Thursday, February 4, 2010

How Long is a Football Field?

With the Superbowl racing up and the fate of the mighty match-up between the Saints and Colts hanging in the air, football fever is high, which is why it may seem silly to ask,

"How long is a football field?"

Duh, 100 yards, but is it?

In fact, our perception of distance can be distorted by none other than desires for the panchvishays as evidenced by a study conducted at Cornell University.
In the new study, 90 undergraduates were made to sit at a table across from a full bottle of water. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to the "thirsty" condition, and given a serving of pretzels to eat. The rest were placed in the "quenched" condition, and told that they could drink as much of the water as they wanted. Both groups were asked to indicate how long it had been since they last had a drink, how thirsty they were and how appealing the bottle of water was. Finally, they were shown a 1-inch line as a reference, and asked to estimate the distance between their own position and the water bottle.
Here's the kicker.
The participants who had been given pretzels to eat during the experiment reported feeling thirstier than those who drank the water, as would be expected. They also rated the bottle of water as being more desirable, and estimated the distance between themselves and the bottle to be smaller than did the quenched participants. Their state of thirst had influenced their perception of distance, such that the water bottle was perceived to be closer than it actually was. 
Bottom line: Their thirst distorted their perception; the thirsty thought they were closer to the water than they actually were!

In spirituality, we see the same effect. The more we indulge in panchvishays, the farther we begin to perceive ourselves from Satsang and the Satpurush. What began as a small indulgence results in a downhill decline.

Controlling desires proves key to avoiding this disastrous outcome.

So try this example out Sunday, and see how far it goes in explaining this abstract topic.

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