The 5th precept of the Noble Eightfold Path surrounds the way we choose to use our talents and select professions. It states that we should earn our livings legally and peacefully.
This means that we should conduct ourselves honestly, speak with kindness, honor the agreements we’ve made, refrain from cheating and avoiding forceful behavior in an effort to make money.
Let’s face it…we’ve gone through a wild period of time throughout the world. Far too many of us have worked for organizations (banks, mortgage companies, manufacturers, etc.) that have been run on greed, mistreatment of employees and lies. Buddha states flatly that this is not the way to run businesses. And I’d guess that he would recommend not working for a company that lies, cheats and steals its way to success.
Many believe that the only way to get ahead is through the above practices, but Buddha would say that success is relative and that when gained wrongly will come back to bite us in the end. We reap what we sow — whether it is financial or moral collapse — we feel it deeply.
Our attachments bring frowns to our faces, cancer to our bodies and strife within the human family. The past few years of financial collapse and pain have revealed to us that gradual financial gain done ethically, honestly and with regard to the entire human family may have kept us from collapse.
Right Livelihood can be achieved — it can be done by honoring humanity, choosing a profession that truly reflects our passions & talents, creating products that will better the environment, avoiding greed, paying employees what they are worth (because they will give soooo much more), treating employees with honor and refraining from success gained by force or brutality.
A few questions we must ask ourselves include:
– Do I believe in what I work for? (if you don’t — you may want to rethink your career)
– Are my products & services causing suffering to others or the environment?
– Am I fully utilizing my talents and passions?(if you aren’t, you may want to make a change — you were given your talents for a reason)
– What steps can I take to follow my passion and/or find a career that is in line with the Right Livelihood principals?
The Noble Eightfold Path calls for us to do the right thing, even if it causes financial pain. It hinges on the reality that when we do the right thing we gain riches beyond our current comprehension!! What is the use of gaining all the riches in the world when our minds, bodies and souls suffer as result?
– By Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold