habit formation

Can anyone provide the textual source for the following quote that was attributed to the Buddha: *“Imagine a chariot driver heading across a dusty plane. On the first trip, the chariot creates grooves in the dirt. … And then becomes even more likely that the chariot will follow the same course on subsequent trips.”

Thank you!


No but I can provide the Theravada view on eradication of habits. It is based firstly on the third foundation of mindfulness, awareness of mind states (Majjhima Nikaya 10, Digha Nikaya 22). There is a difference between single thoughts and repeatedly arising ones, which constitute a state of mind. The latter and the attitude to remove them are described in Anguttara Nikaya 10.51.

Buddhist psychology is that perceptions and mind states arise from views. Changing views changes perceptions (Anguttara Nikaya 4.49).

Right view arises from studying dhamma and subsequent appropriate attention (Anguttara Nikaya 2, 125-6).

The subjects of appropriate attention are described in Majjhima Nikaya 2.

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I think MN 19 might be what you have in mind. Here’s an excerpt:

Whatever a mendicant frequently thinks about and considers becomes their heart’s inclination. If they often think about and consider sensual thoughts, they’ve given up the thought of renunciation to cultivate sensual thought. Their mind inclines to sensual thoughts. If they often think about and consider malicious thoughts … their mind inclines to malicious thoughts. If they often think about and consider cruel thoughts … their mind inclines to cruel thoughts.”


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