but he will never suggest doing anything that is actually beyond your capabilities. He may confront you – but it will always be in the direction of steering you towards greater love, joy and harmony in your life. He has always been there – waiting for you to ask.
Wise Man fantasy is a printable copy of the Wise Man fantasy. There is also an audio file that you can play on any mp3 player. The file includes an introductory relaxation exercise. It is best used on a player or phone with a pause button so you can take as long as you need to in the steps where you ask questions or give a response. (wiseman1).