Osho on Habit of Chain Smoking
Question: Osho, I cannot
drop the habit of chain-smoking. I have tried hard but I have failed
always. Is it a sin to smoke?
Osho: Gurucharan, 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. 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.
you imagine!" he exclaimed. "All that fuss over a little piece of
But that's what your so-called saints have been
telling you down 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
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 more 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
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 more the deciding factor. The response is not coming out of awareness but out of
a pattern, structure, that you have learned in the past.
Two members of the Shalom Retirement Home, Blustein and Levin, were
strolling past the home of Nelson Rockefeller. "If I only had
that man's millions," sighed Blustein, "I would be richer than he
"Don't be a dummy," said Levin. "If you had his millions you
would be as rich as he is, not any richer." "You are wrong," said
Blustein, "don't forget -- I could give Hebrew lessons on the side!"
That's what he has been doing. Even if he becomes Nelson Rockefeller
he will go on giving Hebrew lessons on the side. That's how people
are living, just according to habits. 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
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?"
Gurucharan, 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
A man was suffering from a common cold for many
years. All the doctors were tired of the man because nobody was able
to cure him. Then a new doctor came to the town. All the other
doctors told the new doctor, "Beware of this man! He is going to
haunt you! He is a nuisance -- his cold cannot be cured."
In fact, there is no cure for the common cold. They say that if you
take medicine it goes within seven days; if you don't take the
medicine it goes in one week.
So the new doctor was ready and
the man appeared, as predicted by the others. The new doctor said,
"I can cure it. You do one thing" -- it must have been winter-time,
just like this morning -- he told him, "You do one thing: tomorrow,
early in the morning, before sunrise, go to the lake; swim in the
lake naked, then stand on the bank in the cold wind."
The man said, "Are you mad or something? How is that going to
cure my common cold?"
The doctor said, "Who told you that it is
going to cure your common cold? It will give you influenza, and I
can cure that!"
So it is possible, Gurucharan, 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 like crazy!"
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. The real problem is the habit.
You say: I HAVE TRIED HARD TO DROP IT....
You have not tried to be conscious of it; without trying to be
conscious you have tried to drop it. It is not possible. It
will come back, because your mind is the same; its needs are the
same, its problems are the same, its anxieties, tensions are the
same, its anguish is the same. And when those anxieties arise, what
will you do? Immediately, mechanically, you will start searching for
the cigarettes. You may have decided again and again, and again and
again you have failed -- not because smoking is such a great
phenomenon that you cannot get out of it, but because you are trying
from the wrong end.
Rather than becoming aware of the whole
situation -- why you smoke in the first place -- rather than
becoming aware of the process of smoking, you are simply trying to
drop it. It is like pruning the leaves of a tree without cutting the
roots. And my whole concern here is to cut the roots, not to prune
the tree. By pruning the leaves and the branches the tree will
become thicker, the foliage will become thicker. You will not
destroy the tree; you will be helping it, in fact.
really want to get out of it you will have to look deeper, not into
the symptoms but the roots. Where are the roots? You must be a
deeply anxiety-ridden person, otherwise chain-smoking is not
possible; chain-smoking is a by-product. You must be so concerned
about a thousand and one disturbances inside, you must be carrying
such a big load of worries on your heart, on your chest, that you
don't even know how to forget them. You don't know how to drop them
-- smoking at least helps you to forget about them.
I HAVE TRIED HARD...
Now one thing has to be understood. The
hypnotists have discovered a fundamental law; they call it the Law
of Reverse Effect. If you try hard to do something without
understanding the fundamentals, just the opposite will be the
result. It is like when you are learning how to ride on a bicycle.
You are on a silent road, no traffic, early in the morning, and you
see a red milestone just standing there by the side of the road like
A sixty-foot-wide road and just a small milestone,
and you become afraid: you may get to the milestone, you may hit
against the milestone. Now you forget about the sixty-foot-wide
road. In fact, even if you go blindfolded there is not much chance
of your encountering the milestone, crashing into the milestone, but
with open eyes now the whole road is forgotten; you have become
focused. In the first place, that redness is very focusing. And you
are so much afraid! -- you want to avoid it.
You have forgotten that you are on a bicycle; you have
forgotten everything. Now the only problem for you is how to avoid
this stone; otherwise you may harm yourself, you may crash into it.
Now the crash is absolutely inevitable; you are bound to crash with
the stone. And then you will be surprised: '.'1 tried hard." In fact
it is BECAUSE you tried hard that you reached the stone. And the
closer you come, the harder you try to avoid it; but the harder you
try to avoid it, the more focused you become on it. It becomes a
hypnotic force, it hypnotizes you. It becomes like a magnet.
It is a very fundamental law in life. Many people try avoiding many
things and they fall into the same things. Try to avoid anything
with great effort and you are bound to fall into the same pit. You
cannot avoid it; that is not the way to avoid it. Be relaxed. Don't
try hard, because it is through relaxation that you can become
aware, not by trying hard. Be calm, quiet, silent.
suggest: smoke as much as you want to smoke. It is not a sin in the
first place. I give you the guarantee -- I will be responsible. I
take the sin on myself, so if you meet God on Judgment Day you can
just tell him that this fellow is responsible. And I will stand
there as a witness for you that you are not responsible. So don't be
worried about its being a sin. Relax and don't try to drop it with
effort. No, that is not going to help. Zen believes in effortless
So this is my suggestion:
Smoke as much as you want to smoke -- just smoke meditatively.
If Zen people can drink tea meditatively, why can't you smoke
meditatively? In fact, tea contains the same stimulant as the
cigarettes contain; it is the same stimulant, there is not much
difference. Smoke meditatively, very religiously. Make it a
ceremony. Try it my way. Make a small corner in your house just for
smoking: a small temple devoted, dedicated to the god of smoking.
First bow down to your cigarette packet. Have a little chit-chat,
talk to the cigarettes.
Inquire, "How are you?" And then very
slowly take a cigarette out -- very slowly, as slowly as you can,
because only if you take it very slowly will you be aware. Don't do
it in a mechanical way, as you always do. Then tap the cigarette on
the packet very slowly and for as long as you want. There is no
hurry either. Then take the lighter, bow down to the lighter. These
are great gods, deities! Light is God, so why not the lighter?
Then start smoking very slowly, just like VIPASSANA. Don't do it
like a PRANAYAMA -- quick and fast and deep -- but very slowly.
Buddha says: Breathe naturally. So you smoke naturally: very slow,
no hurry. If it is a sin you are in a hurry. If it is a sin you want
to finish it as soon as possible. If it is a sin you don't want to
look at it. You go on reading the newspaper and you go on smoking.
Who wants to look at a sin? But it is not a sin, so watch it --
watch each of your acts. Divide your acts into small fragments so
you can move very slowly.
And you will be surprised: by
watching your smoking, slowly slowly smoking
will become less and less. And one day suddenly...it is gone. You
have not made any effort to drop it; it has dropped of its own
accord, because by becoming aware of a dead pattern, a routine, a
mechanical habit, you have created, you have released, a new energy
of consciousness in you. Only that energy can help you; nothing else
will ever help. And it is not only so with smoking, Gurucharan, it
is so with everything else in life: don't try too hard to change
That leaves scars. Even if you change, your change
will remain superficial. And you will find a substitute somewhere;
you will HAVE to find a substitute, otherwise you will feel empty.
And when something withers away of its own accord because you have
become so silently aware of the stupidity of it that no effort is
needed, when it simply falls, just like a dead leaf falling from a
tree, it leaves no scar behind and it leaves no ego behind. If you
drop something by effort, it creates great ego.
thinking, "Now I am a very virtuous man because
I don't smoke." If you think that smoking is a sin,
naturally, obviously, if you drop it you will think you are a very
virtuous man. That's how your virtuous men are. Somebody does not
smoke, somebody does not drink, somebody eats only once a day,
somebody does not eat in the night, somebody has even stopped
drinking water in the night...and they are all great saints! These
are saintly qualities, great virtues!
We have made religion
so silly. It has lost all glory. It has become as stupid as people
are. But the whole thing depends on your attitude: if you think
something is a sin, then your virtue will be just the opposite of
it. I emphasize: not-smoking is not virtue, smoking is not sin;
awareness is virtue, unawareness is sin. And then the same law is
applicable to your whole life.
Source: from book “Ah This!”
- Osho on How to Quit Smoking
- Osho on LSD as an
help in Meditation
Osho Meditation for Quitting Smoking
- Osho on Drug Addiction and the
way to Prevent it
- Osho on Drugs Deaddiction with
Meditation and Hypnosis
- Osho on How to
Deal with Drug Addiction with Meditation
- Osho on How to Drop an
Obsession with the help of Meditation