Christians say "liberation" is rebirth in heaven; mystic Christians understand that it is merging with "God," not proximity to a separate being but rather that "San Francisco sense" of Oneness. What sense is that? Saint Francis of Assisi, in Spanish San Francisco, clearly understood non-duality, what some now call a "Christ consciousness," that we ourselves are not separate from "God."
Ordinary Hindus say "liberation" is rebirth in Brahma's heaven to remain there for all time; mystic Hindus (seers and yogis) understand that it is merging with Brahman, not rebirth in the proximity of the exalted extraterrestrial Brahma but rather that yogic (yoking) sense of connectedness. What sense is that? Hindu sainthood is called "Krishna consciousness." Self-realization is the key.
The Buddha taught all who asked, without taking them from their tradition, introducing them to timeless and directly visible wisdom.
But the Buddha rejected -- or perhaps it is better to say refined* -- these notions and showed the way to the ultimate liberating truth: There is no self, no ego, nothing to merge with the Allness and, in a sense, nothing that was ever separate from it.
Put in those terms, the mystics all agree. But the Buddha warned -- speaking to Vedic Brahminical "Hindus" and by extension everyone else -- that unless the bonds (samyojana) are broken, there is no permanent liberation, just wandering through better worlds in the Wheel of Life and Death. Seeing nirvana, touching nirvana, realizing nirvana means the progressive eradication of these Ten Fetters:
- (1) personality-belief (sakkāya-ditthi), (2) sceptical doubt (vicikicchā), (3) clinging to mere rules and rituals as capable of leading to enlightenment (sīlabbata-parāmāsa; see upādāna), (4) sensuous craving (kāma-rāga), (5) ill-will (vyāpāda), (6) craving for fine-material existence (rūpa-rāga), (7) craving for immaterial existence (arūpa-rāga), (8) conceit (māna), (9) restlessness (uddhacca), (10) ignorance (avijjā).
Indeed, the Buddha revivified spirituality on the subcontinent which, at least this can be said for the "organized" portion, was based on the ancient Vedas, the ultimate authority of which he rejected during his life. One cannot speak of "Hinduism" or yoga without referencing the Eight Limbs of the Path (Ashtanga-marga). But that formulation was developed (going back 2,000 years to Patanjali but formalized by Adi Sri Shankara) to counter the soaring popularity of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path.
They are NOT the same path, and they do not lead to the same goal. But they are so much alike (defined differently in the details) that it is like sorting Macintosh and Red Delicious apples. Generally, only scholars will care. And generally only followers will fight saying such silly things as "My God/guru/religion is more peaceful than yours, and if you don't worship it I'll kill ya!"
But Buddhism provides the details if anyone is actually interested in becoming enlightened rather than arguing with others. The "life" is the brahmachariya, the high, noble, or thoroughly purified holy life of self-discipline leading directly to liberation. (Unfortunately, this Sanskrit term, which was around long before the Buddha, is too often defined as "monastic celibacy," which nearly everyone regards as dreadful. The Buddha defined it as so much more and made the Path to enlightenment quite achievable).
Wisdom Quarterly may joke about Christianity but only to shed light on what is nonsense and what is really true and valuable. After all, Buddhists are not atheists; they are non-theists. Whether or not there's a God, what the Buddha taught holds true.