This may be a long winded post so I apologize. First off I am a Roman Catholic by birth and loosely practice it, that being said I believe no one religion is absolute. For this reason I do my best to study various belief systems. I have spent the last three months reading up on Buddhism in all its forms, and I must say I feel it to be truly an amazing and enlightening religion, one I wish to perhaps be a part of. However this concept of rebirth and anatta confuse me.
I have spent the last month on this topic specifically, the last 3 nights reading posts in this forum on the topic, I would like to get a good explanation on this realizing this is a the a Theravada forum.
Question If there is no soul, what if anything is reborn...since I don't expect to reach enlightenment in my 80 or so years of life, if I do not continue on, why even bother starting the path, after all only one guy has done it in 2600 years
.. now I would like to eliminate some possible responses off the bat, ones I have already seen posted here. Keep in mind I am currently not a Buddhist and therefore am not looking to debate anyone on scripture.
1. I've seen it said rebirth is not literal, that we go through rebirth every moment based on our karma from the last. My take here is the wise Siddhartha would of used simpler language, like you actions yesterday effect who you are and your well being today. Terms like deva and asura and hungry ghosts used for nothing more than describing a mental state seems like metaphorical overkill.
2. I've seen it said not even to bother thinking about it, to do so locks me further in samsara, well to that I reply I fully expect to be in samsara for a while, I'm okay with a slow crawl to enlightenment so yes I want to think about it.
3. I've also seen it said there is no soul, but a subtle self, or luminous mind, or mind stream. Now to me this sounds like a soul,many religions have different takes on what a soul is, but the gist of it is a part of you that continues on after. The Tibetans go on to describe the actual events while Inbetween lives, how is this anatta, yet I would expect these monks who should be well versed in Buddhas teachings
4. Lastly I have sadly seen posts here where one wiser than thou type simply states its too complex for the op to understand , that they , or me, do not grasp Siddharthas teachings, to me this type of response is no different than pushy Christian types exclaiming its in the bible so its true whether you like it or not.
So to reiterate if me...kaiel does not continue after death, and lets face it I am not going to be the next Buddha in 40 more years of life, why follow the path, surely there are other philosophies that one can follow to just make ones life a more productive one, or is there some sort of essence , mind stream, Jedi force, that continues.
I truly thank you all for your time and look forward to some good productive replies.
1. I have seen this answered by simply saying, do not worry about it, or its not worth thinking