Quitting Smoking While Reciting

An editor recounts her recent experiences with the Sanghāta

I was urgently asked to edit a translation of the Sanghāta Sūtra for publication, because Lama Zopa Rinpoche was advising our center to start reciting it immediately, 150 times. I spent 27 hours working on this, maybe more, eating just one sandwich and sleeping three hours.

I was working on the second half of the text, and had not had a chance to even look at the first half, when the director had to begin printing it to start the recitation. I was now seeing the first half of the text for the first time.

I went to my house, to my room, and on my meditation cushion, I started to recite with interest, and with some hope to benefit the center.

It was summer—July—and I wore no shirt, but only a cotton undervest.

When I recited the part where the Blessed One says:  ‘Sarvashūra, there is a dharma-paryāya named Sanghāta that is active on this planet’ … I was immediately moved and started crying. I continued to recite the sutra with strong energy, and from time to time, tears started to flow again….

And…in the middle of the recitation, an incredible smell of cigarette smoke started to rise up from my under-vest. This small was so strong and disgusting that I had never smelled anything like it before.

In my home I had smoked cigarettes, wearing this under-vest, and so of course, I had smelled the usual bad smell of burnt tobacco, and tasted the stupid bad taste of cigarettes, but never had I smelled such a strong, disgusting smell before. After a while, I finally chose to stop the recitation for a moment, to liberate my body from those disgusting clothes. Then I continued, uninterrupted, to the end.

At the end, I rested for a while in the silence, and in that silence I felt my energy, the energy of the end of recitation, like a sphere, an illuminating silence radiating from me at the center, and radiating around my body. I don’t know how to explain it: I was like a sphere of silent energy. It was as if I were in a strong, illuminating sphere of power. A strange experience. Then a thought arose: “I will never smoke again.”

The thought arose by itself. The desire to stop smoking was not in my conscious mind, but maybe in my unconscious… I don’t know. But the thought arose, and it was an easy thought. I was not surprised. And I stopped. I stopped smoking completely from that moment!

And after the Sanghāta Sūtra recitation, nobody offered me a cigarette again. Magic.

After that recitation when my mind had made the determination not to smoke, it was easy to stop. My mind was so clear and calm that in the days after the recitation, during the day, I could observe all the moments when the idea of smoking arose. It was amazing! My soul, (my psyche, my new identity, or my heart-mind) was so clear that I smiled, observing the moments when the ‘film’ of smoking cigarettes appeared to it! When I worked too much, was too concentrated on the computer, sometimes the act of smoking would appear to my mind. But it was not a desire. It was a ridiculous mental image, a mental photo arising from my past. This image arose, but I felt no desire. I just observed the images appearing and disappearing.

Later when he heard of this, Lama Zopa Rinpoche said that I had a clear experience of how much the samsāra involved in this action is disgusting and meaningless. If we could really understand the meaninglessness of all these aspects of samsara are, it would be easy to abandon every destructive action, he said.

For tips on how to make your own recitation most powerful, click here.