“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“I have heard the theory on the cause of the placement of the living entities. This is from the bhakti-yoga presentation, through Vaishnava acharyas. As there is always a cause to an effect, when we analyze the reason that people take birth, the root problem is envy.
“It starts at the top. Envy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since no one can become God, they have to go someplace else to act out their fantasy. That place is the material world. Something like a dream extended over billions of years, the repeating days and nights are like different lifetimes, which can take place in different species.
“The dream continues for as long as the envy remains. It can take many lifetimes until a person comes to learn the truth. They may hear the presentation but refuse to accept it. Maybe they are unwilling to listen. The envy is still deep within them, so they dismiss the arguments as rooted in sophistry or dogmatic insistence.
“It is from that point that I have doubts. If you expect people to so quickly remove their envy of the person who has the most over which to be envious of, you are crazy. Just take an honest assessment of your own life. If introspection is not your thing, then at least observe how others treat you. I cannot find any place or situation that is free of envy.
“The brother is envious of the sister. The party member of the political leader. The child of the mother. The parents are envious of the children. Don’t get me started with friendship. There really is no such thing. If anything good happens to my friend, I will not be happy. The same applies for my successes in life.
“If there is so much envy at the mortal level, how can you expect someone to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the proper mood? Arjuna was only eligible to hear Bhagavad-gita because of his lack of envy. This was directly confirmed by Shri Krishna.”
इदं तु ते गुह्यतमं
यज् ज्ञात्वा मोक्ष्यसे ऽशुभात्
idaṁ tu te guhyatamaṁ
yaj jñātvā mokṣyase ‘śubhāt
“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.” (Bhagavad-gita, 9.1)
If we examine the faults in the material world, there are too many to discuss in a comprehensive and thorough manner. Vedic teachings give us the four principal categories of defects. We have imperfect senses. We cannot see or hear to the best level.
These imperfections mean that we make mistakes. We are not always right in our conclusions or in our choices. We also tend to cheat. We may not want to admit it, but any sort of advantage goes a long way. We rationalize the decision by taking stock of the faults of others. You see, everyone else cheats, so why not me?
We are also easily illusioned. We get sucked into debates of a trivial nature. We get offended over the slightest mistakes and then never let go of the incident. We work as if we have a permanent establishment, when we have seen that everyone eventually dies.
The preponderance of envy is merely part of the unending list of faults. They can be removed in the same way that there is purification in general. That is the entire purpose of the spiritual discipline known as the science of self-realization.
From a practical level, the easiest way to remove envy is through knowledge. Understand that every person is struggling. Literally, not a single individual out there has it easy. Even the ones we think are successful and can have every desire granted in an instant. Many times, they are the most miserable, as they cannot control their senses.
The three sources of misery spare no one. The single person struggles to find a life partner, so that they can fit in amongst social circles. The married person dreads each coming day, knowing that they are stuck with someone who constantly yells and causes trouble. The young person wishes they were old enough to act like an adult. The elderly person wishes they were young again.
ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति।।
mamaivāṃśo jīvaloke jīvabhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ।
manaḥṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati।।
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)
Shri Krishna explains that the living entities, though of the higher energy, are struggling in the material world. They have to deal with the six senses, which include the mind. They have forgotten their eternal link to transcendence. It is like they are children of wealthy parents, but who have lost the way back home.
Genuine spiritual life is that reminder. Through a routine, through establishing guidelines and boundaries, through dedicated practice, there is ascending strength both in momentum and numbers. The more a person chants the holy names, the more they are away from illusion. The more they are in knowledge of the material world, the workings of time, the cause and effect of karma, and the person who stands above it all, the more in transcendence they will be.
From routine to see,
In transcendence to be.
Perhaps only gradually so,
But more and more to know.
That everyone struggling the same,
Whether losing or world to gain.
Constant envy therefore a waste,
By Krishna my ignorance erased.