Max Brecher’s review on Peter Kingsley’s ‘A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World’
Peter Kingsley, A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World
But there is one fine detail they always seem to miss: that if those who make history were like those who write it, nothing would ever happen. Those who make a difference do so because they are different, because they are prepared if necessary to walk thousands of miles, learn as many languages as needed word by word, ignore the warnings and rewrite the rules; push back the barriers of the impossible.
In a world increasingly hellbent on polarizing and fractioning off into ever smaller and more vociferous special interest groups one of the most important issues for those seeking to nudge the balance the other way is the relationship between all allegedly eternal and inevitable opposites. Man woman, active passive, cause effect, logic love, science spirituality, west east, history myth, possible impossible, and even time and space. If you can name it, it’s either on that list or should be.
This work ‑ or, if you prefer, play ‑ consists of two basic elements: the inner and outer. The inside job can be summed up as “meditating”, “watching”, “witnessing”, “self remembering” or “closely watched brains”. Noticing and registering the contents of our lives as they happen and gradually coming to see in our own time and on our own terms that while an either/or mindset might make sense on paper, that’s the only place it does. In this winking blinking world we call home ‑ where we are constantly slipping, tripping, shouting and shooting from one extreme and the other: YES! NO! ME! YOU! I DID IT! I DIDN’T! ‑ it creates and perpetuates more problems than it solves. In fact, it itself is one of the major problems.
In short, this inside job means coming to our real senses and getting back to experience, not theories about it. Allowing the lion to lie down with the lamb without the lion losing its breath taking ferocity or the lamb giving up its take me home vulnerability. Letting both sides of what we previously believed were unbridgeable chasms ‑ bust and boom, riches and ruin, higher and lower, faster and slower ‑ remain in the same instant while we wait, and wait, and watch the physics of normal change before our eyes.
The outside job is equally important. For without it the legendary Phoenix ‑ which, believe it or not, started off life as a plain vanilla parakeet ‑ won’t be able to get off the earth, let alone reach the sky. And if that’s left undone, any day now there won’t be enough of an outer for the inner to work in. Let’s focus here on two core topics: language and history. Why are they so central? Because they are the major tools used and abused to construct 99.9% of what passes itself off as serious discourse, society and reality itself. The “We”, or human nature, you’ve heard, and said, so much about.
In one of his previous works Peter Kingsley wrote, “everything is what it is because of how it has come to be what it is”. In other words, the text is understood and appreciated in context, the foreground against the background. The same is true of you, me, we, language and history. They didn’t just drop full blown out of the blue. Thus the exploration of the languages we are thinking and sinking in involves a deep research into their roots and routes. Where they have come from and how they have become what they are.
This exposure ‑ a not insignificant part of Peter Kingsley’s life’s work ‑ will reveal many things you couldn’t even imagine suggesting at the beginning, let alone actually thinking and insisting on. One of them is coming to realize en plein jour and with no going back finality that the supposedly clear and distinct borders between each and every one of our run into the ground categories ‑ including work and play and inner and outer ‑ are optical illusions. Linguistic sleights of hand.
That’s one of the reasons why those who can make a difference in how we are with ourselves, each other and “all this” often come off sounding like self contradicting, flipflopping fools, and are finally forced to resort to riddles, paradoxes, parables and koans. And why lopsided, wet behind the ears know nothings can convince like minded automatons that they’ve got the all answers to all their questions and are the best thing since sliced cheese.
Knowing a thing or two about how languages work ‑ and their cutting both ways capacity to conceal as much as or more than they reveal, repress more than they express ‑ will change how we communicate about processes, events, stuff, non-stuff and anti-stuff. We will speak and listen with more humor and humility, and combine an attentive, I’ve really got to hear this leaning forward with a hmm, I wonder what that means stepping back.
Number two on the short list of outside tasks is taking a long, hard, soft and steady look at history to see if it actually happened the way we’ve always been taught, and despite numerous disillusionments and ten mile high piles of evidence to the contrary, what we’ve bought. Such as the buzz gone around the world clash of cultures and civilizations. East is east, and west is west. Always was, always will be, and never the twain shall meet. Rudyard Kipling said that, and who are you or anyone else to argue with him?
Now many of you out there in Osho land will immediately sit up and protest. Why do we need to know anything about history? And you will feel backed up by what Osho has said at nearly every opportunity about it being holy cow dung and nothing but. A seemingly endless tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing. But you would be wrong. Because such tales actually tell us a great deal.
First and foremost, that there are lots of idiots telling them, more idiots listening to and never getting sick and tired of them, and everyone, despite personal insights and preferences, getting sucked into their slipstreams and suffering the consequences. If that doesn’t have anything to do with you, I’m impressed. What’s more, just as there is no smoke without fire, there is no sound and fury without a sea of other subtler, stiller stuff going on underneath.
Thus under the crust of what we have up to now swallowed as real history ‑ which when you’re smack in the racket of it is so thick it seems like fate ‑ are completely different versions and visions of what happened. Not the OOOH! PARANORMAL! “alternative realities” you’ll hear so much about at New Age fun fairs. But songs sung by all sorts of strange and wonderful enlightened masters, full of love, light, laughter and healthy whallops of zen sticks and lions’ roars, and signifying more than you as normal you can ever dream of, take in and understand.
If I have even begun to tickle the top of Osho’s oeuvre ‑ which is highly unlikely ‑ much of it was concerned with reading out the roll call of those most treasured ancestors who dared the impossible and tried to translate the wisdom of eternity into the parsed out sentences of time. Osho was unearthing the history behind and within history and serving it up to modern audiences without the muck and mutter, shatter and scatter. In a form that breathes, pulses, sparkles and shines. Something that simple, ordinary, plain folk can ‑ if they care to ‑ begin to understand and do something with to redress the fractophrenia we see all around and in us. Fractophrenia because we’ve zipped past schizophrenia a long way back.
The kind of people I’m chatting to here. Those who wish to know the kind of things they can do ‑ and equally importantly, stop doing ‑ to make a difference for those who are here now and those waiting in the wings. They are also a perfect match for Peter Kingsley. That’s why I thought it was high time for you all to get better acquainted.
Not only in A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World, the slim volume I’m setting the stage for here, but his other work as well. Such as Ancient Philosophy, Mystery and Magic, In The Dark Places of Wisdom, and Reality. I shudder at what it cost him to write them. Trawling through the bits and snips of the historical record, ruining his eyes with reading thousands of books and articles in off the beaten path professional journals, and learning “as many languages as needed word by word” in order to get a handle on it.
All that immersing himself in the smaller pictures without losing track of the larger ones and being able to present it to us in perfectly polished and quite often luminous prose. No small feat, Peter. Kudos and kydos.
Enfin. In this book you will discover to your astonishment ‑ and I daresay at first glance utter disbelief ‑ the debts we in the “rational” west owe to the “irrational” and “somewhat primitive and childish” east. Of relationships stretching back thousands of years between an obscure Mongolian shaman and a major bright light of the ancient “Greek” world. Not Plato or Aristotle, but Pythagoras. The bottom line is not only can east and west meet, they already have. The only places they have ever been separated is in our either/or minds.
Hopefully, I have whetted your appetite for Peter Kingsley and his work. Now go forth and enjoy the feast. But first let me close with one more tidbit from his table.
There are really only two kinds of people in existence. There is everyone who has been trained to live either for today or tomorrow, stuck in all the cycles of endless preparations and expectations, dutifully digging holes and then falling into them, always busy trying to plant something fresh in the well-worn patterns of the old.
This is called waiting for the new moon.
And then there are those who know how to work in perfect stillness, imperceptibly bringing the future into being.
That is called waiting for the new sun.
Max Brecher is a communications specialist living in Amsterdam. He is the author of 10 books, including A Passage to America.
A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World, p. 70
While this is the way the line is usually remembered ‑ and for obvious reasons ‑ the actual reading is: “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.” (Isaiah 11:6)