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Rejoicing in the happiness of others

Rejoicing in the happiness of others

A Crown Ornament for the Wise, a hymn to Tara composed by the First Dalai Lama, requests protection from the eight dangers. These talks were given after the White Tara Winter Retreat at Sravasti Abbey in 2011.

  • When the mind is full of jealousy we lose sight of our Dharma values
  • Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is the antidote to jealousy
  • Instead of wishing to be the people we are jealous of, we should have compassion for them

The Eight Dangers 08: The snake of jealousy, part 2 (download)

We were on “the snake of jealousy.”

Lurking in its dark pit of ignorance,
Unable to bear the wealth and excellence of others,
It swiftly injects them with its cruel poison:
The snake of jealousy—please protect me from this danger!

Yesterday we talked about the disadvantages of jealousy and how it affects our lives. How it injects ourselves and others with cruel poison, like a snake does. And how, when our mind is overcome with jealousy we really lose our ground, you know? We lose our values and our principals that guide us in our lives. And our mind just becomes fixated on causing harm and depriving others of happiness. So it’s a really bad state of mind.

The antidote to it is, of course, exactly the opposite of what you feel like doing when you’re jealous. When you’re jealous you feel like clobbering other people and taking away their happiness, and what you don’t feel like doing is wishing them well and rejoicing at their excellence.

That’s exactly what you have to do to overcome it.

And we can really see this, because the mind is so tight when there’s jealousy and so we have to work on it very much to remember that, actually in our hearts we wish people well. We really do wish people well. And here’s somebody having some good qualities or creating virtue or having an excellent opportunity and we didn’t even have to lift a finger to make it happen. And, especially since we’ve made the promise to become Buddhas for the benefit of all sentient beings and lead them to enlightenment by ourselves alone… And here they got some little bit of happiness without us lifting a finger… Surely we should rejoice. You know?

When you read the Lama Chopa prayer: “May I go to the hell realm for infinite eons even for the benefit of sentient beings.” So if we’re willing to make that kind of pledge or aspiration, then somebody gets a little bit of happiness—even worldly happiness that doesn’t last very long—surely we can rejoice. Okay?

We have to remind ourselves of this. Pull ourselves out of the very narrow view of jealousy. Because jealousy is only concerned with this life’s happiness. It’s only concerned with my well-being. It’s such an incredibly narrow view. And so to see that and then pull ourselves out of it, and then look at whatever quality or goodness that somebody else has and feel great.

Now, if somebody’s created virtue, then their virtue we should definitely rejoice at because that means that they’re going to be progressing along the path, they’ll become a Buddha, and we certainly derive benefit from their becoming a Buddha. So even if we’re going to be selfish, we should rejoice at others’ virtue.

Then, if it’s some kind of worldly goodness that they’re getting, well what good in the long term is worldly goodness? Somebody gets an award, somebody gets the boyfriend, somebody gets the job or some trophy, or they get to go on TV and get famous… So what? In a hundred years all of us are going to be dead and what difference does this kind of worldly stuff get somebody in the long run? It really doesn’t mean very much. So, might as well rejoice if that makes that person happy, good. Because really, it’s nothing, is it? Even they win the lottery, they… All this stuff.

And then another point about jealousy is sometimes when we’re jealous of somebody we say, “I wish I could be them … I wish I could be like them.” Be really careful of who you wish to be like. Because you don’t really know what that person’s like on the inside. And you don’t really know what the problems are. Because we look at them and: “Oh, they look so fantastic … and they have and are and do everything we wish we could…” But we’re not seeing all the miseries they face in the process of doing that.

They always say be really careful of what you aspire for because you might get it. And I’ve known lots of people who’ve gotten what they’ve aspired for—you know, they’re jealous of somebody and they aspire to have that—they get it and then they realize, boy, this is a big headache. And then, so unfortunately, all that time you wasted before being jealous of the other person, now you have so much compassion for them for what they went through.

If you remember this beforehand then you save yourself a lot of angst and might as well have compassion for them from the get-go. Because who in this world ever has perfect happiness? Everybody has problems. And to see that, especially in the people we get jealous of. They have lots of suffering and we should have some compassion for them.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.