It is never easy to break a bad habit. Here is a story from the life of the younger brother of Yogananda, Sananda Lal Gosh, that throws some light on this subject. It is from the time when they were both in their teens. Sananda refers to his older brother affectionately as “Mejda” or “middle brother”. Though still young, Yogananda already was aready a spiritual stalwart and was held in high esteem by his younger brother. Here is his account:
While I was a student in Sermapore College, I succumbed to the influence of some of my friends and developed a strong liking for cigarettes. In India it is considered a discourtesy to some in the presence of one’s elders or superiors, so our relatives did not know that I had acquired this noisome habit. I soon realized that I was a slave to smoking, so I tried several times to quit. But the habit had such a pernicious hold; I could not give it up.
I am sure Mejda knew of my inner struggle. One day while we were together and waiting for somebody, Mejda suddenly said, “You should realize that anyone who accomplishes something great in his life does so only through the power of his will. The potential strength of the mind is unlimited; it can do anything. Those who are addicted to harmful habits such as smoking, chewing betel leaf with tobacco, taking snuff, or drinking alcohol, do not use sufficient will power to stop. If one’s mental strength is exercised to control little habits, he will have increased power to do greater things.”
His words struck a deep chord in my mind. I realized he was trying to help me break my hidden habit of smoking. “If I can’t even control the desire to smoke,” I thought, “how will I accomplish anything worthwhile in my life?” That day promised myself I would never smoke again, even if it killed me. It was difficult; the withdrawal symptoms were painful. For several days I experienced digestive problems. A little soda water and some digestive medicine helped. And after some days I knew the habit had been broken. When I next saw Mejda, I bowed at his feet. He just smiled, and said nothing. We understood each other.
The key takeaway from this story is that Yogananda helped his younger brother by encouraging him, while at the same time he was not judgmental. This applies for us too. Once we find ourselves in the grip of a bad habit, it does not help if we are judgmental on ourselves. It does us no good to beat ourselves up. Rather focus your energy at the task at hand and use your will power to overcome your habit.
Credit: This account is provided in the book Mejda written by Sananda Lal Ghosh.
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