Are envy and jealousy the same thing?

Lama Ole’s answer:

Envy and jealousy often lie very close together, but we can distinguish them by looking at their causes. Jealousy originates from desire and lacking something, from the feeling of not having enough. A jealous person believes that they need the other person. They need to hold on and to take precautions. This is why they don’t like to see their hopes vanish. If there’s a person they like a lot and they suddenly lose that person, jealousy arises.

In contrast, envy doesn’t stem from attachment and lack but rather from anger and aversion. The envious person doesn’t like someone, and that’s why they don’t want that person to be happy. Although they don’t have anything to do with the person, they still fly into a rage if the other is doing well. This is envy.

In dealing with jealousy, it is of utmost importance to give the jealous person a feeling that you are there—even if you aren’t physically around. It is very important to show your appreciation for the connection you have with each other. A situation may arise in which you don’t share a lot of physical closeness. But if it is clear that you will not throw away or spurn what you have shared before, that instead you will honor it and be happy about it, then you can radiate this surplus into the world. If you handle jealously like this, it will dissolve.

This way, you have shared richness with each other; you pass it on here and the other passes it on there. Always come back to the feeling of richness, to the view, “Now we are sharing something rich. We will pass it on to all beings everywhere. Space is connecting us and holding us together, making us part of the same totality.” If you think this way, everything narrow minded disappears.

Space doesn’t separate us, it connects us. Space isn’t distance, it’s a container. Right now, there might be two meters between us here, and we experience this as a separation, as something we do not like. But taking a closer look, we actually see that there are countless kilometers behind us.

Our entire perception of space ought to change. We are used to letting our awareness solely work through our eyes, and thus we experience the world exclusively this way. As long as we only perceive through the eyes and only focus on what can be seen, we experience a feeling of separation. The sensation of being separated—of “a me here” and “a you there”—can be changed in a very positive way by opening up to space in all directions. One can practice being aware in all directions from one’s heart center or from the five energy centers at the same time, and experience the world this way.

For instance, if you try to expand your awareness through your back, you sense the pillow, the wall of the room, the wall of the house, the street, the cars there, the neighborhood, the city, the country, the world. This way, you can try out everything through all energy centers of the body and get more and more of a feeling of space. Let the sense of center and limit dissolve until there is only a state of awareness, which is totally open like space. This removes jealousy!

By the way, this is part of a whole meditation, but one can also practice it like this. In any case, it comes through meditation! Meditation removes the separation between you and me, between here and there. Then you are together anyway in the sweet state of the oneness of all phenomena, in the fantastic state of awareness. The experience of mind itself is even better and richer than having a lover on each side. It is a state that is far more all-embracing than everything else. Meditation is king!

If somebody has problems with jealousy, you can really say, “You don’t have a clue how rich you are. You can only see something beautiful in me because you carry something beautiful inside yourself. I only function as your mirror. I solely show you your own beauty, your own buddha nature, your own abilities. If you didn’t have all this in yourself, you wouldn’t be able to see it in me!” But it is quite difficult, especially if the other person doesn’t wish to develop but rather wants a cramped, exclusive relationship and puts great expectations onto the partner for their own happiness. It is difficult to help somebody like this, and you cannot protect them from every difficulty.

However, quite often pain is the motor of development. Only when the ordinary games and habits no longer function and a person experiences pain, only then do they come to understand that they need to change a bit. Otherwise, the mind is like a fat, lazy horse that prefers to lie down or stand around while achieving nothing. Generally speaking, since everything we experience is a reflection of ourselves, as long as something can be painful we are still learning. The moment nothing hurts us anymore, we have made it. It is as simple as that.

You can check it yourselves in your own lives. It may be in relationships or other life situations: as long as you find enough strength inside yourselves and don’t need anything else, as long as you are cool and happy and have surplus for other things—no matter what’s going on—you’ve made it. You are only still vulnerable to the degree that you need something again and again; or you want to hold on to something or push it away; or you need to prove yourselves, explain yourselves, or excuse yourselves.