57. Don’t be jealous.
This slogan is not only about jealousy, but also about overall irritability. If your meditation practice or mind training is making you even more irritable and touchy than before, something is off. You should be less susceptible to jealousy and irritability, not more so.
At times we are thin-skinned and bristle at the slightest provocation, and at other times we hide out under a thick layer of armor. But instead of bouncing between those two extremes, we can develop softness and toughness hand in hand, so that the heightened sensitivity and greater mindfulness that develop through the practice do not simply provide more reasons to be either jealous and upset or closed off and hunkered down.
Working with this slogan does not mean that you should not notice that some people have more than you do—more money, more power, more ability, more friends, more realization, more intelligence, more creativity, more teachings, more all sorts of things. The idea is to keep the clarity of that observation, but not let it tailspin into fits of jealousy and envy.
Jealousy can be a real cop out: it gives you a good excuse not to relate to your situation as it is. It is entertaining: you can muse about how much easier it would all be if you had whatever that other person has. Jealousy can deflate your confidence: in comparison to all those lucky ones, your situation seems to be so poverty-stricken and hopeless. Jealousy feeds self-absorption and makes you feel like a big ball of resentment and petty-mindedness.
There is a beautiful simplicity and stubbornness to slogan practice. Although it takes place in a kind of jungle of lurking resentments and swirling emotional upheavals and distractions, you can see that jungle for what it is, accept it, and even go so far as to appreciate it. What’s great is that you do not have to wait for a better alternative, but you can go right ahead. You can relate matter-of-factly to an emotion like jealousy, and stop seeing it as a mistake, threat, or embarrassment. It may come and go, but it no longer captures you.
Think of someone you know who you are jealous or envious of, and take a look at all the characteristics that spark that feeling. Now think of qualities or circumstance you have that might make someone else envious. There is no end to jealousy once it takes hold. Notice how it feels to be captured by jealousy and how it feels when you are able to drop it before it grows.