Love or Buddha


let a man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes, like an elephant in the forest

Buddhism rejects attachments such as romantic love.

I read in New Scientist today that when one meditates, it commonly feels as though more time has elapsed than has in actuality, as though the world has slowed down. This state of mind is promoted as ideal by Buddhism.

I am also told that in martial arts one seeks a state of mind where the world slows down. One becomes entirely focussed on the moment.

In a "flow state" -- a state of intense creativity, engagement with the world, and selflessness -- it commonly feels as though less time has elapsed than in actuality. This state of mind is promoted as ideal by those who study it.

Someone is wrong.

If the world appears to slow down, then your internal clockrate must be speeding up. If the world appears to speed up, then your internal clockrate must be slowing down. I have previously stated that I consider overclocking harmful. I stand by that opinion.

I think I can start to sketch out some of the mechanism involved in "clockrate". Adrenaline is an obvious suspect, but just the end of a chain of processes. Nor-adrenaline is one step back. The further back along the chain you go, the broader the effects are, the more systems affected. Adrenaline has very specific effects, mostly on the body -- physical preparation to fight or flee. Nor-adrenaline has all of the effects of adrenaline, since it stimulates its release, but also has some more subtle effects on the mind. And so on.

I suspect the hormone oxytocin is close to the start of the chain. Wikipedia lists as one of the actions of oxytocin:

Various anti-stress functions: reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels, increasing tolerance to pain, reducing anxiety. Oxytocin may play a role in encouraging "tend and befriend", as opposed to "fight or flight", behavior, in response to stress.

Oxytocin also causes pair bonding.

If the hormone oxytocin is a word, Cys-Tyr-Ile-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Leu-Gly-NH2, I am guessing it means (roughly) be open, curious, and outward facing.

A further guess: love and happiness can't be hacked, are not chemicals. You can't be happy for no reason without paying a price later. You can't love someone without understanding them, and oxytocin just opens you up to such understanding.

A person turned inwards may be happy, but they do not love, and they live in a diminished world.


There's an important difference between the meditation/martial arts mind-state and "fight or flight" which I glossed over. Meditation is a sustainable state, whereas fight or flight is not.

My guess is that in meditation the amount of computation per "tick" is reduced proportionately to the tick interval, such that the brain isn't overloaded -- does not use up resources and accumulate waste products faster than is sustainable. Fight or flight on the other hand is a burst of unsustainable computation, which becomes painful if prolonged. Thus fight or flight does not represent as great a diminishment of the mind as meditation at the same clockrate.

Now, well you may ask, if you increase the clockrate but decrease the amount of computation per click at the same time, surely you're doing the exact same amount of computation, why invent this notion of clockrate at all?

I think there is a difference in kind between the computation at different clockrates. At a high clockrate, thoughts would proceed in many small steps, whereas at a low clockrate they would proceed in slow, well considered leaps. Two possible analogies: