UNIVERSAL DHARMA

Your Questions, My Answers ~ JEALOUSY

QUESTION:

"I’m planning to get married, but am a bit hesitant, as my boyfriend is quite jealous; if I go out anywhere without him, he always asks afterwards where I went, who I went with, and what we did. His suspicion makes me feel guilty, even though I’ve done nothing wrong. I hope he’ll change if we get married, but what if he doesn’t?"

ANSWER:

You have identified the cause of potential disaster and so are able to take some precautions. But it is better to know something of the nature of this destructive and dangerous emotion, so as to be more able to decide what to do, for the decision is ultimately yours; no-one can tell you what to do in such matters, more than that your heart should not over-rule your head.

Jealousy knows no frontiers, and probably we are all subject to it at some time or other, either to have the demon gnawing away inside us, or directed at us from outside by someone else. Much trouble and hatred, killing and war has been—and still is—caused by jealousy, as it blinds us and prevents us from seeing things clearly, so that, often before we realize, it has led us to say and do things that, normally, we would not do.

Jealousy, and other emotions like anger, spite, hatred, malice, greed, etc., are of the ego, and are forms of insanity—yes, insanity! Most of us, who think we are quite reasonable, rational, thoughtful and sane—not very good, not too bad—might think this incorrect, but it’s true. When we are angry or jealous, we are insane. The next time you are angry or jealous, observe what is happening, without trying to control or change the situation; maybe you will learn something from it; maybe you will see that it is a form of insanity. And the more often we are carried away by these powerful emotions, the more we are insane; some of us, therefore, are seldom sane. Unfortunately, most people do not realize their insanity, and live under the delusion that they are sane while others are not. That is why we sometimes hear people say, "Nobody understands me". One wonders if they understand themselves. Probably not.

Is not the society we have created and live in mentally unstable, being based upon greed and acquisitiveness? Great numbers of us think sanity is just a matter of being educated and getting a job, settling down, starting a family, buying a house, becoming ‘successful’. We read books, repeat what others have said, and think we are clever and wise; but many of us do not think for ourselves, and seldom have an original thought of our own; it’s easier to press buttons and be provided with automatic entertainment. We have sacrificed our originality, spontaneity and humanness for the push-button technology that runs our lives. For many of us, however, it is not a sacrifice at all, but something of a relief, perhaps, to relinquish responsibility and become automatons and zombies. The trouble is that we do not realize the sickness of this, and so are unable to improve or recover.

We often feel helpless when jealousy arises, because it is so powerful and comes upon us so quickly; not only that, but it creeps up on us without us really knowing it, and by the time we are aware of its dark presence, it is usually so much in control that it is very difficult to overcome. Another factor that gives it strength is that for thousands of years we have been told by religion, society, parents, teachers, friends and others that ‘jealousy is bad’, and that we shouldn’t be jealous or else we shall be ‘bad’. Now, most of us do not want to be labeled ‘bad’, or to think of ourselves as such, of course, so what happens when jealousy (or other ‘bad’ emotions) arises in us and we become aware of it? We are afraid of it, because its presence, if noticed, will mean that others might call us ‘bad’ and dislike us; and so, because we find it very difficult to overcome the jealousy itself, we try to cover it up, hide it, and pretend it doesn’t exist; we are ashamed of this emotion because we think that, really, we are quite nice people, and that therefore, to be associated with such a disreputable character as jealousy would give us a bad name. But let us halt for a moment in the midst of our head-long flight from this demon, and look into the mechanics, the psychology of it—the thing we are fleeing from, and the flight itself—and try to understand it.

Doors, locks and security guards can keep out thieves but not jealousy; it permeates where even the finest dust cannot blow. Every organization—be it social, business, political or religious—is vulnerable to it. It enters like an assassin, often with a smile on its face and assurances of sincerity and friendship on its lips, waiting for the time to strike. It transforms friends into enemies, love into hate, trust into distrust, peace into war. No-one is secure from this enemy. If it settles and grows strong in a person’s heart, it may lead him to do things that otherwise he would not do; under the malignant influence of jealousy, there is nothing that some of us will not do—kill, steal, lie, cheat, and so on; we can even act against our own interests and destroy the things we love the most, just to prevent others from having and enjoying them.

A woman who had driven off her husband by her possessiveness, could not bear to see her daughter happily married while she was alone. Her jealousy became so strong, and dominated her mind so much that she bought a gun, let herself into her daughter’s house late one night, and shot her son-in-law has he lay in her daughter’s arms. At her murder trial, she claimed she had a right to kill her husband, as he was raping her daughter. The judge replied by telling her that the man she had shot was her daughter’s husband, not hers!

Jealousy can lead us to hate not only the bad in others, but also the good in them; it is truly a most corruptive quality.

Is there anything you can do about it? Indeed there is. It can be countered by reflecting on the damage it can cause both to oneself and to others, and the benefits that can result if it is overcome. As jealousy is largely the product of misdirected thought, it can be overcome by correctly directed thought—by seeing it as not being to one’s own or others’ advantage—and replaced by an appreciation of, and a rejoicing in, the happiness, prosperity and the good of others; on the physical level, this finds expression in acts of kindness, generosity, and sharing with others.

Of course, this will seldom be easy, and will require effort and perseverance, because not only are emotions like jealousy, resentment and malice deep rooted, but our greed based society inculcates and strengthens them in us. Yet, if we reach the point where we honestly recognize them for what they are, it can be done.

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