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Envy, Jealousy and Comparison
Sandra: Dear Sundari, as I listen to Vedanta and apply the knowledge to my life, I encounter one obstacle I am not sure how to handle: How to talk to dualistic people?
Sundari: Talk to samsaris as the self, but use a language they can understand. When in Rome, etc. Everyone does know the self and is seeking moksa, whether they are aware of it or not, because the self always knows itself. Whatever samsaris seek – security, power, fame, pleasure, virtue etc. – they are really seeking the bliss of the self, but they do not know this. So when you talk to so-called “others” self to self, something always registers, if only subliminally. But avoid all proselytizing and arguments. As a Vedantin, you speak the language of identity. Samsaris speak only the language of experience. And without requisite qualifications, you are wasting your time trying to convince a samsari to identify with the self. Have compassion for them but do not disturb the minds of the ignorant.
Sandra: I am an intellectual type, but nurturing my spiritual nature. Until recently I felt best with intellectual people as well. But they seem nihilist to me now, and very often too emotional. I choose my company wisely, losing my contact with those who interfere with my sattvic state of mind but in terms of work companions I have less flexibility. James always says not to speak too truly to dualist people. I mean, not to try to correct their way of perceiving the world when they are not ready to take the non-dual truth.
Sundari: Intellectual people are often the most stuck in ignorance because they are so convinced they are right and superior. If they are not the dry, academic intellectual type (who tend to deny emotions), but the emotional intellectual type, they believe being emotional makes them more intelligent. Intellectuals are often closed off to all other points of view, jaded and cynical. You are wise to distance yourself from such people. It is not easy being a Vedantin in the world. If you cannot keep the counsel of like-minded people because you do not know any, keep your own counsel, as James says.
Sandra: But I have difficulties with it. My colleague, who believes only in science, always is ready to fight with any hint of non-dual vision of the world, which she surely perceives as a spiritual one. And I don’t want to give opinions that are not in harmony with what I think. In light of Vedanta and qualifications – should I just keep silent when I do not agree with her dualistic point of view and live my life according to non-dualistic vision? It is so difficult to stay silent though, ☺ especially when she talks so emotionally and is so sure of her own inerrancy.
Sundari: You are not living your life or practising self-inquiry for anyone else, are you? Why bother with this vain person’s point of view? She only knows the world of objects, therefore her knowledge (if that is what it is) is severely limited. Admittedly, it is harder to maintain the correct distance and neutrality in communicating with people with whom we are forced to have contact. The only way to succeed is to avoid conflict and refuse to argue with them. You will not win, and anyway, who needs to win? As the self, we know there is no winning in mithya. It’s a zero-sum game. The power of Maya to delude is all-pervasive. As always, live the qualification for moksa (especially accommodation and titiksha) and apply karma yoga. Concentrate on your karma and leave your friend in the care of Isvara.
Intellectuals are typically highly egotistical and attached to the way they think. They are proud of their minds and have invested so much in them that the idea of another way of thinking is dismissed out of hand, hence your friend’s arrogant and superior views. James has been invited on a few occasions to talk at the Science and Non-Duality Symposium that takes place regularly; he has not accepted, because there is no real point to it. Vedanta is not a hard-sell; it only appeals to minds that are ready for self-inquiry, which is why the qualifications are so important. As I said above, if the mind is not qualified, it is pointless trying to understand Vedanta. Your friend is clearly falls into this category. It is a waste of time trying to convince her.
It seems she has struck a chord with you and hurts your feelings because you feel you do not have a good argument against her, which has caused unpleasant feelings for you which seem to challenge your self-esteem or perhaps your assessment of yourself as an intellectual. Or perhaps how well you understand non-duality? This is what you need to inquire into. When we are firmly established in self-knowledge we are unconcerned with what other people believe or say, because we know how ignorance works.
Sandra: I love early modern art. And with Vedanta I came to appreciation how people back then were closer, even when unconsciously, to Vedanta basics. I wanted to share with you an image I woke up with it in my head this morning. I was so strongly thinking about the behavior of my colleague, the one from work, that she acts sometimes so selfish and I feel hurt by it. And then, on the edge of dream and awake, this image came to my mind. In this image if I look under the foot of the central figure – the Love – I can see she is treading on and overshadows a small figure under her – an old woman with a wince on her face. This is Jealousy. So Love triumphs over Jealousy. And when I realized that I am love and I am bigger than those bad feelings toward my colleague, that I should just do the same as the Love from the print – just triumph over those bad emotions and be Love. I need to mention that my jiva seems skeptical but agreed to meditate on the idea.
Sundari: It is good that you have recognized the feelings you have towards your colleague in the image you were shown, the acknowledgement that the ugly woman in the painting represents jealousy. What is behind jealousy is usually comparison and envy. You saw that as love, you transcend the bad thoughts/feelings. As the self, you need to stand on this ugly feeling and see it as the smallness of the little self, the one that compares itself to everything and feels less-than. It comes from what I call the “voices of diminishment,” our inner judge and jury. We all have that voice, as long as we are identified with the body-mind.
The jealousy and inadequacy you feel is the real issue here, not what your friend believes is truth. Who cares what she believes? She is ignorant. But for you it is important to note why she hurts your feelings: comparison and envy are two big enemies of your peace of mind. Comparison becomes jealousy: “I want what you have,” which then becomes envy, which is, “I want to be like you.” Envy becomes rivalry, which is: “I want to beat you,” competition. And lastly, if envy and rivalry are not defused, they become hatred: “I want to destroy you.”
It seems like the insecurity your friend makes you feel is likely linked to a fear that she is superior to you in some way or maybe, as I said above, she causes an uncertainty in what you think you know or how you are identified with being an intellectual.
Jealousy (envy) is a projection that masks an insufficient appreciation of my own nature. A self-realized person is never jealous, because she is mindful of her fullness. Any negative feeling that is opposed to peace can be neutralized by applying the opposite thought. At first it may seem untruthful to think this way – after all, you really don’t feel it! – but a deliberate daily practice will cleanse the mind and bring it back to self-knowledge.
As inquirers, we need to take everything back to ourselves, which you seem to have done in your assessment of message that love conquers all, meaning that you as the self conquer all of course. Mithya never stands up to satya, and it never works to superimpose satya onto mithya.
~ Much love, Sundari