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Control of Smoking Habit

by Swami Sivananda

He who smokes is unfit for the practice of Karma Yoga. He becomes dull when he cannot get a whiff of smoke. He cannot work in the absence of cigarettes. He wastes his money that can be very well utilised in the service of others. A Karma Yogi should be strictly free from the evil habit of smoking.

Smoking is an evil habit. Smokers bring a little bit of philosophy and medical opinion in support of their principles. They say: "Smoking keeps my bowels free. I get a good motion in the morning. It is very exhilarating to the lungs, brain and the heart. When I sit for meditation after a smoke, I meditate better. Why should I give it up?" Very sound philosophy indeed! They bring in ingenious arguments to support their evil habit. They cannot get rid of this evil habit. They are heavy smokers who can finish a packet of cigarettes within a few hours. This habit starts from early boyhood. A little boy removes a cigarette from his elder brother's pocket and tries a first smoke. He gets a little tickling of nerves and hence he continues stealing daily. After some time he arrives at a stage when he finds it extremely hard to manage with a few cigarettes. He begins to steal money to get a packet independently. The father, brothers and sisters are all heavy smokers. They are the Gurus for these little boys for initiation in smoking. What a nasty state of affairs! Horrible indeed is the sight!

The parents are wholly and solely responsible for the evil conduct of their sons and daughters. Any intoxicant breeds a bad habit soon and the man finds it difficult to give up the habit. He falls a prey to smoking. Maya havocs through habits. This is the secret of her workings. You will not get an iota of benefit from smoking. Pray, give up this wrong, foolish imagination. Money is simply wasted. Smoking causes irritable heart, "tobacco heart" and amplyopia and other deadly diseases of the eyes, and nicotine poisoning of the system. Various nervous diseases and impotence also develop.

Short-sightedness, palpitation of the heart, irregular action of the heart, angina pectoris (a painful disease of the heart), gastric catarrh, throat troubles, inflammation of the trachea, tremors, muscular weakness, etc., have been traced to smoking and the consequent nicotine poisoning. There is cumulative effect of nicotine from protracted smoking. The nicotine accumulates in the system by the addition of slow doses and produces deleterious effects on the constitution and different organs.

The correction of any evil habit is very simple. An advocate was a terrible smoker for a period of fifteen years. With one strong and powerful will he abandoned it entirely. Feel strongly first that you should give up that evil habit immediately. Think strongly of the advantages of sobriety and temperance. Then you have already attained success. Will strongly: "I will give up this intolerable habit this very second." You will succeed. Giving up any bad habit at once is better. The habit of slowly giving it up by gradual reduction generally does not turn out to be productive of good results. Beware of recurrences. Turn your face resolutely when a little temptation tries to reappear. Keep the mind fully occupied in your work. Be always busy. Entertain a strong desire: "I must become a great man presently." All these habits will take to their heels. Feel strongly: "I must become a spiritual man." All these habits will fly away. Use your subconscious mind for the eradication of your habits. It is your intimate bosom friend with whom you should keep companionship at all times. It will make matters all right. Establish new and healthy habits. Develop your will also. Give up bad company and always enjoy Satsanga or the company of learned Sadhus and Mahatmas. Their strong currents will overhaul your evil habits. Prayer, Japa and meditation will also help in the eradication of this evil habit. There is nothing impossible under the sun. Where there is a will there is a way.

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