Beyond Habits

body-dharmaFrom: OSHO Times

I cannot drop the habit of chain-smoking. I have tried hard but I have always failed. Is it a sin to smoke?

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill! Religious people are very skillful in doing that. Now, what are you really doing when you are smoking? Just taking some smoke inside your lungs and letting it out. It is a kind of pranayama...filthy, dirty, but still a pranayama! You are doing yoga, in a stupid way. It is not sin. It may be foolish but it is not a sin, certainly.

There is only one sin and that is unawareness, and only one virtue and that is awareness.

Do whatsoever you are doing, but remain a witness to it, and immediately the quality of your doing is transformed.

Go to Hell

I will not tell you not to smoke; that you have tried. You must have been told by many so-called saints not to smoke: “Because if you smoke you will fall into hell.” God is not so stupid as your saints are. Throwing somebody into hell just because he was smoking cigarettes will be absolutely unnecessary.

One morning Weintraub went to a restaurant and ordered bacon with his eggs. He was an orthodox Jew and his wife kept a strictly kosher home, but Weintraub felt the need just this once.

As Weintraub was about to leave the restaurant, he stopped in the door frozen with terror. The sky was filled with black clouds, there was lightning, and the ground shook with the rumble of thunder.

“Can you imagine!” he exclaimed. “All that fuss over a little piece of bacon!”

But that’s what your so-called saints have been telling you down through the ages, for centuries.

Smoking is unhealthy, unhygienic, but not a sin. It becomes a sin only if you are doing it unconsciously. It is not smoking that makes it a sin but unconsciousness.

Let me emphasize the fact. You can do your prayer every day unconsciously; then your prayer is a sin. You can become addicted to your prayer. If you miss the prayer one day, the whole day you will feel something is wrong, something is missing...some gap. It is the same with smoking or with drinking; there is no difference in it. Your prayer has become a mechanical habit; it has become a master over you. It bosses you; you are just a servant, a slave to it. If you don’t do it, it forces you to do it.

So it is not a question of smoking. You may be doing your Transcendental Meditation every day regularly, and it may be just the same. If the quality of unconsciousness is there, if mechanicalness is there, if it has become a fixed routine, if it has become a habit and you are a victim of the habit and you cannot put it aside, you are no longer a master of yourself, then it is a sin. But its being a sin comes out of your unconsciousness, not out of the act itself.

No act is virtuous, no act is a sin. What consciousness is behind the act — everything depends on that.

You say: “I cannot drop the habit of chain-smoking.” I am less interested in your chain-smoking; I am more interested in your habit. Any habit that becomes a force, a dominating force over you, is a sin. One should live more in freedom. One should be able to do things not according to habits but according to the situations.

Life is continuously changing — it is a flux — and habits are stagnant. The more you are surrounded by habits, the more you are closed to life. You are not open, you don’t have windows. You don’t have any communication with life; you go on repeating your habits. They don’t fit; they are not the right response to the situation, to the moment. They are always lagging behind, they are always falling short. That’s the failure of your life.

So remember: I am against all kinds of habits. Good or bad is not the point. There is no good habit as such, there is no bad habit as such. Habits are all bad because habit means something unconscious has become a dominating factor in your life, has become decisive. You are no longer the deciding factor. The response is not coming out of awareness but out of a pattern, structure, that you have learned in the past.

I have seen many rich people living very poor lives. Before they became rich their habits became settled — and their habits became settled when they were poor. That’s why you find so much miserliness in rich people; it comes from the habits that became ingrained in them when they were poor.

One of the richest men in the world — not one of the richest but the richest man in the world, it is thought — was the Nizam of Hyderabad. His collection of diamonds was the greatest in the world because he owned the diamond mines of Golconda, which have provided the greatest diamonds to the world. The Kohinoor comes from Golconda. It was once in the Nizam’s possession. He had so many diamonds that it is said that no one has ever been able to calculate exactly the price of his collection. Thousands and thousands of diamonds — they were not counted, they were weighed!

But he was one of the most miserly men in the world. He used a single cap for thirty years. It was stinking but he wouldn’t change it. He continued to wear the same coat for almost his whole life and he would not give it to be washed because they might destroy it. He was so miserly — you cannot imagine — that he would collect half-smoked cigarettes from the guests’ ashtrays and then smoke them. The richest man in the world smoking cigarette butts smoked by others! The first thing he would do whenever a guest left was to search in the ashtrays and collect the ends of the cigarettes.

When he died, his greatest diamond was found in his dirty shoes. He was hiding it in his shoe! Maybe he had some idea behind it — that maybe he would be able to take it with him to the other world. Maybe he was afraid: “When I am dead, people may steal it.” It was the greatest diamond; he used that diamond as a paper-weight on his table. Before he died he must have put it inside his shoe.

Even when one is dying one is moving in old habits, following old patterns. I have heard:

The old Mulla Nasruddin had become a very rich man. When he felt death approaching he decided to make some arrangements for his funeral, so he ordered a beautiful coffin made of ebony wood with satin pillows inside. He also had a beautiful silk caftan made for his dead body to be dressed in.

The day the tailor delivered the caftan, Mulla Nasruddin tried it on to see how it would look, but suddenly he exclaimed, “What is this! Where are the pockets?”

Smoking or no smoking, that is not important. Maybe if you continue to smoke you will die a little earlier. So what? The world is so overpopulated, you will do some good by dying a little earlier. Maybe you will have tuberculosis. So what? Tuberculosis is now almost like the common cold. In fact, there is no cure for the common cold but there is a cure for tuberculosis I know it because I suffer from a common cold. To have tuberculosis is to be very fortunate.

So it is possible that you may die two years earlier, you may get tuberculosis — but it is not a sin. Don’t be worried about that. If you really want to do something about your life, dropping smoking is not going to help — because I know people who drop smoking; then they start chewing gum. The same old stupidity! Or if they are Indians they start chewing pan; it is the same. You will do something or other. Your unconsciousness will demand some activity, some occupation. It is an occupation. And it is only a symptom; it is not really the problem. It is not the root of the problem.

Have you not observed? Whenever you feel emotionally disturbed you immediately start smoking. It gives you a kind of relief; you become occupied. Your mind is distracted from the emotional problem. Whenever people feel tense they start smoking. The problem is tension, the problem is emotional disturbance — the problem is somewhere else; smoking is just an occupation. So you become engaged in taking the smoke in and out and you forget for the time being...because mind cannot think of two things together, remember it. One of the fundamentals of mind is: it can think only of one thing at one time; it is one-dimensional. So if you are smoking and thinking of smoking, then from all other anxieties you are distracted.

That’s the whole secret of the so-called spiritual mantras: they are nothing but distractions, like smoking. You repeat “Om, Om, Om,” or “Ram, Ram, Ram,” or “Allah, Allah, Allah” — that is just giving mind an occupation. And all these people who teach mantras say, “Repeat it as quickly as possible, so that between two repetitions there is not even a small gap. Let them overlap — so ‘Ram Ram Ram’ — don’t leave a gap between two Rams, otherwise some thought may enter. Repeat it like crazy!”

Yes, it will give you a certain relief — the same relief that comes from smoking, because your mind will be distracted from the anxieties and the world. You will forget about the world; you have created a trick. All mantras are tricks, but they are spiritual. Chain-smoking is also a mantra. It is a worldly mantra; non-religious you can call it, secular.