…iteral sense, and not applied to the real world, that in itself is the very definition of delusion. One becomes very rigid in their thinking process and cannot consider other points of view. The Buddha encouraged lay people such as ourselves to explore for ourselves our own truth and what it means to us individually with an open mind.
True, quite evident.
As you claim, The Buddha may have encouraged lay people to "explore for ourselves our own truth", but I could not think of any particular piece of advice where he advised exploring for themselves their own truth.
Direct experiences is not the same thing as truth.
In Kalama sutta for example, his advice to the Kalamas was something like this,
"15. "Therefore, did we say, Kalamas, what was said thus, 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'
But here too, the emphasis is on direct experience, not so much as "finding the truth for oneself" if you will.