Consider two thinkers, Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. We could choose any two thinkers born in separate centuries, but these two will do just fine. In our thought experiment, we have a two time travelling ships equipped with scientific instruments. We travel invisibly so as not to disturb the events we shall witness, and we have a way to be in both machines at once.
In one machine, we journey to the time when Newton was one month of age and in the other, we find Einstein at the same age. Let us stipulate that these two infants, like many infants, look more or less the same. However, none of us knows which machine is which and therefore, we are not sure yet which one of the infants is which. We know that if we follow them forward in time, they will eventually physically differentiate and we will have no problem identifying which one is Einstein and which is Newton. (In this experiment, we are unable to view the surrounding events and period pieces to help us identify them. We see the infants only and they are dressed in equivalent clothing.)
Now, turn back the hands of time ten more months each, to the moment of their conceptions and then forward to the first splitting of the cells. We cannot tell which one is Newton and which one is Einstein.
Now let us follow the zygotes forward in time slowly. At some point in time, between the zygote and the toddler, each one of them perceived their own existence. In other words, at some point, perhaps in the womb or some time shortly thereafter, they expressed, in their own internal language, the meaning of the sentence that we express as "I exist."
"I exist", said Sir Isaac Newton, in his own internal silent language, perhaps startled when he found that he had hands attached to him that were not the attending hands of his mother. "I have these … appendages, I am like her! I wonder if I have a ... yes! I have what I might someday call a nose! And eyes! Ouch!"
Albert Einstein has the same conversation, in his own internal language. Neither one of them has a language that we can understand, but each one of them is a thinking human being abstracting the fact of their own existence, attaining, in this moment, an equivalency of consciousness.
Let us presume that this happens during the third month of infancy. They have now more clearly differentiated physically. But, what do the boys know? They see different mothers, but, what do they know about mothers other than as a familiar face who attends to them? Neither one of them knows that there are other mothers in the world. The taste of their milk is different, but, what do they know of milk? Neither one of them knows that there are other kinds and flavors of milk. Their knowledge of milk is equivalent in that it is the thing they drink to quell their hunger and the taste of it brings no practical difference in new knowledge.
So, observe the boys. Are they not equivalent in every meaningful sense? But, we can see them, simultaneously in our thought experiment, and so we know they are not the same conscious being. But let us now push the reset button. We are back in our own time, still not sure which infant was Newton and which one as Einstein. But today, we know that they both went on to live and die. They were born in separate centuries, not simultaneously as we have just observed. They both exclaimed "I exist' at different points in the landscape that we in retrospect call space-time. Einstein attained an equivalency of consciousness with that of Sir Isaac Newton, but after Sir Isaac Newton had died.
So how can we tell that the infant Albert Einstein is NOT the re-emergence of Isaac Newton in any meaningful sense? How can they themselves tell the difference? At the moment of their attainment of consciousness, they were not differentiated in any meaningful sense with respect to the content of their consciousness, comprised, in that moment, in the understanding that "I exist".
The absolute meaning of "I exist" can be difficult to grasp. When it first was uttered in your infancy, it was followed by a conceptualization of "me". The terms you used then were not English words. Whatever they were, they became symbols in your subconscious mind. Later you learned the language and adopted the words "I" and "me". Einstein adopted the terms "ich" and "mir" to describe the same symbols. At the symbolic level, at the moment of the taking on of consciousness, there is an equivalency of consciousness, a physical state of being, an event known as the same event amongst all who do so become conscious. In retrospect, we can see that each are different events but with respect to the infant in our arms, we cannot prove that one who has long ago died has not re-emerged into this new conscious life.
It almost doesn't matter who you were before if you can be enabled to find the important ideas you left in the world. The balance of your former private memories are perhaps best left sleeping. This can be a rational meaning of death, a reason why death is selected by evolution. We can survive and thrive in an endless universe if we can shed the weight of our memories that might otherwise drive us down in depression and remorse. Like snakes, we shed the skins of our former memories and emerge in the gilded grass anew.
The physical laws of consciousness are the same for each individual. Matter and space-time combine to form barriers between us, to create a net effect of separate individuality during a specific epoch-place of space-time. Today we are living in the epoch-place of earth in the year numbered 2012. In the year 2300, we will no longer exist as conscious beings who have our specific memories attached. We will instead be conscious beings who have different memories attached. But each one of us will once again be saying, "I exist" and fully embracing the ecstasy thereof.
At the moment that the infant conceives his own existence, he is equivalent to every other infant who conceives the same, without regard to the time frame in which the acknowledgement occurs. Your expression of “I exist” is the same expression made by Sir Isaac Newton, the same expression made by Einstein, the same expression made by Cleopatra. Your consciousness, once emerged, then differentiates and becomes relative to the events of your life that form your memories.
Today, you are You. You are the being that took on consciousness and differentiated to become yourself. You will die someday and after that an infant will say "I exist". The infant will be You, once again, taking on consciousness, free of the detailed content of your current memories, the things that did not go exactly as you might have wished. Your memory is clean and new.
You will be living in a future age, you will be reading the knowledge of the things you wrote as Newton or as Einstein or as Moses or as the conscious being you are today. You will read these writings and correct them and improve them. You will reforge the far flung universe to make a place to live, you will settle on your evening porch and will to light your pipe under skies fading from pink to seven moons.
Created or evolved, you are living now and you can prepare the way, not the way of the Lord, but prepare the way of the child. Prepare ye the way of You.