Monday, September 15, 2008

J. Krishnamurti on Addiction

The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgement.
J. Krishnamurti

How do you battle an addiction? I have been interested in this subject for a while just because I myself have a few habits that I would love to get rid off. Reading J. Krishnamurti the other day, an insight suddenly struck me: if you have a habit you cannot shake off, perhaps it's because your mind goes asleep when you do it.

Compulsive behaviour or an addiction has a clear message for you. You have trapped yourself into an activity that you think aids you psychologically (or you just think it's fun), when it is pretty clear to everybody else that it pulls you down. When you have accepted for yourself that you want to overcome the habit, you spend your time fighting it mentally, but whatever plan you come up with, by the time the desire arises, your mind and your actions are on auto-pilot. Here is J. Krishnamurti's simple advice: wake from your trance by observing your compulsive behavior in action (he gives the smoking example, but you can substitute any compulsive behaviour instead):

"Habit is a dead thing, it is an action which has become automatic, and the more one fights it the more strength one gives to it. But if the person who smokes becomes conscious of his habit, if he becomes aware of putting his hand into his pocket, bringing out the cigarette, tapping it, putting it in his mouth, lighting it and taking the first puff - if each time he goes through this routine he simply watches it without condemnation, without saying how terrible it is to smoke, then he is not giving new vitality to that particular habit. But really to drop something which has become a habit, you have to investigate it much more, which means going into the whole problem of why the mind cultivates the habit - that is, why the mind is inattentive."

Louise Hay in "You Can Heal Yourself" had another interesting insight. She claims that once you are in the process of tackling your addiction, you should watch what other side effects this change brings with it. Her argument is that the compulsive habit might be compensating an issue that you are not aware of, but once other side effects show up, you are given new clues what the underlying issue really is.

So I guess the bottom-line is just observe yourself with an ever increasing focus and you will figure things out sooner rather than later. Just try it!

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