Question: Parents wish that their children give up addictions. Many wives also desire that their husbands give up addictions. There are also people who want to give up addictions but cannot do so. They surrender to their weakness for addictions. So Swamishri, what thought should one employ to give up addictions and not get defeated by one's mind?
Swamishri: Our scriptures say, 'Man eva manushyãnãm kãranam bandhmokshayoho.' It is the mind that creates trouble. The mind gets all types of thoughts like whether it should do it or not. There is a voice within which says no to stealing, wrong actions, destroying another's things or killing someone. This thought from within comes to a robber, criminal or any person. The voice that restrains us is the voice of God, the voice of atma. But, still, a person engages himself in addictions.
When someone gives up addictions, he is redeemed and becomes free. If he gets addicted then he becomes shackled. The main reason for this is the mind. So one must conquer one's mind. And it is God who gives us strength to conquer the mind. Shriji Maharaj has prescribed nine forms of devotion to God as a means to conquer and make the mind strong. Once, a man had tamed a ghost. It would do whatever it was told to do. When he ordered it to accomplish some work in Amdavad, Mumbai or abroad, it would do it. This went on for one month, two months and then for four months. Then the question arose as to what more work to show. So the ghost sat before his master and said, "Give me work or else I will trouble you." The master replied, "There is no more work." So the ghost started troubling him. He would not allow his master to eat, sit and converse. The latter got fed up and thought as to what he should do. He went to a holy sadhu who had arrived in the village. The sadhu told him to plant a 50-hand high bamboo pole in his compound. "Whenever you have work tell it to do the work, and when there's nothing else to do then tell him to climb up and down the pole. In this way the ghost will never remain free and thus he will not trouble you." The person was relieved. Likewise, Shriji Maharaj tells us that the mind is conquered through the nine forms of devotion to God. Otherwise, when the mind becomes idle it engages in bad thoughts and wrong ways. And when people become idle they cause trouble and talk about anything in the world. When a person doesn't understand anything, he still indulges in talks about Delhi and abroad. He idly thinks, "This person is like this. I want to straighten him up. I am going to trouble him. Today I want to damage his home." But if he has work then he will work from morning and return in the evening, have his dinner and go to sleep. Then in the morning he will wake up and get back to work again. He is thus left with no time to think otherwise. The reason why people get addicted is idleness.
Addictions cause harm in the family, society and country. Though there is a ban on alcohol (in Gujarat), the police find drugs, etc. Everybody knows the harmful effects of addictions, but still people smoke, drink and take drugs. Consequently, one suffers from disease, gets admitted to hospital and spends money. Then, because one cannot work one fails to earn money. So, this gives rise to more problems. Despite seeing this and knowing the consequences people cannot give up addictions. Addictions cause physical, monetary, mental and spiritual problems. But, still, a person thinks of addictions because of his affinity for it and idleness. Today, we find gutkhas (chewing tobacco). There is a barrage of advertisements on them. Doctors say that tobacco is harmful, but still people smoke and become miserable.
The ghost of addiction must be exorcised through such thoughts. By going to a sadhu, God or a virtuous person one gets good thoughts. But when an addict goes to another addict what inspiration does he get! He will say, "Come and drink along with me." Bad company influences and leads one astray. It makes one into an addict and destroys one's life. So, one who has addictions must realise and resolve that it is undoubtedly harmful. Addictions are harmful to the young and old alike. We know that poison is poison, likewise, believe addictions to be poison. Despite us not having seen or touched poison, by merely knowing of it, would we have it even if we were offered Rs. 5,000! Obviously not. Simply because we know the true nature of poison. We also know about the killing instincts of snakes, scorpions, lions and leopards. There are certain poisons that kill after taking them, some are deadly by merely seeing them and touching them. One should contemplate in this manner and develop mental confidence and strength. And this is developed by doing satsang, listening to God's discourses, offering worship and singing His glory.
Just now, a tribal devotee described how all the addicts in his village were rowdy and troublemakers. But through satsang they were transformed and are now happy. They are happy because they have saved money, improved their health and started laboring or working harder. When one attains values through the power of satsang then one will be able to give up addictions. Our sadhus tour from Silvassa to Khedbrahma and whoever comes into their contact are freed from liquor, tobacco, bidi and meat-eating. There is no question of being unable to give it up. It is due to a person's weakness for a little bidi that he says, "Maharaj, do not talk about giving it up! I cannot give it up." He will give up his whole family and society but not his bidi - this is the extent of human weakness. The reason for this is that he does not have spiritual strength and the spiritual association of sadhus.
Once, we were travelling in USA in the car of a person who was a native of Surat. We started discoursing to him. On learning that he smoked we told him to give it up. We explained that since he was doing a service by taking us in his car he should give it up. He replied, "Maharaj! Whatever you say is fine, but I can't give up cigarettes."
"But for what reason can't you give it up? What is the cause of your affinity that you can't give it up?"
"Swami, if you say so I'll give up my wife, but I can't give up cigarettes!"
"I started smoking first, since a young age, and my wife came afterwards, so I can give her up!"
This was the extent of ignorance! Because of such grossness addicts fight with each other, create conflicts in the family, with their wife and father. Today, there is so much conflict in families because of liquor. Man knows all this, but he cannot give it up and thus goes through a lot of hassle in life. If he comes into contact with satsang and becomes inclined towards it, then he is saved and gets spiritual strength.
Bhagwan Shriji Maharaj descended on earth and preached morality, 'Dharmo gneyah sadãchãraha,' and the first step of morality is non-addiction. When one becomes addiction-free then one will not have to go to the government or to society and ask for money. He will be able to support himself and help others. There is so much benefit in giving up addictions.
In Surat, one finds people of the Gola community. They decided to build a water tank. So they told us, "Swami! Give us Rs. 200,000 to build a water tank." Then we told them, "Whatever you say is true, and your need is also genuine. But if you do what we say then you will be able to build not one but two water tanks. Give up your habit of drinking alcohol." In their community, the young and old both drink alcohol. The entire family drinks together. "Give it up for one year. How much do you drink per day?" They said, "One rupee per person." "You will save 1 rupee per day, 30 every month and 365 per year. Tell me how many of you drink?" They replied, "100,000 people."
"If you all give it up, how much will you save? You will be able to build a water tank, school, college and homes. And your children, who are running around naked, will also become happier."
"Swami, say something other than this."
Now what else can we talk to such people? They had decided to live their life in that manner. When a person realises that this is wrong, he gives it up. When one knows that this is poison, one refrains from touching it. Likewise, when one realises the true effects of addiction, one will give it up. Bhagwan Swaminarayan prescribes for everyone to be moral and addiction-free. Only then will society become happier. The sadhus of Maharaj had inspired people to become addiction-free. Shastriji Maharaj and Yogiji Maharaj had also done the same. And today, the same work is being done by the sadhus. So the means to drive away any addictions from society is through right knowledge, satsang and giving up bad company.
Swamishri has inspired satsang in tribal people, who were formally steeped in drinking and meat-eating. They were inspired to follow the moral code of conduct. That is why today, they are staunch devotees, and their pure lives put the higher class to shame. They inspire others to give up addictions.
A video was shown about the addiction-free village of Nava Samera, where, through the blessings of Swamishri and efforts of sadhus and volunteers, all the tribals have given up addictions. The two main volunteers of this village, Parbatsinh and Fuljibhai, came on stage to receive Swamishri's blessings. Many more tribal satsangis of this district were present in the birthday celebration assembly. Then a colorful and traditional tribal dance was presented by kishores.