Every human being has created a certain image, a certain personality of himself, and all his habits—like smoking for instance—have become second nature to him. Now, how can we work on them?
The way the mind works
The more you say, “I don’t want something”, that [thing] becomes the basis of your mind and starts to rule it.
Let’s do an experiment right now. Don’t think about monkeys for the next 10 seconds. Hmm, try it. only monkeys come to your mind, isn’t it?
This is the nature of your mind. You can’t do anything head-on with your mind. You need to understand the process of your mind and see what to do with it.
Giving up a habit
Now, people always come to me saying, “I want to give up smoking, what should I do?” I tell them, you are not smoking right now, why would you smoke otherwise? Your body is not the kind of machine that smokes; automobiles do, but not your body. If you don’t want to smoke, don’t smoke”. Then they say, “No, no, I am a smoker I am trying to give up smoking and it’s not working.” The question is not about smoking or not smoking.
It happened like this. A man and his lady neighbour were great friends. One day they were driving somewhere and as soon as the car was parked, his hands were all over her. She said, “You fool! What are you doing? I thought you are a decent fellow and I came with you, what is this nonsense?” He said, “No, I gave up smoking.”
If you compulsively give up something, this is what will happen to you. It will take shape in some other way.
At the root of habits
Now, what is it that you are trying to do with smoking? Probably you are down, you are trying to stimulate yourself with nicotine, or psychologically you feel incomplete. By holding a cigarette in your hand, you feel little more brave, and man-like.
Kids start smoking because they want to grow up soon. A 10-year-old kid wants to smoke because he wants to become a man instantly. When he inhales and blows the smoke into somebody’s face, he feels like a man. Not anymore, but it was so 10 years ago.
Struggling to quit is futile
Once there was a Sufi saint called Ibrahim. One evening, two of his disciples were sitting very morose in the garden of his ashram/centre. One said to the other, “I want to smoke but we are on a spiritual path, how to smoke?” The other one said, “Even I want to smoke; I don’t know what to do.”
Then they decided, “Let’s ask the master whether we can smoke.” In the past, there have been many Sufi saints who smoked constantly.
So the next evening, one disciple was sitting in the same spot, totally miserable. The other disciple came there, smoking. The first disciple said, “Hey! Why are you smoking? Master told me not to smoke.” The other disciple asked, “What did you ask him?” The first replied, “I asked him if I could smoke when I am meditating.” “That’s your problem,” said the second monk. “I asked him whether I could meditate when I am smoking, and he told me to go ahead.”
So don’t try to give it up, bring awareness into your life. Bring awareness to every aspect of your life; you will see that everything that is not necessary will simply fall by the wayside. If you try to give it up, you’ll only struggle.
Your image of self
The image that you have created within yourselves has nothing to do with reality. It has nothing to do with your inner nature. It is a certain image that you have built, most of the time unconsciously. Very few human beings have built a conscious image of themselves. All others have built images according to whatever kind of patterns or external situations they fell into. Everybody has some image of what they are.
Now, why don’t we create a new self-image consciously? The way you really want to be. If you are intelligent and aware enough, you can recast your image into a totally new image, whichever way you really want. It is possible. But you should be willing to leave the old one. This is not pretension. Instead of acting unconsciously, you act consciously. You can create an image that supports you best; that kind of image, which creates maximum harmony within you; that kind of image, which has least friction.
Your image and your inner nature
You create an image, which is closest to your inner nature. What kind of an image, do you think, is closest to your inner nature? Please see. The inner nature is silent, not dominant, but very forceful. Very subtle, yet very forceful. Now that is what we need to do: the grosser elements within you—your anger, your limitations—must be chopped off. Create a new self-image, which is subtle, but tremendously forceful.
You work on the self-image before actually sitting for a process to fix a new image on you. One that is the best for you and everybody around you. Think about it for the next one or two days and create a proper image for yourself. What should be the fundamental nature of your thoughts and emotions? Before we create something, let’s really see, if what we are creating now is better than what we have.
Seeing yourself the way you want
Choose a time when you would not be disturbed. Sit comfortably with your back rested and relax. Now, close your eyes and visualise how other people should experience you. Create a whole new human being. Look at it with as much detail as possible. See if this new image is more human, more efficient, more loving.
Visualise this new image as powerfully as you can. Make it alive within yourself. If your thought is powerful enough, if your visualisation is powerful enough, it can even break the bonds of karma. The limitations, the karmic limitations, can be broken by creating a powerful visualisation of what you want to be. This is the opportunity to transcend all your limitations of thought, emotion and action.