SuttaCentral

Buddhism and Career


#1

Dear Learned Friends,

Can you share with me if you know of any buddhist stories or teachings related to choosing the right career?

Thank you.

Blessings
Ben


#2

The Buddha asked people not to engage in the trade of living beings, meat, weapons, poisons, or intoxicants. - SuttaCentral

More positively, I would advise someone to find the intersection of what they’re skilled in and what the world needs. Best of luck!

If all else fails, you can always ordain! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::innocent:


#3

Also it helps to choose a career that is beneficial for others as well as oneself. One which ideally has like minded people. One that is morally compatible with the sila in the noble eightfold path. One you find is meaningful to you, and also allows you live the life you like to live. :pray:


#4

In this EBT having a job without stress is an example of good fortune:


#5

The general directive in the teaching is that the practitioner should move towards the monkhood, so if they cannot do that they should change their lifestyle to be as close as possible to monastic conditions. Removing attachment to samsara mentally must be accompanied by physical renunciation also.
The three sila factors of the noble eightfold path are a physical expression of right thought, and the remaining three mental factors are directed by right view , (as is right thought), so the NEP is divided into physical and mental in that way, and the much sought after mental progress cannot be made without corresponding lifestyle restructuring.


#6

Hi Alex,

Is there a sutta that mentions about this?

Ben


#7

with his legitimate wealth—earned by his efforts and initiative, built up with his own hands, gathered by the sweat of the brow—he makes himself happy and pleased, keeping himself properly happy. He makes his mother and father happy … He makes his children, partners, bondservants, workers, and staff happy. SuttaCentral

AN 5.41 is named ‘Getting Rich’!


#8

Hi Mat

Thank you. Getting rich Sutta is interesting. Which Sutta talks about the trade that one should not engage in?

Ben


#9

Right livelihood:

The definition

“And what is right livelihood? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood: This is called right livelihood.”

SN 45.8

A balanced livelihood

"Herein, Vyagghapajja, a householder knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.

“Just as the goldsmith, or an apprentice of his, knows, on holding up a balance, that by so much it has dipped down, by so much it has tilted up; even so a householder, knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.”

AN 8.54

Its relation to the other factors of the path

"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong livelihood as wrong livelihood, and right livelihood as right livelihood. And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, & pursuing gain with gain. This is wrong livelihood…

“One tries to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter into right livelihood: This is one’s right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter & remain in right livelihood: This is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right livelihood.”

MN 117

Wrong livelihood for lay followers

“A lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.”

AN 5.177

Wrong livelihood for contemplatives

… reading marks on the limbs [e.g., palmistry]; reading omens and signs; interpreting celestial events [falling stars, comets]; interpreting dreams; reading marks on the body [e.g., phrenology]; reading marks on cloth gnawed by mice; offering fire oblations, oblations from a ladle, oblations of husks, rice powder, rice grains, ghee, and oil; offering oblations from the mouth; offering blood-sacrifices; making predictions based on the fingertips; geomancy; laying demons in a cemetery; placing spells on spirits; reciting house-protection charms; snake charming, poison-lore, scorpion-lore, rat-lore, bird-lore, crow-lore; fortune-telling based on visions; giving protective charms; interpreting the calls of birds and animals … [The list goes on and on]

DN 2

Considering becoming a soldier? You may want to reconsider…

Then Yodhajiva the headman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: “Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that ‘When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.’ What does the Blessed One have to say about that?”

“Enough, headman, put that aside. Don’t ask me that.”

A second time… A third time Yodhajiva the headman said: “Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that ‘When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.’ What does the Blessed One have to say about that?”

“Apparently, headman, I haven’t been able to get past you by saying, ‘Enough, headman, put that aside. Don’t ask me that.’ So I will simply answer you. When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: ‘May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.’ If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: ‘When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,’ that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb.”

When this was said, Yodhajiva the headman sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] “That is what I couldn’t get past you by saying, ‘Enough, headman, put that aside. Don’t ask me that.’”

"I’m not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of warriors who said: ‘When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.’

SN 42.3


#10

Given SN 42.3, I’m curious as to why the list for Wrong Livelihood (AN 5.177) doesn’t include being a warrior or soldier.


#11

Not certain but it could be because soldiers actually fight wars infrequently, compared to the time they don’t. Habitually performed actions are a great problem. But in general if there was sila they would be conflicted.


#12

Yes, could be. Though it seems odd that selling weapons is wrong Livelihood, while actually using those weapons isn’t. Or perhaps there was a wish not to alienate the warrior class?
More generally, I suspect that the EBT list of Wrong Livelihood occupations isn’t intended to be comprehensive, it’s more like a set of illustrative examples from a particular historical and cultural context. It might be interesting to attempt a modern version of Wrong Livelihood occupations!


#13

Note that abstaining from alcohol is not mentioned under right action, in the Noble eightfold path thought it’s in the five precepts. People like Sarakani who had an alcohol addiction wouldn’t have become stream entrants if the inclusion criteria for starting the practice was too difficult; but it’s also important for the path to be able to achieve what it sets out to do without jettisoning the core dhamma for the sake of popularity!


#14

And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, & pursuing gain with gain. This is wrong livelihood…

What is the meaning of pursuing gain with gain?
Is persuading = cheating?


#15

I assume no. I think it more broadly means trying to sell