— Charles Lindbergh
Context: I know myself as mortal, but this raises the question: "What is I?" Am I an individual, or am I an evolving life stream composed of countless selves? … As one identity, I was born in AD 1902. But as AD twentieth-century man, I am billions of years old. The life I consider as myself has existed though past eons with unbroken continuity. Individuals are custodians of the life stream — temporal manifestations of far greater being, forming from and returning to their essence like so many dreams. … I recall standing on the edge of a deep valley in the Hawaiian island of Maui, thinking that the life stream is like a mountain river — springing from hidden sources, born out of the earth, touched by stars, merging, blending, evolving in the shape momentarily seen. It is molecules probing through time, found smooth-flowing, adjusted to shaped and shaping banks, roiled by rocks and tree trunks — composed again. Now it ends, apparently, at a lava brink, a precipitous fall.
Near the fall's brink, I saw death as death cannot be seen. I stared at the very end of life, and at life that forms beyond, at the fact of immortality. Dark water bent, broke, disintegrated, transformed to apparition — a tall, stately ghost soul emerged from body, and the finite individuality of the whole becomes the infinite individuality of particles. Mist drifted, disappeared in air, a vanishing of spirit. Far below in the valley, I saw another river, reincarnated from the first, its particles reorganized to form a second body. It carried the same name. It was similar in appearance. It also ended at a lava brink. Flow followed fall, and fall followed flow as I descended the mountainside. The river was mortal and immortal as life, as becoming.