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As I’ve researched the many roads humanity has taken trying to find the truth, one of the most attractive has always been Buddhism. Its balanced approach has a lot going for it. I agree with its premise that reality is an illusion. But after that, we diverge on most critical issues. (I’m aware that there are many types of Buddhism, and most of my study has been in Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, but I believe most of this will apply to most schools, and generally to Hinduism as well.)

Buddhism says that reality is an illusion. No debates there. But what should we do about that fact? The Buddhist answer in large is that reality is something to rise above and escape. The material world is flawed and is necessarily suffering. It is Life’s goal to stop the cycle.

A agree reality is an illusion, just as art is an illusion, literature, games, and every other creation of the mind are illusions. When I sit with my family and play Monopoly, I do not demonstrate enlightenment by declaring it “illusion” and walking away. I do not need to be “freed” of the game’s constant cycle around the board. Of course it’s an illusion; that’s the point. That’s what makes it so enjoyable, even when I’m losing. I agree with the Buddhist that failure to see the game for what it is leads to suffering. But we disagree on whether one should stop playing.
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Athensboy made an interesting comment. After discussing the common complaint of Old Testament “mean God” vs. New Testament “nice God,” he concludes:

I suggest looking into the practice of Zen. Clear mind, no fault, yin/yang balance, be here now, stay in the moment, fetch the wood and carry the water, keep a heart full of peace and grace, keep gratitude in front of any attitude, cause harm to nothing and no one and live today as if you will surely die tonight. No readings or interpretations necessary.

But of course Zen has interpretations. Does the dog have the Buddha Nature? When will the oak tree become a Buddha? From interpreting Chou-Chou to self-participating in the controversy, it is certainly not always obvious to the Practitioner what the true Way is. I don’t believe anyone who has truly tried to walk the Way would think it so easy.
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