"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's."

 The Tenth Commandment

Addendum to number 10: . . . or his or her girlfriend or boyfriend, their vacation home, their hot tub, their sports car, their computer system, their high paying job, nor anything else they've got that you judge better than yours.

"Who is poor?
He who is not contented."

"How is heaven attained?
The attainment of heaven is the freedom from cravings."

"What destroys craving?
Realization of one's true self."

 Shankara (687-718)

Imagine you are alone in the world. Everyone else has disappeared and all the possessions of others have been left behind for you. You could go into any building and possess any object. You could claim ownership of any building or vehicle or piece of land. How long would the novelty of possession last? What good would an abundance of things do you in the absence of people? What would you value? How long would you be happy?

Now imagine you are surrounded by people, but you have absolutely nothing. Perhaps you are in a refugee camp with thousands of others and there is no food and no shelter. Maybe the sun beats down on you all day and the nights are cold. Your possessions are gone, but you have relationships. You are surrounded by family. A child sleeps in your arms. Now what do you value?

Imagine you live a life where you have enough to eat, you have clothing that protects your body from the cold, you have adequate shelter from the weather, and there are people in this life who could use some love. What more do you need?

Envy is desire for or attachment to something that is not yours. It is a form of craving. It is a thought-- a delusion actually, that what we have is inadequate, but that something someone else has will bring us happiness. How happy can an envious person ever be? If we aren't happy with what we have now, can we ever be happy? Envy prohibits satisfaction. It creates an emotional force field around a person that prevents satisfaction from occurring.

Envy is a signal that we have not yet learned to appreciate the sufficiency of our life. It tells us, and those who observe us, that we are entangled in a condition of lack. It tells the world that we have not fully accepted ourselves as ourselves. It signals that we are cut off, separated from the oneness of creation. We never experience envy when we understand that we are part of the whole and all that is is part of us.

As the 8th century Hindu mystic Shankara said, realization of one's true self destroys craving. When we meditate upon the nature of the self we come to understand that an independent self is an illusion. When in meditation our frame of reference expands out beyond the horizon we realize that there is no independent self. We are all in this together, each a part of the whole. What is mine is yours. What is yours is mine. We have no reason to be attached to desires for more. We have no sense of not having enough.

A good description of a basic meditation to practice each day is A Sitting Meditation found in Buddha's Little Instruction Book by Jack Kornfield.

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© 2002 Tom Barrett