Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Right Livelihood... Questions.

"Right Livelihood is, first, a way to earn a living without compromising the Precepts. It is a way of making a living that does no harm to others. In the Vanijja Sutta (this is from the Sutra-pitaka of the Tripitaka), the Buddha said, "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."

Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh wrote,
"To practice Right Livelihood (samyag ajiva), you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion. The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others. " ... Our vocation can nourish our understanding and compassion, or erode them. We should be awake to the consequences, far and near, of the way we earn our living." (The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching [Parallax Press, 1998], p. 104)

A friend of mine was quite judgmental about option traders, esp. the successful ones. He felt that they didn't really produce anything, so that they were evil.

I didn't agree with him, though I don't remember what argument I conjured up.

There seem to be two issues here. One is about resources. Is the option trader making the best use of his resources for the betterment of all things. Does one really need to do that? Does one only need to do that if they want to be a good person? The second issue is whether or not it is evil to make a living buying and selling for a profit. I knew a man, Lynn (RIP), who used to buy and sell forklifts. He never actually saw the forklifts. He'd buy them, sight unseen, and then sell them to someone, also sight unseen. Seems like forklifts can be judged by their age and hours of use. Was Lynn evil, making a living finding new homes for forklifts?

And suppose that Mother Theresa confessed that her motive in serving the poor was to earn a fine home in Heaven or maybe to earn some merit to be reborn as a buddha, while the owner of a casino ran his business to give joy and excitement to our lives (thus relieving suffering).

So much for suppositions. The Dalai Lama was asked if one should fight a small war to avoid a big war. I like his answer: that one never knows what will come from something else.

2 comments:

Kate Freeman said...

The second issue is whether or not it is evil to make a living buying and selling for a profit. --- Mr. Kim

The way you frame the issue is a this or that type scenario. When in reality there are far more questions one asks before determining how one feel about working ‘for profit’. How much profit? What are you doing with that profit? Do you earn the profit by exploiting others or by offering a valuable or even uplifting service? And more.

the owner of a casino ran his business to give joy and excitement to our lives --- Mr. Kim

I know I felt joyous at the casino when I watched that drunk guy piss on the carpet. He was relieving his bladder’s suffering. And it was real exciting when that guy screamed at me because apparently he was playing that slot machine that I approached; that one and the other four slot machines in that row. Wasn’t exciting when that old lady screamed at my friend after his slot machine paid off. Said she went to the bathroom and had left her bucket to mark her machine. Said he stole her winnings. It was joyous as this old woman cussed him out on his birthday.

We can sit there and conjecture on the nature of good and evil all day. It will get us nowhere.

Fuck those casinos. I think they are evil. . . or to sound more Buddhist official. . . Casinos compromise the Precepts. However you want to talk about it is fine with me. Just know that I think they suck.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Kate's comments, they are pithy and full of life. H.