August 19, 2016

The Myanmars and Jealousy

I have read in the autobiography of U Chan Tha who was the one of the most eminent I.C.S in Myanmar that when he, during his stay in England for his I.C.S training,   questioned an Englishman who had lived in Myanmar on his administrative duty for some years on his opinion about the Myanmars, the latter remarked without hesitation that they were a people of high intelligence but had a lot of jealousy towards others. No doubt, they might have. I also have no objection to his remark. But I want to contend that by nature, all human beings, regardless of race, sex, belief, etc are very kind and lenient towards those who are inferior to them in terms of wealth, social status, governmental position, etc. but when they become their equals or superior to them in any respect, their kindness or leniency turn into jealousy or envy.
Jealousy is the product of the immaturity and instability of mind, like envy, stinginess, conceit, selfishness, arrogance, vanity, inferior complex, sensitiveness, etc which are negative emotional qualities, some of which are regarded as unwholesome mental concomitants (akusala cetasikas) in the Abhidhamma. So it should be noted that when we are jealous of others, billions of unwholesome consciousnesses arises in our minds, thus resulting in unwholesome consequences when this mental action is ripe to bear its fruits. According to the teachings of the Buddha, the persons who harbor jealousy towards others must plunge into the hell after death and then have a few friends and retinue in the next existence. We can also find that in our every-day life, the friendship built among close friends for many years, out of jealousy, is wrecked in a jiffy and that they are also on bad terms with each other. So it is obvious that jealousy brings nothing but trouble here and hereafter.
The Abhidhamma explains that jealousy, envy, worry, sensitiveness, etc results from hatred or anger (dosa) latent in our minds. The more hatred we have, the more jealous or sensitive we are of or towards others. People who harbor more hatred are subject to quivering or shaking  more in face of vicissitudes of life. Hatred can be annihilated totally only when we become Non-returners (Anagami), the third stage of Ariyahood.
However, most of us are just ordinary worldlings (Putthujanas). It is, therefore, impossible for us to explunge hatred totally from our mind. But if we practise equanimity (Upekkha) and sympathetic joy(Mudita), two of the Four Noble Sublime Abodes(Brahmavihara), we can, to some extent, eradicate jealousy towards others. The characteristic of Mudita is gladness at the success of others, its function being unenvious of others’ success and its manifestation to annihilate aversion, ill-will, anger, irritation, annoyance and animosity. But it is not easy either for us to exercise Mudita. However, we can start to practise it by arousing joy over the success of our bloods first,   over that of our relatives and close friends then and over that of even our enemy finally. If it is still difficult to exercise Mudita, we should first practise Upekkha by dispensing equal loving-kindness to all beings and removing partiality or personal bias for them. Then only should we proceed to practise Mudita. This time,   we will find it easier to exercise Mudita. It will be found that  if Mudita and Upekkha are practised repeatedly and regularly for a considerable length of time, our jealousy towards others will subside gradually, the hatred dormant in our minds will decrease in amount,  we will enjoy peace of mind and all livings beings will appears to us as ourselves and our bloods . At the same time, positive emotional qualities such as kindness, sympathy, tolerance, patience, magnanimity, flexibility, forgiveness, etc will arise in our minds.
Here, I am reminded of the thoughtful remark of Dr. Wapolla Rahula, the author of the world-famous book titled “ What the Buddha Taught”, that if a man is endowed with only intelligent qualities having no quality of the heart, he would be a cruel-hearted wise man while if he is possessed of only the qualities of the heart having no intelligent quality, he would be a kind-hearted fool and that only if he is endowed with both types of quality, would he be a perfect man. No doubt, we the Myanmars, as mentioned by the Englishman with whom U Chan Tha met in England, are endowed with high intelligent qualities such as rationality, prudence, , thoughtfulness, sensibility, decision-making skill, management skill, etc. So if they, having eradicated jealousy through the constant exercise of Mudita and Upekkha, could cultivate positive emotional qualities or qualities of the heart such as kindness, forgiveness, patience, magnanimity, etc, as by-products, they would be perfect men.
In fact, eradication of hatred is only the concern of noble persons (Ariyapuggalas). But jealousy stems from hatred.  Therefore, we should not let hatred breed freely and give way to jealousy in its own way. We should curb them to our possible extent through the constant practice of some Brahmaviharas. Now is the time for our Myanmar people democratizing the country. So, we the Myanmars should change our mindset which has not been nurtured  spiritually for many years. In other words, we should, through the practice of Brahmaviharas,  remove negative qualities of the heart such as jealousy, narrow-mindedness, superstition, envy, vanity, arrogance, the spirit of bullying the inferior, partiality, cruelty, etc but adopt positive qualities of heart such as forgiveness, broad-mindedness, tolerance, sympathy, spirit of sacrificing for others, honesty, accountability, transparency, etc. Driven by jealousy, we the Myanmars should not let the intimacy we built among our friends and relatives for many years be ruined. Instead of being jealous of others’ success, we should turn it into emulation and impetus and do our best to achieve success.


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