What is jealousy and why does it hurt so much?
Jealousy is comparison. And we have been taught to compare, we have been conditioned to compare, always compare. Somebody else has a better house, somebody else has a more beautiful body, somebody else has more money, somebody else has a more charismatic personality. Compare, go on comparing yourself with everybody else you pass by, and great jealousy will be the outcome; it is the by-product of the conditioning for comparison.
Otherwise, if you drop comparing, jealousy disappears. Then you simply know you are you, and you are nobody else, and there is no need. It is good that you don’t compare yourself with trees, otherwise you will start feeling very jealous: why are you not green? And why has existence been so hard on you — and no flowers? It is better that you don’t compare with birds, with rivers, with mountains; otherwise you will suffer. You only compare with human beings, because you have been conditioned to compare only with human beings; you don’t compare with peacocks and with parrots. Otherwise, your jealousy would be more and more: you would be so burdened by jealousy that you would not be able to live at all.
Comparison is a very foolish attitude, because each person is unique and incomparable. Once this understanding settles in you, jealousy disappears. Each is unique and incomparable. You are just yourself: nobody has ever been like you, and nobody will ever be like you. And you need not be like anybody else, either.
Existence creates only originals; it does not believe in carbon copies.
A bunch of chickens were in the yard when a football flew over the fence and landed in their midst. A rooster waddled over, studied it, then said, “I’m not complaining, girls, but look at the work they are turning out next door.”
Next door great things are happening: the grass is greener, the roses are rosier. Everybody seems to be so happy — except yourself. You are continuously comparing. And the same is the case with the others, they are comparing too. Maybe they think the grass in your lawn is greener — it always looks greener from the distance — that you have a more beautiful wife.... You are tired, you cannot believe why you allowed yourself to be trapped by this woman, you don’t know how to get rid of her — and the neighbor may be jealous of you, that you have such a beautiful wife! And you may be jealous of him....
Everybody is jealous of everybody else. And out of jealousy we create such hell, and out of jealousy we become very mean.
An elderly farmer was moodily regarding the ravages of the flood. “Hiram!” yelled a neighbor, “your pigs were all washed down the creek.”
“How about Thompson’s pigs?” asked the farmer.
“They’re gone too.”
“Humph!” ejaculated the farmer, cheering up. “It ain’t as bad as I thought.”
If everybody is in misery, it feels good; if everybody is losing, it feels good. If everybody is happy and succeeding, it tastes very bitter.
But why does the idea of the other enter in your head in the first place? Again let me remind you: because you have not allowed your own juices to flow; you have not allowed your own blissfulness to grow, you have not allowed your own being to bloom. Hence you feel empty inside, and you look at each and everybody’s outside because only the outside can be seen.
You know your inside, and you know the others’ outside: that creates jealousy. They know your outside, and they know their inside: that creates jealousy. Nobody else knows your inside. There you know you are nothing, worthless. And the others on the outside look so smiling. Their smiles may be phony, but how can you know that they are phony? Maybe their hearts are also smiling. You know your smile is phony, because your heart is not smiling at all, it may be crying and weeping.
You know your interiority, and only you know it, nobody else. And you know everybody’s exterior, and their exterior people have made beautiful. Exteriors are showpieces and they are very deceptive.
There is an ancient Sufi story:
A man was very much burdened by his suffering. He used to pray every day to God, “Why me? Everybody seems to be so happy, why am only I in such suffering?” One day, out of great desperation, he prayed to God, “You can give me anybody else’s suffering and I am ready to accept it. But take mine, I cannot bear it any more.”
That night he had a beautiful dream ÿ beautiful and very revealing. He had a dream that night that God appeared in the sky and he said to everybody, “Bring all your sufferings into the temple.” Everybody was tired of his suffering — in fact everybody has prayed some time or other, “I am ready to accept anybody else’s suffering, but take mine away; this is too much, it is unbearable.”
So everybody gathered his own sufferings into bags, and they reached the temple, and they were looking very happy; the day has come, their prayer has been heard. And this man also rushed to the temple.
And then God said, “Put your bags by the walls.” All the bags were put by the walls, and then God declared: “Now you can choose. Anybody can take any bag.”
And the most surprising thing was this: that this man who had been praying always, rushed towards his bag before anybody else could choose it! But he was in for a surprise, because everybody rushed to his own bag, and everybody was happy to choose it again. What was the matter? For the first time, everybody had seen others’ miseries, others’ sufferings — their bags were as big, or even bigger!
And the second problem was, one had become accustomed to one’s own sufferings. Now to choose somebody else’s — who knows what kind of sufferings will be inside the bag? Why bother? At least you are familiar with your own sufferings, and you have become accustomed to them, and they are tolerable. For so many years you have tolerated them — why choose the unknown?
And everybody went home happy. Nothing had changed, they were bringing the same suffering back, but everybody was happy and smiling and joyous that he could get his own bag back.
In the morning he prayed to God and he said, “Thank you for the dream; I will never ask again. Whatsoever you have given me is good for me, must be good for me; that’s why you have given it to me.”
Because of jealousy you are in constant suffering; you become mean to others. And because of jealousy you start becoming phony, because you start pretending. You start pretending things that you don’t have, you start pretending things which you can’t have, which are not natural to you. You become more and more artificial. Imitating others, competing with others, what else can you do? If somebody has something and you don’t have it, and you don’t have a natural possibility of having it, the only way is to have some cheap substitute for it.
I hear that Jim and Nancy Smith had a great time in Europe this summer. It’s so great when a couple finally gets a chance to really live it up. They went everywhere and did everything. Paris, Rome... you name it, they saw it and they did it.
But it was so embarrassing coming back home and going through customs. You know how custom officers pry into all your personal belongings. They opened up a bag and took out three wigs, silk underwear, perfume, hair coloring...really embarrassing. And that was just Jim’s bag!
Just look inside your bag and you will find so many artificial, phony, pseudo things — for what? Why can’t you be natural and spontaneous? — because of jealousy.
The jealous man lives in hell. Drop comparing and jealousy disappears, meanness disappears, phoniness disappears. But you can drop it only if you start growing your inner treasures; there is no other way.
Grow up, become a more and more authentic individual. Love yourself and respect yourself the way existence has made you, and then immediately the doors of heaven open for you. They were always open, you had simply not looked at them.