QA173 QUESTION: I just came face to face with the issue of envy. I’m able to recognize people I envy, either professionally or creatively, and I think this stands in my way of succeeding.
ANSWER: Yes. I would suggest that you contemplate the whole aspect of envy. What does it mean? Break it down into its essentials. Envy really means, “I should have exactly the same thing you have. I want to take it away from you. You shouldn’t have it, and I should have it.” It is not saying, “I want to have something similar, and I’m glad that you have it, but I can also have it and work my way toward it.”
It means, “The very thing you have, you should not have – and I want to take it from you.” Nothing could be a greater misconception. The thinking through of this and understanding of this misconception must cure you from the envy. Because, you see, you can never have what the other person has any more than the other person can have what you have.
Furthermore, it is a misconception that what the other has you would even want if you would have it. Because what the other has is integrally his – it’s the expression of his life, and each is a unique life unto its own. Only what you produce, what you express, what you unfold could be of value to you.
If you want to have success, then you can be fruitful and pleasurable only if you work toward it, not if you take it from someone else who has worked toward it. If you work toward it – not for the sake of proving something and making yourself bigger in the eyes of the world – because that is what you enjoy, how to express yourself for its own best sake or just for the sake of perhaps living in as best a way as possible, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it has to be your life expression, and that is the only way it can be meaningful to you.
Once you truly think this through, envy will become absolute folly. Let us even go a step further. Let us say you are envious of another man because of a specific woman and whom this woman loves. That too is folly, because if you love a woman who does not love you, it is an erroneous feeling.
The feeling in itself may be beautiful, but it is given to an illusory person, possibly because you are afraid of it; you do not wish the responsibility; you do not wish to expose yourself; you do not wish to risk yourself – whatever the reasons may be – just as you may not wish to risk yourself in working toward a success in a career.
Therefore, hankering for something that does not respond to you is totally illusory, because it could not give you happiness. If you are truly ready, you will direct your attention toward goals, be it in respect to a person or in respect to a pursuit, where life will be responsive to you.
Therefore, envy is in itself a misconception. Once you truly think about it and understand it and reach for this understanding, you will no longer have to be burdened with this very burdensome trait. It makes you feel guilty and ashamed, and that is completely a waste of energy.