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?

Defense and the Assertion of Truth

I intend to be whole. That intention validates my belief that I am not whole now. Assertion of that intention limits my awareness to less than whole – lack in the form of needs and wants.

I live in this limited awareness bubble. My limiting intention: which is to defend the limits that separateness demands – which I may be unaware.

The relationship I have with my intention is one of rewards and punishments. That intention rewards me with a sense of wholeness when its needs are satisfied.

I define the wholeness I seek in terms of defense of my intention that limits awareness. That definition can appear as rightness, satisfaction, purpose, justifications, and other limiting defenses that validate the myriad representations of separateness. My definition limits the definable to how I define it.

Assertion of Truth Defense

My perception that I am limited proves to me that I am. It does not, however, prove the assertion that I am limited. Rather, it’s just an assertion of truth that proves its defense.

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.

A Wholeness Measurement Problem

How would one measure wholeness? Before birth, I acted as a separate entity – “I”. That “I” prepared to come into a reality of many separate entities – a perspective within a social structure. Likewise, my body is a collective of separate parts that function as a whole society. These social environments have similar rules, regulations, and boundaries.

Within my bubble of awareness, I could think of my separate self as a fractal within a system made up of fractals. Each fractal element mimicking the demands and understandings of the larger collective fractal. This continues outward to the fractal-like systems beyond earth. Each element with its own yet similar set of rules, regulations, and boundaries.

Before conception, I am parts that when brought together, form one body and mind. Yet, within me, there are competing and complementary systems working to experience what can’t be experienced individually. A society shares the same cooperative and competitive processes that a single human experiences from moment to moment.

The Problem-Solving Paradox in a Separation/Wholeness Paradox

What if the “problem of being me” is in the solution to the problem – me? The problem appears because “I am” appears as a separation problem for wholeness. Perhaps the objective of life is not to solve the problem of separation. Maybe instead, to appreciate that problem in its solution.

On the other hand, what if wholeness is a problem for separateness? From the perspective of separation, wholeness might appear as non-existence. No borders, no definitions, no me, no you, no perceptions – nothing! Separate “me” might see that as death, a problem that avoidance of its awareness might solve!

I wonder, could interpreting what I think of as separate actually be my definition of wholeness? I wonder too if the reverse is the case.

A Wholeness Measurement Problem

With all the ways to experience separateness, my mind is evolving to interpret things in systematic measurements. I have conditioned myself to believe my senses and opinions as accurate forms of measuring my world.

Grouping is a wholeness measurement problem that assigns individual value according to that of a group and visa versa. In this case, my measurement of each individual represents my evaluation of the whole group. I also evaluate the whole group based on an individual in the group. Which I use to compare my value to anyone in the group or to the entire group. “My group” is good and “your group” is not, for example. You must be bad because you belong to a group I don’t like. And, I don’t like anyone in your group because I don’t like you.

This short-circuits any measurement I might make of any individual to that of the group and visa versa. The essence of prejudice – a measurement problem of measuring me.

The Problem with Measuring Me

It’s easy to see how prejudice can spread by grouping things and people together. The measurement problem is one example of how I experience the problem of being me. This makes me question my comparisons of “me” vs “not me.” I can see from this example just how wrong I can be.

Thus, the wholeness measurement problem becomes the problem of measuring me, an immeasurable entity. I have no reference from which to make that measurement except me. One cannot measure something against itself. I cannot measure myself against myself embodied in any perception I have of any person, place, or thing.

How would one measure wholeness? Measurement requires separate points from which to measure. Wholeness would include all points as one point – no separation means no measurement.

Thus, we are immeasurable.

The Law of Selectivity

The law of selectivity is the concept that for any given set of options there is a best option. It’s a law because, moment-to-moment, I must make a selection. From where my attention goes to what flavor of creamer I put in my coffee, I must choose and defend.

This is the essence of Bubble Awareness in which I select from two or more options and defend one. Any choice based on this law keeps me in the bubble of limited awareness. Thus, the law perpetuates itself.

My fundamental intention to be whole is like a Don Quixote quest for that best option that I know is “out there somewhere.”

How Does The Law of Selectivity Appear?

This law is a perceptual illusion, a characteristic of an intention to validate separation from wholeness with a purpose to achieve it. It is characterized by limited awareness that appears as judgments, choices, definitions, and any perception I defend.

I understand this law in the concept “or” – as in left or right, up or down, this or that, me or you. That is a setup for comparisons like me compared to not me. And defense in the form of reasons, justifications, logic, and evidence. Thus, choices require defense.

What Do I Know?

Because I believe there is a best option, I suppose I can know what is best and, so choose it. That’s quite the logic leap to make from limited awareness!

I use the concepts of need and rightness to make that leap. Due to my need to be right, I suppose that satisfaction of my need is the best option. I assume I’m choosing the best option when it’s based on the need I feel at the time I make the choice.

How True Is That?

What if there was another option? How about the options I didn’t consider? In a realm of infinite possibilities, why select only one option? That limitation to one option is based solely on my belief in and defense of the law. What might happen were I to consider another option – some or all possibilities?

Nevertheless, my belief in and defense of the law gives me the perspective I have – the experience of me. It gifts me with an illusion of me I can trust as real.

The law of selectivity fulfills my intention to be whole in a reality of separation. The law gives meaning to the meaningless, purpose to the purposeless, and reality to the unreal.