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My nature was a little different... I was most often a quiet child, and as a teenager and young twentieer I retreated into books. I would often avoid drama except in the pages of novels. You could say I was sleepy and dreamt, living through games and novels. But the dharma has awoken in me an inquisitive nature, something that wants to untangle all the deep sources of negative emotions, and leave the positive unfettered and free.
The result has been a kind of inner spaciousness and peace. It is something I associate with an inner beauty, although I often find I have less and less to say. Quiet is overtaking me, and sometimes I think my flat is a modern anchorite's cave. The flights of fancy of the mind have largely calmed down, leaving me afloat on a sea of tranquility...
In difficult times in the past I've gone to Christian priests for aid, and that when I wasn't even a Christian, and they cared for me... I feel that if you find yourself moved to seek refuge then no-one should deny that. Seeking spiritual shelter is what we do when we feel dire consequences pressing us urgently. It can be a balm and a succour in tough circumstances.
But do keep in your thoughts that this is the mind playing its tricks on you. You performed whatever deed, and it is what the mind has built from the perceptions afterward that is causing you such anguish. It is just the mind... you can step beyond, find the breath and just watch it, and return to calm and peace.
So I would say not to let it weigh on you too heavily. If you've learned from the experience then that is all that's needed.
This is what I have against the bible as a "holy book". Surely if it was holy, it would clearly explain what it means and provide real guidance, instead of having you interpret through metaphor and allegory what it plainly states? The clear use of language is an art that reflects the wisdom of the speaker, and I suspect that all the re-interpretation of the bible serves only to cover up its many flaws, magical thinking and inconsistencies.
There are actually a few different sources for the time between lives possibly being quite extensive, look at Michael Newton's investigations. None of it is scientifically proveable to a high standard though.
This for me is key, and proof that Buddhism is a religion for sensible people. If science can begin to prove things about the afterlife then a lot of things will have to change, and it is up to religion to move with the times.
As to how lay Buddhists grapple with such matters, truth is many Buddhists do not care to indulge in metaphysical speculation, but rather prefer to concentrate in the cessation of dukkha
For me, there is a clear separation between the Buddha talking about the cessation of dukkha and a lot of the more esoteric things in the lore, such as reincarnation, karma, cosmology and the Tibetan Bardo's. I find the latter teachings beautiful and useful but I regard them as currently unprovable.
The Buddha said, test my teachings and if you find them to be untrue, discard them. On certain other topics he refused to speak, saying speculation was unbeneficial. Different Buddhist groups put varying emphases on these teachings, so it's a question of finding the stream you resonate with. Personally, I'm with the pragmatic side.
The problem is that in order to get anywhere you need to satisfy a number of different conditions, such as being able to learn, think logically, plan towards a goal, and so on. Each of these problems have been addressed to some extent individually in different coding techniques, but no-one has been able to combine them all into a single structure and upgrade them so that it makes sense.
I don't know if any of you have been following AlphaGo's exploits? It is an attempt to create a Go-playing AI which was just recently involved in a series against the current world number 1 player, Ke Jie. It's a fine example of deep learning AI which is a key step towards a more integrated AI system, but even there it's learning has been carefully managed by human hands. Still it's interesting that in a few years Deepmind, the company that built it, was able to absorb and surpass the sum total of human knowledge in this area.
Next to AlphaGo another example of current AI research is Wolfram Alpha, which uses a database of curated information to answer questions, make calculations and do a variety of other things. It's an example of the kind of thing these systems are already good at today.