I gave an example. You say that you debate with teachers, roshis and reverends, and dispute their ideas concerning the heavy emphasis on the here and now. While I accept that you have your own opinions, it has to be said that these are not just people off the street, they are learned masters in their own tradition, with vast experience and knowledge. Could it be that they simply have a different take on things regarding Buddhist teaching? What is so tough to take about that?
I said I debate with Zen priests -- I never mentioned roshis. There is a difference. Within Soto Zen there are varying opinions: some naturally affirm rebirth, others deny it.
I met this one priest who told me Buddha was agnostic about rebirth. The word in Japanese he emphasized is muki
(無記) which is from the ancient Chinese translation of the Āgama literature.
The original passage:
阿難答言：「世尊所說，此是無記。」」(CBETA, T02, no. 99, p. 248, b20-22)
Kokanuda said, "How so? Ananda! Is the Tathāgata existent after death?"
Ananda replied saying, "Of what the World Honoured has taught, this has not been stated."
Basically, the matter of life after death for the Tathāgata or Buddha in this context was not commented upon. This doesn't mean at all early Buddhists were agnostic towards rebirth. In fact liberation from cyclic existence was and always has been the primary purpose of Buddhism. In this scripture the afterlife of the Tathāgata is not commented upon, but that is just in reference to the Tathāgata's post-mortem state and not all that of sentient beings.
My colleague said himself to be sceptical towards rebirth, but then even so I was surprised at his lack of understanding of something which is really common knowledge in Buddhism. I've also heard that this misunderstanding is even taught in some classrooms at university. It is either just plain misunderstanding or modern day materialists attempting to reconfigure Buddhism to suit their worldview.
Whether it is an elderly old priest or a young one proposing such a view, I'll challenge them on it. Age doesn't excuse one from criticism.
Again, to suggest that he (like many that you have spoken to) does not live according to right view is highly humorous to me!
Right view includes the middle path between sassatavada (eternal existence) and ucchedavada (the belief in annhilation following death). Anyone who does not affirm rebirth is not holding a right view.
It is really quite simple.
I am not abiding in the forest. I am walking through it. I don't understand the buddhadharma to be mechanical myself, but I can understand that some people would - and there are many vehicles and ways to understand things that we can utilise.... I don't think you give that proper consideration.
The Buddhadharma is not just whatever you think it is. There are qualifications to be met for one to consider something saddharma
or not. Just as you cannot claim to be a chemist after dabbling in medieval alchemy, so with Buddhism there are qualifications to be met.
I am also not talking about hippy self-help sessions, or not being serious about the undertaking at hand - release from suffering. It does requite right view and right effort and all the other things. But, for other people to tightly and rigidly outline exactly what right view and right effort entails is not part of the buddhist way in my -humble- view! We have enough on our own plate....
We look to the words of the Buddha to define what is right view. To deny rebirth (or to not affirm it) constitutes a wrong view. This is not merely my own personal opinion -- it is based on what the Buddha said and taught.