the practical buddhist : essentials

thoughts on right livelihood

When I was growing up and searching for what it was I wanted to do with my life, I heard a lot of people saying a lot of different things. I heard things like:

Do these sound familiar? Are they pretty much the same advice you heard growing up? Yeah, I thought so. In my case, these, and other pieces of advice I was offered, came not from those who’d lived these principles but from those who regretted their own choices.

Advice from the eight-fold path

The Buddha taught his followers that by walking the eight-fold path, they would end suffering in their lives. One of the spokes in the wheel of the eight-fold path is ‘right livelihood.’  He taught that followers should refrain from doing anything for a living that brought harm to other sentient beings.

So for instance, if you work for a company that manufactures weapons or bombs, most likely, in the strictest Buddhist definition, you’re not engaged in right livelihood. But engaging in right livelihood is more than simply not harming others. It’s doing what your DNA is coded for; it’s following your own individual path to expressing who you are as a person and a contributor to the world’s development.

That sounds heady, right? My position on right livelihood is that you should never ever spend time doing work that…

Falling into careers isn’t right livelihood

What about your own occupation? Did you choose it based on your unique abilities and talents or did you ‘choose’ it because it allowed you to pay the bills and support your family? Is it really something you feel deep inside is what you should be doing each day?

Only you can answer that question for your own situation.


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