(apologizing to all who have answered for only answering a few posts but at the moment I'm pressed for time, and your posts aren't light reading. I will get to them though!)
seanpdx wrote:What if we simply drop any and all notions of annihilationism and eternalism? Does belief in rebirth then remain a necessary belief?
How do you propose to do that?
I propose to do it by following the Buddha's example of agnosticism. In fact, for myself, I'm past proposing; it happened to me without my ever really intending that it should. When I started reading the suttas and came to understand that the Buddha was not saying there is another life beyond this, nor was he saying that there wasn't, that he was saying that we must base our choices on what we can know directly ourselves; when I realized that I do not know whether this is my only life or one of many, my stomach did that rollercoaster-drop thing on and off for quite a while, because I was deeply, deeply disturbed by the concept. Which was pretty funny because I *thought* I'd been an agnostic for many years; I hadn't realized until I accepted his wisdom that I have to base my life on what I can know, and not simply on what others tell me (in other words; read, study, listen, choose wise teachers, but test and see for yourself) I discovered that I had a whole bunch of unexamined assumptions and letting go of them was deeply uncomfortable. I expect I still have a few more to let go of, but hopefully not too many left in this particular category; I've gotten fairly good at noticing them when they (rarely) show their heads.