Right Livelihood of the Noble Eightfold Path

Venue: TIMS 

Today, we shall continue with the next factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, which is Right Livelihood. It means earning a living in a righteous way. Occupations that are lawful, peaceful in nature, honestly carried out and do not harm others are deemed as right livelihood.

Lawful here does not refer to the law of government but rather to the law of the Dhamma that is based on a set of universal laws independent of the laws of any one country. Take for example, the Vinaya Pitaka, which is a set of laws laid down by the Buddha for monks. Since vassa follows the lunar calendar, the Vinaya rule says that the king of a country decides on the start of the vassa in his country. Thus a Thai monk stayimg in Myanmar has to follow the timing of its vassa and not that of his own country.

Let us look at some occupations that do not fulfil the criteria of lawful, peaceful, honest and harmless.

Unlawful livelihood would include running illegal lotteries, taking bribes especially for those in government service such as the police, and false accounting. Even a teacher who gives good marks to students as an incentive for them to attend his private tuition classes is not practising right livelihood

Examples of people who engage in non-peaceful occupations are bouncers, loan sharks and those involved in the recovery of bad debts.

As for dishonesty, a lawyer who twists the truth to help his client escape due punishment is not practising right livelihood.

Harmful livelihood includes drug trafficking, selling liquor, selling weapons and even selling fishing rods.

Try your best to abstain from such occupations and earn your living in a righteous way.

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