Jealousy, Covetousness, Nonstealing...
By any name, envy is wrong in world religions.
Continued from page 1
that jealousy was a more wicked sin than other sins because it was hidden, and that envy is the root of all evils. Mormons eschew envy as well. "See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires," the Mormon Doctrine & Covenant states.
Like avoidance of greed, avoidance of envy is one of the Hinduyamas
, or restraints. Covetousness falls under theyama
, or nonstealing. Theyamas
are seen by Hindus as advice, but not as commandments.
Hindu texts are also explicit about avoiding envy. "Among the profuse precious things a man may acquire, none surpasses a nature free from envy toward all," the Tirukkural states. The Isha Upanishad warns, "Covet nothing. All belongs to the Lord. Thus working you may live a hundred years. Thus alone will you work in real freedom." The Hindulegend of Prahlad
, which the Hindu holiday Holi commemorates, teaches that the pursuit of physical pleasures leads to envy and anger and does not bring happiness.
The Qur'an warns against envy, encouraging believers to be satisfied with their lot: "And do not covet what we bestowed upon any other people. Such are temporary ornaments of this life, whereby we put them to the test. What your Lord provides for you is far better, and everlasting (Surah 20:131)." The sayings of the Prophet reveal what Muhammad thought about envy. "The faithful believer emulates, but does never envy," one hadith relates. The 10th century Islamic philosopher Razi wrote that "envy is worse than miserliness: misers do not want to give anything of their own to others; envious people do not want others to receive anything, regardless of who owns it."Judaism
In Jewish texts, envy is first mentioned in the Torah, with the 10th commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." Later Jewish writings expand on envy. The Proverbs state, "A tranquil heart is the life of the flesh; but envy is the rottenness of the bones." The 13th-century Torah scholar Nachmanides commented on Exodus 20:17 that "if man subdues his desire he will never harm his neighbor."