In regards to Karma, Rebirth, and the almost godlike worship of the Buddha in Asia (and elsewhere), I've always been quite skeptic.. I came across this book "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" Its author, Stephen Batchelor was a monk for 10 years before disrobing, and his insights have been quite thought provoking for me...
(S. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... m-hitchens" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )he new publication is Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Its author, Stephen Batchelor, is at the vanguard of attempts to forge an authentically western Buddhism. He is probably best known for Buddhism Without Beliefs, in which he describes himself as an agnostic. Now he has decided on atheism, the significance of which is not just that he doesn't believe in transcendent deities, but is also found in his stripping down of Buddhism to the basics.
Reincarnation and karma are rejected as Indian accretions: his study of the historical Siddhartha Gautama – one element in the new book – suggests the Buddha himself was probably indifferent to these doctrines. What Batchelor believes the Buddha did preach were four essentials. First, the conditioned nature of existence, which is to say everything continually comes and goes. Second, the practice of mindfulness, as the way to be awake to what is and what is not. Third, the tasks of knowing suffering, letting go of craving, experiencing cessation and the "noble path". Fourth, the self-reliance of the individual, so that nothing is taken on authority, and everything is found through experience.
Buddhism, so it seems, adapts to it's environment (as you see with Tibetan Mysticism and Lama's) I, personally cannot fathom how one would know that someone was a "reincarnate", or how there is actually rebirth after death (though I understand the 'theory' is based on the rising and falling of phenomena), and I attribute Karma to the law of cause and effect... However, I have experienced first hand the benefits of Meditation, and have read quite extensively on MLI and Younget Mingyur Rinpoche's books, and am aware of neuroplasticity
I was wanting to know your guys/gals thoughts on this, and any additional information or beliefs y'all (hehe) might have.
Edit (I personally am Agnostic, as I have no evidence or experience to sway me either way)