My wife was looking through the classifieds this past weekend and remarked on a pattern she was noticing in regards to the local "religion" section.
There were literally dozens of ads or announcements from various mainline Protestant churches inviting the public to participate in their newest seminar, church-sponsored activity or sermon topic. Every ad shared one thing in common: all of the activities or seminars were focused on an aspect of an eastern religion other than Christianity. (Note: Christianity IS ITSELF an "eastern" religion!).
But here what I mean is the Far East: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc.
Some examples: A Presbyterian church advertised a seminar on Zen meditation and its integration into the Christian faith.....Another mainline church advertised their next sermon topic on how studying Islam and its cycle of daily prayer can explain how we worship the "same God"... Another church advertised a seminar on how understanding the fasting practices of the ancient Hindus can revitalize one's health and ability to love God....
Having dabbled in Buddhism for 2 years, one of the things about Orthodox Christianity that intrigued me initially was how it seemed to have certain key spiritual elements that western Christianity never had (or at least had lost at some point in history). Fasting, silence, meditation, sacramental and liturgical worship...all of these elements are fast becoming a fascinating topic for western Christians. Why? Because for many, their own tradition has lost that vital and organic link to the way of life Christians are called to live.
It is sad that many feel, as I once did, that they have to go somewhere other than their Christian upbringing or history to find these important elements. What astounded me was to realize that all that is good and profitable in other faiths has been perfected and fully integrated in the history and life of the Orthodox Church.
There is a story relating to this -- When the Dali Lama visited the States a couple of years ago, a story was told of a group of people who asked him for advice in the spiritual life. He responded by asking if they were Christians and they said they were, but eagerly asked for some esoteric "eastern" advice...He promptly told them if they wanted to become more spiritual they needed to mine the riches of their own tradition! He pointed out that within the history and Tradition of the Church there is more than enough spiritual wisdom and guidance if one is willing to place themselves within its life. We'd all be better off focusing more on the wisdom of the monastic desert fathers than the Hindu or Buddhist sages!