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#2763 - Monday, March 19, 2007 - Editor: Gloria Lee

Nondual Highlights  

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" --Albert Einstein    

"And now for something completely different", an issue consisting of a motley collection of "stuff" that didn't fit in with any nicely-themed one. These are the hazards of reading widely to look for something for highlights. In this mind-reading article, just noticing all the assumptions present despite its claim to at least a quasi-scientific approach is fun.  

PS. Oh no, it turned into a theme....  oh well, maybe it will make you laugh.    

human nature: Science, technology, and life.

Full-Mental Nudity

The arrival of mind-reading machines.

By William Saletan
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007, at 12:09 AM ET  

Any animal can perceive objects and move limbs. To plumb the soul, you need a metaphysician. John-Dylan Haynes, a brilliant researcher at Germany's Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, is leading the way. His mission, according to the center, is to predict thoughts and behavior from fMRI scans.

Haynes, a former philosophy student, is going for the soul's jugular. He's trying to clarify the physical basis of free will. "Why do we shape intentions in this way or another way?" he wonders. "Your wishes, your desires, your goals, your plans—that's the core of your identity." The best place to look for that core is in the brain's medial prefrontal cortex, which, he points out, is "especially involved in the initiation of willed movements and their protection against interference."

To get a clear snapshot of free will, Haynes designed an experiment that would isolate it from other mental functions. No objects to interpret; no physical movements to anticipate or execute; no reasoning to perform.

(OH YES!  Now how none-dual is that?)

full article: 


and more cartoons...   

  Quiz: Are You Living Deliberately?  

Are you auditing life or are you taking it for credit? Take this simple quiz and FIND OUT!

While cleaning glassware for your work-study job you release a magic genie, who offers you one of the following. Which do you choose?

  1. A 100% assured life of relative ease and comfort, but with no achievements that will stand out or be remembered by future generations.
  2. A 50% shot at doing something truly great, meaningful, and lasting, with an equal chance of just living in relative hardship and discomfort.
  3. A 10% shot at being one of the greatest human beings who ever lived, at the risk of extreme hardship and torturous trials.
  4. A set of steak knives.

You suddenly find yourself with nothing planned for the evening. What are you going to do?

  1. Watch whatever's on television.
  2. Catch up on your reading. . . Cosmo, Maxim, etc. . ..
  3. Hang out with your friends and argue about superstring theory or free will or, I dunno, something interesting.
  4. Stare out the window in a completely dark room, stewing in existential angst.
  5. Hmm. Maybe I could just start teaching myself guitar like I've always wanted.

Please complete the following sentence: Introspection is

  1. A waste of time.
  2. A word with the same number of syllables as "reproduction."
  3. A great word to land a "double-word score" on.
  4. My middle name.
  5. For sissies.

You are reading a book written by a heroic guy that now gets paid tons of money as an inspirational speaker. In the book, the guy talks about the joys of "unconflicted living"—living a life in which you have the absolute conviction that you're doing "the right thing" and "what you were meant to be doing" at every moment of your life. This strikes you as

  1. The greatest thing you've ever heard of.
  2. Robotic, brainwashed, or worse.
  3. Boring.
  4. Torn between a & b.

Through some incredible stroke of luck and genius, you've gotten access to the microchip at the core of your mind and you have been granted the opportunity to reprogram your most basic motivations just this once. The catch is that this microchip can only be programmed with a single, basic, guiding philosophy that will have to carry you through the rest of your life. Which of the following most closely resembles the one-line philosophy of life that you think would best guide you in living the life you want to live:

  1. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
  2. "Do or do not. There is no try."
  3. "Toga! Toga! Toga!"
  4. (HEY, why can't I make up my own?)_________________

(Continues from link in title, if you can stand it, or find it funny.)  Or paste this link:   

    Book Review: Radical Spirit
Michelle Wong


On a balmy September afternoon, while sitting on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park with my journal, I divided up my priorities into four:

  1. Find a spiritual practice that is practical and utterly ordinary.
  2. Land a solid job.
  3. Get a place to live.
  4. Get myself into therapy to find out what the hell I have been running from all my life.

Thus begins Mariana Caplan's "Adventures of a New Age Traveler," one of 26 essays in a new anthology, Radical Spirit (New World Library). The practicality, realness, and urgency with which she approaches her spiritual life embodies the theme of this book: the stories of young, contemporary seekers trying to find their spiritual paths, or building them from scratch. This book uses the personal narrative of young people to capture spiritual truths in the midst of the mundane.

I was blown away by how vividly these stories captured the experience of what it was like to be a college-aged seeker. In Albert Wong's "A Fine Young Atheist," an aspiring 17-year-old scientist starts to feel his cool rationalism fall apart in the face of life's contradictions. His journal-like prose has lines like: "Jerusalem, 1987. The summer after I won more national science awards than I ever wanted. The summer after Jennifer told me she was in love with my best friend, not me." His lifelong commitment to being a scientist is rattled when he has a synchronicitous meeting on a bus with a great scientist who, for unknown reasons, left science completely. How many of us can relate to him as he argues with himself:

Should I take up my place at Harvard Med?

Of course you should—what an opportunity. Listen to the sound of the word: Harvard.

No, are you crazy? Do you really want to be a doctor? Run off to the Australian outback and find a job as a jackaroo. That's real living. Be free.

Don't be silly. Farm life sucks. Take up your Hertz fellowship at Stanford. You'll be a great physicist.

Aaaack? No, don't do it. You'll be trapped in an office for the rest of your life. Sign on to the Bread for Bosnia relief team. You can run trucks filled with flour into the war zone and save women and children. You'll be a hero.

Dumb. Very dumb. You'll get killed. No what you need is to get settled on life's questions. Go to grad school in philosophy. You'll find answers there.

No, go back to Oxford and get a job at George and David's ice cream café.

No, go to Auroville.

No, go to Africa.


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