A writer named Peter Kingsley has been making waves recently in some parts of the Integral community -- particularly his book, A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of t....  When I first heard about him awhile back, I checked out an online video interview with him -- which I'll try to locate later -- and was not very impressed by what I heard, as I recall, but I thought I'd share his work here for anyone who might be interested.  From what I've gathered so far, his main thesis is that we have all but lost touch with the "original," mystical, "feminine" foundations of Western civilization, which he traces to the work of Parmenides -- and, beyond him, to Mongolia and Tibet --, and Kingsley's work is about retracing and reclaiming that link.

 

Here's a link to a brief article on this:  The Spiritual Tradition at the Roots of Western Civilization.

 

And here's more info on his latest book (from his website):

 

A Story Waiting To Pierce You offers a breathtaking insight into our past and our future as human beings. For the first time in centuries it traces the ancient threads that connect Mongolia, Tibet and Native Americans to the very origins of western civilization -- showing how these sacred ties have shaped our lives today.

This remarkable book tells, with haunting simplicity and precision, the true story of where our western culture really came from and where it is taking us now.

"A true encanto, an incantation, this book is pure music. It sings to the reader. This is the real thing. In each paragraph of the book, the Spirit is there. This is what the native people of the Americas have been trying to say, but were never permitted to. This song is the song of wisdom that we native people have not been allowed to sing."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ From the Foreword by Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

"A wondrous love of wisdom is building inside us. Let this book wake you up into new sunlight: into feeling again the ecstatic wholeness of being alive on this planet, the soul-joy of walking, of reading books (see the astonishing Notes to this text: a great, Nabokovian exuberance), of giving attention to whatever wants to come next, the beauty and the mystery. It is not just a book, and so to be read with the mind. Peter Kingsley's voice is a friend, and also a way of seeing, of remembering essence, of walking in a great circle around an island you have always loved, but only rarely visited."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Coleman Barks

"The rich and dense scholarship in this book is admirable, nay incredible, with worldwide scope. Scholarly discussion depends on evidence -- of which A Story Waiting to Pierce You offers the most surprising riches, combined with overwhelming expertise."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Prof. Walter Burkert

"In this profoundly erudite and eloquent book is a startling ancient secret that will forever alter the way we think about the origins of western civilization."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Pir Zia Inayat Khan

"A Story Waiting to Pierce You is, simply, piercing. Peter Kingsley is a master of adamantine prose and peerless scholarship. His work is truly worthy of that overworked term wisdom. And he is a master stylist: he turns you upside down and inside out without your knowing it is happening. This book will inspire, delight and enlighten many but will also challenge others because it is a mirror that reflects our most stubborn prejudices about the origins of our most sacrosanct cultural beliefs. And for that, Peter Kingsley deserves the highest praise."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Larry Dossey, M.D.

"A blazingly alive work of scholarship and spiritual insight."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Prof. Jacob Needleman

"By challenging some of our most fundamental perceptions of early European history, Peter Kingsley pushes out the horizon of the modern world and opens a new chapter in our appreciation of European-Asian relations. His innovative research into the spiritual and intellectual debt of ancient Greece to Inner Asia not only broadens our understanding of the past, but also helps us to understand better who we are today."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Prof. Jack Weatherford

"I have read A Story Waiting to Pierce You with tremendous fascination. It is a unique work -- a captivating and enlightening book which I heartily recommend to anyone with an interest in Eurasian history."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Prof. Victor Mair

"Peter Kingsley is more than a master storyteller. He is a magician who reveals the golden thread of truth which makes its way through time and space, secretly holding the fabric of our world together. A Story Waiting to Pierce You reveals the surprisingly mystical origins, and purpose, of western culture as well as what it means to participate in its eternal unfolding right now."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Adyashanti

"This is a book of miracles -- deceptively simple, actively profound. It is a core story of human becoming, the secret history that holds the codes to what we are and what we yet may be."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Jean Houston

"This is a small book. I suggest that you read it several times and really get the golden idea at its core. Then bring that idea to everything you do -- every decision, every choice, every plan, every interpretation. Live by an entirely different guidance. Walk like you've never walked before."
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ Thomas Moore

 

To view a short video clip about the book click here

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Hi Lol,

You write,

"In following this thread and its off-shoots to the extent that I have so far I haven't read or heard much reference from Kingsley to the " ..."mystical" or "yogic" practices and experiences like samadhi, and so on.." that you refer to. What Ihave been particularly struck by is the emphasis he places on "finding reality through your senses" (the title of the video in Bruce's post just upthread). So not so much practices of absorption, or 'internal' practices of the nadis, prana and bindu and so on, but the practice of being in the presence of awareness of whatever it is that's coming, or appears to be coming, through the sense gates...

And this practice, or training, as he describes it is of cultivating the presence of awareness within which ''reality'' apparently "manifests", including of course the reality of our thoughts, reasonings, analyses, judgements."

 

Good point thanks. Yes, I now notice that he does say this in his interpretation of Parmenides. I will really have to give him a more thorough read. I base my comments on some other passages and places where he talks about "yoga." Of course this pressupposes a definition of what we mean by "yoga." With respect to Abaris and "sky walking" though, I think we are talking about some kind of subtle yoga like pho-wa, and the implication is that Abaris taught something like this to Pythagoras.

 

I'll reread the section on Parmenides.

 

As for pronouncing jnana, the "n" is retroflex, with a tilda ( ~ ) above it, and it is pronounced with the centre of the tongue rather than the tip; hence the "y" like sound. But as far as I know, the use of the hard "g" sound for the initial "j" reflects pronunciation in modern Indian languages, particularly Bengali. Eliding the final vowel also reflects practice in modern Indian languages. I pronounce it with a "j" sound, and pronounce the final syllable-vowel, though someone who learned mantras and memorized verses with contemporary South Asians would probably use the modern Indian pronunciation. I don't make a big deal of it, though if one thinks that mantras "really" have some "vibrational" effect on reality, then I guess for such a one, it would make a difference. :-)

More in a bit.

cheers

As in all things there is no one, true pronunciation of jnana. As there is no one, true history of the west by benefit of the far more advanced east. Such a belief is akin to the Freemasonic myth that one who not only knows but pronounces the one true word* correctly can achieve permanent apotheosis.

* See this link on the word. One version of it is Mahabon, interestingly having "bon" in its structure. The "maha" could be from Mahayana. See, it did arise in the east...

Thank you Bruce, Kela ...and Theurj ;-)

Hi Lol,

This is the kind of language I had in mind:

 

There used to be experts at incubation — masters at the art of going into another state of consciousness... For these were people who were able to enter another world...
Often you find the mention of a state that’s like being awake but different from being awake, that’s like sleep but not sleep: that’s neither sleep nor waking. It’s not the waking state, it’s not an ordinary dream and it’s not dreamless sleep....
The way so many of the stories and practices associated with the Iatromantis in Greece have their exact parallels among shamans, and the way they keep occurring in the traditions of Indian yoga... It became better known by the title of samādhi...
It would be so simple to dismiss as totally insignificant the fact that this piping, whistling, hissing noise is the only sound Parmenides associates with his journey to another world — except for one small matter. Ancient Greek accounts of incubation repeatedly mention certain signs that mark the point of entry into another world: into another state of awareness that’s neither waking nor sleep. One of the signs is that you become aware of a rapid spinning movement. Another is that is that you hear the powerful vibration produced by a piping, whistling, hissing sound.

 

I notice though that in the sections he deals with Parmenides, the language shifts toward what I have referred to as the "jnana" style that we find in Advaita, etc.

On another note, I seem to have a problem with this kind of language:

 

The only way to explain how scholars have kept failing for centuries to notice the connection
between humanity’s fate, helpless and dazed in an illusory world, and the notorious
ability of Aphrodite, ruler of the illusory world, to make her victims helpless
and dazed must be that they are dazed in exactly the same way Parmenides is describing.
After all, the best trick for keeping people helpless is also the oldest one: deceive
them into thinking they know what they are doing, into imagining they are anything
but helpless.

 

The problem I have with this kind of account is how all of this is such a "problem." It all sounds rather Gnostic to me or like an extreme version of the "maya" doctrine: we are enslaved by a god - and here a goddess, a female, no less - who keeps us trapped in a world of illusion and delusion by means of some form of deceptive  seduction. It's not a pretty picture of the goddess of love. This kind of move is also characteristic of those trying to sell a "path" or ideology: "you have been deceived, you are asleep; and this is the only way out." etc.

 

I'm also not crazy about this kind of language:

 

So we have to go straight to the reality first. This is the only science. Otherwise we are
just lost in the endlessly illusory knowledge of an endless myth that keeps twisting and
stretching itself and receding further into the distance to accommodate our endless expectations.

 

The "only science?" This kind of discourse makes it sound like there is no other thing that one can do but renounce everything and "follow the path," that everything or anything else will be the work of evil or delusion or whatever. It reminds me of a poster at Lightmind who used to keep reminding people, "You'll never get enlightenment doing... (X)!" Imagine me telling the plumber who comes to fix my pipes, "You'll never get enlightenment doing plumbing you know!" It's a rather extreme and judgemental position.

 

I think I know what it is that bugs me: this guy "stinks" of Zen. He's like some sort of evangelist, overwhelmed by his own enthusiasm, convinced by his own rhetoric.

It all sounds rather Gnostic to me or like an extreme version of the "maya" doctrine.

As well it should, since it IS. One reason I bring up the history of Bon again (above) is this very point, its roots in--or at least confluence with--Zoroastrian and other* gnosticism during the referenced period in central Asia. See my case on this in the "letting daylight into magic" thread.

* Other influences like Mithraism, Manichaeism, Indian Shaivism and Nestorian Christianity are all gnostically dichotomous in this way.

Although, as we have discussed before -- and this is a fact that has rather annoyed some Integralists I've talked with -- Bon Dzogchen has a stream of thought which denies, or at least which deliberately avoids, the relative vs absolute language of the Mahayana, and which speaks of reality in terms of 'unboundedness,' ambiguity, and not-fully-decidedness.

True, but this is more the phase 3, and very likely phase 4 Bon,* not its origins. And it seems per the letting daylight thread that there are still some original elements mixed in, at least as Batchelor and Thakchoe make the case.

*And I like it when they talk like that.

On the other hand, the "animistic" and shamanistic form of ancient Bon may have also had a "naturalistic" element to it.

 

The structure of Taoism may be instructive here: scholars have distinguished "religious" and "philosophical" forms, for lack of any better terms, of Taoism. I remember an undergrad paper I wrote where I went further and distinguished an "animistic" and shamanistic layer from a "mystical" and otherworldly form within the "religious" strain of Taoism.

I know that Per Kvaerne, who in addition to being a Bon specialist has written on Sahajayana Buddhism, distinguishes different senses to the term "Bon."


kelamuni said:

On the other hand, the "animistic" and shamanistic form of ancient Bon may have also had a "naturalistic" element to it.

 

This article describes the history of Bon scholarship. Hoffmann's account based on Gelugpa sources is somewhat interesting in some of its elements; it outlines three layers or phases: the animistic/shamanistic basis; a syncretic form that incorporated Gnostic and Manichean elements, as well as Shaiva and Buddhist ones; a further syncretic form that incorporated a triumphal Buddhism. Norbu also points to the animistic/shamanistic roots of Bon but adds that this should be understood as anything but "primitive." Hmmm.

So do we start with the "naturalistic" position of shamanism where mountains are mountains, move to the 180 degree otherworldly, Manichean position where mountains are not mountain, then move back full circle to the 360 degree naturalistic position of Dzogchenpo where mountains are mountains again? Haha. Sounds familiar.


kelamuni said:

The structure of Taoism may be instructive here: scholars have distinguished "religious" and "philosophical" forms, for lack of any better terms, of Taoism. I remember an undergrad paper I wrote where I went further and distinguished an "animistic" and shamanistic layer from a "mystical" and otherworldly form within the "religious" strain of Taoism.

I know that Per Kvaerne, who in addition to being a Bon specialist has written on Sahajayana Buddhism, distinguishes different senses to the term "Bon."


kelamuni said:

On the other hand, the "animistic" and shamanistic form of ancient Bon may have also had a "naturalistic" element to it.

 

This article, which I came across, states something to the effect, "it is neither to be identified with the state transcending suffering nor with the state of transmigration, yet it encompasses both and transcends both." This kind of language reminds me of the description of "purna advaita" found in Kashmiri Shaivism, which attempts to avoid otherworldly sounding descriptions of the "ultimate" state.

Balder said:
Although, as we have discussed before -- and this is something that has rather annoyed some Integralists I've talked with -- Bon Dzogchen has a stream of thought which denies, or at least which deliberately avoids, the relative vs absolute language of the Mahayana, and which speaks of reality in terms of 'unboundedness,' ambiguity, and not-fully-decidedness.

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