Those who become deeply interested in studying Buddhism to experience what Siddhartha did when he became awakened, that is, became Buddha, realize that they have to dump all their Western ideas about religion as well as their presuppositions about Buddhism. In other words, they have to dump the strategy of seeking the unconditioned using, so to speak, the compass of the conditioned.
Buddhism is a unique religion. In it, there is no God or Savior who is going to carry us to the other shore. The other shore, in a matter of speaking, is already here. It is only hidden by the conditioned world to which we tenaciously cling along with its ideas and values. We never pause from our clinging to this conditioned world long enough to realize the unconditioned. So conditioned are we, that we imagine this is the only way things can be—there is no other way or another entirely different vision possible.
If the universe had its very own religion, to be sure, it would be Buddhism which alone aims at the unconditioned. And if the universe were made from a mysterious unconditioned essence or substance, this is what we would strive to realize like Siddhartha who became a Buddha (i.e., one awakened to this essence).
Short of this, what can we expect Buddhism to be? Because of our attachment to the conditioned world, we turn Buddhism into a system of conduct in which we become like sheep, allowing ourselves to be guided by stronger and bigger sheep who are as spiritually empty as we are. There is not much we can hope for by being spiritually blind enforcing and perpetuating this blindness.
Modern Buddhism, short of aiming towards what Siddhartha experienced, is just our same old world only in different more vibrant colors. In such a state we are no more than actors with another script that has been put into our hands by other actors. Buddhism’s present metamorphosis into something modern that we can all appreciate and run to, is surely a red flag that we are still not ready to dump our attachments to the conditioned world, despite its obvious decadence.