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Jakob Matham, copperplate engraving of one of the seven deadly sins: Invidia (c. 1600)

Envy (Latininvidia) or ill-will, as the emotional resentment of the happiness and betterment of others, can be traced back to the luciferic influence in the astral body and is one of the seven deadly vices in the Christian occidental tradition.

„When we envy someone, we are not inclined to indulge in that virtue which goes to the deepest, innermost core of the being, to the divine of the other person. For compassion only has value when we not only have compassion, but when we can appreciate the core, the spiritual essence of the other person. Appreciation of human beings, however, as the basis of compassion, implies that we can accept the merits of the other person and rejoice in the successes, the development of other people. And all this excludes envy. Envy shows itself as a quality that is closely connected with the very strongest egoism of man. Envy is one of the worst influences of Lucifer. Everything that can live in our soul and can be registered under envy belongs to his domain, and every time we have an attack of envy, Lucifer seizes us by our drives in our astral body.“ (Lit.:GA 125, p. 192ff)

Envy attacks the etheric body:

„With envy the etheric body is attacked, it can go as far as the inhibition of the blood circulation. Something arises in the astral body like a fog, which does not allow one to see people, things and circumstances clearly. At the moment when a feeling of envy arises, the esotericist should think of beings worthy of veneration, of sublime works of art, all revelations of beauty.“ (Lit.:GA 266a, p. 432)

If envy is combated, it can transform itself as a karmic effect into the ahrimanic censoriousness, which has its seat in the etheric body:

„And the envy which we fight then often appears in life in such a way that we get the desire to seek out the faults of other people and to reprove quite a lot. We meet many a person in life who, as if with a certain clairvoyant power, always finds out the faults and dark sides of other people, and if we get to the bottom of this phenomenon, it lies in the fact that envy has changed into censoriousness, and this seems to be quite a good quality in the person concerned. It is good, they say, to draw attention to the presence of these bad qualities. Behind such censoriousness, however, there is nothing but transformed, masked envy.

For example, a person is envious in his youth. The envy later no longer appears, and the transformation of it in old age shows itself again in that the person concerned shows himself with the quality of dependence, of wanting to be dependent on other people, of always having to have other people to advise and help. A certain moral weakness occurs as the result of transformed envy, and we shall always see, when someone has this moral weakness, that there is the karmic result of transformed envy.“ (Lit.:GA 125, p. 194ff)

„Basically, karma works in such a way that it is still expressed like a quiet fulfilment in the same incarnation, but it becomes decisive for the character in the next incarnation. Thus, where envy has shown itself in youth, helplessness appears in old age. This is a quiet karmic nuance. It remains even after death and continues to work through Kamaloka, and that which then shows itself as constructive forces for the next life contains this karmic nuance and weaves it into that which expresses itself as the basic character of the three bodies, the physical, the etheric body, the astral body, in the next life. Now if envy is a basic characteristic of the character in one incarnation, it will have an effect in all three bodies in the next incarnation and will then result in weak health.“ (Lit.: Contributions 45, p. 5)

„Thus we are born among those people whom we have envied, or whom we have blamed. When a child with a weak body is born into an environment, we should ask ourselves: How should we behave there? The most correct behaviour must be that which is morally the most sensible: to forgive. It has a tremendously educational effect if we can lovingly forgive a weak child born into our environment. The one who does this really powerfully will see that the child becomes stronger and stronger as a result. Forgiving love must work right down to the level of the mind, for through it the child can gather strength to bend its earlier karma and bring it in the right direction. The child will also become physically strong. Such a child often shows characteristics that are unpleasant. If we love it - to the very depths of our heart, this acts as the most intense remedy, and we shall soon find how effective this remedy is.“ (Lit.:GA 125, p. 197)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.