I think you're on the right track bringing these discussions back to the noble eightfold path, but everything I've learned so far suggests you can't take the elements of the path one at a time; I've heard they need to be considered collectively as a system. The other thing that I think is brilliant about this tack is to remind everyone that it is a path
. A person doesn't start a journey at its destination
I've been following the discussions you referenced with great interest. For those of you whose views have formed over years of practice and study, I sometimes sense annoyance that these issues keep being brought up. However, for a beginner like me, the issue they raise is dangerously close to a binary solution set; either commit fully
now and completely accept all
the teachings or save yourself the effort and go do something else.
I want to continue my investigations and practice. In so many ways, Buddhism "fits" me. My practice these past months has significantly improved my life and
the lives of those near me. However, I cannot (yet) wrap my head around rebirth and I don't know if I ever will. This is a problem because I read that attainment of jhana is essential to gaining the clarity of insight to "directly know" these more controversial aspects of the dhamma. The catch-22 comes about from something else I read that says you can't attain jhana without complete faith in the teachings!
I've spent a lot of time over the last days wrestling with the doubt these issues raise. That doubt was there before the threads were posted. For now, I've concluded to adopt resolve and continue but I remain thankful to those who posted these threads and to this forum for permitting them to do so.