Still Awaiting Discovery

Stephen Jenkins. The Undiscovered Country. Neville Spearman, 1977.

Mr Jenkins, a schoolmaster, covers a wide field in his book, ranging from leys to Mahayana Buddhism, receiving instruction in the latter from a monk at the Gan-Dan monastery in the Mongolia. It is a pity that the said monk did not also provide Mr Jenkins with some lessons in literary style, as his current style is so rambling and verbose that many readers will give up in despair.
 
This would be a pity, as the book has some fascinating details of the author's experience with various paranormal events. A number of his experiences seem to have taken place on the intersection of ley-lines, and include a curious feeling of disorientation a tradition well known in Irish folklore, where people 'bemused' by the sidhe can wander about fields all night, unable to find an exit.

Jenkin's discussion of the Virgin as a symbol of the 'Great Mother' in various cultures is illuminating, and his information on the image of the 'Black Dog' of interest. However, some parts of the book are, in this reviewer's opinion, less worthwhile. Rather too much weight is attached to the curious theories of T C Lethbridge, some of which seem quite unintelligible. It would appear that the author also believes there is a cosmic war between metaphysical entities from Orion and the Pelaides, a concept which seems unlikely, to say the least. There are traditional beliefs linked to the Pelaides,-but they may have originated from calendrical rituals. Jenkins puts rather too much faith in the beliefs of contactees and seems unaware of the extent of borrowing, conscious or otherwise, between one sect and another in modem contactee cults.

One of the more frustrating aspects of this book is that, while constantly hinting about insights into paranormal phenomena that may be provided by lamaism, he draws back into a cloud of verbiage rather than providing a lucid account of its cosmology and its cultural background. It is only by making a thorough study of this aspect of Mongolian society that some of his comments could be evaluated.

Before anyone sets himself this task, or looks through more exotic cultures in search of solutions to the UFO problem, ponder the koan that an old monk set disciple Jenkins, who had (your reviewer suspects) been pestering him for some revelation of the location of Shamballa, a mythic land of the Mongols. The monk pondered, then explained that some considered it to be in Orion, others put in in the underworld or in a magic island which appeared as disappeared at will. But the wisest had thought long and hard, to come up with an answer Shamballa was really in the British Isles.

This seems a retelling of the great myth of the pilgrim, answering a dream embarking on a journey to find a great treasure; instead he finds a stranger who tells him of his dream, about a treasure in the pilgrim's own garden. He returns home, and sure enough, he finds it. Moral: if you want mystery and wonder, look in your own backyard! Jenkins seems to have taken his teacher rather literally and is now searching for lost Shamballa amongst the leys, and promises us another book. Let us hope he tightens up his writing first, to avoid giving us another potentially fascinating book ruined by muddled style and waffle. -- Peter Rogerson. MUFOB New Series 8, autumn 1977.


2 comments:

Loes Modderman said...

I read the book recently and it immediately became one of my favorites. It's amazing that Jenkins is not more wellknown, since his insights are so valuable and based on a in-depth knowledge of cultures and religions. One of the few writers who tried to find connections in the broad spectrum of phenomena, and succeeds.

Loes Modderman said...

What is said about the style, that's absolutely right. Jenkins could have done with less words and a clearer formulation. Howeve, this was 1977, when people used (and knew!) more words then today.
I read the book with great pleasure and it didn't bore me for a moment. Jenkins has too many valuable insights and interesting facts for being boring, at least for me. His knowledge of Asian mysticism is a bonus, although he could have been more to the point on that subject. The book is a porridge full of tantalising sweets, which you have to pick out - and maybe follow up on, yourself.