I'm DarkDream and thought I would just quickly introduce myself as a token of respect to this forum.
I am glad that the moderators or owners of this forum allow discussions of such issues as rebirth and karma that do not fit the truly orthodox interpretations. There are other forums (not to be named) that appear to not tolerate any person issuing heretical views.
In my opinion the freedom of respectful speech in the spirit of learning is essential. The Buddha, from what I have gleaned in the Pali canon, encouraged his monks to think over things, discuss and so on all in the name of spiritual advancement.
I am also glad to see some monks of the forum who offer there input. As representatives of the living tradition, it is nice to see them in educational roles utilizing the wonders of technology and the internet.
I personally have studied and contemplated Buddhism for years now and have had amazing experiences in meditation retreats that has changed me in a very concrete sense. If I had to die today, I would definitely say the insights I have gleaned have been my greatest achievement for really in the end the experience was the only thing that was ever real.
Having said that I am a bit of an iconclast. I have a blog in which I am deeply critical of the literal interpretation of rebirth. While in the future, I will contrast it based on my understanding on what the Buddha was really teaching and getting at, my main impetus of such an approach is to glean as best as possible what the Buddha really taught.
I personally believe the Buddha was too much a genious to fall into almost childish notions of being born as devas, or insects and so on. For me such beliefs were later popularizations which unfortunately obscured the really revolutionary message the Buddha was getting at. To me the idea of kamma and rebecoming (that is the proper translation of punarbhava) were psychological for the solution of suffering is a psychological one.
Best wishes to all of you,