I have condemned myself for smoking, over and over again. It is difficult not to condemn.’
Yes, it is difficult not to condemn, for our conditioning is based on denial, justification, comparison and resignation. This is our background, the conditioning with which we approach every problem. This very conditioning breeds the problem, the conflict. You have tried to rationalise away the smoking, have you not? When you say it is stupid, you have thought it all out and come to the conclusion that it is stupid. And yet rationalisation has not made you give it up. We think that we can be free from a problem by knowing its cause; but the knowing is merely information, a verbal conclusion. This knowledge obviously prevents the understanding of the problem. Knowing the cause of a problem and understanding the problem are two entirely different things.
‘But how else can one approach a problem?’
That is what we are going to find out. When we discover what the false approach is, we shall be aware of the only approach. The understanding of the false is the discovery of the true. To see the false as the false is arduous. We look at the false through comparison, through the measure of thought; and can the false be seen as the false through any thought process? Is not thought itself conditioned and so false?
‘But how can we know the false as the false without the thought process?’
This is our whole trouble, is it not? When we use thought to solve a problem, surely we are using an instrument which is not at all adequate; for thought itself is a product of the past, of experience. Experience is always in the past. To see the false as the false, thought must be aware of itself as a dead process. Thought can never be free, and there must be freedom to discover, freedom from thought.
‘I don’t quite see what you mean.’
One of your problems is smoking. You have approached it with condemnation, or you have tried to rationalise it away. This approach is false. How do you discover that it is false? Surely, not through thought, but by being passively watchful of how you approach the problem. Passive watchfulness does not demand thought; on the contrary, if thought is functioning there can be no passivity. Thought functions only to condemn or justify, to compare or accept; if there is a passive watchfulness of this process, then it is perceived as what it is.
‘Yes, I see that; but how does this apply to my smoking?’
Let us experiment together to find out if one can approach the problem of smoking without condemnation, comparison, and so on. Can we look at the problem afresh, without the past overshadowing it? It is extremely difficult to look at it without any reaction, is it not? We seem unable to be aware of it passively, there is always some kind of response from the past. It is interesting to see how incapable we are of observing the problem as though it were new. We carry along with us all our past efforts, conclusions, intentions; we cannot look at the problem except through these curtains.
No problem is ever old, but we approach it with the old formulations, which prevent our understanding it. Be passively watchful of these responses. Just be passively aware of them, see that they cannot solve the problem. The problem is real, it is an actuality, but the approach is utterly inadequate. The inadequate response to ‘what is’ breeds conflict; and conflict is the problem. If there is an understanding of this whole process, then you will find that you will act adequately with regard to smoking.