do not compete with your brother

Today we ask that you look at the ways you compete with other people.

People are always competing, even if there’s no game, no race.

This pattern of behavior starts young, and is deeply ingrained.  Children compete for the attention of their parents.  They may experience terrible jealousy of their siblings, sometimes triggering violent behavior.

The myth of Cain and Abel runs deep.  According to this tale, jealousy is at the root of all murder.  And there is truth to this.  Indeed, if you look at most acts of murder, very often some form of jealousy is at the heart of it.

So it can be said that jealousy leads to violence.

Most often, jealousy leads to violence against the self.  You look at the person with the bigger house, the nicer car, the happy marriage, the successful career, and what happens?  A cruel voice says: “You worthless loser.  You failure.”

Why do you think Cain killed Abel?  To silence that terrible voice.

So humans compete with each other, as if life itself were some sort of brutal game.  One with winners and losers.  Only a select few can be declared “The Best.”  Only a few can win the medals and prizes.  The rest are destined to lives of mediocrity and failure.  

What a grim and awful portrait of life.  No wonder so many people are miserable.  This model makes it utterly impossible to feel joy, except for fleeting moments of “achievement.”

The truth of competition is that no matter how successful you may be, the next generation is always coming along to supplant you.  The top dog cannot remain top dog forever.  There’s always a bigger, better top dog.  

There is only one way to “win” at this game.

You must stop playing it.

That is the only way to win.

For if you play the game of competition, you are doomed to fail, sooner or later.  Death comes to billionaires and dictators.  People who were internationally famous even a century ago are now largely forgotten.  

You may know this.  But still, it is hard to really live from this place, to stop the urge to compete with your brother, to not feel jealousy and worthlessness every time you think you are “losing.”

To a large degree, this is instinctive behavior.  Animals in the wild compete for limited resources, and can be quite violent.  Primates have a hierarchical society, in which alpha males and females dominate the weak.  The strong and brutal survive to pass along their genes.

And there is no judgment around this.  Animals are totally innocent.

The truth is, humans are not so far from animals, on the whole. 

But — and this is key — humans, unlike animals, have the capacity to consciously go against their instinctive programming.

You can consciously choose to live life in a completely different way, often at odds with instinctive behavior.  And you can teach your children to live life in this way.  

Animals may compete to survive, but they also have the capacity to cooperate and even behave altruistically.  Mother animals may adopt babies that are not their own — sometimes from a different species.  Cooperation and altruism is a highly adaptive behavior in animals.  Animals who learn to cooperate usually have higher survival rates, and even thrive.  

So it is with humans, on a far vaster scale.  

Only humans have the power to choose non-violent responses to acts of aggression, not from a place of submissive weakness, but from indomitable strength.

When humans are not caught up in instinctive competitive behaviors, great energy is freed for them to create and expand on a massive scale.

When little siblings compete, there is fighting and crying.  Toys are broken, a mess is made.  When siblings play together, there is joy, and shared exploration.

It is the same for all men.  Learn to control your competitive instincts, as hard as it may be.  It is very possible to do this, by becoming more conscious around the behavior.

There is nothing wrong with playing games, from a place of joy.  But if you cannot play a game without taking yourself very seriously and feeling like your whole self-image and even survival depends on winning — then do not play this game.  You must give yourself a “time out.”

Humans can consciously choose to enjoy life, and appreciate life’s beauty no matter what their rank and status in some arbitrary societal hierarchy.  

In short, you have everything you require, right now in this moment, to dwell in peace and joy.  Nothing outside of you can give this to you.

Do not compete with your brothers from a place of status-seeking and jealousy.  You will never find peace if you do.