Answer: Actually it isn’t hard. Take smoking, for example. If every time I took a cigarette to my mouth I were to get an electric shock, a few attempts would be enough for me to quit smoking and I would never start smoking again even if I knew that the “punishment” was cancelled. It is because now I don’t identify cigarettes with pleasure, but with an electric shock. This association is already “recorded” in the desire, and so from now on cigarettes don’t exist for me, I am afraid of them.
Question: But what should you do if rather than quitting an old one, you have to start a new habit, for example, starting the habit of getting up for the morning lesson?
Answer: Simple, you have a business, so imagine that each time that you don’t get up for the morning lesson, an income tax inspector comes to visit you. If you get up on time, a stream of endless customers visit you and all your business dealings are successful. This way, whether you want to or not, you associate the success of the business with a certain action, with waking up for the lesson. Then you cannot stop yourself from getting up anymore. This is how a habit becomes a second nature.
We can see it clearly in religious customs to which a person becomes accustomed as a child. He is used to singing certain parts of the prayer. If you suggest that he should just read them, he won’t be able to. He will only get confused, not knowing what he says.
All our life is made up of habits. The desire is just “raw material,” like a computer without software, the “metal” that needs to be filled with data, with software. This is what education is about; it uses the force of a habit.
When I work internally, I also have to “record” in the desire actions that are not natural for it. It takes much energy and I do it reluctantly, and here too there is the game of reward and punishment.
Question: How can it be done?
Answer: Ask your friends to help you. You cannot do it alone. You cannot manage without the environment.
Suppose you decide to lose weight. You go to a place where everyone tells each other how terrible it is to be fat and how healthy it is to be slim. You listen to them over and over again, until you internalize the message. If you managed to put an internal check mark next to it, you are protected from gaining weight again as long as you are not “tempted” by some new pleasure that is on a higher standard than the one you achieved.
The desire is a “piece of metal,” an empty disc. It will play whatever you upload on it. So throughout life you can make yourself get used to what you think is important.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/20/11, “The Study of the Ten Sefirot”