Envy: the Middle Way


         ‘Listen to these teachings with the ears of your heart.’

In his pursuit of enlightenment Buddha practised many austerities bringing himself almost to the point of death.  After his enlightenment, the first teaching he gave was called the ‘path of wisdom’ – moderation between the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. He gave this first teaching to the 5 ascetics with whom he had practised such severe austerities. 

He said, ” Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life (those actively seeking enlightenment). There is addiction to indulgence and self-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.’

The Middle Way allows vision and knowledge and leads to calm and insight, to Enlightenment and to Nirvana, the cessation of all cravings.’  


In response to this realization, envy comes from an extreme selfishness and an ignorance of ones own inner beauty and bliss.  If we have not allowed our own being to bloom due to pressure to compete with others so common in the world today, then we lack trust, trust in our uniqueness, in our goodness. And trust in others to recognize our uniqueness and our goodness.

If jealousy and envy of others exists, then love has been driven away.  If we cannot find joy in the success of others, then we have turned away from our true nature. And if there is no self-love then we will never leave the cycle of rebirth and are destined to suffer in the lower realms. In other words, we will never escape from samsara, the world of human suffering.

The Buddhist way is often misunderstood as extreme and complete passiveness and selflessness. But it is clear that by resisting dying from practising austerities, Buddha acknowledged that first he needed to love himself and to preserve his precious life without over-cherishing it so that he was in a condition to love others unconditionally. If our own Buddha Nature is not shining then we cannot recognize it in others. 




Mindfulness – the watching of thoughts arising in the mind without being attached to them – will show us the envious mind. It will show us that these kinds of thoughts separate us away like a dry husk from the rich universal consciousness. We watch the thought or feeling arise and then let it pass without identifying with it, without stamping it  with our name, without earmarking it.  It is simply a negative thought which arises and then passes like all thoughts do. They are the product of the mind – the dusty mechanical repository of  the collective conditioning of the human race. They are dead things which float around tempting us to become attached.




Meta – loving kindness – will reveal our natural essence of unconditional love for all beings. It will show us that love is not an adornment or an accessory, something we ‘have’ or ‘show,’ but is our essence. We are love and being born into a human body provides the perfect and unique opportunity to embody that love.  Buddha Gautama went on to embody unconditional love all his life in the human world. 




‘May this teaching touch you fleetingly and then flow to others touching them similarly.’


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