THE GREAT ARCHITECT understood that to ensure that the organism remained entirely focused on the pathway of the Prime Directive, neurological and biological feedback systems were necessary. This dual feedback system occurs in the form of Pain and Pleasure.
Pain indicates that you are either off course or veering off course. The motive behind pain is to “get back on course quickly,” otherwise, you will continue to feel more pain, and the intensity will increase.
Pleasure shows that you are either on course or heading in the right direction. The message from pleasure is simple: keep doing what you are doing.
These feedback systems exist psychologically and physiologically. For our purposes, since we are discussing the mind, we will focus more on the psychological aspect – which includes emotions and feelings.
Physical pain is just that – if you put your hand on a burning hot stove, you immediately get the feedback that this is NOT GOOD for survival and to get back on course (that is, pull your hand away from the stove).
Feedback from emotions and feelings comes in the form of a system of neural circuitry, providing us with messages about whether we are on or off the track towards the Prime Directive.
As we delve further into this system of pain and pleasure, we can break down the guidance system into “seeking” vs. “fulfilling” elements – looking for the treasure vs. finding the treasure. The action of looking for food, or a mate, is one component of pleasure, and the action of experiencing, eating food, or making love, is another. We are rewarded differently for each form of pleasure. The hunt, or the thrill of the chase, is a different sensation than the savoring of rewards. Moods are the emotional forms that tell us if we are either on the right path, in a good mood, or on the wrong one, in a bad mood. Intense feelings of pain and pleasure reveal to us whether we have achieved our goal, or if we should try a new method.
Different chemicals, called neurotransmitters, are released into our bloodstream by the brain when we are on the right path and when we have achieved our goal. Serotonin is a mood-inducing chemical that is released when we are making progress towards our goal – its message is to stay on the path, to then be rewarded with an even more powerful chemical. Dopamine is generously released when we have achieved our goal, providing for a momentary and intensely pleasurable experience. These are “short term gratification” experiences and are, indeed, extremely pleasurable. But, they are not meant to happen consistently, or all day long. The system becomes exhausted if the loop is repeated too frequently. However, the good moods that we feel all along the way, via periodic doses of serotonin, contribute to long term fulfillment that is experienced while we are making progress towards our most important goals.