Regarding your comment (Alem?) about being surprised I have an extensive background and experience with Eastern religion . . . yes, I do. I've been a "Christian" on and off through my Eastern mystic forays but a real, Born Again Christian since 2004 (12 years now). I would say that I was studying or practicing various forms of Hinduism on and off for about 30 years prior to that, with serious travels through "Urantia-ism" also at times. I believe it's all in God's hands how it went . . . but one of the reasons I would say that I never grasped the profundity of Biblical Christianity (The Gospel) was because I was never presented with it. Living in Salt Lake, growing up . . . Mormonism stood in the way of realizing what the Bible actually taught. There just aren't many real Christians around here. And I decided early on that I had serious doubts about Mormonism representing the true Gospel. And I never really heard the true Gospel as taught in Holy Scripture, God's Word.
The last thing I was before being Born Again . . . was a "Vaishnava"; for 8 years roughly, from 1996 to April 16th, 2004. I had always considered the "jnani" path of Hinduism the highest and purest, which was the path of intellectual discrimination where you basically practice, "neti, neti" which, from Vedic origin means "not this, not this". You believe that God is a transcendent Being in and through all things, but separate at the same time. By eliminating all forms of ignorance in your life, becoming detached from everything, everyone, including your own ego . . . ("Brahman", or the Supreme Being is "not this, not this") the idea is that eventually you have eliminated all "maya" (illusion) . . . and are finally left with pure God. But since, after many years of study and practice I felt I hadn't gotten to where I wanted to be spiritually I thought I would give the "bhakti" path a try via the "Vaishnav" spiritual philosophy as conveyed by Srila Prahbupada. This is the way of "devotion" . . . emotion, love, worship toward God.
In this philosophy, everything is offered to God. Everything is considered to be God's first--we are only using, borrowing. So, for instance, every meal is first offered to God in reverence and a sense of sacrifice. Once this is done, the remaining food (called "prasadam"), is thought to be "spiritualized", purified. Then, instead of just adding more ignorance and materialistic, carnal karma to you through eating it as usual (unpurified) it helps instead in a sort of transubstantive way to rectify your fallen nature. Likewise ALL activities (work, play, art, study, walking, talking etc.,) in daily life are to be first offered in devotion and worship to God (who I considered to be Krishna/Vishnu), and, considering oneself to be a slave of God, only the remaining scraps are left (now purified) to be used personally.
You can see why this might be an attractive spiritual philosophy for a sincere, dedicated seeker of God. You can see the similarities in this approach and ideas that Biblical Christianity teaches or recounts, ie., the "offering of first fruits", the idea of being a "slave of Christ", the idea of being wholly submitted to God.
Also in this form of "Vaishnavism", unlike most other types of Hinduism, it is strictly monotheistic and not pantheistic. God (Krishna) is considered totally unique and separate from the individual. You will never be God. Yes, you can be "godlike" and come to resemble God more and more, to being almost identical with him in "heaven" . . . but you will never BE God. Whereas, in the "Advaita" forms of Hinduism (which is monistic) "Brahman" (God) is considered to be all in all. Everything is "Brahman"/God. You, me, the rocks, the sky, water, birds, stars, matter, "anti-matter"-everything is "one". The only thing separating us from being "one" with Brahman/God . . . is ignorance.
Also in "Vaishnavism" we believed that evolution is a complete fraud and a lie. We were taught that abortion is a horrific crime/sin. Killing of anything alive is considered murder, including the baby in a woman's body.
Again, you can see the similarities to certain Christian beliefs and understand why I, who was raised nominally Christian, and who never stopped praying to Jesus throughout all my seeking, might find "Vaishnavism" attractive and comfortable.
But, generally speaking, in all the New Age/gnostic/Eastern mystic/Hinduistic etc. spiritual philosophies there is one, big, giant difference from Biblical Christianity . . . which makes all the difference in the world, in TRUTH.
That is, where all these other "paths" would basically agree that the main problem which separates us from God (or "God-consciousness") . . . is IGNORANCE . . . . . . In Biblical Christian doctrine what separates us from God is SIN!
Also, in all those other paths, it is all about what YOU do yourself to get yourself worthy to see or be with or become "God-realized". Whereas in true Christian doctrine it is all about WHAT CHRIST DID and DOES in and for you. You can do nothing to get yourself to God.
While there are many similarities between some of these other spiritual disciplines and Biblical Christianity . . . it is that key difference which MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE. The lie that it is only "ignorance" which separates you from God . . . and the lie that YOU can work your way to God through "good works", austerities, "good karma", renunciation etc., are lies, which, if believed, will get you a one way ticket to Hell.
We are to put our trust and faith solely in the works of God Jesus because it is SIN which separates us from God which only HE can and did remove . . . as celebrated on this day, some roughly 2000 years ago!
Praise God! Jesus is the way--the ONLY way to the Father, to God. It is because of what HE did, as celebrated today, that we are saved, with the hope, because of what He did, that we may indeed become more like Him, as He lives in us through His Spirit, to be perfected in the world to come!