Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 4) – The Far East

My longest book to date has reached its end, and this is just the 1st volume (out of 11) in the The Story of Civilization series by Will Durant. This last part focused on ancient China and Japan.

Was it worth it? We are talking about a 50 hour audiobook. Yes, I think so! Does the #sunkcostfallacy play a role in this answer? It probably does! I’ve suffered through a lot of dry talk about pottery and poetry to reach this point.


📝 The feet of girls at age 7 where compressed with tight bandages to prevent their further growth, so that the mature lady might walk with a mincing step erotically pleasing to the men.

In the prescence of a lady the word shoe was taboo.🦶 👠

📝 To know the ‘Dao’ is to surpress ones knowledge. “We have to forget our theories and feel the facts.”

📝 Confucianism: “Only in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.”

📝 Chinese civilization in 2 words: Philosophy and Porcelain.

📝 “Beards where small and always shaved, but seldom of the owner thereof.” oh, I cannot but LOVE Will Durants prose and elegant summaries of the smallest aspects of civilization. 😂

📝 Chinese writing: “The same character is read as different sounds and words in different localities.” I remember seeing Chinese and Japanese students, who where unable to communicate verbally, communicate through written messages when I studied in Japan. 🤯

📝 When the revolution raged they forgot the old sages words. “He who thinks the old embankments useless and destroys them is sure to suffer from the desolation caused by overflowing water.”


⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

“The accumulation of wealth in the hands of the minority is no doubt a universal and apparently unfailing concomitant of civilization.” We see this play out over and over again.

I’m still green but now I at least have a slight understanding of Confucianism and rudimentary understanding of the Chinese and Japanese culture and history.

3/5

Which books is the longest book you read? 🤔

Check out my READING LISTS for more great reads!

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!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 2) – The Near East

The second part of this tome (1200+ pages) is focused on the Ancient civilizations of the Near East; Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc..

📝 “It is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.”

📝 Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; “spending their geniuses on sauces and deserts” 🍰. What state is our current civilization in? 🤔

📝 Egypt: “Machinery was rare because muscle was cheap.”

📝 The hanging gardens of Babylon was considered considered one of the Wonders of the World. Legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar II had it build for his wife who was not used to the desert and longed for her lush homeland.

📝 There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

📝 In Judean prophets talked about the need to be moral rebirth. Jeremaya asked for circumcision of spirit as well as the flesh in his strange phrase: “Circumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.” 😂😂

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

One theme that stood out to me is how civilizations raise from hard labour and sacrifice, just so that future generation can have it go down the toilet by forgetting these hardships and fall victim to hedonism. 💩 🚽

⭐️ TAKEAWAY 2:

The accounts of the religious believes in the different civilizations fascinates me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we still can find intact or reshaped in today’s religions.

⚖️ VERDICT:

Now we get into the meat of the book and it has taken on another rhythm. I have mixed feelings about this second part of book. It’s is still brilliant but it’s getting hard to retain the information. The problem might lie in the way the book is structured, using the same template to describe each civilization, one after the other, making it overwhelming.

Check out Part 1 for more in this review series.

What are you reading these days? 🤔

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!