Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A string of pearls

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)

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