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QN 1: What is connection between thoughts and habits?

QN 2: We (as a lay practitioner) are aware of our few habits like smoking but not all.

Example: Morning tea habit (feeling to have tea). Similarly checking mobile time to time, watching TV, doing prayers and other religious habits.

I was not aware of these habits from many years but now I'm aware of it.

Main QN: Why is our mind always making new habits and gets trapped in habits?

Note: To clarify this question as it has been edited, you can check the original question asked by the user.

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OP: QN 1: What is connection between thoughts and habits?

The answer for this is given in MN 19:

“Bhikkhus, whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of renunciation, he has abandoned the thought of sensual desire to cultivate the thought of renunciation, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of renunciation. If he frequently thinks and ponders upon thoughts of non-ill will…upon thoughts of non-cruelty, he has abandoned the thought of cruelty to cultivate the thought of non-cruelty, and then his mind inclines to thoughts of non-cruelty.

The inclination of one's mind translates to habits in thoughts and actions.

OP: Main QN: Why is our mind always making new habits and gets trapped in habits?

This is because we have the underlying tendencies or obsessions (anusaya) as found in AN 7.11 (or from here):

"Monks, there are these seven obsessions. Which seven?

"(1) The obsession of sensual passion (or sensual desire).
"(2) The obsession of resistance (repulsion).
"(3) The obsession of views.
"(4) The obsession of uncertainty (doubt).
"(5) The obsession of conceit.
"(6) The obsession of passion for becoming.
"(7) The obsession of ignorance.

"These are the seven obsessions."

Forming habits of sensual enjoyment e.g. sex , coffee, desserts etc. is due to the obsession of sensual passion.

Forming habits of self-improvement e.g. reading, fitness etc. is due to the obsession of passion for becoming.

According to this answer, the underlying tendencies or obsessions (anusaya) are a type of defilement (kilesa) or mental impurity that is caused by ignorance (avijja) in dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda).

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I think i get what you mean based on the comments.

Thinking can only be about these six;

  1. what has been seen
  2. what has been heard
  3. what has been smelled
  4. what has been tasted
  5. what has been felt
  6. what has been thought about or imagined

Thinking arranges a map of sorts, map is like the general understanding

In reference to this one could say that mind lives in [it's] habits in as far as thinking is directed referencing the map that is made by thinking as it is thus directed. When mind is directed in reference to the map, it becomes a path travelled and it might produce the expected result, if a path is frequently travelled it becomes well explored by intellect and well known.

Intention and attention are also based on that same map of an interpretation of phenomena. Therefore what is seen, heard, smelled, tasted, sensed, imagined & thought about; comes into play by directing according to the map and having come into being is in turn thought about and evaluated, laying foundation future reference.

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A habit is basically rebirth. Looking for rebirth, we find SN12.23:

I say that suffering has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Rebirth.’

I say that rebirth has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Continued existence.’

I say that continued existence has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Grasping.’

I say that grasping has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Craving.’

I say that craving has a vital condition. And what is it? You should say: ‘Feeling.’ … You should say: ‘Contact.’ … You should say: ‘The six sense fields.’ … You should say: ‘Name and form.’ … You should say: ‘Consciousness.’ … You should say: ‘Choices.’ … I say that choices have a vital condition, they don’t lack a vital condition. And what is the vital condition for choices? You should say: ‘Ignorance.’

Notice the phrase "six sense fields." This includes the five senses as well as thought. Therefore Dependent Origination describes the connection between thought and habit.

The cure is the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Even though we may understand that clinging to our delights causes us suffering, to actually get rid of habitual suffering does require practicing the Path, relinquishing identity view. And identity view is just the craving in habits (MN44):

“Ma’am, they speak of this thing called ‘the origin of identity’. What is the origin of identity that the Buddha spoke of?”

“It’s the craving that leads to future rebirth, mixed up with relishing and greed, taking pleasure in various different realms. That is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving to continue existence, and craving to end existence. The Buddha said that this is the origin of identity.”

To end suffering, one replaces unskillful habits (e.g., smoking) with skillful habits (e.g., observing precepts).

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The mind is not you but it can be trained. It has been trained to repeatedly form unwholesome/unskillful states. Train it in mindfulness, a wholesome state, by getting familiar with what greed, aversion and getting lost in thought are like. Then the mind trained in skillful states will pull itself out of old and into new habbits on its own. Try not to force out of habbits because that is defilement. Instead, learn correct mindfulness in daily life.

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The mind creates habits because it is the mind's nature to structure and organize the world around it. The mind wants to be assured of its desires, and that notion of 'assurance' implies that the mind wants the world to be orderly, systematic, and predictable: one can be assured of something that has those qualities. And what is a habit except a set of behaviors that are orderly, systematic, and predictable?

The problem with habits is that habits which are badly formed become tanhā (cravings). We want the world to be orderly, systematic, and predictable in some way that conflicts with the natural (karmic) order of the world; we try to impose our discordant habits on the world, and that creates dukkha (misery) in us and others. So part of the dharma amounts to replacing bad habits with good: i.e., with habits that are not in discord with the natural (karmic) order, and do not de-evolve into tanhā.

  • One might make a restrained habit of morning tea, not a habit of gluttonous meals, because the former is less likely to fall into carving
  • One might make the conscious habit of setting aside one's cell phone for defined periods, not fall into the fretful habit of constantly checking for messages
  • One might make a calm habit of renunciation, rather than give way to the constant urge to satisfy desires

Simple habits make life easier and better; they allow us to satisfy the basic necessities of life with a minimum of fuss and bother. Conscious habits keep us from tanhā; that allows us to change our habits as needed when they fall out of sync with the natural order. What we should avoid is those unconscious, discordant habits that lock us in opposition to the world.

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