How to be Mindful of Envy


What is envy really about? I believe if we apply envy to the kleshas or root causes of suffering, we will see that envy is about ignorance.

“Envy, the passionate longing for something that someone else possesses—an attribute, a quality, or even a thing—is rooted in a sense of inferiority. The Canadian philosopher Jean Vanier concluded that envy comes from people’s ignorance, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.” --Elaine Smookler, “The Upside of Envy”

When I read that quote, I was reminded of the yogic concept of avidya, or spiritual ignorance. It tends to creep on me when I began to panic about the future... but it ceases when I remember that I simply don't know what will be.

Lately, avidya has been showing up as envy. I see people with things I don't have, that I really really want.

I experience intense emotions of resentment and hurt. I began to feel as if I am a complete loser. I spiral into self-loathing thoughts "Maybe I should just give up on my dreams. I will never have _____."

When it's really bad, I began to feel glee when the person I envy have problems. Although I've never explicitly wished ill upon somebody, I do find myself hoping their lives aren't actually as good as it seems.

It's yucky stuff.

If you're not completely turned off by me yet, I do have something useful to say.

Envy is a state of being ignorant about your own potential.

Thinking about it from this perspective helps me detach from the harmful effects of envy, while also owning up to the fact I do experience it.

When I am envious, I am not a bad person.

I'm a human being.

I'm suffering from my own ignorance.

I'm forgetting my own potential, I'm forgetting the fact that YES, I can have the things that she has. And ultimately, I can make the decision to keep pursuing my desires. I mean, if someone else can have nice things... Why not me?

Envy and Avidya

What is envy really about? I believe if we apply envy to the kleshas or root causes of suffering, we will see that envy is about ignorance.

“Envy, the passionate longing for something that someone else possesses—an attribute, a quality, or even a thing—is rooted in a sense of inferiority. The Canadian philosopher Jean Vanier concluded that envy comes from people’s ignorance, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.” --Elaine Smookler, “The Upside of Envy”

When I read that quote, I was reminded of the yogic concept of avidya, or spiritual ignorance. It tends to creep on me when I began to panic about the future... but it ceases when I remember that I simply don't know what will be.

Lately, avidya has been showing up as envy. I see people with things I don't have, that I really really want.

I experience intense emotions of resentment and hurt. I began to feel as if I am a complete loser. I spiral into self-loathing thoughts "Maybe I should just give up on my dreams. I will never have _____."

When it's really bad, I began to feel glee when the person I envy have problems. Although I've never explicitly wished ill upon somebody, I do find myself hoping their lives aren't actually as good as it seems.

It's yucky stuff.

If you're not completely turned off by me yet, I do have something useful to say.

Envy is a state of being ignorant about your own potential.

Thinking about it from this perspective helps me detach from the harmful effects of envy, while also owning up to the fact I do experience it.

When I am envious, I am not a bad person.

I'm a human being.

I'm suffering from my own ignorance.

I'm forgetting my own potential, I'm forgetting the fact that YES, I can have the things that she has. And ultimately, I can make the decision to keep pursuing my desires. I mean, if someone else can have nice things... Why not me?

Bid adieu to envy with sympathetic joy

How to Be Mindful of Envy (It’s quite similar to being mindful of anything else)

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Hien Hong