How can we root out or diminish the effects of jealousy and envy? What techniques can be used from tantra yoga?
All emotions, not just jealousy and envy, are forms of energy. This world is an outcome of two principles, not one. This world is rooted in duality. If there is night, then there is day; if there is heat, there is cold. Therefore, to say, "I will never experience anything negative", is turning your face away from reality. Of course, we all want to be devoid of jealousy, anger and hatred and we want to be nice, loving and compassionate. That is good because we should always strive for that. However, we also have to understand that we are comprised of certain qualities, which nature has given us. These are the qualities of sattwa, rajas and tamas.
We are made up of these qualities. Where there is love, there is also hatred. Everywhere we find these opposites, but if we observe closely, we can see, that some people have more jealousy than others and some have more hatred or guilt than others. Some people are compassionate, they don't feel jealous. They were not born with it. They also have the qualities of rajas and tamas, but in them, the sattwa guna is awakened. They are able to bring out that sattwa guna, either due to some past impressions or karmas or just the way that they are made up.
I don't think that there is any person alive who doesn't feel jealous, who doesn't have envy. There are people who are aware that they have jealousy and they have a better control over it. They don't allow it to override their emotions, to influence their actions and their decisions. Most of us cannot do that. As soon as jealousy comes, we react and the mind gets clouded, but there are people who have a grip on it. As long as we are in the body, we are subject to tamasic and rajasic influences. According to the karmas, the influence will be less or more, but everybody has to face it. It is an archetype, a samskara, but it can be transformed because it is only a flow of energy.
The energy is going one way and you can turn its direction, if you know how to. If I am under the grip of jealousy, definitely the quality of my experience will not be good, because my mind will be influenced by that. Tantra says, 'look, don't worry about all this, don't feel guilty or inferior because of it; everybody has it, nobody is devoid of it.' The first thing you have to understand and accept is that there is nothing wrong with jealousy. If you didn't have jealousy, then you would not strive to accomplish things. It is because you have envy and jealousy that you strive and struggle, otherwise you would be just like a cabbage or a cauliflower sitting on the shelf, doing nothing.
Use jealousy constructively. If I draw a line on a piece of paper and I tell you, "look, you have to go beyond this line, you have to go higher than that", then what are you going to do? You have two options: either you erase that line or you draw a longer line and you go beyond. You try to rise higher than the person you are jealous of, that is the struggle and achievement. It is the purpose of jealousy. It is the purpose of envy that you accomplish, you achieve and you struggle. You grow by that struggle, but unfortunately jealousy doesn't work that way. Jealousy destroys us and we also destroy or try to destroy the person we are jealous of. If you are jealous of a person or of something the person has accomplished, try to do better. That is an option.
Tantra and yoga say not to have a complex about it, accept that you have jealousy. The minute you accept it, half the battle is won, and you become aware that you have jealousy. Many people, even when they are jealous, don't accept that they have it. They always see it in the other person, saying, "No, I'm not jealous, I don't have anger, I don't have greed", but they see it in another person.
Therefore, the first thing is acceptance and the knowledge that you do have this feeling, because the minute you become aware of a problem in yourself, you will find that gradually it is disappearing and dissolving. This is the importance of awareness.
Awareness and mind are two different things. Awareness is the source of the mind. Mind and brain are not the source of awareness. Awareness is a completely independent entity. Even when you sleep you have awareness. In the morning, when you wake up, you say, "I had a good night sleep!" How did you know you had a good night's sleep? And you repeat the dreams. Who saw the dreams? Even in dream and sleep you have awareness. Even in the high states of meditation when everything is finished and dissolved, you still have awareness. Even when you leave this body, you will have awareness. It is a completely different entity that is seeing and watching everything. Even now, it is watching, guiding and inspiring.
In yoga, you are always told to witness every thing. From day one, the teacher tells you, "witness your breath, witness your thoughts, witness your body, witness everything." That is a preparation, because this awareness always witnesses. It is the witnessing principle, called sakshi. Witnessing brings a certain amount of objectivity. When we are objective about a problem, we find a solution. Unfortunately, we are not objective about our problems, we are subjective, because we feel them and get emotionally entangled and we become subjective.
I can find easily a solution to your problem because I'm objective to it but I can't find a solution to my problem because I'm subjective to it. When you become objective, when you bring your awareness to the problem, you find a solution. It is not as if the jealousy will disappear, because it should not disappear. If it disappears, you will again become slack, lazy and careless and not trying to strive for anything.
It is only a saint or an enlightened person who is self-motivated, who doesn't need any stimulus for growth and evolution and who has the right to dismiss jealousy and greed. Emotions have a purpose and they are intended for your growth and evolution. They are not intended to destroy you. However, you are destroyed by them, because you have no insight. You have to develop awareness of this aspect of your life and utilize emotions for growth and evolution and thereby gain a grip on them.
There are many practices in yoga and they are teaching you awareness. Breath awareness is a good way to overcome these emotional difficulties, because the mind immediately settles and becomes calm. Antar mouna, witnessing thoughts, is another practice to overcome emotions like jealousy. However, side by side you have to develop awareness and objectivity. You have to understand the role of everything that you are facing in life and how you can utilize it to grow. This is only possible if you develop objectivity to your life and a certain detachment.
Harrogate, England, 16-19 July 2009