Spiny Norman wrote:chownah wrote:.....perhaps more than one meaning was intended.
That's possible, but then wouldn't the Buddha have made these alternative meanings clear?
If he meant psychological (re)birth rather than physical (re)birth, then why didn't he just say that, clearly and unambiguously? If we can understand the distinction then I'm sure the Buddha's contemporaries would have understood it too.
Aside from my past concerns with certain modern translations, I think it is important to keep in mind that the atmosphere in which the teachings were delivered may have been drastically different than that of the modern world. The common understanding was likely of a different quality, so such distinctions were probably not necessary. However, in modern times, certain aspects of the teaching seem to point in multiple directions. While the Buddha likely was referring to something very specific, we may have a little more exploring to do in order to figure out what he meant. Just my opinion.
EDIT- Added to last sentence for clarification.