Expectations, Assumptions, and Illusions of Choice

In my bubble of limited awareness, I assume I’m living my life by making choices. Because of my well-developed senses, I can learn and know what’s best for me. I can know what to embrace or avoid. I interpret these perceptions in terms of the choices I’ve made to validate separation.

For example, “I am me and not others” appears to be an assumption based in choice. I don’t need to choose what is true… it just is what is! In this case, perception is not choice – rather, assumptions based on choice.

When I defend a no-choice position, I discard any options that could be relevant to a choice. A choice can cover many solutions that validate one specific intention. Yet, choices aren’t choices when they are intended to be used repetitively and on the same issues.

Punishment and Reward in Limited Awareness

In classical (Pavlovian) and operant (Skinner) conditioning, a subject learns to behave in a certain way through a system of punishments and rewards. In nature, an individual interacts with their environment in this way and learns how to adapt.

I must assume I can create wholeness within limitations. That’s to believe that if I do, have, and/or be enough limitation, I’ll achieve wholeness. That’s a world of hope. And a paradox!

I feel motivated to seek for and to validate more separateness. In the mastery of separateness I might then be initiated into the experience of wholeness. My service to my intention meant I could get a sense of wholeness as a reward.

Options

My only options in this dimension of separateness are how to defend it. Yet, I must seek separation to find wholeness by comparing them. Since I cannot attain the unattainable – I’ll settle for a substitute – an illusion of wholeness.

What if all that – environment, systems, and conditioning – is within me. As the perceiver of my universe, I might act/react as conditioner of my own behaviors. I may be more in charge of my world of limited awareness than I once thought!

I wonder if I develop much of my definition of wholeness by trial and error. Another way to learn is by observation, which allows for choice by association.

Trial and error development sounds a lot like conditioning. Freud observed that we tend to seek pleasure and avoid or escape pain. That’s a perfect setup for conditioning by punishment and reward in a system of learning by trial and error.

When I behave in compliance with my conditioning, I feel good – I get a dopamine blast as a reward, I feel whole. Conversely, I suffer a punishment for misbehaviors and feel separate.

Who applies that punishment or reward? Nature? My society? What if it is my own intention?

How do I Find My Way Out of the Justification Wasteland?

I’ve created a justification wasteland. How? Because I have a problem-solving mind, I continually engage in searching for and finding solutions to problems I perceive. I’m used to it in my bubble of limited awareness! Thus I’ve defended my understanding of problem-solving with justification.

Why would I feel the need to justify my present with my past? Perhaps I know my problem-solving mind is limited to my reliance on insufficient present evidence. It doesn’t like uncertainty.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to the insufficient evidence problem. A biased memory can add confidence to that current evidence and thus boost trust in the present perception. Therefore, confidence makes evidence appear more convincing than it should.

When I isolate one event from others, I avoid biased memories influencing my present perceptions. Biased memory applied to the current situation changes the current situation. As I question only the evidence in the present event, isolating my perceptions to the moment they occur, I can ask relevant questions. Relevant questions and well-thought-out answers result in learning, awareness, and problems resolved.

For example, “Why am I defending this perception?”, “What is my investment?”, and “Who do I think I am at that moment?” A relevant question will lead to an increase in awareness of self. This follows Apollo’s aphorism to “know thyself.”

Does Justification Tax the Mind with Irrelevance?

Justification is a defensive mechanism that seeks to keep certain emotions, thoughts, concepts or impulses from conscious awareness.

What if justification is the result of applying irrelevant answers to irrelevant situations? What does this mean to a problem-solving mind? Justification presents a solution that diverts attention away from the original problem.

As I invest in defense of the distraction, my mind goes to work in solving the wrong problem. This accomplishes nothing toward solving the original problem, which is, “I don’t know myself.”

That wander into irrelevance is a kind of a wasteland away from relevant resources. This keeps my mind busy trying to solve a problem that isn’t the problem.

What Can I Do to Find My Way Out of the Wasteland?

I can tell you how to stay – just use the same strategy to get out that got you in! You can’t justify yourself out of the justification wasteland!

If I continue to see my life as a problem to be solved, I’ll most likely stay in the wasteland. I must think differently! When I find that different way, my mind will recognize it as relief from the justification tax it has been paying.

It’s All in the Comparing

Comparing Is Natural

What are you doing right now? Notice the comparing you are engaged in after reading that question. Comparing is so natural to us that we are mostly unaware of just how much of it we’re doing.

All comparing is based on relationships between you and not you. Whether obvious or invisible to your senses, you’re always comparing.

We can compare because we are capable of separating our own experiences from those of others through judgments. Yet, we are just as capable of imagining the experiences of others, which seems to increase judgment capability.

The Dual Purpose of Comparing

Along with judging differences, which builds walls between right and wrong, there are judgments of sameness that help build connections. Practicing the latter can reveal how difficult it can be to create connections outside judgments of right or wrong.

Some of the ways duality shows up in comparing my reality of me to myself and me to others –

Me compared to myself:

  • Yesterday to today and tomorrow
  • Who I think I am to who I should be
  • My accomplishments to my failures
  • My intentions to my outcomes

Me compared to others:

  • Differences in authorities
  • Skills and talents
  • Education and training levels
  • Wisdom and understandings
  • Changes over time – who we were yesterday, are today and will be tomorrow
  • Who I think I am to how another should be
  • Accomplishments
  • Intentions and outcomes

In my bubble of limited awareness, I naturally compare what I perceive. From my perceptions, I create the need to divide and define every thing to validate that need. I assign a boundary to everything that I perceive can be separate from all other things. Thus, I divide up what I perceive as one whole – making separate through perceptual differences.

Knowing I Resist

Those perceived differences form the boundaries that define the means of resistance between me and everything else. Because I divide up wholeness, I can see more clearly how I associate likenesses and differences between things. Yet, knowing in some ways that they are the parts that make up the whole.

By seeing the contrast, I can experience relationships! Those relationships that define my defenses are my experiences. This allows me to define my reality and therefore my purpose within that reality.

My purpose is tied to my ability to maintain resistance, another word for defense, which includes:

  • Perceiving separateness
  • Dividing wholeness into things
  • Assigning boundaries
  • Perceiving characteristics that validate separation
  • Making sense of separateness as reality
  • Giving separateness a purpose in connection
  • Validating conflict
  • Resolving conflict by creating similarities
  • Supporting and focusing on similarities
  • Connecting similarities to create flow
  • Appreciating creations without judgment
  • Releasing the need to defend
  • Embracing change

Thus, I more clearly see who I believe I am. Because I’m capable of dividing wholeness into separate parts, I’m equally capable of uniting what was never truly separate. The connection of one thing to another begins a new adventure – that of putting back together what I have divided.

Is Reality a Trick of the Mind?

Could my reality be a trick of the mind? Repetitively doing what’s right can build confidence in a shrinking bubble of limited awareness. That sense of confidence in my rightness builds patterns of defense for my beliefs. At some point, confidence becomes its own defense. Could confidence be a trick of the mind?

Who determines rightness? I do! What defends rightness? Confidence does!

Inner conflict results when one’s thoughts can’t come to an agreement. Each side seeks to win the argument by referring to rightness – the most confident wins.

What happens when your expected outcome turns counter to your intention, plan, and purpose? No matter how right or confident you feel? Backfire! When a backfire happens, you’re faced with an aha moment – an opportunity to question your intention, plan, and purpose.

OR – you can continue defending your position with the hope that you’ll recover your investment in your confidence in it. This is the default option! And it’s a trick!

Confidence Defends Confidence

How does my mind use confidence to turn intention into a convincing REALITY? Once accepted, I defend my reality with more confidence. Thus, confidence becomes its own defense.

From the perspective of my bubble of limited awareness, I believe I must protect myself from threats and compete to survive. This belief presents itself as a figurative story that validates my trust in my perception of it as literal reality. It’s a trick of the mind:

For every experience, I have to set it up by imagining and believing that it can happen. Then, I make my experience happen and judge it. I defend that judgment with emotion and reason, which convinces me that my experience is real.

How Reality May Be a Trick of Mind

I use my memories of being convinced in the past to convince me of the reality of my current experience. I do this by comparing the real past to the real present. The trick is in the comparison: perception of the past is imaginary. No matter how real that memory seems, it is a current fantasy.

How can I compare a nonexistent past, present, and future in an imaginary present to defend a belief? It must be a trick of the mind. Confidence holds it all together!

Perhaps all “reality” is a trick of the mind.