I will 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 understanding.
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, it is so with everything else in life: don’t try too hard to change yourself. 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.