- Showing extreme cupidity; painfully desirous of another’s advantages
- Suspicious or unduly suspicious or fearful of being displaced by a rival
- A feeling of jealous envy (especially of a rival)
We’ve all felt jealous at some point, haven’t we? It’s a natural human emotion they say.
“Why has she got him, she doesn’t deserve him, she’s nothing. Look at her, she looks cheap, he’d be so much better off with me.”
“Why did he get promoted, he’s useless, he doesn’t know his job. I taught him everything he knows, none of the staff will respect him.”
“Why were you talking to that woman again, is there something going on between you? She’s a bitch that woman, I hate her.”
Wow! Can you feel that? Have you ever felt like that, maybe without even knowing you are doing it? Do you know what it feels like to me? Pure poison (anything that harms or destroys). Wanting something so much you feel hatred towards the other person for possessing it.
People who are jealous would rarely admit it, even to their closest friends. They would much rather seethe with anger inside. Why?
Because to tell someone “they are ugly, don’t deserve a man like that, and have terrible taste in clothes” wouldn’t look good, would it? We may want what they have, but we would never let others know it. We all want to keep up the appearance we are happy for them, although we may make snide comments under our breath.
Deep down, we know that jealousy is a poisonous feeling. We don’t want it, but we just can’t help it. We also feel jealous when our partner talks to someone who we believe is more successful than us, has more money, or who looks more beautiful than us, and we believe our partner may be enticed away and we will be on our own. The more we feel jealous, the more angry we get, and given enough time this may actually lead to physical violence.
Do you not think this is a terrible emotion to have? To feel such anger towards someone; not because of something they have done, but because of something they have that you want (beauty/possessions). Unfortunately, it seems to exist in every one of us. It is not a disease, so why do so many of us have it?
A feeling of pride in yourself
It starts with a feeling we are inadequate, and we begin to resent other peoples success. We want the powerful job, the fast car, the gorgeous husband and the worse we feel about ourselves the more insatiable the desire becomes. Only through seeing ourselves as worthy can we cure ourselves. The problem starts with one word: Comparing (examining resemblances or differences). We compare ourselves to everyone. We compare our waist sizes, our clothes, our cars, our girlfriends, and our wallets.
Situation: Walking around a supermarket.
Thought: “Why is he looking at her, does he think she’s more attractive than me?”
Action: “I saw you! You’re always looking at other women! She’s nothing but a cheap tart, I can’t believe you prefer her over me.”
Result: Argument with boyfriend/husband. Resentment building on both sides. The man can’t believe that the girlfriend/wife is jealous over something he wasn’t even really aware of, and the woman begins to wonder if he can be trusted, especially if he’s out on his own.
If she were uglier, fatter or wore more unattractive clothes than you, you wouldn’t care, would you? No one has ever been jealous of someone with an older car or a worse job. The only time the jealousy monster rears its head is if someone is wealthier than you, or more attractive than you. Jealousy doesn’t care if the person with the large diamond necklace is a horrible person, and you are caring and nice. It only cares about the possessions.
But this only happens when you feel low; when you feel bad about yourself, or you are unhappy with your lot in life, and you feel as though you deserve better. It takes advantage of the fact that you are not feeling positive about your own qualities and offers a solution. “Why has she got it and you haven’t, you deserve it more than she does.” So you agree with the thought, “Yes I do, I am better than her, I should be wearing the diamond necklace.”
If you were happy with yourself, satisfied with, what are in fact, only temporary possessions. If you weren’t constantly wanting to be someone else, but content to just be you, comparison would not begin. Why would you compare yourself to someone who had a diamond necklace and expensive clothes if you never had a desire to possess them?
Excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves
For many thousands of years now, humans have been attempting to acquire more and more wealth; and for some people, it is never enough.
Look at the possessions of kings and queens. They had huge wealth, but wanted more; and even now, in the twenty first century, the acquisition of material wealth is number one on our priority list – but as usual, we would never admit it.
Imagine this scenario. You and your neighbour both have a similar size house, earn equivalent salaries, and drive similar cars, but one day your neighbour comes home with a brand new ferrari. How do you feel? For some time now you have been on an equal par, but now he has upped the stakes by buying a sports car. Can you say that you’re not just a little bit envious?
Now Imagine this scenario. You meet a friend in the street, you talk for a moment and she tells you she has to go because her husband is taking her to the new five star hotel for the weekend. Why doesn’t your husband take you there? He never takes you to nice places like that. How do you feel? Even the slightest bit jealous? Of course you do.
Where comparison meets greed, jealousy and envy arise.
To find out why we are greedy, we have to go into this a bit more deeply. When we have food, clothing and shelter we have enough to survive. When we have someone to share our life with and bring children up with, we have all that is necessary for the survival of the species. But being human is not just about surviving, is it? If we all just “survived” and were happy with that, there would be no trouble in the world, but somehow our minds have become sick and we make ourselves better by gaining more than the next man, our nearest rival.
Make no mistakes about it, greed is not a “sin,” it is a sickness of the mind. Somewhere along the line we have realised we can have more than we possibly could ever need. We have become hoarders, and we want more and more items. Seeing as we can’t take them with us when we die why do you think this is important to us?
It seems pervasive throughout societies worldwide rich and poor. The poor man wants to become rich and the rich man wants to become richer.
Biologically, greed is a meaningless pursuit. There is only so much we can eat and drink, but psychologically is where greed is limitless. Somehow wires have become crossed, and the brain thinks it should have more and more, and let’s face it, the more we have, the more secure we feel. The more we have, the less fear we feel.
Rich people always look so much more relaxed, wouldn’t you say? They don’t have to worry about a thing. They can always buy more of what they desire, whereas the poor man is always struggling and striving to make enough money to buy what he needs, let alone desires; but the feeling is still there. In the back of his mind, the poor man wants more. He desires to become rich and sometimes will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Robbing banks is just one example of this.
The poor man desires what the rich man has, and because he does not know how to get it by working, plans to steal it instead. He envies the rich man’s lifestyle, his car, his house, his glamorous wife, and thinks that if only he could get enough money he would be happy.
I have never robbed a bank, but I have borrowed and run up credit card bills – all because I was greedy, and wanted more than I had. It was only in the last couple of years that instead of acquiring items, I have been getting rid of them. I suddenly realised that by having enough to eat, warm clothing and a simple place to sleep, I had enough personal items. The rest are just a burden.
The more we acquire, the more we need to protect it, in case someone else tries to steal it. So we buy locks for our houses, alarms for our cars and use banks to keep our money in.
We fail to see the connection between our greed for more and the man who wants more but has no means to earn it.
We pour scorn on those who steal from us – we label them, and we lock them up. “Criminals!” we say: “Why don’t they get jobs and earn it for themselves, instead of stealing from us? We who have worked so hard to get all this stuff!”
But don’t you see? The thief and the rich man both the same; they are both engaged in greed, but they think they are different. The only difference is that the rich man has gone to work for it (maybe exploiting people, harming the environment and stepping on anyone who gets in his way), whereas the thief decides to take the, shall we say, more direct route!
But as he routinely engages in violence to get what he wants, he is singled out, and put behind bars. It doesn’t matter what harm the businessman has done to others or the planet, because he followed the law – and that is all that is important.
In our western societies, we have been taught that greed is good.
Greed is to be encouraged, and the developing countries are catching up fast. Yet they fail to see that the benefits of greed – although material – rest firmly in the mind. “I am happy for now” your mind says: “We’ve got lots of nice things, but how about us going out and getting some more?” It’s no wonder people start to feel jealous. If the educators and the government tell you greed is good, then why shouldn’t you have it! It’s your right.
So how do we transcend this sickness if there is no magic pill for it?
How much is really enough?
We are all engaged in status battles with our peers, that is clear. Individuals, husbands and wives try harder and harder to impress their friends and family with how well they are doing. It is a measure of themselves you see, it is who they are. It is their self-esteem. It is everything. The sports car, the gold and diamond jewellery, the attractive partner, the large house, the privately educated children, the holiday home abroad, all represent the sum total of these people. All made possible through greed, supported by the powerful (greed keeps the economy ticking over nicely you see, and a strong economy means re-election).
But suppose I wake up one morning and decide that enough is enough. I begin to understand that greed is keeping me trapped in an endless battle to earn more money with no end in sight, so I give everything of value away. I buy a small house, give up my car, start to grow my own vegetables, try to live as simply as possible and take a job working for the benefit of all, in a way that does not harm humans, animals, or the planet etc. What happens to my status in the community?
Well it’s quite clear. They probably think I’ve had a nervous breakdown! My partner will probably not want to be with me anymore because they were used to showing off their riches, to show how much wealthier they were than their friends. My children will hate me because they can no longer have the latest game consoles or mp3 players, so they also can no longer show off to their friends either. Your friends and family will not understand why, after working so long and so hard for something, that you could give it up, but what has this shown you? What have you learnt from this experience?
What you have learned, I believe, is a great deal about other people. You can see why they like you, and why they respect you. It is not as you believed, “because you are a really nice guy,” it’s because of what you have in material possessions, that’s all. Soon, your fancy friends will stop phoning you because you have become an embarrassment to them at parties, your wife will file for divorce, and your kids will probably prefer to live with mum’s new boyfriend who drives a sports car like you had and has even more money than you used to have!
What does this really teach us about others? What can we see straight away, now we have nothing but the basics necessary for living? Think about this carefully for a moment, for it is of the utmost importance.
You have stripped your life down to the absolute minimum of bolt-ons, but you are still you. You are no different. You are still attractive, you still have your humour, your personality, but others don’t care about that. They are only interested in the bolt-ons, the status and the possessions; what you can physically give them. It is sad to note that this is pervasive throughout our modern society. “How can I be with him now he has nothing, what will people think of me?”
We just can’t stop comparing. We never once stop to think that it is us who are empty, our minds sick with greed and envy, desiring more and more, whilst the man who has transcended greed through choice and personal action has no need to feel jealous of anyone anymore. Do you see? He had everything, and now he has given it up to live as himself. The only reason we become jealous is because we want what someone else has. If you no longer want it, because you see the damage that jealousy is doing to your mind, then you are free.
Watch yourself closely
As I have said in other topics, I have spent the last few years unburdening my life. That does not mean I do not appreciate nice furniture, or the skill and design that has gone into a sports car, or the beauty of a diamond necklace; I just do not see the need to possess them. For me, the most important thing in life is to live well, to be kind to my friends, family, and strangers, and to learn about myself and others. I like to laugh; I like to play; I like to discuss, and I like to read. Above all, I never take life too seriously.
The more we start to possess, the more we have to be serious, the more work we have to do, the more people we hurt along the way. I cannot urge you to stop being greedy, for it is inherent in society. I cannot urge you to stop being jealous. But recognise that jealousy is not in your nature, and neither is greed. These are all learned behaviours which can be unlearned. Do not ask yourself “why am I jealous?” or “why am I greedy?” You just are.
Acceptance is the first step to unlearning. The next step is awareness of yourself in action.
Just watch yourself closely until you catch yourself saying “Why does he earn more money than me…” or “I wish my partner would buy me a necklace like that…” or “Why isn’t my husband as good looking as that man, I wish I could swap.” The moment you catch yourself in action is the moment you will wake up.
When you see the beauty of life in all its simplicity, you will be free, and you will know that time. One morning when you wake up, life will just seem different. The material things you used to place importance on will no longer be important. Having more money, being jealous of your wealthy friend with his beautiful wife, or envious of your neighbour’s sports car, will all seem like a dream.
by Alan Macmillan Orr
“The natural mind – waking up “