The Spirits' Book
Book Four - Hope and Consolation
Chapter I - Earthly Joys and Sorrows
Relative Happiness and Unhappiness
933. People are often the architects of their own physical suffering. Are they the architects of their moral suffering as well?
Even more so, because material suffering is sometimes independent of their will. However, wounded pride, disappointed ambition, the anxieties of greed, envy, jealousy, and all the passions are the torments of the soul.”
“Envy and jealousy! Blessed are those who do not know these two gnawing worms! Where envy and jealousy exist, there can be no calm or tranquility. These passions torment anyone who is a slave to them, even in their sleep. The envious and jealous are always agitated. Is such a state desirable? Do you not understand that you create the most terrible tortures with such passions, and that Earth then truly becomes a hell for you?”
Many expressions paint vivid pictures of the effects of different passions. We say, “Bursting with pride,” “dying of envy,” “consumed by jealousy,” and so on; expressions that are very true. Sometimes even jealousy has no fixed object. There are individuals who are naturally jealous of anyone who rises, everything that is out of the ordinary, even when their own interests are in no way concerned, simply because they are not able to achieve a similar success. Everything that seems to be above the common horizon offends them, and if they formed the majority of society if possible they would want to bring everyone down to their level. It is jealousy attached to mediocrity.
Much of the unhappiness people feel is the result of the undue importance they attach to the things of this world. Vanity, ambition and greed make up a huge part of their misfortunes. If people place their goals beyond the narrow circle of physical life, raising their thoughts towards an infinite that is their destiny, then the difficulties of human life seem petty and foolish, like a broken toy over which a child weeps inconsolably.
Those who find their happiness only in the satisfaction of pride and gross material passions are unhappy when they cannot satisfy them. However, those who ask for no luxuries are happy under circumstances other people perceive as dire.
We are talking about civilized people, because savages do not have the same inclinations to envy and anxiety since they have fewer wants. Their way of looking at things is altogether different. In the civilized state, people analyze unhappiness, and are affected by them even more painfully. However, they may also analyze the means of consolation within their grasp. Christianity provides solace by giving them hope of a better future, and by Spiritism, that provides the certainty of that future.