Accepting defeat and offering the victory

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Part of a series of short Bodhisattva’s Breakfast Corner talks on Langri Tangpa’s Eight Verses of Thought Transformation.

  • Who we think we are in relationship to other people
  • What it means to offer the victory
04-13-19 More on Jealousy - BBCorner

When others, out of jealousy,
mistreat me with abuse, slander, and so on,
I will practice accepting defeat
and offering the victory to them.

Venerable Chodron suggested that we follow up on jealousy. But I think an interesting flip to that is what happens in our mind when we think (which is what this verse is about), when we think we’re the object of somebody else’s jealousy? Do we acknowledge this and practice accepting defeat and offering the victory? Or do we get angry in return? Who the heck are they? Why are they laying their guilt trip on me? Why are they laying their jealousy trip on me? And, do I in fact think that I’m better than them? So they should get a clue about who they are and not lay their trip on me.

Anybody have that feeling? One hand, two hands. Three, four. Okay, thank you. Otherwise I’ll just talk to myself for a while.

Jealousy is messy either way. I really think that whoever brought up the point about pride yesterday was right on it, that our sense of self becomes very, very large in both directions. Who we think we are in relationship to other people. The jealousy itself is painful enough, but where it begins to wreak havoc in a community like ours, for example, is when we begin to speak badly about the people that are jealous of us, or that we are jealous of. In both directions. I think it’s Venerable Chodron, maybe you already said this story, that why do we do this? Because if we sit together and start bashing other people, together eventually we come out on top. This one’s bad, this one’s bad (etc.). You agree with me? This one’s bad, this one’s bad…. Secretly we may also be thinking, “You are too, but at least we can talk about it.” I’m still the top of the heap. This is how our little jealousy and comparing mind conversations happen in our groups. And then the cliques form, and the little factions happen over here. So you can see how devastating that can be within the sense of community.

What does it mean to offer the victory to them?

Audience: For me, when I get involved in that, it means the message I give myself is just drop it. It’s about dropping it, and not letting the tentacles of that drag me into an afflicted mind.

Venerable Thubten Chonyi (VTC): What happens that you can recognize it enough to say “drop it.”

Audience: It’s very painful. My mind is disturbed, and my nervous system is turned up to more adrenaline. It’s kind of getting into the fight mode, or the run away mode. It’s all told in the body and the mind, it’s very disturbing. And it disturbs my peace of mind.So I don’t want to go there.

VTC: So in recognizing that, then you can catch yourself and say “just drop it.”

Audience: Yes, it’s very painful

Audience: I couldn’t use the rejoicing antidote for this one when I first learned this, so I found something from Nagarjuna which was “be respectfully mindful of others” to get rid of jealousy, and it’s in the context of being generous. And by doing that, it helped me to look at the other person. And that made it easier to drop things, and to give the victory to them, in the sense of, for me, what that part means is recognizing their qualities. Or maybe recognizing that this situation is actually really good for them. I have to drop the anger before I can go to rejoicing. But to drop it, and to give the victory, to me, has a lot to do with having respect for the other person, which is why being respectfully mindful helped me get moved forward when my mind still couldn’t get to rejoicing.

Audience: It’s nice. It’s like the advice that Master Huimin gave us for our varsa: respect everyone. And out of that respect, the jealousy is less likely to arise because we’re actually seeing the person. Don’t we kind of blank out on the person? It’s the thing they have that becomes the object.

Audience: One of the things that became very strong this past winter in retreat is if somebody has some fortune and some qualities that you don’t have, rather than being jealous, what do you think about karma? They have what they have because they created the causes for it. You don’t have the opportunity because you haven’t created the causes for it. So it gets me out of one of the habits that I’ve had a lot in my life that is this whole victim thing, that somehow I’m powerless, that the world runs over me, and poor me, poor me. To see how virtue is created due to…I know the causes for virtue. So to rejoice that they’ve created the causes for virtue, to have the opportunities, the qualities that they do have. For me to say, “If you want those qualities, you know the causes and how to create them.” So it really empowers me. And then it gives me an opportunity to let go, and then to say, “Wow that’s a lot of hard work to be able to have what they have, to be able to do what they do, and the qualities that they have.” And then I can move into rejoicing, to say this is a dependent arising here, it’s not coming out of nowhere. So empower yourself, and rejoice that other people have been able to create the causes for themselves.

VTC: So you’re not just offering the victory, you’re rejoicing in the victory. Or celebrating.

Audience: One of the things that I think about is how it’s the journey… I focus on the journey and how the journey is really a personal growth journey. And that because of that, it makes no sense to compare myself to another person, because the other person, as Venerable said, has a different set of circumstances than I do. So to judge my experience by somebody else’s set of circumstances is crazymaking. So by going to evaluating, am I doing the best that I can with the circumstances that I am dealing with? And if the answer to that is yes, then I just go back to that, okay, let’s be content with what I can do with this moment. And remembering that everything is impermanent. The circumstances will change. I will grow. And things will be different. So it’s just finding how my mind is developing moment to moment.

VTC: So that’s how you antidote your own jealousy.

Audience: If I’m on the receiving end, then it’s helpful for me to bring to mind situations where I’ve retaliated in some way, and what a mess that has created. To remind myself that responding with anger in no way helps. And that the only response that will bring myself or the other person any peace of mind is to respond with kindness. And that helps me diffuse any energy that wants to fight back.

Audience: I found that for me it’s important that I have good relationships. And if there’s jealousy in the way of that. It could be, if people are jealous of me, they don’t tell me. But when I’m jealous, then it’s disturbing the relationships, so I find ways then somehow to go from a different angle. Such as seeing the kindness of that person in different areas. That way I can make a connection.

Audience: When I think about offering the victory, I think about it in terms of letting the other person have the last word and not caring. And also about the four non-retaliations, of not retaliating, not returning anger with anger, not returning violence with violence, not returning harsh speech with harsh speech, and not returning criticism with criticism. I think about how much happier a mind it is that can abide in that way. And how miserable it is to go the other way, with all this retaliation. Just seeing as Ven. Jigme often says, tell your mind, “Do you want to be miserable or do you want to be happy?” It’s the same with the other way, when you’re rejoicing in somebody’s…instead of being jealous. Rejoicing means to be joyful. And if we don’t, we’re missing the opportunity to be joyful.

VTC: Yes, I think Venerable Tarpa’s point, though, is quite well worth remembering, that we can’t go from jealousy to rejoicing in 0 to 60, in a short time. To get to a neutral mind first. Really we have to work on our jealousy first. Then we can move to rejoicing as an antidote.

And also to think about antidotes that don’t necessarily need to be applied in the moment. If we develop a practice of really rejoicing in the fortune of others, rejoicing in the good qualities of other people, it also makes us a whole lot happier to live with the people that we live with, we appreciate them more, and the jealousy doesn’t arise so easily.

I think it’s very important in looking at all of the thought transformation verses and the antidotes to not think that we’re only supposed to apply them when the affliction is arising. Or present. Or flaming. Because then it’s hard to recognize, and it’s really hard to apply. And then you can also develop the mind that goes, “Oh well, I tried to love this person that I’m furious at. It doesn’t work, forget it.” But if I’d spent some time cultivating love over a period of time, then the anger may not arise so easily. Or the jealousy may not arise so easily. And when it does, we’ve already got a mind prepared to antidote it. That’s an important thing to remember.

I just want to read the verse again, because I didn’t at the beginning.

When others, out of jealousy,
mistreat me with abuse, slander, and so on,
I will practice accepting defeat
and offering the victory to them.

The code word in your mind, “offer the victory.” It’s a good way to tip ourselves off. Let’s practice together for greater harmony in the community, and greater harmony in the world.

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