Using Material Gains from Wrong Livelihood

Hello everyone,

May you all be happy.

There was a book that says, if I remember correctly, the Vinaya forbids monks to accept or stay at a building that’s a result of wrong livelihood.

Continuing in this theme, would it be proper for a lay follower to use something given to them, something big like house or car, which they know gained from wrong livelihood?

Thank you in advance. :pray:


Could you be more specific on “wrong livelihood” here?

If it is stolen goods, and one knows that it was stolen, then even the normal laws of most countries forbid it from being used, let alone the Buddha’s Dharma.


The wrong livelihood that’s stated in Vanijja Sutta: business in weapons, business in satta, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.

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Well, it’s just too broad, you have to narrow it down to specific cases, (if it has a precedent case all is better), if I were a judge, I couldn’t give you any answers just based on that, even legal scholars or law theorists couldn’t answer to such vagueness either.

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For example, if I wanted to go to a place to do important business, but I missed the bus and I don’t have any cars, then my neighbor, who happened to be a butcher, said to me: “Hey, I can let you use my car, here are the keys.”

Then I would happily accept his kindness, and said thank you.

So what I mean here is you have to be specific on the cases for the sila can be applied, not just generalizing this theoretical aspect of Sila.

The Buddha too didn’t set up the Vinaya out of thin air, not until someone did some stupid things that he then prescribed their remedies

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Wooh, that case is difficult indeed, I’ve been to that situation myself, and a monk I know of was in this exact situation. In this case, most likely that he couldn’t give any advice to his family members without some fierce resistance from them.

So, it would be best, I think, that the person to slowly and gradually be financially independent from his family first. Don’t get into any arguments with them, and be a good example on his manners and behaviors, do not be lazy or slothful, but rather a hard-working and caring person, that will change people around him gradually and significantly over a period of time. But always, he must keep his five precepts, that’s the key.


Wrong livelihood for lay person means make sure your job is not those listed above, and don’t break the 5 precepts.

Wrong livelihood for monks is more wide. Since monks cannot accept money, the other stuffs are counted, food, lodgings, medicine, robes etc. Wrong livelihood can mean that some monks use their personal money to buy this kuti, that kuti cannot be stayed by any monk. If the kuti is donated (say a lay person build it and donate it), then it’s allowed to stay. Even if they lay person has wrong livelihood and used their money from that to build the kuti.

For monks, accepting stolen goods, donated by someone is not breaking the vinaya rule of stealing. Depending on what it is, it might be a good idea not to accept it, to avoid the country law persecuting. Eg. if it is just a pirated software (lay person install the software on the monk’s laptop, on their own initiative, as a gift), I don’t think it’s likely to be found out or persecuted. If it is a jet airplane stolen from us military, then of course, don’t accept such things.

Whatever job your family does, you cannot get bad kamma from that. Only if you inherit the family business do you get the kamma from the job.

There’s no issue for monks to receive meals from fishermen. So by that standard, I think there’s no issue for you to live in your family’s home.


The Buddha accepted the hospitality and gifts of General Siha, who was a warlord. The merit from that action saved General Siha from going to hell, which would have been the fate of a warrior otherwise.


To avoid any bias against ‘warrior,’ that description is used frequently in the suttas to describe the attitude necessary for following the path:

"Then there is the case of the monk who can handle the cloud of dust, the top of the enemy’s banner, the tumult, & hand-to-hand combat. On winning the battle, victorious in battle, he comes out at the very head of the battle. What is victory in the battle for him? There is the case of the monk who has gone to the wilderness, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling. A woman approaches him and sits down right next to him, lies down right next to him, throws herself all over him. When she sits down right next to him, lies down right next to him, and throws herself all over him, he extricates himself, frees himself, and goes off where he will.”—-AN 5.75

Samsara is composed of cycles which have momentum. It is necessary to have an attitude sufficient to meet and pierce that with wisdom.


I think Kāmabhogīsutta AN 10.91 is fairly clear on this, although not definitive.


Now, consider the pleasure seeker who seeks wealth using illegitimate, coercive means, and who makes themselves happy and pleased, and shares it and makes merit. They may be criticized on one ground, and praised on two. They seek for wealth using illegitimate, coercive means. This is the one ground for criticism. They make themselves happy and pleased. This is the first ground for praise. They share it and make merit. This is the second ground for praise. This pleasure seeker may be criticized on this one ground, and praised on these two.

BTW, to the OP’s concern about a monk incurring an offense by walking into a room that had been built using material purchased using money accepted by a monk… This is an extreme interpretation of the rules. To carry this principle over to lay life is a misapplication of a misapplication. Perhaps Bhante @Brahmali would have time to comment on this.

Although the commentary is not EBT, Dhammapada Verse 124 addresses this. (Read full story)

The monks began to discuss the matter, saying, “So Kukkuṭamitta has a wife, and when she was a mere girl she obtained the Fruit of Conversion; yet she married this hunter and by him had seven sons. Furthermore, during all this time, whenever her husband said to her, ‘Bring me my bow, bring me my arrows, bring me my hunting-knife, bring me my net,’ she obeyed him and gave him what he asked for. And her husband, taking what she had given him, went and took life. Is it possible that those who have obtained the Fruit of Conversion take life?” {3.28} Just then the Teacher approached and asked, “Monks, what is it that you are sitting here now talking about?” When they told him, he said, “Monks, of course those that have obtained the Fruit of Conversion do not take life. Kukkuṭamitta’s wife did what she did because she was actuated by the thought, ‘I will obey the commands of my husband.’ It never occurred to her to think, ‘He will take what I give him and go hence and take life.’ If a man’s hand be free from wounds, even though he take poison into his hand, yet the poison will not harm him. Precisely so, a man who harbors no thoughts of wrong and who commits no evil, may take down bows and other similar objects and present them to another, and yet be guiltless of sin.” So saying, he joined the connection, and preaching the Law, pronounced the following Stanza, [29.280]

124. If in his hand there be no wound,
A man may carry poison in his hand.
Poison cannot harm him who is free from wounds.
No evil befalls him who does no evil.


Thank you all for your generosity in giving Sutta references, advice regarding A, and helpful information.


This message is not intended to close this thread. If Bhante @Brahmali , or anyone else, is willing to give reply, please do so. Thank you.

I apologise for any rude wording. English isn’t my first language.


I got this … it is a complicated situation however it is not our concern how they got it but how the mind condition when he or she present it … and my personal opinion is as follow

a ‘dana’ is a ‘dana’ whatever it is, a great one or a lowly ‘dana’ it is depend on the mind situation

but kamma is not a resultant …

his/her crooked way to gather money is an akusala-kamma but his/her of giving ‘dana’ is a kusala-kamma …

both giving result, but not a resultant as in math

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@HSS I agree. Thank you for the input, Gandha Purissutama.


What an interesting case. As a lay person and a software programmer, I simply thank the giver of pirated software for the kind thought of help and guidance. Then I go buy that software legally. Understanding that purchase, the friend with pirated software has a choice. And that choice is theirs alone and none of my concern.

Software fed my family. Now, out of gratitude, I write free software. And I pay for what is asked out of gratitude for those programmers.

For me, it is simply this:

MN8:12.4: ‘Others will steal, but here we will not steal.’

As a monk, I could therefore not use a laptop with pirated software. But I could thank the giver for the gift and would simply await the installation of a legal copy.

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The Buddha’s attitude to meat is relevant. If it was not killed specifically for him it was acceptable.