“… earth-shattering, history-breaking … awakens the Western soul by digging more deeply into its origins that are far more diverse and profound than most of us have ever known… vivid … masterful.” (click for full review in Tikkun)
This short book broadens the story Kingsley (independent scholar) told in In the Dark Places of Wisdom (CH, Jul'99, 36-6224) and Reality (CH, Jul'04, 41-6456). These works presented the early Greek mystics Parmenides, Empedocles, and Pythagoras as spiritually relevant for the modern West. In this new book Kingsley traces the origins of the shamanic practices employed for inner transformation by these Greek figures back to Central Asia. He tells the dramatic tale of how the legendary healer and priest of Apollo, Abaris the Hyperborean, transmitted shamanic techniques and esoteric teachings, like the transmigration of souls, from Mongolia to the ancient Mediterranean (he also reveals links with Amerindian reincarnation). Paradoxically, Kingsley's aim in deriving these ideas from Asia is to turn readers' eyes back toward the West, where they were planted long ago and grew in their native soil. He also recounts the purifying effects of the Mongol conquests in Asia and the collision between Mongolian shamanism and Tibetan Buddhists, who sought to repress shamanism in the interests of a supposedly more refined religion. The book's controversial claims are based on impeccable scholarship and thus should be taken seriously. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers.
– reviewed by J. Bussanich, University of New Mexico
“This is a small book. You can read it in an hour. 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.”– reviewed by Thomas Moore for Parabola
"[Kingsley's work is] ... unique, urgent, demanding and liberating.... In A Story Waiting to Pierce You, Peter Kingsley proves himself to be a master spiritual archer fletching words and ideas to pierce the targets of our ignorance and denial and, like a Zen master, restore us to a clear and incontrovertible vision of the spiritual nature of reality and the origin of our cultures. In its style, diction, poetry, thought, emotion, and in the responsibilities to awaken and witness that it places on us, A Story Waiting to Pierce You indeed flies through mountains like the shamanic arrows it presents. And it indeed pierces. –reviewed by Edward Tick for Seven Pilars.
“… an urgent reminder of first things: of where worlds and civilizations really come from, and how, and why. Too often we think of a sacred tradition as something that just barely survives inside of a civilization; of ecstasy as otherworldly and impractical. Kingsley shows us that the opposite is true. Sacred traditions create civilizations. Tradition is the living soil from which all our cultures spring. People like Pythagoras and Abaris learned how to step outside of themselves and allow the sacred to come. Their ecstasy sowed worlds. A Story Waiting to Pierce You conveys this power and urgency through its remarkable style. It reads at times like a prose poem, an incantation, a song of ecstasy. And ecstasy is uncompromising. It has nothing to offer the New Age seeker, nothing to teach the secular intellectual. In ecstasy we lose ourselves—along with all our ideas of the way things were going to be. Yet we are offered something much richer in return: the chance to “live in service not to our flimsy expectations but to the power of life itself” (35). In a world that has almost forgotten these things, and nearly killed itself in the process, Peter Kingsley’s A Story Waiting to Pierce You is a reminder, and a call to life. (click for full PDF of review on Sacred Web)
This slim volume by Peter Kingsley seems to have one or two possible effects on the reader. The first response is to say “yes” to what it contains, and pass on. The second response is to read the book, and then to read it again, so that you become well and truly pierced. The story pierced me and then became lodged under my skin.
Like me, you have probably puzzled as to why ancient Greek civilisation burst forth at the time of Pythagoras in 570 BCE, and why this flowering of ancient Greek culture gave rise to western civilisation. This book follows on from Kingsley’s two previous books—In the Dark Places of Wisdom and Reality—in offering a systematic answer to these questions. It, too, reads like a story. But Kingsley has provided an extensive collection of notes which indicate his scholarship and careful research into the source of what he writes. These notes take up half the book, which is well crafted with delightful drawings at the beginning of each section.
This new volume describes a messenger, Abaris from beyond the Altai Mountains in Central Asia, who brings a sacred arrow to Pythagoras and teaches Pythagoras with the aid of Apollo—himself a god of Central Asian origin—the esoteric wisdom from the ancient ones in Mongolia. In the past this arrow was meant to pierce and transform, and in the present the arrow may pierce the reader. Once pierced the reader finds himself or herself compelled to read this book several times, so that this story becomes firmly embedded. I found the story was like a fable, such as R. L. Stevenson’s fable “The Song of the Morrow”, which lodged in the memory and continues to have an effect upon the reader.
For those interested in the teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, this book is important. There was once much speculation amongst these groups as to the origin of Ouspensky’s and Gurdjieff’s teachings. This book reveals the probable source of their esoteric knowledge.
In this book there are references to the Green Man and Naqshbandi Sufis. We have a Green Man over the entrance to our house. I once met a Naqshbandi young man in a pub in Oxford. After talking and sharing the Mevlevi turning ‘dance’, he gave me an eastern empty photograph album. Subsequently, as I filled this book with photographs, I remembered this young Sufi who was a light in the Oxford darkness.
What Peter Kingsley describes in this book is a unique kind of magic, which makes it possible for each of us to enjoy a certain kind of remembering. He writes: “Remembering is simply a matter of recollecting the essence of ourselves—of gathering our own finest pollen into the present for the sake of the future. … And this time the surprises arrive from the West instead of the East—although not from the West as Europe. They come from the West as America, where west of west turns out to be east of east.”
This is perhaps where the next awakening is to be found? All in all, prepare to be affected by this story by Peter Kingsley.