The question for me always come down to: are we exploring and contemplating the possibilities or are we really seeking evidence to support what we hope is the case (i.e., survivability)? Because if we're seeking evidence to support any particular outlook, we will no doubt find it.
I want to believe that "something" survives the death of this body and continues to experience and evolve. It's really hard for me to swallow the idea that "this is it". Yet, if it is, I'm pretty much okay with that, too, just slightly prejudiced towards survival.
Just being honest! ;-)
Michael, you think science has something to do with what's "really" going on outside the "tiny minds of human beings"? Ha!
Maybe when you get closer to death you'll become a bit more interested. ;-)
It's not a self or a being or a soul that is "reborn". It's much simpler than that.
It can't be proven, it can only be ascertained through direct experience, just the same way I can't "prove" to you that I love chocolate. I loved it yesterday, I love it today and I'll most likely love it tomorrow. For me, that's a fact. But how can I prove I love chocolate to you? Maybe some scientist will discover a gene or test shared by all chocolate lovers and then claim that that's proof, but the burden of "proving" my initial claim - that I love chocolate - was never MY burden. Rebirth is like that. There are those who have had these experiences that, to them, are undeniably connected to previous lifetimes. They can't prove they are having these experiences but nor is there any burden on them to prove it. The best they can say is, "Engage in these practices, achieve these refined states of awareness, and you too may see the truth of my claim."
Actually, there's a lot of theory offered. A lot.
Um, the only evidence that we can offer that reincarnation has real, physical effects in the world is us: the reincarnated beings, with the testimony of the rare being that remembers one or more past lives.
Not a burden, regardless.
"...the historical 'Buddha' was raised as a Hindu..."
That's pure conjecture and has very little bearing on the topic.
Brianna, those are good points. The only thing I would say is that IF rebirth is true (in any sense) AND we can direct our next form to any degree, I think that would require that we keep our bearings as we go through the dying process. So, for me at least, while I am not 100% certain what rebirth means exactly, I am sure that how I die will affect my next form. For that reason, I am interested in what happens after death and how to prepare for the experience.