The best way
to curb negative habits
is to cultivate positive habits.
It is Buddhist general knowledge, that the Fifth Precept for beginner Buddhists is to abstain from consumption of intoxicants. The usual definition of intoxicants include alcoholic drinks, and in our era, all mind-numbing and warping substances which distort mindfulness. As loss of mindfulness can lead to the breaking of other moral precepts, this Fifth Precept is just as, if not, arguably more important than the rest. What about smoking, which might be a subject of some contention? Some feel that it does ‘not’ intoxicate, as mindfulness is ‘not’ compromised. However, we need to reflect deeper to see if this is true.
Smoking, like drinking of alcohol, is potentially addictive. As long as smokes are puffed to answer urges, there might be no detection of mindfulness lapses. But without availability of smoking breaks, there will be impairment of mindfulness to some extent, due to uneasy restlessness from inability to satisfy urges. This thus lowers mindfulness in all other matters. Smokers who deny this should quit immediately, to prove they can live normally as non-smokers. This is the only way to prove they are not intoxicated by and addicted to smoking. If we cannot imagine the Buddha smoking or endorsing it, why should any conscientious Buddhist smoke?
More gravely, smoking commits suicide slowly. As each cigarette is packed with 4,000 chemical compounds, with 250 able to cause disease, every stick costs 11 minutes of life. Secondhand smoke also greatly increases chances of those around to contract lung and many other cancers, with heart ailments. If so, smoking breaks the First Precept by gradually killing oneself and possibly others. It poisons all and the already heavily polluted environment. Stealing of others’ fresh air also breaks the Second Precept in spirit. Interconnected thus, smoking is no mere personal matter. Not only is it not productive; it is only destructive to physical and spiritual health. What is the worst-case scenario? To cause oneself and others to die of smoking-related diseases, while craving for one more stick on the deathbed!
To not answer addictive urges mindlessly,
be mindful of Buddha’s name
until such urges dissolve.
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