the great rebirth debate

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby clw_uk » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:40 pm

Maybe it would be helpful to always keep in mind that those believe in literal rebirth as taught by the Buddha find it beneficial in terms of their practice,


Of course

that they are not caught up in unnecessary speculations about kamma and about the future just because they accept the Buddha's teachings about rebirth.


Well I cant say that they are, since that would involve knowing their minds and knowing exactly how they use it.

All I can say is that, for me, its an unnecessary speculation (because its not important to me) and so it doesn't have to be a part of everyone's practice

Essentially, I was arguing that its ok to be a Buddhist and not hold a view either way in relation to rebirth
“ Your mind is likewise blocked. But the right road awaits you still. Cast out your doubts, your fears and your desires, let go of grief and of hope as well, for where these rule , then the mind is their subject." Boetius
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:01 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Well The no rebirthers want to see testimonials, I would like some testimonials from the no rebirthers on the topic; "how I know my views are superior to the Buddha's and overide what the Buddha said, and how I can claim to have no ego at the same time I put my ideas above the buddha's"

Can you provide a few quotes from "rebirthers" who are saying their "views are superior to the Buddha's" (as opposed to saying that their understanding of what the Buddha is saying is different from yours)? As well as one or two in which someone says they "have no ego"? I'm interested to see how this is being expressed.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:14 pm

If you can't see it, there's not much I can do to help you. If you're teaching contradicts the buddha, then you seem to think your ideas are superior to his, which you have a right to do, just not go on and on about it on a buddhist forum.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:19 pm

nowheat wrote:Can you provide a few quotes from "rebirthers" who are saying their "views are superior to the Buddha's" (as opposed to saying that their understanding of what the Buddha is saying is different from yours)?
So, your view is simply different from someone who see the Buddha as having taught literal rebirth. Your view is not the correct view, truly understanding the Buddha's true intent, and the literalist view is wrong or not quite correct, misunderstanding the Buddha's true intent. It is simply a matter of looking at thing a bit differently, not a matter of correctness versus incorrectness. Is that an accurate reading of what you seem to be implying here?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby chownah » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:05 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:If you can't see it, there's not much I can do to help you. If you're teaching contradicts the buddha, then you seem to think your ideas are superior to his, which you have a right to do, just not go on and on about it on a buddhist forum.

I don't care if you think my views contradict the buddha's teachings. I don't care if you think that I think that my ideas are superior to the buddha's ideas. I will go on and on about my views on a Buddhist forum and specifically this Buddhist forum....that is what this Buddhist forum allows....and seems like it is even encouraged!

Have you given any thought about how literal rebirth fits into your overall practice? I know it is a motivator for you but I'm wondering how else it influences your practice. I'm considering starting a new thread to just ask this question because I know that most people don't even look at this thread and I guess I need to ask this of a wider audience since no one here seems to want to post about it.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby Aloka » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:10 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Well The no rebirthers want to see testimonials, I would like some testimonials from the no rebirthers on the topic; "how I know my views are superior to the Buddha's and overide what the Buddha said, and how I can claim to have no ego at the same time I put my ideas above the buddha's"


Please name the people who have said that there is no rebirth, lyndon, or who have said that their views are superior to the Buddha's, because I must have missed some posts.

If you are refering to me, then I object, because my position is "I don't know" one way or the other about literal rebirth because I don't have any experience of it in my daily life or in my meditation practice. I've been a practising Buddhist for a long time, so obviously I've come across many rebirth teachings both in the suttas and elsewhere when I was involved with Vajarayana - but at this point in time I've set them aside and they're not part of my practice.

If by "testimonials" you mean me saying I'd be interested in knowing about peoples experiences of rebirth, what's wrong with that ?

In general, I think that if this thread is deteriorating into a "them and us" scenario, then its probably getting rather silly.

Maybe its a good time to pause for a moment and relax ....... :meditate:
Last edited by Aloka on Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:06 pm

Aloka wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Well The no rebirthers want to see testimonials, I would like some testimonials from the no rebirthers on the topic; "how I know my views are superior to the Buddha's and overide what the Buddha said, and how I can claim to have no ego at the same time I put my ideas above the buddha's"


Please name the people who have said that there is no rebirth,
The fundamental question is not is there is or is not rebirth, but the question is: did the Buddha teach a literal rebirth.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:31 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Aloka wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Well The no rebirthers want to see testimonials, I would like some testimonials from the no rebirthers on the topic; "how I know my views are superior to the Buddha's and overide what the Buddha said, and how I can claim to have no ego at the same time I put my ideas above the buddha's"


Please name the people who have said that there is no rebirth,
The fundamental question is not is there is or is not rebirth, but the question is: did the Buddha teach a literal rebirth.


The answer is, it depends. For some, he did (though whether this teaching and a given understanding of 'rebirth' are the same is another matter. In any event, it seems the Materialist thesis is rejected, so too bad for the modern thinker who wants consciousness to be solely an emergent property of matter).

Anyway, for others, he offered the Wager.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:44 pm

daverupa wrote:The answer is, it depends. For some, he did (though whether this teaching and a given understanding of 'rebirth' are the same is another matter. In any event, it seems the Materialist thesis is rejected, so too bad for the modern thinker who wants consciousness to be solely an emergent property of matter).

Anyway, for others, he offered the Wager.


The division may then be 3, viz. those who accept rebirth as is, those who accept the Wager, and those who do not think the myth of rebirth is relevant to their experience and practice.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:52 pm

Although we should reserve the possible 4th division of those who flat-out deny rebirth e.g. Secular Buddhists, New Atheists et al. Even if we cannot find any here on DW to accuse.
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:45 pm

tiltbillings wrote:So, your view is simply different from someone who see the Buddha as having taught literal rebirth. Your view is not the correct view, truly understanding the Buddha's true intent, and the literalist view is wrong or not quite correct, misunderstanding the Buddha's true intent. It is simply a matter of looking at thing a bit differently, not a matter of correctness versus incorrectness. Is that an accurate reading of what you seem to be implying here?

No, it is not accurate.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:49 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Aloka wrote:Please name the people who have said that there is no rebirth,
The fundamental question is not is there is or is not rebirth, but the question is: did the Buddha teach a literal rebirth.


The answer is, it depends. For some, he did (though whether this teaching and a given understanding of 'rebirth' are the same is another matter. In any event, it seems the Materialist thesis is rejected, so too bad for the modern thinker who wants consciousness to be solely an emergent property of matter).

Anyway, for others, he offered the Wager.


:goodpost:

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:50 pm

daverupa wrote:
The answer is, it depends. For some, he did (though whether this teaching and a given understanding of 'rebirth' are the same is another matter. In any event, it seems the Materialist thesis is rejected, so too bad for the modern thinker who wants consciousness to be solely an emergent property of matter).

Anyway, for others, he offered the Wager.
What "depends" is what one does with -- how one responds to -- what the Buddha taught -- that is, rebirth. It is not matter of "if he taught rebirth."
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:52 pm

nowheat wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:So, your view is simply different from someone who see the Buddha as having taught literal rebirth. Your view is not the correct view, truly understanding the Buddha's true intent, and the literalist view is wrong or not quite correct, misunderstanding the Buddha's true intent. It is simply a matter of looking at thing a bit differently, not a matter of correctness versus incorrectness. Is that an accurate reading of what you seem to be implying here?

No, it is not accurate.

:namaste:
Then what is accurate: your position is correct; literalists are simply wrong?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:58 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Then what is accurate: your position is correct; literalists are simply wrong?

It is my guess that no one of us has everything down perfectly. Speaking of my own participation in understanding all of this, I know I don't, because my understanding is always evolving. I am constantly learning new things, finding new perspectives in the suttas.

In any discussion of this type, I think it's important to make a distinction between the theoretical goal-post of "what the Buddha intended to say" which remains fairly constant (allowing for the possibility that he might have shifted his perspective a little as his life went on, but I don't hear him saying that about his dhamma, only about his methods of teaching it). And on this, it is my position that if you and I were in the audience at his feet, able to ask him questions, there's still a fair chance that neither of us would reach the goal-post -- and even if we did, we'd very likely have different understandings of how it should be taught (which has more to do, really, with the second goal mentioned below), because each of us will have as first-hand experience what worked for us (the raft again). But at any rate, "what the Buddha intended" is one goal post to aim for, even with no expectation that it can be perfectly achieved. In aiming for that goal post, one does tend to gain certainty over time that their approach is correct, and in debate we tend to defend it from the perspective of it being correct -- I know I often sound like I am an immovable mountain on the subject so I can well understand you thinking that's my attitude -- but my presence here and the discussions should be evidence that I am more open-minded than that (unless of course you perceive me as a cardboard-cutout of a human being who has one goal -- some hidden agenda -- I know some folks who can't get past thinking that way, it's so much easier than reading people as complex).

And the other goal-post is, through the Buddha's teachings, to gain an understanding of what's going on in the world and in us that moves us forward toward equanimity and wisdom and compassion -- however each of us perceives the goal of practice (which for most of those I've encountered also changes over time; I know it has for me) -- and in pursuit of that goal there is a lot more variation in understandings than there can be in the theoretical goal of "what the Buddha intended". And what is useful to any individual also changes over time.

But of course my understanding of what the Buddha taught does include my perception that he taught that holding views about rebirth was a handicap to progress. I don't, however, have an absolute conviction that I am right about this; I am not so certain that I couldn't be persuaded otherwise. You do me a favor if you can show me that the way I see it will block my ability to move forward in my practice. But no one has been able to show me that yet, and that may be in part because no one has yet actually understood what I'm saying enough to build any kind of useful argument against it. Everyone's so busy shouting "You're wrong!" without finding within themselves a willingness to show me how I'm wrong, or thinking that the argument rests more on academic proofs than on practice (when for me, it is all about practice -- can I understand what's in the suttas in a way that adds to the effectiveness of my practice) and asking me for proof before they'll even listen to the essential core of what I'm saying, or saying I'm wrong because they've misunderstood what I'm saying, and I don't find anyone actually understanding the utility of what I'm saying -- how it fits the texts as well as life -- and being able to show me that it is a less useful way of understanding what the Buddha meant (goalpost one) as a way of practicing (goalpost two) than the traditional view. But I will persist in asking as long as folks here are willing to try to understand what I'm saying.

But that it may well be that you have a clearer understanding on any given point X than I do is one of the reasons I'm here in this thread right now, because I am open to the possibility and want to allow ample opportunity to be shown the errors in my thinking. There are other reasons I am here as well, of course, including getting this group's help in gaining practice expressing what I see (that's foremost, but the two are intertwined), and offering a different perspective to those who find it useful. That last also includes some element of offering it to people who don't even know yet that they would find it useful, because I do keep in mind that what I see is the ways belief in rebirth hinders progress -- ways I haven't even discussed here, ways that might seem on the surface to have nothing at all to do with convictions about rebirth (well, they don't have anything to do with it, except as a matter of structure) -- and I suspect the brouhaha about rebirth obscures the points that would concern me most, and so I keep hoping that folks can get past all that to understand that, at the core, what I am saying is: there is a consistent way of seeing what's in the suttas, that answers the objections that many newcomers have without having to make a whole lot of jiggling adjustments and trying to understand obscure points of doctrine like how there is no self but we need to be concerned with our rebirth, that puts the focus of practice where it is most useful: in the here-and-now, and what we can see that anyone can see, without decades of study and leaps of faith. And yes, it works off The Wager, and it works the way Craig keeps describing: the practice when focused just on the here-and-now works whether there turns out to be rebirth or not, as long as there is no clinging to views (which is, of course, a major building block of practice).

But I digress.

Given a point-of-doctrine X, and your understanding of it being different from mine, it is my expectation that quite often you will have a better grip on what it is in relation to the first goal post (what the Buddha intended) than I do. Some of the time we may be equally off, though our views are different. Some of the time I may be the more accurate. It's not as simple as a dogmatic "the literalists are wrong and I am right", not on any level.

And now I'm off to the library to work on the paper I owe Professor Gombrich. Once I'm done with that I can try to work on Sylvester's requests.

:namaste:
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:00 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote:
The answer is, it depends. For some, he did (though whether this teaching and a given understanding of 'rebirth' are the same is another matter. In any event, it seems the Materialist thesis is rejected, so too bad for the modern thinker who wants consciousness to be solely an emergent property of matter).

Anyway, for others, he offered the Wager.
What "depends" is what one does with -- how one responds to -- what the Buddha taught -- that is, rebirth. It is not matter of "if he taught rebirth."


I thought the Buddha taught the Dhamma. Setting aside the occasions (or is it just the one?) of the later 'right view with effluents' shoehorning, I don't see rebirth as a teaching. Sila, Samadhi, Panna - these are essential teachings.

Rebirth? Saying it's false is too far one way while saying it's true solely on the basis of what one has heard & read is too far the other way.

Saying it's in the texts in this manner or that manner is just right; saying it's a teaching is a little fuzzy due to the next point, which is; saying it's essential seems mistaken.

---

Let's ask the question a different way: Does a belief in rebirth form a necessary prerequisite to any aspect of the ennobling eightfold path?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby nowheat » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:19 pm

Let me try it one more time succinctly. And *then* I can get to the library.

I am not saying that the Buddha didn't teach rebirth as useful to practice. It is clear to me that he found that belief in rebirth was effective in moving people forward in his dhamma. But I am suggesting that he designed his lessons in a way that would lead followers who were ready for it past belief in rebirth, and that he was conveying that perceiving the world in terms of rebirth, while helpful to many, limits practice if taken in the direction that causes people to go looking for evidence of rebirth, working hard on finding the evidence, and perhaps even bending experience in support, to prove it to themselves rather than being able to work with just what is readily visible, and let go of views of the operation of self-and-cosmos, and the drive to find evidence to support those views.

So as far as my understanding of the first goal, everyone is, in my estimation, correct that he taught rebirth, but it was as a tool, not as something one should believe in. So far as my understanding of the second goal: whatever moves you forward in the dhamma is good.

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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:36 pm

nowheat wrote: . . .
I am not unappreciative of the effort you put into this response, but I think you could make your point a little better with a lot more concision. One can get all too easily lost in your prolixity, which is my complaint about your previous msgs, and that is why I asked that you give us a point by point -- and I would add, a concise propositional point by point -- statement of the twilight language argument you are making. And of course, tying this up with actual textual citations is a must. As of yet, I do not see an actual argument here coming from you. At best what you have presented here is a proposal for an argument, for a thesis, not the actual thesis itself.

You do me a favor if you can show me that the way I see it will block my ability to move forward in my practice
That is not an argument I have made, ever.

But no one has been able to show me that yet, and that may be in part because no one has yet actually understood what I'm saying enough to build any kind of useful argument against it. Everyone's so busy shouting "You're wrong!" without finding within themselves a willingness to show me how I'm wrong, or thinking that the argument rests more on academic proofs than on practice (when for me, it is all about practice -- can I understand what's in the suttas in a way that adds to the effectiveness of my practice) and asking me for proof before they'll even listen to the essential core of what I'm saying, or saying I'm wrong because they've misunderstood what I'm saying, and I don't find anyone actually understanding the utility of what I'm saying -- how it fits the texts as well as life -- and being able to show me that it is a less useful way of understanding what the Buddha meant (goalpost one) as a way of practicing (goalpost two) than the traditional view. But I will persist in asking as long as folks here are willing to try to understand what I'm saying.
The emphasized is a 141 word sentence. You write like this, and you wonder why no one, as you complain, understands your point. Your point, whatever it might be, gets lost in amorphous verbiage, which is almost impossible to untangle, and making a considered response to what you are saying more difficult than it is worth.

Read some Bertrand Russell or Edward Conze.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:54 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
daverupa wrote:
The answer is, it depends. For some, he did (though whether this teaching and a given understanding of 'rebirth' are the same is another matter. In any event, it seems the Materialist thesis is rejected, so too bad for the modern thinker who wants consciousness to be solely an emergent property of matter).

Anyway, for others, he offered the Wager.
What "depends" is what one does with -- how one responds to -- what the Buddha taught -- that is, rebirth. It is not matter of "if he taught rebirth."


I thought the Buddha taught the Dhamma.
Rebirth is an aspect of the Dhamma he realized and taught, if one is to believe the suttas.



Setting aside the occasions (or is it just the one?) of the later 'right view with effluents' shoehorning, I don't see rebirth as a teaching. Sila, Samadhi, Panna - these are essential teachings.
Rebirth is a context, it is an expression of an aspect of samsara into which the Buddha has awakening insight.

Rebirth? Saying it's false is too far one way while saying it's true solely on the basis of what one has heard & read is too far the other way.
I am not arguing, and have not argued, that rebirth is either true or false; rather, I am arguing that literal rebirth is part of the Buddha's teachings.

Saying it's in the texts in this manner or that manner is just right; saying it's a teaching is a little fuzzy due to the next point, which is; saying it's essential seems mistaken.
Maybe it is mistaken, but it also may be that we are approaching things a bit differently from each other.

Let's ask the question a different way: Does a belief in rebirth form a necessary prerequisite to any aspect of the ennobling eightfold path?
As I said, rebirth is an aspect of samsara. Rebirth plays an important role in the description of the Buddha's awakening. Rebirth has a significant role to play in motivation, which has an impact on Right Effort and Right Action. Also, as with the Buddha, the meditative remembrance of rebirth can lead to insight and awakening.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: the great rebirth debate

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:01 pm

nowheat wrote:Let me try it one more time succinctly.
Thank you.

I am not saying that the Buddha didn't teach rebirth as useful to practice. It is clear to me that he found that belief in rebirth was effective in moving people forward in his dhamma. But I am suggesting that he designed his lessons in a way that would lead followers who were ready for it past belief in rebirth, and that he was conveying that perceiving the world in terms of rebirth, while helpful to many, limits practice if taken in the direction that causes people to go looking for evidence of rebirth, working hard on finding the evidence, and perhaps even bending experience in support, to prove it to themselves rather than being able to work with just what is readily visible, and let go of views of the operation of self-and-cosmos, and the drive to find evidence to support those views.
Only 109 words in that sentence. What you say here is not without validity, but misusing a teaching can cut both ways. But what I would like to see is the textual evidence to support the points you made in your 109 word sentence.


So as far as my understanding of the first goal, everyone is, in my estimation, correct that he taught rebirth, but it was as a tool, not as something one should believe in. So far as my understanding of the second goal: whatever moves you forward in the dhamma is good.
Both nibbana and rebirth are tools, as is anatta. We may believe in these things. The issue, with tools, is how are they used.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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