Envy (In the Light of Theosophy)

 Theosophy Envy b

Envy is the bile on which we choke when we want something that belongs to someone else. It generally stems from competitiveness, emotional insecurity and situational dissatisfaction. Envy is corrosive, particularly because we deny being envious, and instead, try to expose unfairness and punish those who we think were unduly rewarded at our expense. We withhold support, sincere admiration and sometimes, even friendship, and damage another’s reputation in order to enhance our own. We become critics instead of becoming fans. However, the poison of envy can sometimes transform itself into something halfway constructive. At personal level, some people may be able to perform the mental magic of transforming envy into aspiration: “If she can do it, write it, sell it, dammit, I can, too!” writes Judith Sills, a Philadelphia-based clinical psychologist. (Psychology Today, September-October 2008)

Non-covetousness is a great virtue, as also giving credit where credit is due. Envy is a powerful emotion. Envy is worse than jealousy, because the feeling involved is that if I cannot have then no other should have it. Envy seems to be a great hindrance to spiritual progress. Mr. Judge graphically describes its effect on the inner man. Thus:

Envy is not a mere trifle that produces no physical result. It has a powerful action, as strong in its own field as that of anger. It not only hinders the further development but attracts to the student’s vicinity thousands of malevolent beings [evil spirits or elementals] of all classes that precipitate themselves upon him and wake up or bring on every evil passion. Envy, therefore, must be extirpated, and it cannot be got rid of as long as the personal idea is allowed to remain in us. (U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 18, p. 12)

The power of the “evil eye” is rooted in the feeling of envy. For instance, when people fix their thoughts in envy upon a person, who suddenly gets rich, he is adversely affected by them and may lose the money. So also, the envious glance of a person on a beautiful vase or car or any other object or person may result in damage or injury to the same. The elementals precipitate down the glance of the envious person. An “evil eye” is the destructive power of thought. We need to cultivate goodwill towards all. H.P.B. mentions that each one of us is endowed with a magnetic potentiality, which when helped by an intense and indomitable will, can be used for bringing about harm or good.

[This article also appeared in The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:]

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