Right Action and Right Livelihood

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
2600htz
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Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by 2600htz »

Hello everyone:

Im curious, do you guys take "Right Action" and "Right Livelihood" strictly as a ethical/moral part of the path ?
I ask because in the suttas they are always defined as: "no killing, no stealing, no selling drugs" so its just that, ethics, or is it something more?.

Thanks!.

santa100
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by santa100 »

From Ven. Bodhi's The Noble Eightfold Path:
The next three path factors — right speech, right action, and right livelihood — may be treated together, as collectively they make up the first of the three divisions of the path, the division of moral discipline (silakkhandha). Though the principles laid down in this section restrain immoral actions and promote good conduct, their ultimate purpose is not so much ethical as spiritual. They are not prescribed merely as guides to action, but primarily as aids to mental purification...

culaavuso
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by culaavuso »

"Right Action" and "Right Livelihood" as parts of the path to liberation seem to be primarily matters of kamma from the perspective of the fourth noble truth.
Ven. Bhikkhu Sujato wrote: Kamma deals only with intention and the consequences of intentional action. This is critical because of its place in the path to liberation. We can change our intentions, and thereby purify our minds and eventually find release from rebirth. That is the significance of kamma to us as individuals.

But ethics is not just a matter of individual personal development. It is also a social question, or even wider, an environmental question in the broad sense. How do we relate to our human and natural context in the most positive and constructive way?

I am suggesting that, while kamma deals with the personal, ethics includes both the personal and the environmental.
...
Ethics is not concerned with the ultimate escape from all suffering, but with minimising the harm and maximising the benefit we can do right here. It is relative and contextual.

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Mkoll
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by Mkoll »

As Ven. Bodhi said, one of the most important purposes of virtue is to aid in purifying the mind. One who develops stainless virtue develops a guilt-free and happy mind and this leads to concentration. I can't come up with a sutta reference for this, but I'm sure someone else could.

Also see the Relay Chariots sutta (MN 24).
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

jnak
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by jnak »

2600htz wrote:Im curious, do you guys take "Right Action" and "Right Livelihood" strictly as a ethical/moral part of the path ?
I do. I ended a lengthy and successful career on ethical considerations, once I took the five precepts. My practice is much improved.
"...I'm not much of an expert when it comes to the texts. I've simply learned a few parts, and put them into practice." Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

santa100
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by santa100 »

From AN 11.2:
For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, 'May freedom from remorse arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue.

"For a person free from remorse, there is no need for an act of will, 'May joy arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that joy arises in a person free from remorse.

"For a joyful person, there is no need for an act of will, 'May rapture arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that rapture arises in a joyful person.

"For a rapturous person, there is no need for an act of will, 'May my body be serene.' It is in the nature of things that a rapturous person grows serene in body.

"For a person serene in body, there is no need for an act of will, 'May I experience pleasure.' It is in the nature of things that a person serene in body experiences pleasure.

"For a person experiencing pleasure, there is no need for an act of will, 'May my mind grow concentrated.' It is in the nature of things that the mind of a person experiencing pleasure grows concentrated...

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Mkoll
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by Mkoll »

Yes, there's the one, cheers santa100.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

SarathW
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by SarathW »

:goodpost: Santa. :)
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

2600htz
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by 2600htz »

Thanks for the answers!.

"For a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue, there is no need for an act of will, 'May freedom from remorse arise in me.' It is in the nature of things that freedom from remorse arises in a person endowed with virtue, consummate in virtue."

What im trying to say is that maybe a person doesn´t kill, but he is unemployed, or he has a overweight problem, and that causes remorse to arise in him (a non ethical/moral issue). So maybe virtue is more than ethics but keeping a balance in all aspects of life?, i don´t know.

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Mkoll
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by Mkoll »

2600htz wrote:What im trying to say is that maybe a person doesn´t kill, but he is unemployed, or he has a overweight problem, and that causes remorse to arise in him (a non ethical/moral issue). So maybe virtue is more than ethics but keeping a balance in all aspects of life?, i don´t know.
You could say that higher virtue is more than just ethics, yes. You could reasonably say that it includes moderation in eating, sense restraint, and vigilance. I think you could also argue that it includes right speech, right effort, the ten courses of wholesome action, right mindfulness, appropriate/careful attention, developing a sense of urgency (saṃvega)...really everything the Buddha teaches apart from concentration and wisdom. It may be a bit of a stretch to categorize all that under virtue but you definitely wouldn't call them wisdom or concentration per se because those two are rather narrowly defined. So if we're going to stick to the threefold classification of virtue, concentration, and wisdom, it seems there's no where else to put them but virtue.

Of course, a layperson isn't necessarily expected to do all this though it would be good if they did as much as manageable. Taking refuge is the most basic expectation and following the five precepts is the next most basic for a layperson.

IMO of course.

EDIT: And BTW, I think the person consummate and endowed with virtue who has no need for an act of will to have freedom from remorse, concentration, and all the other good things that come of it has consummated all that I mentioned above and more.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

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Tranquil Winds
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by Tranquil Winds »

In my practice, I see Right Action and Right Livelihood, not only as an ethical code, but also more.

Right Action has to do with being mindful and remembering to act appropriately when getting caught in hindrances.

Right livelihood is living the practice on and off the cushion. For instance, letting go and allowing things to be, meditating, being compassionate, and- of course- adhering to the precepts.

Metta
May all beings be happy.

:anjali:

daverupa
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by daverupa »

2600htz wrote:So maybe virtue is more than ethics but keeping a balance in all aspects of life?
That's "right livelihood", if thinking in terms of how one feeds, sustains, shelters, and cares for oneself. This whole "get through one day and then another" that we all have to do is the primary activity of human beings, and as such needs to be brought into alignment with one's goals.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

chownah
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by chownah »

Does a person who lives on money and does not rely on work for obtaining the requisites have a livelihood?
chownah

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Sam Vara
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by Sam Vara »

chownah wrote:Does a person who lives on money and does not rely on work for obtaining the requisites have a livelihood?
chownah
I think that counts as a livelihood. Technically, we can't "live on money"; we have to invest it, or ask for it, and spend it. And then we have to make choices about what we do with the goods and services that convention calls "ours". These are, of course, all actions with ethical dimensions, which is what daverupa's post is about.

chownah
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Re: Right Action and Right Livelihood

Post by chownah »

Sam Vara wrote:
chownah wrote:Does a person who lives on money and does not rely on work for obtaining the requisites have a livelihood?
chownah
I think that counts as a livelihood. Technically, we can't "live on money"; we have to invest it, or ask for it, and spend it. And then we have to make choices about what we do with the goods and services that convention calls "ours". These are, of course, all actions with ethical dimensions, which is what daverupa's post is about.
I don't know what "that" refers to when you say "I think that counts as a livelihood". Many rich and retired people do not have to do anything to get enough money to obtain requisites for living. If someone is in this situation do they have a livelihood and if so what is it? Maybe I am asking for a definition of "livelihood" because it seems to me that there are some people who do not have a livlihood as it is usually defined...sometimes they are described as being "independently wealthy" or "retired"....neither of which seems to qualify as a "livelihood". Is the idea being presented that the act of buying things is a livelihood?
chownah

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