Many of us experience frustration in our working lives, that things are not going as fast as we would like, in the direction we would like, at the speed we would like. There can be a painful realisation as we discover that the world does not run at our command. An even deeper malaise happens when we compare ourselves to others and feel jealousy that their lives are going better than ours. This is all counterproductive, but today we will look the alchemy of jealousy and how to turn this base emotion into gold.
Some people put in an extraordinary effort to live somebody else’s dreams and contract themselves in the process. I know it because I’ve done it, spending swathes of time pursuing a goal that society or my community expected of me, and not because it was something I truly desired. Worse still, there are times when I have lost sleep thinking about how friends of mine are achieving more in that area of life…and why can’t I have it?
The Biblical tale of Korach is more than just a story; it is a paradigm and can be an incredibly powerful learning if we so choose. He is Moses’ first cousin who decides to stage a challenge for the spiritual leadership. Korach gathers 250 followers and despite Moses’ protestations to drop the challenge, they go through with it and all of them die. Put simply, Korach decided that he deserved to have the life of Moses and Aaron. He was wrong and paid the price along with a further 14,700 acolytes who also died. Moses then gathered a staff from the leaders of the 12 tribes and a blossom flower sprouted from Aaron’s staff, proving that he was destined to lead the priesthood.
What is most striking is that Korach was able to see deeply into his personal potential and was aware that he had a bright future, with descendants who would include great priests, teachers and prophets (1). Rather than remain content to follow his own path and to ‘flower’ in his own way, he forced the issue and decided to try and live somebody else’s journey. His sons still became leaders despite his actions, but Korach’s name was forever tarnished.
Every day we have a choice; to be jealous or to be powerful. The path of power is looking deeply and honestly into our own gifts and talents, and capitalising on working with the things we are good at. This, however, demands an honesty to recognise what we are not good at and where we need more training.
Jealousy can be a useful feedback system. When we are focusing on somebody else’s achievements and feeling any sense of internal contraction, that is a sign that we are not walking on our own highest path. There is an ease and grace when we are ‘in flow’, that is, using our own natural talents and pursuing the path that is truest to us. When that happens, every single one of us can fully blossom and create a bouquet of the finest measure.
HOW TO APPLY THIS IN THE BOARDROOM/MEDITATION INQUIRY: Where have you lost sight of your mission? Where are you consistently hitting resistance – could this be a sign that it is time to refocus your journey?
HOW TO APPLY THIS ON THE YOGA MAT: Notice where your body wants to move today – perhaps there is a muscle group that needs to be stretched or a limb which is calling out for more strengthening. Be aware of where you are hitting resistance in your asana practice – for example, perhaps your backbend is never as deep as you would like. Today, allow your practice to be guided with a sense of grace and flow.
Based on Parshat Korach, Numbers Chapter 16.
(1) As taught by Rashi on Numbers 16:7, who wrote: “Korach was a clever person: what is that he saw which led him to this folly? His eye led him to error. He saw a great chain of descendants emerging from him: The prophet Samuel…and then he saw that there would be 24 watches [of priests] from among his decendents, all of them prophesying Diving Inspiration..” (Artscroll Rashi, p196).