Envy is about much more than simply wanting your best friend's fancy car--or even your neighbor's wife. World religions agree that while envy includes longing for what someone else has, it is often interpreted as wishing someone else badly out of jealousy, not rejoicing in another's content or success, or appropriating property not one's own. Use this guide to see where the five major religions stand on that sin of sins, greed.

Like greed, envy is a quality that keeps a person in a state of samsara, or continual rebirths. Envy runs counter to the concept of giving. One who gives is freed from envy, as the Majjhima Nikaya states, " A person who gives freely is loved by all. It's hard to understand, but it is by giving that we gain strength. But there is a proper time and proper way to give, and the person who understands this is strong and wise. By giving with a feeling of reverence for life, envy and anger are banished. " Milarepa, the 11th-century Buddhist poet and sage, described envy as one of the six fetters of non-liberation.

Christians follow the Ten Commandments and heed the tenth, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's." The sin of envy is explained in the Gospel, as the book of Luke states: "Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man's life does not consist of his possessions (Luke 12:15)." Saint Thomas Aquinas defined envy as "sorrow for another's good." In Catholic thought, envy runs counter to the supreme virtue, charity. Envy also may lead to other vices, including hatred and rejoicing over the misfortunes of others. Orthodox Christians believe similary - the Apostolic Fathers wrote 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 Hindu yamas, or restraints. Covetousness falls under the yama of asteya, or nonstealing. The yamas 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 Hindu legend 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."

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."

Jewish texts explain that envy is not just wanting what one doesn't have. It includes these qualities: longing for another's possessions, discontent with one's possessions because one prefers those of another, and the appropriation of the property of another. (See Jewishencyclopedia.com. As Rabbi David Wolpe writes, the Jewish High Holiday literature describes envy as "narrowness of vision," which includes being unable to recognize the success of others. Like the Jewish concept of greed, there are instances when envy can be good, as it can increase people's motivation to do better.

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