Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

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

Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby vitellius » Thu Apr 23, 2009 4:00 pm

Dear friends,

I am now trying to find out which businesses are suitable for a practitioner.

Definitions of "Right Livelihood" that I am acquainted to do not exclude entertainment industry (e.g. organizing music shows), but 8 precepts and further sets of precepts propose practitioner to abstain from attending entertainments. Sigalovada sutta also recommends layman not to be a frequent theater-goer. Finally, there is a sutta where Buddha says that actors are going to hell (anyway, it seems unrealistic to me that Buddha could say that ALL actors will be reborn in hell).

Having an experience in public relations, I know that it often deals with half-truth. Especially when everything that is stated by a PR person is true but the real situation is different from one formed in minds of receivers of such information :)

And at least some types (I guess, most types) of modern advertising are aimed to developing kama[-chandha] to the advertised objects.

Buddha recommended to Rahula to reflect on his actions in such way: "Whether this action creates happiness or suffering for me and other beings?" So, the question I ask is "If this business develops skillful or unskillful qualities in me and its' contact groups / stakeholders?"

So please help me to find a limit of suitable work for a practitioner.

I'm especially interested in answers from those well-versed in Tipitaka and those who have already researched this topic and made such decisions.
Last edited by vitellius on Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
vitellius
 
Posts: 190
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby kiss » Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:49 pm

hi! i'm not a professional, sorry that i can't be of any help. just like to give you some encouragement :smile:

let us live happily, not hating those who hate us.
among those who hate us, let us live free from hatred.
let us live happily and free free from ailment.
let us live happily and be free from greed; among those who are greedy

(Dhammapada 197,200)
keep it simple, stupid~ my lifehack

keeping it simply said: 'i'm learning from Buddha to be wise and kind'

Bhikkhu Tissa dispels some doubts - an invaluable piece of advice to learn from, time to time.
User avatar
kiss
 
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:37 pm

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:51 pm

Lay people are not barred from entertainment, except on those rare days when they choose to take the 8 precepts.

Monks, 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.” Anguttara Nikaya 5.177

Does the business involve any of the above 5 prohibitions?
User avatar
David N. Snyder
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8152
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:24 pm

I may be uniquely equipped to answer this as I have been a full-time professional entertainer since 1980 or so, and a Buddhist since mid eighties, though to be honest I've only been a serious practitioner for the past ten years or so.

I went through a fairly long--and agonizing--period where I wondered if what I did was Wrong Profession, but after giving it a lot of thought I arrived at a couple of key points:

(1) If it were Wrong Profession, i was in a jam, as I'm in too deep to quit now and do something else;

(2) If it is Wrong Profession, what makes it so?

It seemed to me a great deal depended on intention and state of mind. I saw I could do a great deal of good through what I do with a few minor adjustments, and turn it into an opportunity not only to earn a livelihood, but to put out some positive messages and sneak in some dhamma. Now, long ago the charm of being in the spotlight wore off, so for me there is little ego involved in this. For me this is my job, and I want to do it well, but my peace of mind is my most important commodity so I've learned to be like that proverbial rock and remain unmoved by praise or blame.

Some entertainers, Dennis Miller and Glen Beck come to mind, thrive on a negative and hostile mindstate. Others can encourage a positive and healing attitude, which is what I dedicated myself toward doing. So if you're going to wallow in this seamy business of entertainment I think it's important to examine your mind, as it's easy to get lost in egoism and think it's all about your "self."

Now the Sutta about Taliputa the Actor is interesting:

On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrel's Sanctuary.

Then Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."

A second time... A third time Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of actors that 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."

When this was said, Talaputa, the head of an acting troupe, sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"

"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of actors who said: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas.'

"Magnificent, lord! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has the Blessed One — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear. I go to the Blessed One for refuge, to the Dhamma, and to the Community of monks. May the Blessed One remember me as a lay follower who has gone to him for refuge, from this day forward, for life."


It seems that the message here isn't that actors automatically go to hell but that holding the Wrong View that actors become Laughing Devas after death causes one to wind up in the woeful states. Thoughts?

J
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?
User avatar
BubbaBuddhist
 
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby salmon » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:29 am

Like Bubba, I'm also in the media industry. And while I'm not a performer, my job requires me to craft stories that will bring emotions out of people, and make people believe in what film-makers want them to believe in.

When I first started seriously practising a few years ago, my teacher made me take the 8 precepts on every full moon day. I protested, insisting that I couldn't, as my job required me to be surrounded by music and imagery, dwelling in a world of make believe. That was met with a Zen-ish smile and the silent insistence that I took my precepts weekly.

The first year was the toughest as I argued constantly with my mind on every full moon day, picking on my actions and challenging my creative decisions. Everything I did seemed to be violating the my precepts. I fretted that I would now "burn in hell" for taking the precepts and not seemingly being able to live up to them. Even senior practitioners were chiding me of taking the 8 precepts "frivolously" and even criticizing my teacher making me take the precepts. I went back to my teacher, telling him all the cons on why I shouldn't take the precepts weekly. But once again, he just laughed it off.

In the second year, it became easier to juggle precept days with normal days. In fact, they almost blended in with one another. And with that I realized that what was happening to me was that I had subconsciously build up my mindfulness level to quickly catch when my actions as not in line with the dhamma. And this consistent enforcement of being mindful now has a momentum of its own, such that even when I have not officially taken my precepts, my mind is aware of when I'm too close to overstepping the boundary. I have since been able to separate work with "enjoyment", and separating practice from work. True, there were times when I failed, but the precepts are not commandments, they are training rules. So as long as you don't make the same mistake twice, you'll be fine.

I have since gone back to my teacher to apologize and to tell him that I have understood the benefits of his insistence on me taking the 8 precepts weekly. There is no perfect moment, perfect place to practice the precepts. The practice is about how you live in the middle path of your life. The best time to start practicing...is now.

:anjali:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
User avatar
salmon
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:55 am

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby Individual » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:52 am

Oleksandr wrote:Dear friends,

I am now trying to find out which businesses are suitable for a practitioner.

Definitions of "Right Livelihood" that I am acquainted to does not exclude entertainment industry (e.g. organizing music shows), but 8 precepts and further sets of precepts propose practitioner to abstain from attending entertainments. Sigalovada sutta also recommends layman not to be a frequent theater-goer. Finally, there is a sutta where Buddha says that actors are going to hell (anyway, it seems unrealistic to me that Buddha could say that ALL actors will be reborn in hell).

Having an experience in public relations, I know that it often deals with half-truth. Especially when everything that is stated by a PR person is true but the real situation is different from one formed in minds of receivers of such information :)

And at least some types (I guess, most types) of modern advertising are aimed to developing kama[-chandha] to the advertised objects.

Buddha recommended to Rahula to reflect on his actions in such way: "Whether this action creates happiness or suffering for me and other beings?" So, the question I ask is "If this business develops skillful or unskillful qualities in me and its' contact groups / stakeholders?"

So please help me to find a limit of suitable work for a practitioner.

I'm especially interested in answers from those well-versed in Tipitaka and those who have already researched this topic and made such decisions.

I'm not too well-versed in the Tipitaka, but I am very good at giving advice, though I have difficulty following my own advice.

And my advice to you is: Instead of dwelling on your career in and of itself, ask yourself a different question, "What else could I do?"

There is no doubt that advertising and public relations is a field full of liars, and to do the job, you have to be a deceiver... To play on people's emotions and manipulate their psychology for your own gain. In the big scheme of things, this isn't good, of course -- not just because the Tipitaka or the Buddha says that deception is wrong, but because the loss of one person's opportunity for happiness is the loss of everyone, who would otherwise benefit from mutual, voluntary, rational cooperation towards mutual benefit. When you think about it, if advertising was honest, perhaps economies would be a bit more efficient.

However, what else can you do? Practically, economies need people to advertise. And if you have already spent a lot of time getting an education and experience in the career, would you throw your job away, for some silly ideal? And besides, anyone who would be fooled by one ad or PR firm would be fooled by another. If you left the field, they would easily replace you and little would change. But still, with the money you use, you could raise a wonderful family and donate to charity. So, there is a great deal of good that can be done with your current career.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby vitellius » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:34 am

Hello kiss, your quote has really made me to cool down a bit and to look on a problem from a more uninvolved position. So thank you :)

Dear Bubbabuddhist and salmon, thanks for sharing, have you ever tried to examine whether products of your job make people more attached (e.g. to music, to movies) or unattached? If they develop 5 hindrances or 7 enlightenment factors in your audience? If you did, and found out that they were developing unskillful qualities, have you found a way to make them more conductive to better qualities, and what was that way?

Hi Individual, I can't agree with such point. As for me, abstaining from supporting unskillful qualities in other people is quite important for safe development of Buddhist practice. "Little changes in the world if you quit" argument may justify in the same way almost any "wrong livelihood". I guess it's more about changing something to a practitioner, not to the world. But I certainly agree with you that we should measure our ethics not only by Buddha's words, but also by outcomes of our actions.
vitellius
 
Posts: 190
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby salmon » Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:40 am

Oleksandr wrote:Dear Bubbabuddhist and salmon, thanks for sharing, have you ever tried to examine whether products of your job make people more attached (e.g. to music, to movies) or unattached? If they develop 5 hindrances or 7 enlightenment factors in your audience? If you did, and found out that they were developing unskillful qualities, have you found a way to make them more conductive to better qualities, and what was that way?


I entered the industry LOOOOOONG before I started practising. In a way, it's my bread and butter. Sensual pleasures is very subjective. What I find pleasing, you may not. So how do you judge for others? While some films encourage to indulgence in sensual pleasures, there are also many that encourage people to do good (eg. Aesop fables and Jataka Tales).

I do my job to the best I can, without going further than necessary to "sell". When the film encourages killing, stealing, etc then I opt to NOT work on it. I can't down-sell something (like when i work on commercials) but I choose to stay honest in my opinions of what I work on, and don't lie to sell something that is not true.

Hi Individual, I can't agree with such point. As for me, abstaining from supporting unskillful qualities in other people is quite important for safe development of Buddhist practice. "Little changes in the world if you quit" argument may justify in the same way almost any "wrong livelihood". I guess it's more about changing something to a practitioner, not to the world. But I certainly agree with you that we should measure our ethics not only by Buddha's words, but also by outcomes of our actions.


As quoted by TheDhamma, the Buddha listed five kinds of livelihood that is considered wrong.

What, to you, is considered unskillful? I start by changing myself. And hopefully, by observing my actions, others will learn to change themselves, too. If I can indirectly contribute to someone at work to develop better morals (sila), I would have succeeded. If I can influence them to pick up the practice (samadhi), then I have succeeded even more. And, if they then start to learn to differentiate if their actions are wholesome or unwholesome (panna)...well, I have helped make the world a little bit better, no? And hopefully, their actions, in turn, can influence others they meet.

metta. :popcorn:
~ swimming upstream is tough work! ~
User avatar
salmon
 
Posts: 169
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:55 am

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby vitellius » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:20 am

salmon, thanks, this was helpful.

By "unskillful" I just mean Pali word "akusala", labeling any quality or mental/verbal/bodily action that has suffering as it's result, e.g. indulging in sensual pleasures or hostile thoughts.
vitellius
 
Posts: 190
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:21 pm

Re: Entertainment Industry, Advertising, PR and Buddhist Ethics

Postby rowyourboat » Mon May 04, 2009 12:39 pm

what is more conducive to the practice in my opnion is the health sector- doctors, nurses, social workers, and admin staff in such places help. -it helps that the only thing is not just making other people money- meaningful work i suppose.

another very important consideration is taking a job which allow you to practice regularly at home.- having enough free time to practice.
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha
rowyourboat
 
Posts: 1949
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:29 pm
Location: London, UK


Return to Ethical Conduct

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alex123 and 3 guests