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An ode to envy highlights some interesting perspective of jealousy. In a Buddhist perspective how can jealousy be viewed and analysed? What is the root cause and do we indulge in jealousy?

More particularly:

  • Why do we enjoy stories and movies inspired by jealousy?
  • How can we be motivated by jealousy? Is it by creating an imaginary outcome and indulging in the sensationalising of this story.
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The Dhammapada says,

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.

If or because that's so, I'm not sure that you can even want to view or analyse jealousy.

The "opposite" of jealousy is Mudita.

Perhaps the four immeasurables should be studied, not jealousy?

I admit that I experience some anger occasionally, and then I have to view/analyse that.

From what I remember of jealous-feeling in the past, I don't see how you could take pleasure in it. I think it's a form of (i.e. it arises from) craving, i.e. a craving to gain what you don't have, and/or a craving to hold on to what you are losing.


I have't watched the "ode to envy" you referenced in the OP. If you want to find something good/complimentary/encouraging to say about envy, if you want to say how it's constructive, perhaps there's an example of that in Bhikkhuni Sutta: The Nun,

"'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk hears, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now.' The thought occurs to him, 'The monk named such-and-such, they say, through the ending of the fermentations, has entered & remains in the fermentation-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known & realized them for himself in the here & now. Then why not me?' Then he eventually abandons conceit, having relied on conceit. 'This body comes into being through conceit. And yet it is by relying on conceit that conceit is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said.

Very young children are said to go through (i.e. become capable of) different developmental stages as they get older, including:

  1. Parallel play
  2. Simple social play
  3. Cooperative play

I suppose that perhaps envy in adults might be like that too, an early (unskillful) stage of development, for example the following progression from less to more developed/skillful:

  • I want their toy!
  • I have my own toy.
  • Everyone has their own toy.
  • We share.
  • +1 for the answer. For people who did not watch the video I added the main take away of the talk. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Dec 7 '14 at 14:41
  • +1. Furthermore, mudita is based on Wisdom because it is realizing we are literally one i.e. another's happiness is our own just as our own happiness is our own. Jealousy is based on ignorance because it still thinks there is a truly separate ego and self. – Ahmed Aug 17 '15 at 5:37

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