"Right Livelihood" Idea

In Your Quote the Buddha is talking specifically about people who have the potential to progress in learning the Dhamma, not the general population:

But if a tamable person doesn’t submit either to a mild training or to a harsh training or to a mild-and-harsh training, then the Tathagata doesn’t regard him as being worth speaking to or admonishing.

Thank you for pointing that out.
How would it be different for the general population?
If the general population is unreceptive, doesn’t he simply “kill them” as well? Or does he apply a different standard to those who are not monastics, yet are unreceptive?
If anything, I thought he might “kill them” even more readily, because they may simply not be as invested as and more fickle than monastics who have made a commitment to the monastic life?

I shall consider these perspectives and modify the one that I’m holding accordingly.
But my underlying point still holds: “competition” could be like “killing” or “destroying” or “annihilating” or any number of “bad deeds” that the Buddha metaphorically accepted and admitted that he does and endorses - i.e. redefine what it means to “compete” in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya.

That being said, it will likely require the development of some level of understanding to figure out just how this might look.

I think you are referring to the discourse with Ghaṭīkāra.
Ghaṭīkāra seems like he was not an ordained monastic and thus could not have been Jotipāla’s (who Siddhartha was in that previous life) preceptor or teacher.

Then Jotipāla said to Ghatīkāra, ‘Dear Ghaṭīkāra, you have heard this teaching, so why don’t you go forth from the lay life to homelessness?’

‘Don’t you know, dear Jotipāla, that I look after my blind old parents?’

‘Well then, dear Ghaṭīkāra, I shall go forth from the lay life to homelessness.’

Furthermore, it seems not only not a teacher-student relationship, but also not even a peer relationship, since it seems like Jotipāla did not even consider Ghaṭīkāra to be his peer (socially):

Then Jotipāla thought, ‘It’s incredible, it’s amazing, how this potter Ghaṭikāra, though born in a lower caste, should presume to grab me by the hair of my freshly-washed head! This must be no ordinary matter.’

It seems to me that Ghaṭīkāra was neither his teacher nor even his peer (socially), and Jotipāla was struck by how someone who was his “inferior” could go to such extremes to persuade him to go see the Buddha.

What do you mean “pursuit of gain for gain”?

How do patents promote dissension?
If anything, I was under the impression that they mitigate dissension because it protects intellectual property, the same way laws against stealing seem to aim at mitigating dispute over tangible property.

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Does anyone have ideas regarding how to earn their living based on and in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya?

They are not in training. As Karl says,

People who go forth have made a commitment to follow the path because they have reached a point of readiness to do so. The Buddha holds them to a higher standard than he does ‘ordinary’ people, so he judges them more strictly.

We would also want to know whether the English word used in the translation is being used in its literal sense of ‘executing/murder’ or its poetic sense of ‘cut them out of my awareness’ ‘have no further contact with’. It would be necessary to consult a Pali scholar about the basic meaning of the Pali word ‘kill’ is used to translate and (importantly) how the context it is used in effects its meaning.

I see. So someone who is unreceptive is as monastic is held to a higher standard and thus might be “killed” for something that a layperson is not “killed” for? That seems to make sense.

Sounds like it would be worth inquiring about this to get a more certain and definitive answer.
From the context of the discourse, the word “kill” in the sense of “take life” seems to fit because it seems more likely that a horse-trainer who could not tame a horse would euthanize and kill it rather than simply “‘cut them out of my awareness’ ‘have no further contact with’.”
Furthermore, it seems to fit the horse trainer’s surprised reaction to the Buddha upon hearing the Buddha state that he would kill a monastic, saying that that would not be appropriate.
However, a linguist would definitely be in a better position to clarify this issue.

I had in mind other discourses where the Buddha parries and re-interprets an accusation that he is an nihilist and (in the same or another discourse) says that he “destroys,” “annihilates,” and all other sorts of emotionally-loaded, even jarring negative words - but redefined them clearly to mean the destruction, etc. of harmful qualities of mind.

That one’s easy! Search for “right livelihood” in this forum and on Google. It’s the 5th factor on the 8fNP.


At that time Ghatikara was the Buddha’s chief attendent and a householder. From the following, I understand that Jotipala was his student.

MN81:6.2: Ghaṭīkāra had a dear friend named Jotipāla, a brahmin student.

“Gain-for-gain” is a later term from Buddhagosa.

The EBT reference for patents as a form of safeguarding is:

AN9.23:1.3: Craving is a cause for seeking. Seeking is a cause for gaining material possessions. Gaining material possessions is a cause for assessing. Assessing is a cause for desire and lust. Desire and lust is a cause for attachment. Attachment is a cause for possessiveness. Possessiveness is a cause for stinginess. Stinginess is a cause for safeguarding. Owing to safeguarding, many bad, unskillful things come to be: taking up the rod and the sword, quarrels, arguments, and fights, accusations, divisive speech, and lies.

With out patents there would be no patent litigation. Patents have turned into arsenals for large corporations to bash each other about the head brutally.

I work now in open source without restrictions. One of the decisions I had to make was what to do about novel work that is patentable. After thinking on this, I decided to simply abandon patenting and publish open source for all to use. I use the MIT open source license for all my stuff.


The Buddha via the precepts does acknowledge the existence of private property, but he doesn’t say it’s a good thing to own stuff. Quite the contrary. Monastics are allowed very little private property in the EBTs aren’t they? I was once told by a monastic that even taking ownership of a task (let alone intellectual property) was a problem from a monastic training point of view!


Touche. Relinquishment/renunciation.

I think there were multiple places in the EBTs where “running errands” was criticized as something to be avoided as perhaps it can be an escape from the true responsibilities of the monastic life?

I’ve actually thought about something similar, which I had discussed one time with Ajahn Brahmali.

The question that is not very clear to me is, what is the motivation for you @SeriousFun136 to create this?

One possible way to address this, is to have a non-profit owning the for-profit. Examples of this include India’s Tata Sons (which are owned by two charitable trusts), as well as the Mozilla Foundation & Corporation.


Interesting, that I one possible structure that I had in mind and am still considering.

:pray: :slightly_smiling_face:

I think there are multiple strands of motivations, but they all boil down to “earning a living in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya.”
In other words, to freely pursue my own professional interests and work together with others who have mutual or complementary professional interests in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya.
I wish to build such an organization from scratch and develop such a professional culture from the very outset - as opposed to trying to fit in Buddhist values into secular organizations or resenting what I see has pseudo-Buddhist influences in “Buddhist” organizations.

The former seems obvious, but an example of the latter is: https://www.sarvodaya.org/history
In addition to Buddhist values, this organization seems to espouse Gandhian and socialist/communist values, which I may not agree with entirely.

What are your profession interests please SF?


In addition to @Gillian’s question, I’m also curious to understand what’s the purpose of “earning a living in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya” for you. Why not ordain instead, since that’s probably the clearest way to earn a living in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya?

I’m also curious with your objection to Gandhian and socialist/communist values, since the Vinaya as practiced by the Sangha in the Buddha’s time was probably the ancient Indian equivalent of a kibbutz. Could you share more about your perspective please? :slight_smile:


In terms of what exact products and services such an organization would provide, my own interest seems to be in translating and formulating the Dhamma-Vinaya as a whole in one seamless, integrated unit (without any commentaries, later texts, etc.) - it might not be perfect, but this is what my interest as this time seems to be (hence my interest in SuttaCentral!).

This is the one concrete thing that I am interested in (or even obsessed with lol) trying to provide.

More generally than this, I am interested in leadership-related activities and interests too - I just don’t have as clear an idea (as say, what I mentioned above already) of what this sort of role or interest would look like or how it might evolve over time.

Other vague (but still worth mentioning, I think) interests that I have are in the fields of:
business (necessities, goal: profit),
finance (invest in companies in the necessities industry, goal: return on investments),
academia (theoretical and empirical study of Buddhism),
government (Dhamma-based governance),
charity (recipients: “needy”/lower socio-economic status and “worthy”/Sangha),
and religion (of course).
I think of these ideas as plants in the garden that I’ve been weeding and nurturing and modifying for some years now - this is simply the latest version of them, and I’m not yet sure how exactly to integrate or pursue these ideas just yet.

Only one other person that I have met so far has expressed both a genuine interest in and sincere commitment to joining and being involved in this organization (which we might begin in January 2024).

In terms of products and services, they are interested mostly in basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter, etc.). Outside of this, they seem interested in global community development work.

Hopefully, this gives some rough idea of what we have in mind so far.

However, we are interested in collaborating with other who have either mutual or complementary interests (we understand that not everyone will), and are willing to take time to figure out if and how their interests fit in with our own.

Good question. I definitely think of monasticism as the ideal profession or way of earning a living in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya.
I think this is because I don’t think that I am suitably and mentally prepared nor ready just yet.
I think that if I was, I would have probably ordained already by now.
Sometimes, I think of monastics metaphorically as professional athletes. I don’t think my mind is prepared nor developed enough to ordain just yet - if I did, I think I might be setting up myself for failure.

Hmm :thinking: well, I don’t disagree with those completely.
I just don’t agree with them relatively completely the way I agree with the Dhamma-Vinaya of the Buddha.
Even though I would definitely be open to taking good ideas from everything and everyone, I think of the standard or criterion by which to evaluate and judge what is actually a good idea (and doesn’t merely appear to be a good idea) is the Dhamma-Vinaya.
I think both Gandhian and socialist/communist values accord with the Dhamma-Vinaya to some degree, but both also fall short of meeting or even go contrary to the standard of DV, in some respects.

The two pillars of Gandhism are truth and non-violence.
However, Gandhi did not approve of the term ‘Gandhism’. As he explained:
“There is no such thing as “Gandhism” and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle or doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems…The opinions I have formed and the conclusions I have arrived at are not final. I may change them tomorrow. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills.”

The Gandhian notion of non-violence is obviously in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya, but Gandhian notion of truth may not be:

Gandhi described his religious beliefs as being rooted in Hinduism as well and, in particular, the Bhagavad Gita:
“Hinduism as I know it satisfies my soul, fills my whole being. When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita, and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita”.

I think the same can be said for communism/socialism as well.
Non-oppression of the labor class definitely seems in accordance with Buddhism (because Buddhism rejects any form of oppression against any being ever under any conditions), but the refusal to acknowledge and respect the concept of individual private property may not be in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya:

Communism (from Latin communis , “common, universal”)[1][2] is a philosophical, social, political, economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.

For example, I do not think the Buddha would reject the use of money or recognizing statehood under all conditions (for example, he does forbid monastics from accepting and using money, but that doesn’t mean he rejects it for laypeople too).

The point is, I feel relatively content and happy with Buddhism being the sole, exclusive, and primary foundation for the organization as I don’t feel like it is incomplete or deficient in any respect and it seems like it can serve as a solid, reliable, and dependable foundation by itself.
Furthermore, we could simply use the Dhamma-Vinaya as a standard and criterion to evaluate whether ideas that originate from outside of Buddhism are worth accepting, pursuing, using, etc.

I think that if we were to name all the different philosophies, etc. where we get (secondary) ideas from, it could get complicated really, really quickly - there would simply be so many!

Trying the “reply to this thread via email” function, so my apologies if this turns out badly haha! (oh well: samsara…)

To share my thoughts (apologies for the megalomanical-sounding “PJ’s vision 2030”, but that is really just the working name), they are in this blogpost: https://inquivision.com/posts/vision-2030

Pasting the post’s contents here for convenience:

"This is more to remind myself, than anything else, but the vision that I have in mind is the following.
The problem I’m trying to address, is a gap.

To dedicate your life to living as per the Dhamma, you pretty much have to ordain as a monastic. Sure, you can still live as a layperson dedicated to the principles of the Dhamma; but right now, there is still very little that is along the lines of the Sangha Vinaya, which helps to reinforce the practice of the Eightfold Path.

The danger as a layperson is that the five-sense world has a lot of distractions, and is not conducive to furthering the practice.

So the idea I have, is to create a non-profit that serves as a vehicle to promote Dhammic principles and practices: the Dhamma is for free and not for sale. And this goes beyond mindfulness alone, to focusing on the broader Eightfold Path.

To sustain this, the non-profit will then be supported by for-profit entities, which (tentatively) will focus on generating profits in an ethical sustainable way in the domains of

  • birth

  • ageing

  • illness

  • death

  • work (since, I think there is a lot of suffering there!)

Think of this vision as a Patagonia Works (but for the Dhamma, and definitely no fishing!) or a Mozilla Foundation+Corporation group.

So in this way, this will eventually be my Dhamma vehicle: something that supports my journey on the Eightfold Path, allowing me to live a life according to the principles laid down by the Buddha, in a way more focused than a typical layperson life but still respectful of the monastic Sangha"

Related to the above, is the idea of developing digital offerings to support Dhamma practice. I’m NOT talking about digital incense sticks, online zafu marketplaces, etc. But more along the lines of

I think Headspace pointed the way, but it is still very much captured by the capitalistic systemic forces that are funding it. So the above concepts could be developed by the non-profit entity I have in mind, in order to help bring the Dhamma’s tools to a wider audience, in order to relieve suffering and increase happiness.

In terms of sequence, I think it will have to be the for-profit entities that are developed first, before the non-profit is established (and maybe the ownership can be gifted to the non-profit). This is simply because of the need for funding in the five-sense world.

Now, you might be wondering why haven’t I done anything yet along those lines? There are a few reasons:

  1. Timing. I literally just thought of these ideas at the end of a retreat in 2018, then I went off to study interaction design. Now I have to serve a two year bond to the Singapore government. I am thinking about trying this after my two year bond is up, but there are other considerations (below).

  2. A lot of the above ideas were churned out at the end of a two-week self-retreat at Jhana Grove. Looking at my own mind, there was the restlessness that comes towards the end of a longer-retreat. Compared with the peace of samadhi, these ideas are exciting and … very much belonging to the five-sense world. So I wonder what are my true motivations for wanting to do the above, and if I’m not being delusional. Afterall, while the Buddha setup the Sangha, there has been no anagami that setup an equivalent lay-organisation. I wouldn’t claim to be wiser than the past ariyas, so this is giving me some pause.

3.There is a real danger of samsara-creep, with Buddhist societies being corrupted by the forces of samsara. I have been burned a few times by this. In university, my co-founder of the Buddhist society used his position of influence to seduce and sleep around with the attendees (I had wondered why the attendees had dwindled over time). Later, when I was in the Singapore Buddhist Fellowship executive committee, many meetings were extremely acrimonious and long (more than a whole Saturday was spent in exco meetings alone!). Another eye-opening experience was travelling to Hualien, Taiwan as a tourist; the two cab drivers that I hired over the four days spoke very badly of Tzu Chi, with one even saying that he would rather die than go into Tzu Chi’s hospital!

And I think it is also instructive that even the Sangha in the Buddha’s time wasn’t able to escape samsara-creep and its resulting suffering e.g. MN128 and the accompanying episode in the Vinaya.

Of course, these are just my concerns and considerations, and aren’t applicable to all. I’m also reminded of MN 33:

And how does a mendicant smoke out pests? It’s when a mendicant teaches others the Dhamma in detail as they learned and memorized it. That’s how a mendicant smokes out pests.

So perhaps there is some real merit to doing this thing too. :smile_cat:

Please feel free to take the ideas and develop them as you deem fit.

With much metta,



I got an email notification about your response, but not a notification on my account on the top right where my avatar is. Perhaps the @moderators should look into this! I had to click this thread to see that there was a new response.

I love it!
A rough idea or vision is always the starting point - it seems like you have allow your ideas and dreams to flourish without judging them in order for them to develop into something realistic, worthwhile, and valuable. I don’t think it is helpful to kill ideas with undue criticisms and judgment before even giving them a chance! May you be happy. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thank you sharing! I shall look into the blog and try to get a sense of your interests and goals.

I think SuttaCentral is providing a valuable contribution to the world.
I also wish to avoid duplicating efforts made by other individuals and groups and find a niche or gap to fill with my or our own contributions.

Would you be interested in at least discussing the possibility of collaborating? There is no pressure to commit for either of us, unless and until we are able to carefully consider and conclude that a collaboration would be suitable and valuable to pursue. If after discussing, we think that it might be suitable to collaborate, perhaps we could try to figure out how our ideas and visions fit, overlap, or complement each other?

Let me know your thoughts on this!

Please do this via PM rather than in the thread please :slight_smile: As these are archived, public discussions

You are welcome to invite whoever else is interested into the PM, and if anyone reading this is interested in joining in they can PM you


Thank you very much for informing me and clarifying! :pray: :pray: :pray:

If anyone is interest in talking, I would be happy to discuss with them through PM/private messaging!

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Can you explain what exactly this means?

The purpose of MN33 isn’t to tell us how to deal with flies and pests. It’s an extended comparison that the Buddha uses to explain how bhikkhus and bhikkhunis should work with the Dhamma. The Buddha takes something that his audience was very familiar with, the art of cowherding and chooses eleven qualities of a good/bad cowherd to explain the qualities of a good/bad mendicant as they develop along the Path.

First he talks about the cowherd:

2.1 “Mendicants, a cowherd with eleven factors can’t maintain and expand a herd of cattle.
2.2 What eleven?
2.3 It’s when a cowherd doesn’t know form, is unskilled in characteristics, doesn’t pick out flies’ eggs, doesn’t dress wounds, doesn’t smoke out pests, doesn’t know the ford, doesn’t know satisfaction, doesn’t know the trail, is not skilled in pastures, milks dry, and doesn’t show extra respect to the bulls who are fathers and leaders of the herd.
2.4 A cowherd with these eleven factors can’t maintain and expand a herd of cattle.

Then he speaks of each of the qualities with regard to the mendicants.

And how does a mendicant not smoke out pests?
8.2 It’s when a mendicant doesn’t teach others the Dhamma in detail as they learned and memorized it.
8.3 That’s how a mendicant doesn’t smoke out pests.

And how does a mendicant smoke out pests?
21.2 It’s when a mendicant teaches others the Dhamma in detail as they learned and memorized
21.3 That’s how a mendicant smokes out pests.

The rest of the sutta speaks about the other ten qualities, praising both cowherds and mendicants that have them all.

15.4 A cowherd with these eleven factors can maintain and expand a herd of cattle.

16.1 In the same way, a mendicant with eleven qualities can achieve growth, improvement, and maturity in this teaching and training.