Wrong livelihood?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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KarmaFarmer
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Wrong livelihood?

Post by KarmaFarmer » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:31 pm

Hi all

I have a question that I've been reflecting on for the past couple of days regarding wrong livelihood.

It is my understanding that the suttas state that wrong livelihood includes the trade of alcohol and intoxicants.

Is this definition restricted to the physical act of trading, or does it extend to working for a company whose business is the trade of such substances?

I have a potential job working in the finance team for a company that owns hotels and liquor stores, which is a good professional opportunity for me, but do not want to proceed if there are unnwholesome ethical and kammic implications involved.

Thanks you for any advice you can provide.

With metta

Troy

dharmacorps
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:55 pm

Would you be working directly for the company? What percentage of their business is liquor stores? The majority or a small amount? Would you have to be involved in supporting logistically the sale of alcohol?

If you are mainly providing financial services to a business, rather than the sales component, it could be OK by some people's interpretation. The wrong livelihood is in the trade of alcohol itself.

chownah
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by chownah » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:53 am

It would be good if a link to a sutta about wrong livelihood were brought here as then it would be clear to all what is being discussed.
chownah

TRobinson465
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by TRobinson465 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 2:58 am

This is a good question.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

KarmaFarmer
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by KarmaFarmer » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:27 am

Here is a link to a page on Access to Insight re wrong livelihood:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dha ... index.html

I’m interested in the 4th paragraph, Wrong livelihood for lay followers.

In terms of my example, the role is a manager responsible for financial reporting for a company whose main business is the operation of a national chain of liquor stores (500+ stores). No involvement in strategy or directly trading in intoxicants.

I’m concerned about where one draws the line as a layperson in such matters. For example, if this would extend to employees of a company trading in intoxicants, then would it then further extend to persons providing services to such a company lets say as an outside consultant as well?

In my heart I don’t feel it’s right to give my time to a company whose business is this trade, but would like to explore the question further.

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by salayatananirodha » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:28 am

This is a good question, and I think that it could be wrong livelihood and, if so, better to lose that worldly profit in the short term than damage your long term spiritual profit (one result of which can be worldly profit). I can only really justify another interpretation in that I may be involved myself in wrong livelihood, and I stay out of desire and fear. And I'm not a murderer for hire or anything, but a minor part of my job may involve the sale of intoxicants or poisons. If another job with reasonable pay and hours and transportation cost, etc. comes along without this suspected danger, I wish to take it, but I'm also not certain that my livelihood is wrong. Just don't try to explain away the buddha's teachings because they don't conform with your desire; don't believe your mind all the time, really investigate.
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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StormBorn
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by StormBorn » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:06 am

KarmaFarmer wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:31 pm
Hi all

I have a question that I've been reflecting on for the past couple of days regarding wrong livelihood.
Few months ago I also concerned about this. One venerable pointed me to this nice sutta (MN 117) about wrong livelihood. However, he said the Chinese parallel does not have what is underlined below (a two fold Right Livelihood). According to the Chinese parallel, Right Livelihood is simply a livelihood without "deception, flattery, hinting, and belittling, pursuing gain with gain."

It's the commentary to this sutta (while referring to the Visuddhimagga) says if a livelihood has anything to do with killing animals, then it will be a wrong livelihood.
“Therein, bhikkhus, right view comes first. And how does right view come first? One understands wrong livelihood as wrong livelihood and right livelihood as right livelihood: this is one’s right view.

“And what, bhikkhus, is wrong livelihood? Deception, flattery, hinting, and belittling, pursuing gain with gain: this is wrong livelihood.

“And what, bhikkhus, is right livelihood? Right livelihood, I say, is twofold: there is right livelihood that is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions; and there is right livelihood that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path.

“And what, bhikkhus, is right livelihood that is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening in the acquisitions? Here, bhikkhus, a noble disciple abandons wrong livelihood and gains his living by right livelihood: this is right livelihood that is affected by taints…ripening in the acquisitions.

“And what, bhikkhus, is right livelihood that is noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the path? The desisting from wrong livelihood, the abstaining, refraining, abstinence from it in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the noble path and is developing the noble path: this is right livelihood that is noble…a factor of the path.


“One makes an effort to abandon wrong livelihood and to enter upon right livelihood: this is one’s right effort. Mindfully one abandons wrong livelihood, mindfully one enters upon and dwells in right livelihood: this is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three states run and circle around right livelihood, that is, right view, right effort, and right mindfulness.
SN 55.26 says one will be reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell if engaged in a wrong livelihood.
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

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StormBorn
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by StormBorn » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:25 am

KarmaFarmer wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:27 am
I’m concerned about where one draws the line as a layperson in such matters. For example, if this would extend to employees of a company trading in intoxicants, then would it then further extend to persons providing services to such a company lets say as an outside consultant as well?
i think it's same as meat eating. Whether you are just one buyer or just one employee, still you are "proportionally" supporting the final outcome--animal slaughter or many bad outcomes of liquor consumption.
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

KarmaFarmer
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by KarmaFarmer » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:25 am

Thanks everyone for all your help. This has been a very insightful discussion.

:anjali:

SarathW
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by SarathW » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:52 am

i think it's same as meat eating. Whether you are just one buyer or just one employee, still you are "proportionally" supporting the final outcome--animal slaughter or many bad outcomes of liquor consumption.
What about using and consuming soap, ice cream and ferilser which contain animal products?
What about eating food for which farmers use insecticides?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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StormBorn
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by StormBorn » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:52 pm

SarathW wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:52 am
i think it's same as meat eating. Whether you are just one buyer or just one employee, still you are "proportionally" supporting the final outcome--animal slaughter or many bad outcomes of liquor consumption.
What about using and consuming soap, ice cream and ferilser which contain animal products?
What about eating food for which farmers use insecticides?
Come on Sarath, you can do better than that :hug:

If one knows making a particular product harms an animal (eg. animal fat soap, animal skin jackets/shoes) then your buying and consuming them contribute to the harming of the related animals. There are non animal fat soaps (Vegan soaps or vegetable soaps).

Same applies to the insecticide farmers.

Also something related (mentioned by a friend): Stolen goods are bought by many people in the black market due to the cheap price rather than the costly non stolen ones on the regular market. So buying stolen cheap items supports and encourages the future theft.
“Greater in battle than the man who would conquer a thousand-thousand men, is he who would conquer just one—himself.”

dharmacorps
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Re: Wrong livelihood?

Post by dharmacorps » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:05 pm

KarmaFarmer wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:27 am
Here is a link to a page on Access to Insight re wrong livelihood:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dha ... index.html

I’m interested in the 4th paragraph, Wrong livelihood for lay followers.

In terms of my example, the role is a manager responsible for financial reporting for a company whose main business is the operation of a national chain of liquor stores (500+ stores). No involvement in strategy or directly trading in intoxicants.

I think given your description here of the position, yes, your primary trade would be the operation of liquor stores, and would therefore be wrong livelihood.

Your deliberateness and review of the precepts and N8FP and considering all aspects of this is very positive, friend. Sometimes it is the times when we must follow those things and it is inconvenient for us is when our practice comes alive. :anjali:

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