Last night I watched a TV program called “Finding My Mind.”
This is how the program was described in the TV Guide:
This program unravels the mysteries of the brain. For thousands of years philosophers have tried and failed to come up with satisfactory answers to questions such as ‘who am I?’ But recently neuroscientists have made some fascinating and unnerving discoveries. Here, Oxford University professor of mathematics Marcus du Sautoy takes a journey deep into his own brain – a willing guinea pig for some of the most extraordinary experiments known to neuroscience – to discover where ‘free will’ and ‘self’ actually come from.
Marcus du Sautoy is a rather attractive and personable 40-something chap whose quest is, essentially, to find out whether cutting edge neuroscience can help him find his sense of ‘I.’
Over the course of an hour we see him zip from one part of the planet to another chatting to a cross-section of experts in their fields and undertaking an array of experiments and brain scans. And we watch as his basic beliefs and assumptions about things like the ‘soul,’ the ‘self,’ the ‘person’ become unstitched. He’s a courageous kid.
There’s plenty to interest intrepid explorers of nonduality in this doco, but for me one experiment in particular etched itself in pokerwork in the local brain-space. Marcus had his head all trussed up in a cap like the ones hairdressers used to use when ‘highlights’ were fashionable. This one exuded wires rather than hair. He looked like a porcupine. The wires were attached to computers, of course, and he was simply asked to make choices in response to given ‘problems’ by pressing one button or another.
Which he did, with all the confidence of someone who knows their own mind and believes in free-will.
His face. I’ll never forget the look on his face when the scientist told him – and backed it up with the computer print-out – that he had known what choice Marcus would make a full 6 seconds (no, that’s not a typo) before Marcus pressed the button. With 100% accuracy.
Anyone out there who still believes they are an entity with volition and control should see this doco. But be warned – it’s hazardous to the ego. Fatal, actually.
You can watch a video clip at: http://www.sbs.com.au/schedule/SBSONE/2010-07-06/SBS%20Sydney
Update: The link above is no longer live at SBS. However you can view the whole documentary (52:10) here: