Quick question about Right Livelihood

Hello :slight_smile:

I have a quick question I would like to ask about Right Livelihood. As I understand lay people should not involve themselves in the weapons business. While I am not an arms dealer, I do work for a military installation as a civilian videographer making educational training videos. 90% of the videos are about personal development, but 10% are combat related. We only make about 1 video a year and from what I have seen most get very few views. At the very most about 1,000 people watch them and I would guess they mostly skip over the content and do not learn much of anything from them.

I love my current job. I like the people I work with. My leadership is very supportive of me. I enjoy living in a forest and not in a city. And personally think people knowing how to defend their country makes sense. I also think my involvement even if there was a war would be very minor.

Any thoughts?

The relevant sutta here for a layman is SN42.3. Right livelihood for Renunciants (which you are not) is covered in DN1, DN8 etc.

As far as I can tell, your layman’s livelihood comes from making videos which are intended to train people in how to use weapons safely to defend themselves and others. Since you are not directly killing living beings in combat, nor are you directly inciting others to kill your livelihood is not wrong.

Its the Intention behind the action which is to be considered when deciding if its Right or Wrong, as the Buddha points out in numerous places. (eg MN55, MN58).

You may also consider

In the Commentaries, there is a story for Dhammapada verse 124 where the wife of a hunter becomes a sotapanna. According to this Commentary story, the bhikkhus asked the Buddha, “Venerable Sir, is the wife of the hunter who is a sotapanna, also not guilty of taking life, if she has been getting things like nets, bows and arrows for her husband when he goes out hunting?” To this question the Buddha answered, “Bhikkhus, the sotapannas do not kill, they do not wish others to get killed. The wife of the hunter was only obeying her husband in getting things for him. Just as the hand that has no wound is not affected by poison, so also, because she has no intention to do evil she is not doing any evil.”

:heart: :rose: :slightly_smiling_face:

(Disclosure : I’m ex military myself, was a Physician in my nation’s Armed Forces, retired after 25+ years of active service. Hence my assessment could be biased.)


Thank you for the excellent reply faujidoc1. :slight_smile:

I am not killing anyone! I also am not inciting others to kill. From what I have seen the combat related videos are purely instructional. They give an overview of a weapon or a strategy. I also am never the content specialist and do not get to choose what videos are made. All that I do is combine information and media content into training videos.

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@faujidoc1 basically hit the nail on the head.

I would add that when it comes to such military / police / government roles is to compare yourself to a wheel turning monarch (which I believe is an Ariyan (noble) ruler).

“Monk, a wheel-turning monarch provides just protection and security for his court, relying only on principle—honoring, respecting, and venerating principle, having principle as his flag, banner, and authority.

He provides just protection and security for his aristocrats, vassals, troops, brahmins and householders, people of town and country, ascetics and brahmins, beasts and birds. When he has done this, he wields power only in a principled manner. And this power cannot be undermined by any human enemy.

Once upon a time, mendicants, there was a king named Daḷhanemi who was a wheel-turning monarch, a just and principled king. His dominion extended to all four sides, he achieved stability in the country, and he possessed the seven treasures. He had the following seven treasures: the wheel, the elephant, the horse, the jewel, the woman, the treasurer, and the counselor as the seventh treasure. He had over a thousand sons who were valiant and heroic, crushing the armies of his enemies. After conquering this land girt by sea, he reigned by principle, without rod or sword.

So it is possible to wield a form of coercion in a righteous manner, although I would wager a lay Ariyan king would not be able to attain more than sotapanna, as further progression would require giving up such burdensome roles.

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Hi Thito :pray:

I’m at the most an academic, but really just a videographer. I have little to no power over my organization.

Of the opinion obtaining and maintaining a job like mine does require being principled. If you live an unskillful life you probably won’t last very long and there are many temptations.

Lol - I wish I had the seven treasures, but am very content living simply. Thankfully my job is not too demanding.

I’d much rather be a sotapanna.