Stage 2: Upeksha – ‘I can’t stand him.’
When the first phase is unchecked, we live in duality- we separate men and women as either friends or enemies. Envy, then manifests as ‘Upeksha’- ‘I can’t stand him’ and we walk the other way when he comes in front of us.
The danger of pride is real, and it begins to manifest first as a superiority complex. And if the other person were better, instead of celebrating his success, we get insecure. Like a man who can’t read may wish all books burned, our inabilities inflate viciousness when our heart is steeped in envy. Before launching a verbal attack on Lord Shiva in a public assembly, Daksha declared he isn’t speaking out of ignorance or jealousy. That’s how envy blinds us to our own faults and others’ inherent goodness.
The result of cultivating envy: we lose the taste for spiritual activities. But if we externally continue the spiritual practices- although internally we are disconnected from it, we’ll seek joy in other things- like fame, respect, money, etc. Instead of reciprocation from God, we find worldly glory, especially that which our object of envy has acquired. More than that, we’d be happy if he failed. We hear attentively- not the Lord’s glories but others’ faults. “The envious heart makes the ear treacherous,” said the Afro- American author, Zora Hurston.
Slowly, like rust that consumes iron, our envy begins to devour us. The scriptures compare spiritual practices at this stage to pouring clarified butter on ashes- there would be no ‘fire’ of devotion in our hearts despite the external devotional acts.
Stage 3: Dvesha- ‘I hate him.’
There is now a conscious hatred where nothing about him seems to impress you. The disease has now spread its tentacles on our very being; you may even pray for his destruction. We are cynical and lack empathy for his suffering; we revel in his pain. And if he is successful, we feel a strong sense of failure. As Socrates said, “The envious person grows lean with the fatness of their neighbor.”
To be continued…