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Episode 10 Transcript: Right Livelihood

Episode 10, 13 December 2014, Right Livelihood. [04:21]


Intro: Welcome to Buddhism Guide’s Audio blog.

Episode 10: Right Livelihood. [00:30]

1. Right and Wrong Livelihoods. [00:35]

  • A Right Livelihood is one, which does not bring any harm to anyone or anything.
  • Gautama Buddha listed 5 professions that constitute a wrong livelihood.
  • They are:
    1. Dealing in weapons;
    2. Dealing in humans;
    3. Dealing in meat production;
    4. Dealing in intoxicants, and
    5. Dealing in poisons.
  • Traditionally, these professions are dismissed out of hand; but I feel a little uncomfortable with that.
    • I have Indian friends that have joined the army, so that they can provide for their parents and siblings.
    • They didn’t go into the army with the sole intention of killing people, although, that may be a consequence of their action.
    • Also, if a country didn’t have any army, how long would it be before another country took it over?
    • These days, the army also does peacekeeping missions and so, in that way, is helping society.
  • It is clear, that it isn’t as black and white as Gautama Buddha’s list suggests.
  • I think that one should aim for a profession that:
    • does not harm;
    • is not deceitful or dishonest;
    • doesn’t involve trickery;
    • treachery;
    • or any kind of fortune telling.
  • Gautama Buddha went into a lot of detail about this last one, fortune telling.

2. Fortune Telling. [02:09]

  • In the Sutra, “The Fruit of the Contemplative Life“, Buddha stated this:
    • “Whereas, some priests and contemplatives, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood.  By such lowly arts as reading marks on the limbs, reading omens and signs, interpreting dreams, making predictions based on fingertips, laying daemons in the cemetery, placing spells on spirits, reciting house protection charms, giving protective charms, interpreting the calls of birds and animals.”
  • The list goes on and on, but I think you get the point.
  • Any type of fortune telling, or predicting the future, is a form of deceit and trickery, even if it is done by some religious person.
  • All you are doing is peddling false hope.
  • It is never right to deal in humans.
  • Such as prostitution, people trafficking, forcing children into work, or teaching them to fire a weapon.
  • Nor is it right to make illegal drugs and poisons.
  • All of these professions are bringing harm to people and so should be avoided.
  • The bottom line is that our livelihood must not bring harm to people, animals or the environment.
  • If we stick to this, we will be on the road to living a responsible life.

Outro. [04:00]

  • You can find more information about this subject in Karma Yeshe Rabgye’s books at
    1. The best way to catch a snake – A Practical Guide to the Buddha’s Teachings;
    2. Life’s meandering path – A Secular Approach to Gautama Buddha’s Guide to Living;
    3. Ripples in the stream – A Pragmatic Journey Through Gautama Buddha’s Teachings.
  • They’re available now, from Amazon and Kindle.
  • Thank you so much for listening, and I hope you enjoyed this audio blog.




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