“The Supreme Lord said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.1)
idaṁ tu te guhyatamaṁ
yaj jñātvā mokṣyase ‘śubhāt
Friend-One: Can I admit something to you?
Friend-Two: Sure. But you don’t want me to tell anyone else?
F1: That’s a given.
F2: Okay, I won’t.
F1: I mean it. This is just between you and me.
F2: Who am I going to tell? I barely talk to anyone.
F1: Right, that’s what you always say. And then later on I come to know that everyone around me heard about my embarrassing incident.
F2: So what happened this time? Your car run out of gas again?
F1: [laughing] No. It’s more of something I felt. Namely, jealousy.
F2: You’re jealous of me? I think we’ve both always known that.
F1: Yeah, you wish. No, this is something I’ve been thinking about. I realized that I am always jealous to some degree, even when I have no reason to be. Take the example of a family visit the other day.
F1: We went to our cousin’s house. He and his wife just had their first baby.
F2: Oh, that’s good news. Boy or girl?
F1: Boy. Cute little guy too. I held him for a while and he smiled. Hardly cried. Anyway, after being there for a few hours, I began to get jealous of all the attention he got.
F2: That’s natural for siblings. But for adults? Not so much. You wanted to be the glory hog?
F1: I know! I felt bad afterwards. But in doing an honest assessment, I realized that there’s always some jealousy in me. If I hear that someone has bought a new home or a new car, I immediately think about my own situation. If my home is smaller, I start making excuses. “Well, I don’t need a big place to live in.” Or I’ll say, “Well, think of the headache they’re going to have in maintaining that car. I’m proud that my car is old. This way I don’t get any attention.”
F2: So you want to know if you’re a horrible person for feeling jealous? For starters, as long as you’re not acting off of it, I think you’re okay.
F1: What do you mean by acting off of it?
F2: Are you sabotaging the other cars? Are you suddenly working harder so that you’ll be able to buy a bigger house?
F1: Oh, I see what you’re saying. No. I still feel bad, though. I should know better. From studying the spiritual science presented in the Bhagavad-gita, I should know that material things aren’t that important. But I can’t help it, really.
F2: See, you’re focused on completely getting rid of envy, when that is really not necessary.
F1: No? Doesn’t Krishna say at one point that Arjuna is not envious of Him and that is why he’s receiving the king of education?
F2: He does.
F1: And since envy is rooted in ignorance, isn’t it something I should strive to remove?
F2: I’m not telling you to be jealous of everyone and everything. What I’m saying is that you can purify things like envy by shifting the focus. If your jealousy is in a particular area, it can actually help you.
F1: How so?
F2: Why not be jealous of the people who are immersed in bhakti-yoga? They always get to chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They are essentially with God all the time, who is all-attractive. If anyone should be envied, it’s them.
F1: I see what you’re saying. But shouldn’t I appreciate their service? Isn’t that how devotees are supposed to act?
F2: Well, exactly. The envy comes from the appreciation. You see how much they please Krishna and you wish you could do the same. You see? The envy motivates you to be more like them.
F1: So that I’ll act in ways where I am more conscious of God? That’s interesting.
F2: If you’re comparing objects of value, nothing is worth more than the association of the Supreme Lord. Every person has it within their heart, but they don’t know it. That’s what it means to be in ignorance. Real knowledge is awareness of Krishna’s universal presence. It is knowing that He is an individual like you and me, only much greater.
F1: I’m assuming the same rule applies, about sabotaging?
F2: [laughing] Yes. You don’t want to be like Hiranyakashipu. He tried to interfere with his son’s service to the point that Krishna Himself appeared on the scene to give protection. That example is illustrative of the point to take away here. The envy in that case was towards God, not really Prahlada. So that’s really what we’re trying to avoid. We’re riddled with faults, so it’s difficult to be completely pure in deeds, let alone thoughts. We’re also constantly filled with desires. If we can purify those desires, then the jealousy gets purified as well.
When success of others to see,
A little jealous inside to be.
Not completely rid, change instead,
Towards work of devotees be led.
Envy that with Krishna always living,
And pure devotion to Him giving.
From that example to make pure,
To get Lord’s association for sure.