Jealousy, Sharing Sweetness, and the Meaning of Kula

October 11, 2023

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I'm clear now about my jealousy, especially of colleagues. Aside from the awareness, what else can I do?

The answer is different for everybody because our karmas have different strengths. They have different momentums. They're more or less entrenched.

Some of them, when we are in some particular life, are ripe to be resolved to actually go away. It's a very particular and wonderful experience when some pattern that we have that's limiting us actually goes away, doesn't just become weaker.

But a lot of the karma patterns that we have just become weaker over time. The first step is that we have to become aware that they are limiting us. We have habitual patterns of body, energy, and mind that we don't even know that they're limiting us.

We may even celebrate them. We may even be paid for continuing some of our karmas.


Paid, yes. [laughter] For instance, competitiveness, which just saying that in a neutral way. But in many spheres of life, competitiveness is rewarded monetarily.

We not only have to recognize the patterns that are uncomfortable, but we also have to become uncomfortable with the patterns that are pleasurable. When I say become aware of them, I mean also have some distance between them and us.

In other words, stop identifying with them so strongly. I am this. I am that. I am this way. I am that way. This is part of my psychology, my astrology. We in the human realm really want to have stable self-definitions.

We make that sense of a stable self, even out of our limiting patterns. The first step is to recognize they're limiting us. They're not actually helping us. Then to feel that they're not really us. They're just these patterns that are traveling through.

When we recognize that and we have some real desire to be free of them, then they start to become weaker. Desire is the engine of everything. The stronger our desire to resolve or get rid of something is, the more it weakens.

It's almost as if our desire to experience life more fully and more freely pulls energy from those patterns and basically starves them. Then, of course, there's grace. It's not all up to us what happens.

Ma said, how do we want to self-realize? And she answered the question by asking that question with utter desperation. There's something about our desire/desperation to be freer that is actually a major player in this process of becoming more free.

But our desperation doesn't guarantee that it's going to happen on any particular timeline. [laughs] Because each of us is in this mandala of infinite events and God can do anything. Grace can do anything. It really is a collaboration between us and reality as us.

I'm kind of running out of physical time.

Yeah, you are, but not really. Only in this incarnation.

Yeah, I was thinking I'm bringing this forward.

But what can I say about that is when we feel jealous about other people's accomplishments, it's because we are looking for external validation ourselves. We think a successful life is being successful in the eyes of other people.

And maybe at your age you feel some regret about having missed out on some kind of accolades, or something like that. There are many medicines for that. But one is this, true life is just what it is. Get down with the humility of that.

Whatever it is, that's what it is. Somebody else's life is not your life. And whatever life you have is the life that's helpful to you. There's wisdom through your mind and the life that you have.

And if you have jealousy, then there's a few ways to go. Sometimes people who have that tightly wound thing of wanting to be best or recognized above other people, sometimes they get pulled up to great heights and then they get thrown down again. Many, many, many, many times.

Sometimes they don't rise to great heights, but they struggle with things like jealousy that you're struggling with. But all of these struggles are appropriate to this configuration of this person. They're the things that you can mine.

The number one step in weakening that is to be disgusted by it. [laughter]

It's a waste of time, it really is.

But it's not just a waste of your time. It represents a lack of intimacy. Inability to celebrate other people's successes is a lack of intimacy. It's like you're not offering sweetness to anybody.

I mean, I do get there, but not right away. Not right away.


Usually, the first hit is, ooh I could have been a contender. I could have been on Broadway.

Well, you couldn't have been. That's not true. That's not true.

Because I've had this other...

Because whatever happened is what could have happened. [laughter] Nothing other than what happened could have happened. That's what I'm talking about, just the sobriety of that.

That there is no alternate life you could have been leading. And that goes for young people too. That's not just for people of our age. Whatever life you're leading, that's the life you could have led. [laughter]

Yeah, not somebody else's life or some better version of their life. People say, well, if only I'd done this or something, but you didn't. There's no if only. You did what you did and what happened, happened.

So when we live in a culture that's so individualistic and our whole sense of self-worth is based on some idea of public approval, even if that approval is just in a small sphere, everybody wants to be an influencer. You can look at it as a form of possession, that you experience that jealousy.

The more you can look at those things as something foreign to your more natural self, the better. Like looking at it as possession or something that's just passing through, something that you don't have to identify with.

And unfortunately, because of the psychologistic culture that we live in, we tend to very much over-identify with our problems. It's very difficult to have it weakened because it's part of our identity.

So what do you want? And it gets to what I was saying the other day about when we were talking about donating clothing and I was asking people, why are we folding the clothes and cleaning them and folding them?

Everyone had very good answers, but they were all about themselves. What they would gain from that. Or how it would be compassionate or something like that.

You have to think about the poverty of not being able to share your sweetness and tenderness and joy with other people. Not being able to share that bond with people and those experiences.

What is it? We think we're invisible. I know what you're talking about. Even though you only wrote, I think, one word and one emoji, I knew exactly what was happening. Those things come through.

When we withhold our love, when we withhold our joy, when we withhold our celebration of other people. Even if someone doesn't have a lot of insight, we can feel that. It's an energy field. People can feel that when we withhold.

Think of that, how you're withholding nourishment from other people. It's a better way to orient yourself more outwardly than I have this problem. Think about how beautiful it is when we can share our love and joy and tenderness and concern with others.

It's very subtle. We create a conversation on a very subtle level. Whether we're sharing and making connection and being intimate or whether we're withholding or whether we're attacking. Something like that.

Most people tend to think, well, if I don't express it explicitly I'm invisible. No one knows what's happening. Oh, yeah, you know I said something and then I put a little heart emoji. No one knows that I'm really jealous.

Yeah, they do. [laughter] Maybe they don't know it consciously, but some people do. There's always, as I like to say, there's always someone who knows exactly what you're doing.

It might not be the person in your immediate environment, but there's always someone who knows. At least there's that wisdom that knows. You're never, ever getting away with it. Ever.

And even if no one like me comes along to say something like this, you are sending a communication. Our perceptions are usually pretty gross. We don't have a perception of the continuity, but we could. And we will at some point.

And there was at some point in my practice where I started to be able to really, in a very tactile and explicit way, experience this continuity we call reality. I would sit in my room at night and do this. [gestures] I just did minimal, minimal little movements with my hands.

I would see that movement across the room in this field of light and color. That's how our emotions are too. When we're with other people, that's how it is too. We're in this continuous field of livingness and everything we do and don't do transmits in that field.

So when we want to think about our problems relating to other people, we also want to remember that we are communicating that directly into other people's field. The feeling is not wanting to do that, not wanting to transmit jealousy into the field.

Wanting the best for everyone, wanting people to have a good experience. And when we really want that, then we just go in there and do that work to relax. So yeah, our karmas keep bubbling up, everybody's do.

Except the ones that miraculously go away. But over a lifetime, they just get weaker and they do keep coming up. In fact, I was quoting Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a great practitioner who said he was still seeing his karmas rise and fall.

Even though he was completely immersed in that experience of non-dual livingness. Still seeing his karmas doing a little dance, but he didn't have to do anything about it. It was just happening internally and there was no struggle, but they hadn't completely gone away yet.

I think that's inevitable. This is what I mean when I say, no one is ever going to be totally enlightened. But we can get to the point where we just really really want to give the best to everybody.

And so when those moments arise, we're thinking of them. We're not thinking of ourselves. We're not thinking of our problems and how terrible it is that I feel this thing. I feel guilty. You know, boring! [laughter]

We're just immediately thinking of other people's experience. This is one of the ways Abhinavagupta defined self-realization. This being entirely for others in a natural, spontaneous way, not like thinking about it. [laughs]

But it's just naturally what you want. So try to think about other experience rather than self-experience when those moments arise.

I was hoping you could riff on the sangha.

In Trika the word would be more either guru kula or mandala. Kula means the group of students studying very closely with a teacher. The sort of elected family of the guru. Mandala means those people plus the larger community of folks who are studying or hanging out or dating, or whatever they're doing.

In this tradition, which is a householder tradition where we're living in the world and we're not being renunciates, how we relate to other people is the fruit of the practice. The kula or the mandala becomes a field of practice.

Where we can take our practice off the cushion. And encounter others and try to relax and be in the state of our practice when we're encountering others. And see when we're not doing that.

And experience the roughness and discomfort when we're not doing that. And work things out between us and other people. That's what the mandala or the kula is for.

And in a sense, it's training wheels because kula has a really amazing, magical set of associations and meanings in Trika Shaivism. It means family, but in a limited sense, your regular old family, your birth family or your elected family of an ordinary variety.

It also means the family of the guru, of the students who are very closely connected to a teacher. Because those students are really dedicated to their practice. It means the family of everyone and everything.

The purpose of kula or mandala is to realize maha kula. To be able to relate to everyone being in the state of your practice. And with unconditional love and wishing the best for everyone, being of benefit to everyone.

The goal isn't to stick with that only happening in your spiritual community, but with everyone. Then even beyond the family of all beings and things is that the kula means everything that's within the body of the mother.

So the mother being that principle of reflection and creation. And that intelligent force full of wisdom and virtue that is creating all of these experiences that are reflections of the nature of the self.

Every reflection is happening within her. And that is the ultimate kula. The ultimate experience of kula would be to experience everything as having total equality and being the reflection of the nature of the self in the body of the mother, the divine mother, Shakti.

So there's all these different extensions of kula. And any one of them, starting with ordinary family all the way through to that ultimate sense of kula, they lead to each other. It's like an accordion that opens out.

And this is how everything in our practice is. We can start very small and very limited, but we can always use that as a thread to walk to the bigger experience of that thing. Until we have the ultimate view that we embodied of that.

Our first families bring us to our spiritual families through negative or positive effects. [laughs] And then our spiritual families, if they're functioning in the way that they're supposed to function in this tradition, bring us to the family of all beings.

And then that brings us to the equality of all phenomenon. All phenomenon become our family, not just sentient beings. I have a little altar in my living room that has pictures of Ma. It has my objects that I use to represent my ancestors.

It also has a speaker and my modem [laughter] and a bell and a little incense holder. And when I get up every morning, the first thing I do is I go downstairs and I ring the bell and wave some incense. And I wave the incense around everything.

The ancestors, Ma, the modem. [laughs] Because it's all the same, right? I wave it here and then because I once had a dream where Ma's helpers came in my dream. I wave, I give a little hi to Ma's helpers who are helping her.

It's all the same at some point. That's kula. I don't really feel any differently looking at a picture of Ma and looking at my modem. [laughter] I mean, that's the honest truth.

It is a living symbol of connection to all of you. [laughter]

There's that. [laughs] I don't really even think about it. It's just all alive. I used to feel very different about it. 10 years ago, if I heard myself saying this, I would have been horrified. What? Maha? Pictures of love.


Listen to a related podcast episode from Satsang with Shambhavi: Stop Competing and Enjoy


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