How can one overcome jealousy?

—Lavanya, USA


Dear Lavanya,

Jealousy is like a form of emotional cancer: it eats away your peace of mind, and as it does so, it grows ever larger in your thoughts and preoccupations.

It is rooted in the deep and abiding sense that we are separate from others: that someone else is perhaps more lucky, more attractive, wealthier, etc. than I am.

It’s also rooted in fear: that the other person might take something or someone away from that is “mine.”

Jealousy takes two standard forms: the usual meaning is that I, as a jealous person, am always on the lookout for other people who my partner might find attractive (potentially more attractive than me). It can also refer to envy: I wish I had won the prize or got the job instead of you.

So jealousy is rather complex because it can contain a strong measure of fear, resulting in anger and leading to regrettable consequences. But the antidote is not so complex: it lies in becoming increasingly centered in yourself.

I will assume the kind of jealousy you refer to is what I call the “romantic” or possessive variety. Some thoughts and precepts to meditate upon include:

1. No matter what happens to me or who loves or doesn’t love me, or betrays me, I am always the same: a child of God. What comes of its own, I accept as my karma and God’s gift to help me become stronger in my Self and desirous of loving God alone, ever more purely.

2. Attachment to loving or “having” another person is not pure love, especially if I become fearful of losing that love or jealous of anyone who might take my lover/partner away from me. Such attached love is possessive and narrows the heart, making my love all about me, and only a little about truly loving that person for his or her own sake. Jealousy is NOT love.

3. Jealous feelings and words will drive away, because they are so impure, the love the other person has for you. Perhaps at one time your love for each other was pure, but your feelings of jealousy are like a cancer upon that love and will ultimately poison the other person’s love and thus become a self-fulfilling but negative desire!

Suggestions include:

1. Develop or deepen your pure love for God. Pray to experience devotion. Pray to feel God’s love for you so you can both reciprocate and channel that pure and unconditional love to others, including your partner.

2. Vow to be friends always in your heart even if your partner were to leave you for another. Give to your lover the freedom God has given to you to love or not love.

3. No one owes us anything. We all have lived many lives and have had many loves and betrayals, we have betrayed others, we have been disillusioned and on and on. Why fixate on this one? God is present in all.

4. Convert your love, now polluted with jealousy, into friendship. For friendship is purer, nobler, and gives the gift of acceptance under all conditions. Human love is often tainted with desire and impure motives.

Talking about your jealousy isn’t generally that helpful. Demanding that your partner not speak with, associate with or communicate with potential rivals does not help. If there is a triangle being formed, that is another matter and I recommend marriage counseling. But, for now, you speak simply of the emotion of jealousy.

If I have misjudged your form of jealousy and it is more as envy, some of these points above still apply but there are others I would substitute.

For now, then, I hope I have offered some helpful suggestions.

Blessings to you, centered in the Divine Self, content and happy under all circumstances,
Nayaswami Hriman