This is my experience and I don't expect to speak for all Western people nor do I view all Eastern people the same way. Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you a little of what I have and haven't learned.
Three years ago I arrived in India on the brink of marriage to my Keralite husband with a head full of National Geographic and Discovery Channel images of India. When I got off the plane in the middle of a January Chennai night, I was wearing a jacket. After all, it was official winter in Chennai and, thinking winter actually meant winter even in India, I came prepared. I was not even through the immigration line before the jacket was dismissed. It was the beginning of an endless list of miscalculations and misinterpretations that were not born in stupidity or ignorance, but in the blind perceptions of a person too heavily dependent on the third party media. In other words, I bought what the commercials sold me.
Here's the PR spin. India is spiritual. True--it is. Everybody's Hindu. Not true. Between 80 and 85% of Indians living in India are Hindu, which by the way, is much more of a choice of lifestyle than an actual religion. The remaining 15 to 20% of Indians have a mixture of beliefs--Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Zorastrians, agnostics. Not so unlike America in the way the numbers play out to a dominant belief.
In America we have 2 major political parties. In India, your brother could start a political party and it could be in power anytime soon. There are as many political parties and their representative party flags as you can imagine. The tug of war at the top can be all consuming to some Indians. Not so different from America where politics can be impolite as dinner conversation but simmering and hot just beneath the tip of most tongues. And so together, and apart, we believe strongly.
What's the same from West to East? Plenty. What's different? Plenty. Next time, we'll get into it a little more intimately.