Most of us are not experientially aware of the former lives (and I am not saying we must believe in former births to understand PS); we are only aware of the suffering here and now. The question is: what did the Buddha mean by birth (in PS)? Without trying to interpret in more complicated way, I would say birth means just the birth, what else could it be? There is aging and death because there is birth - this is straightforward. If there were no birth, there would not be aging and death.SDC wrote: So at that point he was experientially aware of the former lives and was able to speak of suffering on that scale. As a common person, which I know I am, I cannot speak of suffering in that regard. The dukkha the Buddha speaks of in the first noble truth has more to do with the suffering that is being experienced here and now and not referring to the suffering that we will come to understand when we are able to view all of our past lives.
"And what is birth? Whatever birth, taking birth, descent, coming-to-be, coming-forth, appearance of aggregates, & acquisition of [sense] spheres of the various beings in this or that group of beings, that is called birth.
I don't think in this case we require to prove or disprove anything (or use anyone else's interpretation) when the Buddha himself is stating in a straightforward way - the meaning of birth is simple. The use of "re" in rebirth may be required in English language (I am not sure because English is not my primary language) but in a few Indic languages that I am aware of it is not required to convey the meaning of "rebirth".SDC wrote:If well versed in any interpretation of the PS there is no sutta quote that can be used to successfully disprove any other. I understand what followers of the three lives interpretation see when they read this and I know what the non-three lives followers see. So you’ll have to be more specific in what you are trying to say with this quote.
Now to talk about my own interpretation, let me take a Sanskrit/Hindi word janma which means birth. This word can have different emphasis when used differently. For example, to emphasize the type of (re)birth the word "janma" is normally used as in "because of good karma my janma will be in a good destinatinon ". In this sense the emphasis is on the effect of something in the type of (re)birth. But to emphasize the very fact of (re)birth, the word "punarjanma" is normally used as in "This is my punarjanma (rebirth)". Both are implying rebirth. I am not fully sure if similar is the case with Pali word "Jati" but I guess it is.