"Oh, East is East and West is West, but never the twain shall meet." I believed Mr. Kipling until I moved to Hawaii. One of the most interesting thing I've learned from my Japanese friends and teachers is how the East and the West have been connected since their earliest beginnings.
Western Civilization, as we all know was founded upon Greek ideals; the concept of democracy, Aristotle, and Plato's foundations of reason, and let's not forget Homer's Iliad and The Odyssey. A certain young pupil of Aristotle, Alexander the Great, reached India in 326 B.C. establishing a connection between the two cultures and Empires.
Much of what was once considered Greek Thought is now known to be the result of a rich exchange of ideas in the ancient world. Richard Mckeilley's wonderful book, The Shape of Ancient Thought details how even the earliest writings of Greek thinkers like, Heraclitus, and Thales closely parallel the Upanishads of India. It is remarkable to read how closely linked the cultures of East and West were through the centuries. The mobility of ideas in the ancient world should not surprise us too much, though I admit this book has bee a bit of a shock.
When we consider that English is a Proto-Indo-European language, a clearer picture begins to emerge. Ancient Sanskrit and English share hundreds of words in common. These twain, (two) East and West, have been connected since their earliest beginnings. It's exciting when you learn that everything you thought you knew ––turns out to be ridiculously incomplete. The world becomes new.
I highly recommend Richard Mckeilley's book. I think that you will be delighted and amazed.