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Envy is an explicitly unwholesome mind-state, according to Buddhist doctrine. Unfortunately I am experiencing strong envy lately. Can somebody please provide any and all resources to help understand and eliminate envious feelings?

  • While it is now easier said than done by me, but "eliminating" envious feelings is quite problematic. – Val Jul 15 '18 at 6:33
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The Pali scriptures say the antidote for envy is to practise 'mudita', which is to be happy for the happiness & success of others. The phrase for the practise/recollection of mudita is: "may all beings not be parted from the good fortune they have attained".

  • Do you have any sutta references for "may all beings not be parted from the good fortune they have attained"? – ruben2020 Jul 15 '18 at 9:00
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    This formula “sabbe sattā laddhasukhasampattito mā vigacchantu” occurs in Vinayavinicchaya-ṭikā (3134) and in the Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha (ix.24). – Dhammadhatu Jul 15 '18 at 10:21
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The important step to deal with envy is to be aware or conscious that you are feeling envy and you have achieved that.

Following are the different envy states and dealing with them;

1. Envy about worldly possession/achievement:

We usually feel envy towards somebody we know, someone we have some degree of a bond. So identify, do you feel envy because he/she achieved something that you haven't.

So, instead of focusing what he/she has got and feeling envy, you should focus on what you have been already given to you by life and generate a sense of Gratitude towards life. Gratitude is the opposite of envy when you will have a sense of gratitude for what you already have, your envy for what others have will be automatically dropped. Also, remember someone somewhere is always dying to get into your shoes.

Some words of the Buddha on Gratitude

"These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done." — AN 2.118

2. Envy of a person

In the second kind of envy, you might be straight out jealous of a person, about his/her just being. Maybe he/she is more good-looking than you, more intelligent than you etc.

Here again, you have to turn the focus inwards and stop comparing your self with others. You should develop some positive and realistic self-image. Focus on some creative activity and find a sense of well-being through that.

3. Pure Envy

This is the third kind of envy where you are just envious, no matter what, no matter who. In this case, its a kind of a blessing in disguise that you have become aware and conscious that its there.

Now watch, there is envy, envy, envy. Do not react. Remain aware and mindful. Be watchful. Remain a witness to the energy of feeling of envy. Stay non-judgemental. If you practise this it will go by itself and you will have an added capacity of dealing with feelings.

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this i am trying to help you out by contemplating knowledge gained from netsite puredhamma.net.on buddhism.

envy is nothing but the dejection of what you did not get. Further, if we expect money then we dont envy with bill gates. from this it is observed that for envying somebody that person should be of our or lower than our level . something is wrong in contemplating the other person"s level. leaving aside general talk, buddhism needs to be understand in broader perspective ,particularly from rebirth point of view . there are 31 realms where one cyclicly takes birth till attainment of nibbana . the lower five realms are of human,animal,asuras,preatas and hell. considering human life we can experience the suffering in it howsoever sweet it may be. animal realms itself has its agony. the asura realm is for that being who is full of greed. preta for hate and hell for tremendous suffering. the human posses all i.e greed,hate,anger,envy,sensual desires etc .The births in any of this realms we get is due to our deep rooted cravings or aversions . It is extremely difficult and uncertain that we will get human birth,howsoever we have lived moral and pious life bcs at the time of death which craving or aversion stacked from our previously lived milliuons of lives ,cropp up is totally not in our hands. yes to some extent if we can control our cravings or aversions in this life ,the very habit of craving and aversion is weakened till the time of death and at the time of death this weakened habit will not be able to cropp up any of the cravings or aversions deep rooted since many past lives. the whole morality i.e not to envy,judge is having base of our selfish motto of not getting birth in any of these four lowest but strongly filled with agony and suffering realms. so forget about this span of 80-100 years of this birth. think about the future births.envy cropps out of deep craving for something which we didnot get but other gets it and that too with virtues less than us. so choice is yours. understand the feelings are bound to arise ,thanks to us only bcs we have stacked enough fuel from many past lives. the nature of fuel is to burn and exhaust/extinguish . you have started the car ,the fuel is burning ,let it burn ,dont move the car. after burning of the fuel it will automatically stop. just sit and listen,observe to the firing of engine ,burning of the fuel. the very craving of going somewehere has made you to fill the fuel tank. though this have been accomplished ,still you have the choice to go or not. think envy as the fuel compelling you to take birth in the realm of extreme suffering and agony. this understanding can only stop you from envying. this is the only difference between us and animals .if we would have been able to stop and control any feeling,not to be carried away with it ,then we would have not been humans then we would have been gods. only understanding,thinking,reviewing one can get out of it .there is no other way. God if you might have been believing , then he has given only these weapons to us .

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Since some buddhist anwers were given I will give you now as an adjunct also a western psychological solution:

While it is now easier said than done by me, but "eliminating" envious feelings is quite problematic, because as the Buddha mentioned emotions are compounded and therefore they take time to 'cool of'.

We have to obstacles here:

i) You attitude(s) about the situation/person where you feel envious and

ii) Your attitude(s) about your envious feelings.

From a modern psychological point of view it is largely your rigid and dogmatic shoulds', 'should not', 'must', 'must not which give you problems. If a 'must' does not happen, or a 'must not' happens then there are 3 other derivatives which stem from these musts and those are:

  1. Awfulizing: You rate the situation as more than 100% bad. Nothing could be worse and there is no bigger picture considered.

  2. I can't stand it: You believe that you cannot bear a situation just because it is uncomfortable, yet, while it is uncomfortable you can stand it, you won't disintegrate and now the most important part: Since you have a goal to change your thoughts, emotions and behaviours you have to tell yourself: 'It is hard to bear with this, but I can stand it and it's worth to stand because [...]

  3. Self, Other and World depreciation: A HUGE ONE! You give absolute ratings to yourself, others and/or the world. Whether these ratings are in positive nature or in a negative one is unimportant. Once you rate something as an absolute, for example "He is wise", "They are good/bad" it can be quite problematic, for everything is in a quite complex nature. Human beings are always changing and they do many good, bad and neutral acts. Additionaly, they are also quite fallible. I don't think you can dispute that fact, can you?

Next to fallibility and complexity we have also the characteristic of uniqueness that every person only exists once and has his/her special attributes, preferences, past experiences etc.

The solution? Self Acceptance. You accept yourself, others and the world in their essence. You do not demonize them, but you accept yourself or them, never the act of what you or they did, but the person. 'Forgiving the sinner, not the sins'. With regards to the world you also realise that discrete parts of it are bad, good and even neutral.

Counterparts of shoulds, awfulizing, I can't stand it and self, other, world depreciation:

'Shoulds' which I refer to as rigid are the counterpart of flexible beliefs are usually formulated as: "I would (strongly) prefer if Condition [...] happens/not happens", but I realise that there is no law of the universe that spares me from such condition".

'It is bad that this happened, but it is not the end of the world. There are also alternatives to take into account and I can also learn something from these seemingly bad event' is the counterpart of the 'awfulizing' attitude.

'It is hard to stand this situation but I can stand it, I won't disintegrate and it's worth to stand it because [...]'.

'I/He/She/They/The World am/is not/are not[stupid, rotten, bad...], but a fallible (for humans), unique and complex entity. I/They do many good, bad and neutral acts but I/They are not their acts and to say otherwise is an arrant over-generalization on my part'.

Before, in the midst and after facing the difficult situation you can try remember your self tailored belief and rehearse if internally to get you back in a rational state of mind, but remember that your old beliefs are still somewhat active and old feelings and thoughts will still occur. If they do you can dispute these thoughts with mainly three disputing questions:

1) Empirical: Where is the evidence? Where is it written? Is there a law that states...?

2) Logical: Just because I want [..] to happen/not happen, does it therefore mean that it absolutely must? Just because he/she/they think I am stupid does it mean that I am?

3) Pragmatical: Is it helpful to believe this? What are the short and long term consequences in believing this?

Remember that while you can counteract your old thoughts they won't go away immediately. Just counter them once or twice to get familiar with the process and have an alternative at hand. After the amswering back just accept these feelings and don't engage in them. 'Let them be'.

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