Eastern Mysticism can be considered as three major schools of thought, more or less: Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Their precursor, generally speaking, was the ancient Indian mysticism “Jainism,” which is the origin of the Swastika as a symbol of the union with the Cycle of Life, and is one of the oldest recorded religions on the planet. Jainism quickly evolved, and developed under the variety of Eastern metaphysics that is with society today. Like most ideologies, Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism tend to break off into a variety of interpretations; and in the case of Buddhism, for instance, it was developed as a protest to the “religious flare” that Hinduism brought with its variety of gods under different human incarnations, and ritualism.
To the original Buddhists, the rituals and symbols of the Veda (Hindus) was a convolution of the mental faculties, and that a deeper form of metaphysic asceticism was required in order to truly understand reality. As the Hindus sought to understand the microcosm of human psychology in relation to the macrocosm of the cosmos, Buddhists attempted to do the exact opposite by analyzing the macrocosm of the cosmos (and human society) in order to gain a deeper understanding of the self. Of course, this is a bit of a generalization as well, since both philosophies focused on both aspects; but to explain this a step further: while Hinduism used their theology and symbolism in allegory to the experience, the Buddhists tended to perceive the human experience as allegory for the divine.
Meanwhile, in China, ancient metaphysicists like Lao-Tze took these ideas of the microcosm and macrocosm to an entirely different, perhaps more applicable level. Using an asceticism likened to Buddhism, and a mystical, selfless awareness likened to Hinduism, Taoism can perhaps be considered the most pragmatic of the metaphysics, producing such works as the I-Ching, which serves as a geometric codex to understand and decipher the nature of the Tao (reality, so to speak), and can be seen in full right here.
All these discussed forms of mysticism were heavily contingent upon the idea of reincarnation as a spiritual-evolutionary progress through the illusions of the dualism between the physical and metaphysical, the “Veil of Maya” in Buddhism. It was taught that energy created cannot be destroyed, only recycled, and so did the cognizant soul perspective’s present moment continue to be recycled through life experiences, until the individual shed the confines of its karmic limitations, on its path towards “enlightenment.” To the Eastern mystics, karma was seen as sort of physical limitation to the mental faculties, impeding a person’s deeper understanding of themselves and the universe, in order to achieve a state of metaphysical transcendence. This state of transcendence is generally considered as an overall integration into the “Tao” or the “divine essence” in all things.
Part 1 here