Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 3) – India and it’s Neighbors

I’m 35 hours (50 in total) into this beast of a book and it’s a good time for another mini review. This part tackles the history of India and it’s a good one!


📝Gandhi: “What the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.” I have never fasted. Have you? Maybe this will be my next experiment. 🧪

📝 It’s hard to overestimate the importance and impact and the cast system on India. I want to read more about it. 🤓

📝 The dominating fact in India is heat, Durant argues. ☀️ “It weakened the youth and shortened them. It also gave way to the most quiet of religions and philosophy”. “The only relief of this heat is to sit still and do nothing and desire nothing”…”When the monsoon fails to blow, India starves, and dreams of Nirvana.” 🧐🤔

📝 Mohenjo-daro was as old as the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

📝 “In the whole world, said Schopenhauer, there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as the of the Upanishads. It’s been the solace of my life. It will be the solice of my death”. This Schopenhauer guy show up a lot in the Laws of Human Nature too. I need to read his work.

📝 ”Unlike most saints, Buddha had a sense of humor and knew that metaphysic without laughter is immodesty”.

📝 The oldest and ever reoccurring theme of Hindu thought: “individual separateness is an illusion.” “All life is one”.


⭐️TAKEAWAY: “Nothing should more deeply shameful to the modern student than the recency and Inadequacy of his acquaintance with India.” 🙋‍♂️🤦‍♂️ 🇮🇳. Ive been quite oblivious, but reading this is a part of the cure. I also want to read more about the cast system, Brahmins and maybe even take a closer look at the Upanishads. Let me know if you have book recommendations?

The books goes into traditional yogic practices (hardcore stuff.😨), the life of the Buddha, and the story of Buddhism and Hinduism and a short biography about Gandhi. And you know me by know; I LOVE that stuff!

4/5

What are you reading this week?

Also read part 1 and part 2 in this review series. Plus find other awesome books here!

Thoughts on: “Tao te Ching” by Lao Tsu

I can see a possible scenario in the future, where I’m a greying old man, and I praise this book as profound and monumental. But let’s face it, It did not do much for me right now.

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I enjoyed it quite a bit and something tells me this book is special, but I don’t feel I have access to all its layers yet. It feel pointless to put a number on a book like this and therefore I won’t.

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The book is lightweight with it’s 81 aphorisms of Chinese wisdom – most of which doesn’t even cover half a page in the book. But it demands reflection. ——

📝 The oldest version excavated was dated back to 400 years BC.

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📝 “The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”

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📝”A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.”

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📝 ”To understand the limitation of things, desire them.”

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⭐️ Takeaway:

Non-Attachment, non-Judgment and non-Resistance. We have heard it all before. These principles are easy to understand intellectually but so hard to master.

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My current plan is to get more editions (with different annotations) of Tao te Ching and keep going back to it every other year or so.

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What’s your relationship to this book?

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?/5

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Thoughts on: “The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei” by John Stevens

My major feat this summer was to inflate a pool in preparation of a BBQ party (see pic. 2). Due to lack of proper equipment it had to be done manually. It took quite some time and effort on my part to get it ready; But I persisted and felt a little bit of pride afterwards.

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When the guests arrived their reaction was; “That’s crazy! I can’t believe you didn’t use a pump for that!”.

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Now cut to the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei:

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Instead of being dressed in traditional black Buddhist clothes, they wear white, the color of death. They carry a knife in their belt. This is to take their life if they fail in any element of their practice. Knife for self-disembowelment – belt for hanging.

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These buddhist monks and super athletes reaching for enlightenment in the here and now thought physical movement.

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Their training schedule is crazy. The “1000-Day Marathon”, a big part of their practice, takes 7 years to complete. For the first 5 years they run a marathon a day for 100 days straight. This is repeated 7 times. For the last 2 years the distance is increased to two Marathon distances a day (84km!). They also throw in a 9-day fast into their practice, with continuous meditation, without water and sleep, to keep things interesting.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: When we get familiar with feats like these, either through books or elsewhere, our ability to complain about trifles is diminished.

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Our standards and expectations of ourselves and others are so low nowadays… SO LOW.. (at least in Sweden where I live), that learning about stuff like this can, at least temporarily, raise the expectation bar a bit. So that you don’t get too cocky for blowing some air into a pool. Or praise the one that did it. 😀😎

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And yes! It’s a great book! The writing is so-so but the content is truly fascinating!

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5/5

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Thoughts on: “Advice not Given” by Mark Epstein

“When we let the ego have free reign we suffer – but when we learn to let go, we are free.”

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Dr. Epstein explores where psychotherapy and Buddhism can complement each other in the persuit of mental wellness.

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The Buddha and Freud, Dr Epstein says, came to a similar conclusion. Ego is the enemy, the limiting factor in our wellbeing.

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Sure! We can control our egos to a large extent if we put in the effort, but I’m not as convinced as Dr. Epstein, that Sigmund’s Id, ego and super ego – and the “self” of buddhism are too similar – other than that the burden of societal norms increase our suffering – and that breaking free of those bonds is the key to inner

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📝 The Eightfold Path: Right view, right motivation, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

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📝 “Death is Apart of Life. Don’t make a big deal out of it!”

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📝 Right speech goes for both the external and the internal. Catch loops of bad self-talk!

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📝 We all need to find a way to deal with the truth of impermanence. ”Change is the Only Constant.”

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📝 Freud was a badass, Buddha was a badass!

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Epstein gives you psychotherapeutic case studies and personal stories interwoven with Zen parables – All tied together neatly with each chapter representing one of the 8 fold paths of Buddhism.

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I solid read for winding down and getting over yourself!

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3/5


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Thoughts on: “Walk Like a Buddha” by Lodro Rinzler

“All of you are perfect as you are, and you can use a little improvement”

Zen Master Suzuki Roshi


This is a very practical and accessible book about how to apply the teachings of the buddha to different aspects modern life. It has a question/answer format like: What would the buddha do in this and that situation or what would his stance be on one thing or another.


The book is good, but I feel that most of the value I got from it comes from cited sources rather than from the authors own experiences and insights.


📝 An elderly man teaches his grandson about peace. He said that he has two wolves that lives within his heart. One is fueled by anger and aggression and the other by kindness. They are always at war with each other for his heart.. The grandson asked: “who will ultimately win?”. The man answers:

“The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed”.


📝 Everyone think they are busy all the time. It’s easy to be busy! Get a dedicated time for meditation.


📝 Impermanence is a bitch. Going through Hell is not punishment, it’s training. We have to learn to deal with. A big part of life is pain and if you don’t learn to relate to it you are missing out on big aspects of life.


📝 At work: if you feel boredom. Drop it like a meditator drops an intrusive thought. The present moment is a perfect point from which to start anew.


📝 “Always don’t know”. Keep an inquisitive mind.


📝 There are so many things that can make an office environment toxic, but Mindless speech seems to be is chief among them.

The Four Gates of Speech:

1. Is what I’m about to say true?

2. Is what I’m saying necessary?

3. Is what I’m saying kind?

4. Is it a good time?


📝 From “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” by author Bronnie Ware:

“I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected from me.”


💡 Takeaway. “Live your life as an experiment”. Nothing new here! BUT I’m a big proponent doing experiments. Going forward I will post about concluded and ongoing experiments I’m conducting. Stay tuned!What are you experimenting with in your life?

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Thoughts on: “Hardcore Zen” by Brad Warner

Brad Warner is punk rocker turned Zen master. He is “controversial” because he is not part of either of the two dominating fractions of Zen in the west; the overly intellectualized one or the woo-woo New age version. ——————————————

He wants to make Zen available and practical for to regular people with normal lives and jobs. Not having rules for the sake of rules. In the end, zen is all about silent sitting. No more, no less.

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When his publisher was slow to take action on turning the book into and audiobook, he recorded the it himself with GarageBand in his kitchen.

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This recording style definitively adds to the punk vibe. Cats interrupting the recording by walking on the laptop keyboard is quite charming. The book being a bit unstructured is also punk, but it makes the message less powerful and takes away more than it adds.

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The book also has autobiographical parts about his bands and how he got is dream job. To work with Japanese monster movies. He realizied that reaching that goal didn’t made him happier and deepened his journey into zen. ——————————————

📝 “You may find that having is not as pleasing a thing as wanting. This is not logical but it is often true” – Mr spook

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📝 The origin of suffering is desire

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📝 Instead of accepting reality for what it is, we often compare reality to our ideal version of it. Suffering comes from the comparison between our ideal and what is.

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📝 The most poisonous lie that religion spreads is that truly moral people never have immoral thought. The truth is that they have. They just only act on the moral ones.

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📝 Reaction to anger is a habit. It takes more energy resisting than to go with it.

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📝 Do what you do as well as you can. How you approach thing matters.

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3/5

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Top Books of the Year – #7

#7 “The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei” by John Stevens

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The “1000-Day Marathon”, a big part of their practice, takes 7 years to complete. For the first 5 years they run a marathon a day for 100 days straight. This is repeated 7 times. For the last 2 years the distance is increased to two Marathon distances a day (84km!). They also throw in a 9-day fast into their practice, with continuous meditation, without water and sleep, to keep things interesting.

——- WHY THIS BOOK? ———

This books in not for everyone – It’s poorly written at times and weirdly edited, but if you are a fan of running, endurance or just fascinating by incredible human achievements – then look no further!

————— IMPACT —————

It has has impaired my ability to complain about monotonous and repetitive tasks. It also pushed me to train harder for the 20km trail race I ran with (against?) my brother this November. Unfortunately for me he finished faster 🤬 🏃

——— 🤔QUESTIONS🤔——-

Do you run?

Find more over here: Favorite Books of 2017

Books That Will Change You Forever!

I did a “favorites of 2016” last year on my instagram and I thought it would be a good addtion to my blog. Good book recommendations are always relevant, right? The list for 2017 is coming soon butthese books sure are worthy gifts for loved ones this holiday season!

Favorite Books of 2016 – Self-Discovery

My Pick:

“The Bhagavad Gita” – Translated and introduced by Eknath Easwaran (Audio / Paperback)

One of my many takeaways from Nassim Nikolas Talebs book “Antifragile” was to read original material and books that stood the test of time. So I did just that and it turned out to be pretty sound advice. I naively thought it would be tough to enjoy books from hundreds of years ago, because old school writing styles, but thanks to modern translations I found it to be quite the opposite.

One book that stood out to me was “The Bhagavad Gita”, translated and introduced by Eknath Easwaran. After seeing this ancient Hindu scripture being referenced in more than six of the books I read this year, covering very different subjects, I’d decided to give it a shot. It was well worth it and you can find my “review” of it in my feed. What really stuck with me was the concept of detachment from outcome. “Only the one who is utterly engaged and utterly detached is able to live life fully.”

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RUNNERS UP:

Read the full list with all it’s categories here!

Thoughts on: Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton

Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton

We all lie like hell to ourselves and others, and it’s stresses us to death.

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It’s to the point, unapologetic and without sugar coating. The honesty Dr Blanton is talking about is not just “truth is the best policy”, but to tell the truth as you experience it, in great detail and no matter how it portraits you identity.

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What he suggests is shock program, but don’t worry, because 99.99% of you won’t have the ball (or tits?!) to do the exercises described in this book. Your ego won’t let you. And you don’t need to, you will still get massive value from reading it.

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📝 Nietzsche: “A mans maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play.”

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📝 “The stress that kills or cripple most of us come from people being too hard on themselves when they don’t live up to their own imaginings about how other people think they should behave.”

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📝 How long it takes to build a ego identity depends on culture and tech level. For a bushman to go from child to starting to making babies, take on an adult role and choose vocation takes about a year. In our culture adolescent last from 12 to 40 y/o.

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📝 “We mix up reality with our interpretation of reality. We invent some fundamental lies of how life should and shouldn’t be. Then we use food and drugs to temporarily escape the lie we invented.”

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📝 “Getting drunk & stoned works! being sad & being fat works! Especially in a world where being angry, horny or being expressly joyful is tabu.”

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📝 “The key to happiness is the willingness to take care of oneself. Problem is that most people are willing to take care of anything and anyone else, but themselves.”

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⭐️ The author walks his talk when describing his intention with this book; to show off what he learned during his career, but also to show that he is smarter than most people. To be rich and famous and to create a legacy that lives on after his death.
Thing we all think but never say explicitly.

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I end this review by quoting my notes: “Mind-blowing book!”

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Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton – 5/5

Check out my reading lists for more great books!

Thoughts on: “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind”

zenmindbeginnersmind

I feel like some book are meant to be studied rather just being read. There are some book that I decided not to review for this reason. Reading them ones just don’t do the trick, usually this is the case with esoteric writings like today’s book.
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So I read the book two more times after finishing it. Not because the book was fantastic in any way but to see if there was any value in repeating the information. Maybe it would reveal new insights?
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It kinda worked! like peeling an union – each round exposed a new layer of understanding and more concepts made sense. Unfortunately re-reading didn’t turn it in to a “must read” recommendation. 😜
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📝 When you are a beginner it’s easy to learn. The challenge is to keep this mindset – the beginners mind – when you get to an advanced level.
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📝 “Real calmness should be found in activity itself. We say: it’s easy to have calmness in inactivity. It’s hard to have calmness in activity. Calmness in activity is true calmness.”
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📝 Zazen: “If you continue to this simple practice everyday you will attain a wonderful power. before you attain it it’s something wonderful but after you attain it it’s nothing special.”
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It’s a cool book about Zen practice and you should probably pick it up if you are into meditation and feel like you need some inspiration to spice things up. ———————
Which books did I end up not writing reviews for, you ask? So far it’s “Power vs. Force” and “The Kybalion”. Did you ever run into books where you not sure how you feel about them? 🤔
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3/5

 

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