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Self, rebirth, etc. - tactics of the Buddha?
Many people are of the view that the Buddha's denial of the self was simply to urge people to drop selfishness - and not to be interpreted as a metaphysical problem. Likewise, rebirth was a tactic he used to make people do good deeds.
So, without these and other concepts, basic Buddhism can be reduced to: seeing life as a conditioned phenomena (samsara), and an end to this phenomena (which happens naturally at death) as nibanna. Which would imply that the greatest saint and the greatest sinner will both attain nibanna, regardless of their deeds, thoughts, etc.