Albert, I understand that you don't "believe in an I that survives the death of the body." I think that we tend to define other people's terms in light of our own definition of those terms, and that's certainly not unusual nor even "wrong", but it does get us into all sorts of interesting do-si-does, dancing around the point and never quite getting there.
So, when I say "I", I do mean "I, the Soul", the eternal essence that created this personality called Nancy and will never cease to exist. This "I, the Soul" is Consciousness in or out of the forms. That said, the personality called Nancy will cease to exist upon its death, but the experiences, the knowledge gained, will go with "I, the Soul", into the next incarnations. Those things, that "gnosis" never dies.
The little self, the personality, is just a tool to be used for a specific task. Nancy cannot be used for the task set out by Nelson Mandela, nor can she solve great mathematical problems, she doesn't have that kind of mind. But the next personality "I, the Soul" build might be a great figure on the world stage, or might choose to be a pig farmer. (God, I hope not!) So there is the little self, the small "ego", and the Soul, the big "Ego", the true "I".
I don't know if this will make sense, nor am I trying to convince you of anything, Albert, just defining terms so we'll be able to have a reasonably intelligent conversation.
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