I'm going to be open here (risking ridicule and embarrassment) and throw all my cards on the table.
What makes most sense to me is not what most Theravadin or Zen Buddhists believe. I don't push this view on others, and cannot say its true, its just what makes sense, based on my life experiences. I view the Universe as something like a field of Mind or Awareness, potentially. A being is born, Awareness is localized for a short time. Die and your individual Awareness field either merges back into the Source- the larger field of experiential potentiality- or moves on in its individualized state, to a heaven-like dream world or to take another physical body...
Minds become freer over time, if one cultivates good karma, metta, equanimity and dis-identification with personal identity. I guess its kind of a NeoAdvaita view. I don't believe that individual Awareness points are eternal, but do believe that what other religions call the soul are these individual expressions.
The Buddha's teachings of anatta point to the understanding that these individual points are not real, they are like dream bubbles flowing thru time. Eventually we all merge back into the Source. I don't know what the Source is
. Some call it God, Dharmakaya, Tao, Great Spirit, Love, Void, Isness, etc... It's empty, but luminious, with Creative Potential...
All this is what makes sense to me, and the only people to whom i speak about this with, regularly, are my sons. We talk about past lives and future lives, about being animals in the past and possibly the future. I once bought a children's book called "The Mountains of Tibet
" (based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead) by Mordicai Gerstein which teaches rebirth this way, pretty much.
Here's a picture of the Awareness of the old man in the story looking down on the earth after dieing, to choose his next incarnation.
So, maybe its a NeoTibetan view, or the Tibetan Buddhist view simplified for children?
It could very well just be a fantasy inside my head.