Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby Stephen K » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:28 am

Is selling cigarettes a kind of wrong livelihood? It is not explicitly mentioned by the Buddha as wrong livelihood, but that may be because probably there were no cigarettes during his time. Certainly tobacco smoking is harmful to health, so maybe business in cigarettes should be counted either as "dealing in poison" or "dealing in intoxicants" (two things explicitly mentioned as wrong livelihood).

What's your take on this?
My philosophy is simple: saying 'yes' to the positive and 'no' to the negative; because the positive is so much better than the negative.
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:45 am

Greetings Stefan,

My take is that it wouldn't literally be a violation of the precepts, but I think it is something you would want to avoid if possible, and if you must do it, then don't compound the negative outcome by ruminating over it.

Metta,
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby Stephen K » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:51 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Stefan,

My take is that it wouldn't literally be a violation of the precepts, but I think it is something you would want to avoid if possible, and if you must do it, then don't compound the negative outcome by ruminating over it.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Thanks Retro,

I don't intend to enter that business; it was just a general question regarding morality.

:smile:
Last edited by Stephen K on Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby cooran » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:52 am

Hello Stefan,

Is tobacco a drug
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1912

with metta
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby Stephen K » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:05 am

Thanks Chris.
My philosophy is simple: saying 'yes' to the positive and 'no' to the negative; because the positive is so much better than the negative.
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:12 pm

It is not clear to me to what extent we can be guided by ethical principles formed in a very different culture and 250 centuries ago...the Buddha did not know about tobacco. Neither apparently was it one of things he forsaw as posing a danger to his spiritual descendants. This is not surprising.
However WE know that smoking is linked to a range of cancers, not just lung, but eye, mouth, sinus, oesophagus ,larynx, stomach, kidney and bladder.
It is also strongly implicated in a range of heart diseases, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, infertility, babies who are small for dates, glaucoma and is a contributory factor in a whole host of other conditions including tooth decay, gastric ulcers and asthma.
We do not need to refer to culturally determined ideas of right livelihood.
Our own sense of what constitutes ethical behaviour should be sufficient.
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby Nori » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:14 pm

Its made explicit in the Suttas - a right livelihood is harmless (for both oneself and others).
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby bodom » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:32 pm

PeterB wrote:It is not clear to me to what extent we can be guided by ethical principles formed in a very different culture and 250 centuries ago...the Buddha did not know about tobacco. Neither apparently was it one of things he forsaw as posing a danger to his spiritual descendants. This is not surprising.
However WE know that smoking is linked to a range of cancers, not just lung, but eye, mouth, sinus, oesophagus ,larynx, stomach, kidney and bladder.
It is also strongly implicated in a range of heart diseases, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, infertility, babies who are small for dates, glaucoma and is a contributory factor in a whole host of other conditions including tooth decay, gastric ulcers and asthma.
We do not need to refer to culturally determined ideas of right livelihood.
Our own sense of what constitutes ethical behaviour should be sufficient.


:goodpost:

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:39 pm

PeterB wrote:However WE know that smoking is linked to a range of cancers.
We also know that tobacco companies have deliberately manipulated the highly addictive nicotine content of cigarettes in order to hook the smokers
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby PeterB » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:12 pm

True.
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby Ben » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:40 pm

Hi Stefan,
As Peter and Paul have stated - sometimes you'll just need to use your judgement.
The fact is that tobacco does kill and it kills very many people annually.
The guiding principle that seems to support the precepts and the path factor of right livelihood seems to be that of ahimsa (do no harm). That is - knowingly doing no harm to oneself or others. In which case I think any reasonable person can defend a decision not to sell tobacco because it breaches this moral principle.
All the very best.

Ben
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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby chownah » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:41 am

To support Ben's post here is the definition for ahimsa from Nayanatiloka's Dictionary:


Avihimsā, ahimsā, avihesā: harmlessness, nonviolence, absence of cruelty. The thought of harmlessness or non-cruelty; avihimsā-vitakka is one of the three constituents of right motivation sammā-sankappa, i.e. the 2nd factor of the 8-fold path see: magga. In the several lists of elements dhātu appears also an element of harmlessness avihesā-dhātu, in the sense of an irreducible elementary quality of Noble thought, speech & behaviour. See Dhp. 225, 261, 270, 300.

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Re: Selling cigarettes and right livelihood

Postby Ben » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:44 am

Thank you, Chownah!
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

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