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! Iโ€™ve suffered through a lot of dry talk about pottery and poetry to reach this point.

๐Ÿ“ 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.๐Ÿฆถ ๐Ÿ‘ 

๐Ÿ“ To know the โ€˜Daoโ€™ is to surpress ones knowledge. โ€œWe have to forget our theories and feel the facts.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Confucianism: โ€œOnly in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Chinese civilization in 2 words: Philosophy and Porcelain.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œBeards where small and always shaved, but seldom of the owner thereof.โ€ oh, I cannot but LOVE Will Durants prose and elegant summaries of the smallest aspects of civilization. ๐Ÿ˜‚

๐Ÿ“ Chinese writing: โ€œThe same character is read as different sounds and words in different localities.โ€ I remember seeing Chinese and Japanese students, who where unable to communicate verbally, communicate through written messages when I studied in Japan. ๐Ÿคฏ

๐Ÿ“ When the revolution raged they forgot the old sages words. โ€œHe who thinks the old embankments useless and destroys them is sure to suffer from the desolation caused by overflowing water.โ€

โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY:

โ€œThe accumulation of wealth in the hands of the minority is no doubt a universal and apparently unfailing concomitant of civilization.โ€ We see this play out over and over again.

Iโ€™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.


Which books is the longest book you read? ๐Ÿค”

Check out my READING LISTS for more great reads!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 3) – India and itโ€™s Neighbors

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

๐Ÿ“Gandhi: โ€œWhat the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.โ€ I have never fasted. Have you? Maybe this will be my next experiment. ๐Ÿงช

๐Ÿ“ Itโ€™s hard to overestimate the importance and impact and the cast system on India. I want to read more about it. ๐Ÿค“

๐Ÿ“ The dominating fact in India is heat, Durant argues. โ˜€๏ธ โ€œIt weakened the youth and shortened them. It also gave way to the most quiet of religions and philosophyโ€. โ€œThe only relief of this heat is to sit still and do nothing and desire nothingโ€…โ€When the monsoon fails to blow, India starves, and dreams of Nirvana.โ€ ๐Ÿง๐Ÿค”

๐Ÿ“ Mohenjo-daro was as old as the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œIn the whole world, said Schopenhauer, there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as the of the Upanishads. Itโ€™s been the solace of my life. It will be the solice of my deathโ€. This Schopenhauer guy show up a lot in the Laws of Human Nature too. I need to read his work.

๐Ÿ“ โ€Unlike most saints, Buddha had a sense of humor and knew that metaphysic without laughter is immodestyโ€.

๐Ÿ“ The oldest and ever reoccurring theme of Hindu thought: โ€œindividual separateness is an illusion.โ€ โ€œAll life is oneโ€.

โญ๏ธTAKEAWAY: โ€œNothing should more deeply shameful to the modern student than the recency and Inadequacy of his acquaintance with India.โ€ ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚๏ธ ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ. 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.๐Ÿ˜จ), 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!


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..

๐Ÿ“ โ€œIt is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; โ€œspending their geniuses on sauces and desertsโ€ ๐Ÿฐ. What state is our current civilization in? ๐Ÿค”

๐Ÿ“ Egypt: โ€œMachinery was rare because muscle was cheap.โ€

๐Ÿ“ 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.

๐Ÿ“ There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

๐Ÿ“ 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: โ€œCircumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

โญ๏ธ 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. ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿšฝ

โญ๏ธ 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 todayโ€™s religions.

โš–๏ธ 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. Itโ€™s is still brilliant but itโ€™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? ๐Ÿค”

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 1)

Photo credit: @eruchdah

Why should you know history? It tells you how we got where we are today. Why we believe what we believe, why we do what we do. By learning about the past you can also avoid repeating itโ€™s mistakes โ€”- and itโ€™s f***ing fascinating!

This book is ambitious in scope, the series (11 volumes) even more so; trying to summarize the history of civilization itself. This first book alone is 1184 pages. One of many reason to make break this book down to several micro reviews!

My focus for this year will be Ancient Greece, but first I want to read up on the history leading up to it.

The first part of the book talks about the economical, political, mental and moral elements needed for the establishment of civilization.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œI do not have to think. I have plenty of meatโ€. Not planning for more than today in primitive life had its advantages. When planning for the future you pave the way for property and greed.

๐Ÿ“ Communism appears most commonly in the beginning of civilization. In times of dearth. Fear of starvation fuses the individual into the group. The dream Communism lurks in every modern society as a memory of a simpler and more equal life. โ€œWe remember its equality but forget the poverty!โ€

๐Ÿ“ About taxes: โ€œIt was better to pay bribe to one magnificent robber than to bribe them all.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Women not bearing children are shamed by men in societies that rely on high birth rates to compensate for high death rates.

๐Ÿ“ In primitive society delay between desire and fulfillment is not very long and therefore there is not need to idealize passion.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œWhere food is dear, life is cheap.โ€

๐Ÿ“ In simple days, men married for cheap labour and regular meals.

๐Ÿ“ Is it good to be a virgin or not upon marriage? What is shameful is totally dictated by culture.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œCivilization is not imperishable. It must be required anew by each generation.โ€

๐Ÿ“ โ€œMagic becomes science.โ€ Magicians needed to give the supernatural a push by using natural means. Stuff that works for real.. ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ

Photo credit: @cinefile_25

Iโ€™m excited to be a student of history again. The world I see everyday makes more and more sense after each chapter I read. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“