My thoughts originated with remembering this quote. I'm not sure why, but it came to mind.
I started thinking about time and self and burning/flame and I was reminded of something someone (probably my brother) once told me about Buddhist beliefs -- that a flame on a candle is never exactly the same from moment to moment and so are we, in Buddhist beliefs.
I Googled it and found:
Following The Buddha's Footsteps - In which a list of three concepts caught my eye: nothing is lost in the universe [this holds with physics concepts of energy and mass remaining constant, always changing one for the other], everything changes, the law of cause and effect (aka karma).
But it didn't talk about what I was looking for, about the flame. Then I found:
Yahoo Answers: Is there a form of Buddhism in which you don't have to believe in Reincarnation? - In which a very well written fellow explains that although we don't know, Buddhism believes that all parts of the self (including the body) are, in effect, recycled. He uses the example of a candle lit by an extinguishing candle.
[Hmm, fascinating. When I went back to look at this site again in order to describe it, I found a paragraph that I had skipped before. Darn speedreading. Well, I'll put it where it belongs, at the end.]
Not satisfied, I looked further and found this:
BuddhaMind: Activities: Lotsa Fire - I liked two of the quotes: "Where does the flame go to when it is blown out?" "If you light one candle from another could you say they are both the same flame?"
And, going back to the second site I found this paragraph, which is what I was looking for all along:
Consciousness is not a soul or the "self" as is often thought of by non-Buddhists. The consciousness is often compared to the flame of a candle and the candle to our lives. Each moment the flame renews itself and although it appears to be the same object from moment to moment, the flame is always changing and in fact, the molecules that make up the flame are different from moment to moment. So the flame you see now (the consciousness you possess now) is not composed of the same stuff as the flame (consciousness) that you will see in just a moment.- courtesy of mehereintheeast at Yahoo Answers
I must say, of all the religions, Buddhism has got more things right than most. The most important precept seeming to be: Don't believe anything because you're told, find out for yourself.
[Max, Janiece, Brenda, correct me if I got any of this wrong...]