When it comes to understanding what is meant by the identity of an individual, I find that the Lazaris necklace metaphor is helpful. They suggest that identity is like a string of pearls: each one representing what we “say, think and do” in a given (but different) context.
For example, I put on a jacket and tie when I go to work. That is my “work clothes” but it sends a message to my subconscious that I’m now “Business Al” and I then am inclined to say, think and do things that Business Al does. This isn’t schizophrenia, it’s just a recognition that our behaviour is contextual and to be consciously aware of that aspect of the self.
“I try to strongly state the pristine uniqueness of the individual. I also say that there are no limitations to the self. The two statements can appear to be contradictory. When you are a child, your sense of identity does not include old age in usual experience. When you are an old person, you do not identify yourself as a child. Your sense of identity, then, changes physically through the years. In a way it seems that you add on to yourself through experience, becoming “more than you were before”. You move in and out of probable selfhoods, while at the same time – usually with the greatest of ease – you maintain an identity of yourself. The mosaics of consciousness are brilliant to behold.
“When I speak of mosaics, you might think of small segments, shining and of different shapes and sizes. Yet the mosaics of consciousness are more like lights, radiating through themselves and through a million spectrums.”
(The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, Session 834)