18 Saturday Feb 2017
I smoked a cigarette just now and realized (only after having smoked) that the act of my smoking was mechanical. I had responded to a habitual urge and smoked. But now, when I look back, I sense no pleasure derived from smoking. Do I feel or sense any kind of satisfaction? After due searching thoughts I conclude, yes, the very recurring urge feels satisfied as it has been subdued for time being. My past experience vouches this conclusion. I also realized that this impulsive demand, which has taken shape of a compulsive habit, isn’t permanent in nature as I do not miss a cigarette I had not smoked.
But I keep on smoking despite not deriving any pleasure or satisfaction from the very act of smoking. The sense of relief is that I get rid of an impulse which was making my smooth sailing a little rough.
This applies to several acts of mine- other than those I perform owing to external pressures. For example I just now filled my mouth with some sweet, which I keep on pronouncing day in and day out as unhealthy.
At times my legs seem to feel itchy, not physically. It’s my ‘body’, actually, wanting to ‘get out’, commanded by my mind (invariably it’s the mind because I do not sense this itch when I am relatively more present though I can sense the lingering impulse, ready to grab me). My mind wants to get out of here and get lost in something habitually gratifying. I can eat or watch a show or indulge in any meaningless talks with any one easily accessible in person or on phone. It’s an ever going affair but for the acts, as said, I perform, driven by pressures external. It’s like an escape from ‘here’ in the domain of ‘there’, where I have some definite stoppages. These stoppages are stations of gratifying indulgence.
The impulses thus arise, satisfied and disappear duly humbled. But they reappear. The appearance and disappearance is historical. Every habit is historic. History is a big trap.
Am I to continue responding to the arising impulses as I feel compelled to do or shall I find a way out of this historic trap.? This question cropped up – for the umpteenth time – when I ‘stopped’ in the middle of an indulgent act. I realized that the thought of giving up too is habitual. I am not Mark Twain, who so humorously claimed- “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” The thoughts of indulgence has associated it self with the thought of giving up. Now they walk hand in hand, causing a conflict within which in turn causes pain. This will continue to happen unless I think out of the box; find a way to neutralize the historicity of my habits.
I have tried, a million times and have failed. I resolve but the very next moment I indulge in the very act I have resolved against. I do have a choice, a limited choice, I sense, when at a cross road, potential enough to change the course. This limited choice is to decide which way to take. But my itchy legs habitually take the known indulgent path. I fail to walk the path my fate offers me by brining me to the cross roads. My mind produces justifications to stick to the historic path and I find myself speaking in his voice, justifying the unjustifiable, walking a path I had no intention to walk. I fail to resist the mind. I find arguments to resist the resistance. I let things happen. I opt no options.
How am I to act? How am I to undo?
Out of the blue a thought cropped up; as I stopped in the middle of such an indulgent act- ‘Abruptness has no history.’ I let the thought take a shape and it said to me- ‘Abruptness has no underlying history to generate any kind of a drive where as habit are historical. Intent can and will have a history but can be executed in all abruptness. Why can’t I act abruptly? I can intend an act but to execute them I use no thoughts. I just get up abruptly and perform the act.’
Abruptly, I decided to take an intended one minute ‘meditational walk’. Decision is a misnomer here because the moment I decided in all ‘abruptness’ to take the walk I found me walking with intent, mid way an unintentional passive act. ‘Intentional Meditational walk’ isn’t historical in my case, or impulsively habitual. In all possibility this abrupt act on my part broke some chains of cause and effect.
In certain esoteric school, people used to practice this abruptness. One of the residents of such a school would abruptly ask the other resident to stop mid way an act or thought. This was like kids play the game of ‘statue’. .The key to this practice was that the resident thus ‘statued’ had to shut off his internal dialoging too. In ancient days, many sages, known in Sanskrit as Muni ( Mouni- Moun means to observe silence), vowed to observe silence, not just in the external but they were also supposed to shut off their minds from shunting.
‘Abruptness’ can be an effective weapon in countering impulsive habits, I conclude. ‘Abruptness means to act without giving a thought. When I remember to walk I walk. When I remember to write I write. When its dark I switch on the light without thinking of switching on the light.
More over I turn every unintentional act into an intentional conscious act, using abruptness.
‘Honor the space between no longer and not yet’- Nancy Levin.
‘The thought of switching on the light will not switch on the light. Get up and switch on’ – A.S.