Since individuality is illusion for the Hindu, so is free will. If free will is illusion, so is sin. And if sin is illusion, so is hell. Perhaps the strongest attraction of Eastern religions is in their denial of sin, guilt and hell.
Thus the two essential points of Christianity — sin and salvation — are both missing in the East. If there is no sin, no salvation is needed, only enlightenment. We need not be born again; rather, we must merely wake up to our ‘innate divinity’. If I am part of God. I can never really be alienated from God by sin.
Issue of Mysticism
Body, matter, history and time itself are not independently real, according to Hinduism. Mystical experience lifts the spirit out of time and the world. In contrast, Judaism and Christianity are essentially news, events in time: creation, providence, prophets, Messiah, incarnation, death and, resurrection, ascension, second coming. Incarnation and New Birth are eternity dramatically entering time. Eastern religions are not dramatic.
The ultimate Hindu ideal is not sanctity but mysticism. Sanctity is fundamentally a matter of the will: willing God's will, loving God and neighbor. Mysticism is fundamentally a matter of intellect, intuition, consciousness. This fits the Eastern picture of God as consciousness — not will, not lawgiver.
When C.S. Lewis was converted from atheism, he shopped around in the world's religious supermarket and narrowed his choice down to Hinduism or Christianity. “Religions are like soups”, he said. “Some, like consomme, are thin and clear (Unitarianism, Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark (paganism, “mystery religions”). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both “thin” (philosophical) and “thick” (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is really two religions: “thick” for the masses, “thin” for the sages. Only Christianity is both.
Issue of Yoga
Hinduism claims that all other religions are yogas: ways, deeds, paths. Christianity, the Hindu would say, is a form of bhakti yoga (yoga for emotional types and lovers). There is also jnana yoga (yoga for intellectuals), raja yoga (yoga for experimenters), karma yoga (yoga for workers, practical people) and hatha yoga (the physical preliminary to the other four). For Hindus, religions are human roads up the divine mountain to enlightenment — religion is relative to human need; there is no “one way” or single objective truth.
There is, however, a universal subjective truth about human nature: It has “four wants”: pleasure, power, altruism and enlightenment. Hinduism encourages us to try all four paths, confident that only the fourth (enlightenment) brings fulfillment. This is best achieved through the act of yoga.
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