In the following model, I will assume the world is a material world and will attempt to describe rebirth in a material world.
Buddha has described consciousness as a magic trick. In my opinion consciousness is a process of identifying/categorizing and signalling.
" SN 22.95 Phena Sutta (https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sltp/SN_III_utf8.html#pts.140)
"Now suppose that a magician or magician’s apprentice were to display a magic trick at a major intersection, and a man with good eyesight were to see it, observe it, & appropriately examine it. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in a magic trick? In the same way, a monk sees, observes, & appropriately examines any consciousness that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near. To him — seeing it, observing it, & appropriately examining it — it would appear empty, void, without substance: for what substance would there be in consciousness?
Then it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does name-&-form come to be? What is the condition for subsequent name-&-form?’ When I paid careful attention to this, the breakthrough in accordance with reality arose: ‘When consciousness exists, name-&-form comes to be. Consciousness is the condition for subsequent name-&-form.’
“Then it occurred to me: ‘When what exists does consciousness come to be? What is the condition for subsequent consciousness?’ When I paid careful attention to this, the breakthrough in accordance with reality arose: ‘When name-&-form exists, consciousness comes to be. Name-&-form is the condition for subsequent consciousness.’
This process of categorizing/labeling/identifying is not a magical process and can be produced through material process such as a neurons. In other hand this process doesn’t require biological materials(neurons etc) to function. For example silicon transistors/ water drops/light/gas or immaterial(mind) objects can be used to create this process.
According to modern physics(No-hiding theorem - Wikipedia etc), all and any information is conserved. Therefore information such as ‘I am this’, ‘I like this color’, ‘Color is such …’ that are produced by brain is also conserved. What this means is that this information lasts forever in the current universe as far as possible(trillions of years or longer).
If subscribe to Poincare theorem, cosmology - Is Poincare recurrence relevant to our universe? - Physics Stack Exchange, our universe will revert to a previous state after 10^120 billion years.
As all the information of a human life is stored in the universe even after the death, after arbitrary amount of time(ex: billions years), a new consciousness become aware of this information. If the information is grasped by the new consciousness as ‘me/mine’ , this new consciousness alters neurons and come to the conclusion ‘this is my previous life’ , ’ this is me’ ,‘this is not my previous life’, ’ I existed before’, ‘I am this’.
Thus first person becomes the previous life of the second person. It will alter the second persons to prioritize things prioritized by the first person.
If the first person achieved enlightenment and get rid of view of ‘I’, the new consciousness process wouldn’t identify first person as ‘my/mine’ or ‘my previous life’. The new consciousness could still give birth to ‘I/my/mine’ view due to other sense contacts, but these would not be related to the first person and first person will not be ‘reborn’.
As the second person is altered by the information,
- if first person prioritize sadness/anger/greed → second person prioritize sadness/anger/greed
- if first person prioritize happiness/metta/generosity → second person prioritize happiness/metta/generosity
Thus second person’s lives can become closer to heaven/hell due to how they view their lives.