Right Livlihood - Possible bad intention of others

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Right Livlihood - Possible bad intention of others

Post by servicepak » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:44 pm

Hi there. I have an ethical dilemma facing me and I would appreciate some guidance. I live in Antigua in the Caribbean. I am a lawyer. The government of Antigua has taken the decision to commence an economic citizenship program to raise money for the country. Antigua has visa free travel to Europe, Canada and many other countries. The idea of the program is essentially to sell citizenship to wealthy people in other countries such as the Middle East, Russia, China where there is no visa free travel. Wealthy people will buy the citizenship and get an Antigua passport to allow them visa free travel. As a lawyer, these wealthy people will come to me to ask me to make the citizenship application on their behalf. The government will put each applicant through a stringent international due diligence process to ensure that they are suitable for citizenship. Amy job will be to fill out the application forms and submit them. What has been on my mind is that it is not possible to read the minds and true intentions of any particular applicant and it is possible that an applicant that I assist in making application for citizenship and obtaining an Antigua passport, may have bad intentions and use that passport to enter a country and commit heinous acts and hurt people including terrorist acts. I understand that Buddhism requires right livelihood where the means by which we earn our living does not do harm to others. My question is, if I undertake this type of work, and make applications for people applying for economic citizenship, will I be breaking the right livelihood rule? I have thought about this issue a lot but I am unable to come to a conclusion and would love some guidance. Thank you.

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Re: Right Livlihood - Possible bad intention of others

Post by Ben » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:53 pm

Greetings servicepak
My understanding is that you are providing advice and assisting with the applications of would-be citizens in your capacity as lawyer.
I don't think you need take responsibility of the future evil intentions of those who you have assisted.
From a legalistic Buddhist sense - I don't think it breaches the path factor of right livelihood.
with metta,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Right Livlihood - Possible bad intention of others

Post by Cittasanto » Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:10 pm

Hi Servicepak,
The only real comparison here is the vinaya protocols for disciplinary matters. These assume the mendicant being questioned is telling the truth. So for purposes of filling out applications your job does not violate any of the five types of jobs specifically mentioned. And as long as what you put in the application is true, to the best of your knowledge, then there is still no violation.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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