How to Quit Smoking: The Basic Physics 101

If you are addicted to smoking you have what might be called a “charge,” like an electrical energy charge, infusing and surrounding your smoking identity. As with any electrical charge, the” smoking identity charge” maintains its presence through a continual balance of both positive and negative qualities, i.e., “I want a smoke, I don’t want a smoke.” Sometimes the positive comes to the surface, sometimes the negative, but both “sides” of the electrical charge are always present. That’s the nature of the bio-chemical electrical process.
Traditional approaches to quitting smoking would suggest that it is your duty, your responsibility and challenge to give more energy and attention to the negative side of the charge— I don’t want a smoke – and less energy and attention to the positive side, I want a smoke. (Actually, which side is positive and which is negative continually flip-flops, depending on the day, the time, the company, who’s judging, how many beers you drank, etc. But for our purposes here we’ll simplify.)
Trying to quit smoking by giving more energy to one side and less to the other is why most traditional approaches fail. That’s like trying to charge up just the negative side of the battery. The law of physics will not cooperate with such a strategy, even though the strategy is approved and recommended by most “authorities.”
To free ourselves from the smoking habit we have to release ourselves from the “charge” surrounding the smoking identity. It’s a bit like getting outside a force field, or turning off the electro-magnetic field, or finding a place where there are no “bars” on the cell-phone. The identity itself will probably continue, at least for a while, depending on how long you’ve been smoking. Thoughts and feelings about smoking will still come up. But the “charge” is gone. Like with the no-bar cell phone, you can’t make connection. And thus the necessity to act on your thoughts and feelings about smoking is likewise gone.
So how to release the charge? The good news is that understanding the process itself can do it. Attention itself, awareness itself is the “force” that gracefully releases the electro-magnetic current, the “charge.” It’s useful, however, to see exactly how this charge around the smoking identity comes into operation in the first place.
While reading a Buddhist meditation and healing book, which on the surface had nothing to do with the “smoking charge,” a paragraph jumped out at me that explains it quite well. Here’s the paragraph.
“. . .pride is actually the cause of all problems, all of the suffering. If you shot the arrow straight at pride, you don’t need to shoot your arrow at your anger, your greed, your aversion, your restlessness, your craving; all of it is rooted in pride. So it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but if you go straight for the jugular then you can save yourself an awful lot of tap dancing. You try to pin the problem on, “Oh well, it’s my aversion,” or “I’ve got an addictive personality,” or “I’m a restless person” [or “It’s the nicotine,” or “It’s the tobacco companies,” or “My whole family smoked,” etc. etc.] All of these [excuses] are actually rooted in pride, i.e., how much self you smother your experience with. And as you clear the mess [charge] around you which is a reflection of your idea of self, then there is no mess [charge] around you, no sense of self, just an awake being engaging with what’s going on . . . Once you let your pride go, as you break down the attachment to self, then all of this stuff that was caused by this attachment to self falls away with it.” (Burgs, The Flavour of Liberation, Vol 1 &2, p.248) (Emphases and parentheticals added.)
The “charge” around the smoking identity is a charge of pride. We smoke because we are “prideful.” (It’s me against the world.) More pride, more self-will is not going to break the charge. To “not smoke” we have to swallow the bitter pill— swallow our pride, and simply allow the world to be what it is. Allowing the world to be what it is, is the end of suffering. The charge dissipates. We are awake beings, engaging with what’s going on.

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