Earl, Thank you for your post. You said, "...it's all simply about returning to the realm we call this human life in order to "learn." --> I remember what a great psychic one told me. She said that physical life is like going on a field trip. We do experiments 'out in the field.' We then go back to 'Heaven' and glean as much information as we can from our field trip. We sift through and pour over everything that happened to us on Earth. Then, when we have gleaned as much as we can, it is time for another 'field trip.' "...traditional Buddhists always speak of the rare opportunity to be born into the human realm...." --> I have heard this idea before. I prefer the idea that humans are always reborn as humans (not as animanls). This idea makes much more sense to me than people being reborn as animals. "...either you're dead and gone view or the dead and immediately returned to this realm view." --> The idea that we spend time in 'Heaven' between reincarnations (rather than immediately reincarnating after a physical death) makes a lot of sense to me. Some Buddhists agree with me on this, others do not.