By Sasha Alex Lessin, Ph.D., Dean, School of Couseling
LIST STEPPINGSTONES IN GROWTH OF YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS
Go back over the experiences in each chapter of your Book of Life.
Look for, relive, and emotionally re-experience the times when you felt intensely involved with humanitarian, artistic, philosophical, loving or religious interests. Remember the situations, circumstances and effects on you of times in your life when you had a sense of being a part a larger group, an exemplar of true love, an instrument of beneficent historical forces, an atom of ecological consciousness, a bubble in the foam of a single ocean of consciousness, an aspect of a divine plan. “Recapitulate the main experiences, speculations and beliefs by which we have each sought in our own way to relate ourselves to the ultimate truths of human existence.”2
Write your entries in the order in which you recall them.
READ EACH STEP ALOUD AS YOU WRITE IT
If you are doing this work with partners, listen to theirs too.
ORGANIZE STEPS INTO THE ORDER OF THEIR APPEARANCE
Number your entries to show the order in which they occurred.
Notice the unity of development, the thread of continuity, that runs through your separate peak experiences, awakenings, spiritual insights, and intimations of your higher self and purposes in life.
REREAD ENTRIES, LISTING PEOPLE WHO HELP YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS GROW
Experientially put yourself back at each of your spiritual steps. Be aware of persons influencing you at each step. Notice the people whom you associate with the lessons you are learning at each stage. They may have influenced you in direct interaction. Or you may have been influenced by some of them because you felt deeply or identified with them. Others, perhaps, became wisdom figures for you through their writing, music, art or political action.
From each period of the development of your consciousness, list your wisdom figures, paragons, models, teachers, allies, spirit guides, encouragers, inspirations and growth challengers. Some are living; some, dead. Some are known personally; some are historical, some mythical, some archetypal, some divine.
Also list your current wisdom figures.
Make your entries down the left column of a page, leaving a few blank lines after each entry.
DIALOGUE WITH ONE OF YOUR WISE ONES
Parade them each before you. As you write the name of each wisdom figure from each period of your life, see how they look to you at the time. Listen to their voices and any sounds and songs with which you associate them. Be aware of your emotions and bodily sensations as you re-feel your contact with them. Notice whether you associate fragrances or tastes with them.
Choose one. Let one of them (or it may be one you just notice right now) come forth to dialogue with you.
What can be most valuable for our first Inner Wisdom Dialogue is that it be with a person the very thought of whom causes us to become quiet and feel centered within ourselves, one whose presence we have experienced in an atmosphere of profound understanding, warmth and supportive love, a person to whom we can open our hearts fully on any of our deepest concerns, and that we can do so with no reservation, knowing it will all be accepted.
Feel the presence, quality, aura of the wise one whom you receive for conversation. Be aware of the concerns, desires and life of the person you have evoked from the path of your spiritual steps.
Say his or her name aloud.
Identify with the Wise One. Become him or her. From your perspective as the person evoked, experience the world and your invoker.
State your existence, Wise One. Say (and write) what you are like, what you want, why you want it, what you really need. Tell (and record) what you desire for the person who invited you forth for this exercise.
Become yourself; present your concerns and questions to the wise one.
Become your wisdom figure; reply. Respond to your evoker; share your perspectives, compassion and counsel.
Continue the dialogue. Shift roles back and forth; alternately becoming yourself and your wisdom figure. Record the script of your dialogue.
Receive object. Imagine your wisdom figure gives you an object for contemplation.
Tell your wisdom figure goodbye for now. Center yourself.
Reread. First silently, then aloud (alone or to your partners or to the workshop), read the dialogue.
Receive twilight images. Centered, allow and record your intuitions, thoughts, mental pictures, poems, songs, feelings, and insights.
Become object. Say what you are like and what you represent as the symbolic object passed by the wise one.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM EACH WISDOM FIGURE
Return to your list of those influencing the development of your consciousness. Following each name, record the main learnings you associate with them. Note any unfinished communication you have with any of them; complete your communication by dialogue, alternately role-playing them, then you.
Follow the same procedure outlined on the preceding page to create dialogues with wisdom figures for twelve successive weeks.
Realize that the wisdom you evoke by these procedures is both personal and archetypal; it is yours and humanity’s, a part of your bodymind and a part of Earth’s, a facet of your mind and God’s.
1.Progoff (I., At a Journal Workshop, New York: Dialogue House, 1975) is my main guide here. The present set of instructions freely mixes my expansions and flights of keyboard and fancy with Dr. Progoff’s.
2. Progoff, I., op. cit., 1975, page 272.
3.Progoff, I., op. cit., 1975, page 280.