“He [the transcendentally situated person] accepts things that are favorable for his duty in Krishna consciousness, otherwise he has no necessity of anything material, either a stone or gold. He takes everyone as his dear friend who helps him in his execution of Krishna consciousness, and he does not hate his so-called enemy.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 14.22-25 Purport)
Question: How do I avoid envy? I know I shouldn’t be jealous, but sometimes I can’t help it. If I hear that my friend just got married, I immediately think of how they have beaten me to the punch, how they have succeeded in life while I have failed. The same goes for someone landing a good job or doing well in school. I know I shouldn’t think this way, but how can I avoid it?
Envy comes from lust. To lust after something means to want desperately to exploit it for personal enjoyment. If anyone or anything gets in the way, it becomes an enemy. If someone is enjoying the cherished object before me, it means that I am not happy. I don’t like that they have gotten something that I wanted so bad. If someone has a larger quantity of the same desired object, then I also feel envious. Only the transcendentally situated person can truly get passed envy, and along the way they turn the situation completely around: they view everyone as a friend.
Lust is due to ignorance. When I think that my body identifies me fully, I consider specific enjoyments to be worth pursuing. There is the obvious ignorance here in terms of identity, but there is also forgetfulness to consider. The alcoholic is the classic example in this case. They previously lusted after their beverage of choice. They know what the results to that lust were. They have empirical evidence to analyze. And despite knowing and experiencing the negative consequences that came previously, they once again lust after the same thing.
If I am not my body, then who am I? The ego, one of the three subtle elements of the body, can mean “I am.” In the false ego, the “I am” refers to the body. This temporary covering that came to us at the time of birth and has since constantly changed gets mistaken for the sole basis for identity. In the real ego the “I am” shifts towards Brahman, or spirit. The Vedic aphorism aham brahmasmi reveals the real identity of the individual. “I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the non-differentiated spiritual energy known as Brahman.”
The transcendentally situated person understands this theoretically and they also have practical knowledge of it. They can answer the question of “who am I” on a quiz, and they also act with knowledge throughout their daily affairs. One of the symptoms of that realization is the lack of envy. And why does envy go away? Does the transcendentally situated person just give up? Are they like the quarterback scrambling away from defenders in the pocket who simply decides to lay down and take the sack? Do they throw their hands up and decide that no enjoyment is necessary in this world since it brings the green-eyed monster known as envy?
In fact, the transcendentally situated person views everyone as a friend. How does this work exactly? To know Brahman is one thing, but to know how Brahman should act is another. The living entity is a spirit soul, and spirit is meant to serve the supreme soul. This solves all problems. Even if somehow you’ve avoided envy all your life and managed to prosper materially, you still need something to do in the end. Once everything is settled, you’re left with sitting in a room and having nothing to do, wondering if there is anything more to life.
Service to the Supreme Brahman is that “more.” In the constitutional state, that service takes place in a mood of love. So the transcendentally situated person finds ways to increase their service no matter with whom they interact. If they encounter an enemy, who is against the devotional path, they consider that to be a great blessing. “Ah, see how this person has chastised me. It means that my ego was getting too inflated. It means that the Lord is testing my tolerance, wanting to see how sincere I am on this path.”
Another basis for viewing the antagonist person as a friend is instruction.
“Just see how much they are teaching me. They are reminding me that the life devoid of devotional service is not worth living, that it doesn’t bring any happiness. If they were truly at peace, they wouldn’t have a problem with me chanting the holy names of the Lord: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I wasn’t bothering them. I know that the majority of the population is averse to devotional service, as they are stuck in the well of envy borne of ignorance. I have no hatred for them, and yet so many of them try to stop me. This is a great reminder that the path I am on is the right one. This person is thus a dear friend of mine.”
The ideal example in this regard is Nityananda Prabhu. One time two drunkards attacked him for no reason. He could have retaliated, but instead Nityananda showed supreme compassion on them. And actually the thugs ended up reforming and becoming great friends to so many future generations of man. Their example showed that the mercy of the all-merciful Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is meant for all living entities, that the path of bhakti-yoga is not restricted to anyone.
When in transcendentally situated state,
All viewed as friends, no one to hate.
No more by hatred to be attacked,
Since of envy there is a lack.
Even antagonist shining the light,
Revealing that bhakti the path right.
Like Nityananda Prabhu by Chaitanya sent,
Showing that bhakti life for all is meant.