I've heard lots of people talk intimately about their "past lives" (prolly because I've lived in California for more than 3 decades, and because of my work as a psychotherapist)...but not once have I ever heard talk of anyone previously being an insurance salesman living in a small town in Mississippi in the 1940s, a grub-hunter in Angola in the 60s, a sex slave in Cambodia in the 70s, a 12 hour a day factory worker in Romania in the 80s, or a housewife in Amsterdam in the 90s in their previous lives, etc...or anything remotely similar...no ordinary people "past lives" - let alone animal, reptile, plant, or mineral lives. Most people's "past lives" stories sadly always seem to resemble characters in children's books or Hollywood epic movies...Disney-esque characters, never ordinary people. Never people who lived bitter, hard, short lives of hunger, hard work, violence, disease, and early death (surely the greater majority of all "past human lives" on this planet). I'm not convinced that "past life" recall is anything other than overactive, confused, narcissistic, compensational imagination that is delusionally mistaken as "memory".
And, on the other hand...much of what I have experienced on the path of attempted awakening in this life has profoundly seemed like _remembering_ something that I once knew, but forgot. This life has always seemed like waking from amnesia. When I experience dharma teachings, and when I encounter profound wisdom from other pre-modern sources, it is as if I am remembering once familiar knowledge/experience rather than encountering new info. This recognition process has been an integral sorting mechanism as I've drifted though the myriad oceans of so-called "spiritual" crap available to us here on the West Coast of the failing empire. If it doesn't feel like remembering, I don't pay much attention to it. But, this doesn't necessarily point at "re-birth" either...it could just be another brain/body-produced memory/sensation (humans are crazy...what's to stop our minds from manufacturing "past life" memories? Or sensations of pre-experience?)...or it might just be a simple connecting with the "noosphere"...the collective consciousness - if this is the case, we could be accessing any human's noosphere-stored consciousness and mistaking it as our own experience.
So, re: rebirth...I'm comfortable with "I don't know and I don't care". That's enough for me. I can't think of any reason to adopt some sort of "belief" about it. Heck, the whole "rebirth" thing might just be a pernicious, enduring brain meme that we'd do good to rise above. I do my best to prepare the ground for conscious re-momenting. It seems to me, in my ignorance, that preparing the ground for the next moment or the next life involves exactly the same process. Preparing for the next moment is the best I can do...it's a full time job.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss
- Dawa Gyaltsen
Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.