What is right Livelihood?

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SarathW
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby SarathW » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:20 am

Ven Sir
Thank you for clarifying this for me again.
I oversighted your first comment.

“Trading in meat means, having raised pigs or deer, etc., he sells them.”

Now this is clear for me without any doubt.
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steinghan
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby steinghan » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:54 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:....
Working in a shop or supermarket that sells meat is not included. Why? Because the staff are not selling the meat, they are only filling shelves, or working on the checkout. The supermarket owners or shop-keepers are the ones who are buying the meat for resale. Likewise, if one is asked to work on the wine counter, and is serving customers who ask for wine, spirits, or beer, then one is not "trading in intoxicants."
...

The staff are, however making their living by working in a business trading in meat, intoxicants and perhaps even deadly rodent- and insect poisons. And the staff are not "only filling the shelves" - they are actively contributing to making the business possible. The importance of the staff shouldn't be neglected - no supermarket owner or shop-keeper could survive in business without staff to fill up the shelves, etc. - no staff no trade.

Surely, lots of people are in a position where they cannot be picky about jobs and it may be next to impossible (but only next to) for this or that particular person to find anything but lowlevel jobs in places trading in either of the five mentioned things. - Nevertheless, unless they are deliberately forced to work such said places - they have made a choice by themselves and they are participating in keeping the wheels of a business trading in meats, intoxicants and poison rolling on and on. For what reason? - To make a living, right? Thus, their chosen livelihood is based on the trading of said items as much as the chosen livelihood of the shop-owner.

While the staff may not be in breach of the 1. precept inasmuch as they are not intentionally urging the farmer to kill the cows - or even wishing for it - each individual lowlevel, low-earning member of the staff does contribute a tiny share to the whole meat trading business. I'm not saying he is a bad person and it would obviously not make any difference to the number of dead cows if he should quit his job - he'll soon be replaced - but, strictly speaking - isn't his chosen livelihood at least a little opposed to Buddha's advices on right livehood?

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:35 pm

steinghan wrote:Thus, their chosen livelihood is based on the trading of said items as much as the chosen livelihood of the shop-owner.

No. Their livelihood depends on doing their job responsibly and well. If they arrive on time, perform their duties well, and fulfil their duties to their employer, then they have right livelihood. If they don't, they may get dismissed, are lose pay.

The top management may have some responsibility for what gets sold in their stores, but the shop floor staff have none. Even if they work on the liquor counter, unless they are working on a commission, they are not earning a wrong livelihood.

There may well be better choices they could make, but as you know, most people don't have a choice — having no job is not an option if you have bills to pay and family members to care for. If you're single, then I guess you can always choose to be a monk or nun, but there are still right and wrong ways for monks and nuns to earn their livelihood. It is not easy to be perfectly scrupulous, whatever choices you make in life.

If you want choices, then study hard while young and choose the right profession, i.e. one that is conducive to the real welfare of others.

See my earlier reply in this thread about the Stream-winner married to a hunter.

As far as kamma is concerned, the buck stops here. If there is no intention to profit from trading in intoxicants or rat poisons, etc., it means there is no kamma involved with that improper trade.
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Cittasanto
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:47 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
steinghan wrote:Thus, their chosen livelihood is based on the trading of said items as much as the chosen livelihood of the shop-owner.

No. Their livelihood depends on doing their job responsibly and well. If they arrive on time, perform their duties well, and fulfil their duties to their employer, then they have right livelihood. If they don't, they may get dismissed, are lose pay.

The top management may have some responsibility for what gets sold in their stores, but the shop floor staff have none. Even if they work on the liquor counter, unless they are working on a commission, they are not earning a wrong livelihood.

Just for some clarification, how about a butcher or fishmongers? Where the meat & fish is bought from those who slaughter/fish i.e., kill the animal?

I understand your point about a supermarket or groccers chain such as spar or tesco in the uk but I would like some clarification about shop floor staff in the specialist stores.
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binocular
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby binocular » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:15 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
steinghan wrote:Thus, their chosen livelihood is based on the trading of said items as much as the chosen livelihood of the shop-owner.

No. Their livelihood depends on doing their job responsibly and well. If they arrive on time, perform their duties well, and fulfil their duties to their employer, then they have right livelihood. If they don't, they may get dismissed, are lose pay.

The top management may have some responsibility for what gets sold in their stores, but the shop floor staff have none. Even if they work on the liquor counter, unless they are working on a commission, they are not earning a wrong livelihood.

There may well be better choices they could make, but as you know, most people don't have a choice — having no job is not an option if you have bills to pay and family members to care for. If you're single, then I guess you can always choose to be a monk or nun, but there are still right and wrong ways for monks and nuns to earn their livelihood. It is not easy to be perfectly scrupulous, whatever choices you make in life.

If you want choices, then study hard while young and choose the right profession, i.e. one that is conducive to the real welfare of others.

See my earlier reply in this thread about the Stream-winner married to a hunter.

As far as kamma is concerned, the buck stops here. If there is no intention to profit from trading in intoxicants or rat poisons, etc., it means there is no kamma involved with that improper trade.


I would still like a comment to my earlier comment:

binocular wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:No Evil Without Bad Intention

In that case, a server or cook at McDonalds who wishes "Oh, if only our shop would sell enough hamurgers today so that we reach the quota as directed by the management, so that they don't close the shop and I won't lose my job" - this is an intention to trade and to profit from selling meat, even if an indirect one, as in such circumstances, it is a logically necessary inference that in order for the person to keep their job, (enough) meat must be sold.

Similar would be the case for such a person to desire a raise.



If there is no intention to profit from trading in intoxicants or rat poisons, etc., it means there is no kamma involved with that improper trade.

Someone who works at a restaurant, even if they work as a cleaner, likely automatically has the intention to profit from whatever the restaurant business is, as long as the person' has the desire to keep their job and earn a living.
Which means having the intention to profit from trading in intoxicants or rat poisons, etc., if this is what the business is about.

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:07 pm

Cittasanto wrote:I understand your point about a supermarket or groccers chain such as spar or tesco in the uk but I would like some clarification about shop floor staff in the specialist stores.

There's little point in repeating myself. Goenka takes the Pāli literally as "Trading in flesh," which is a correct translation of "maṃsavaṇijjā." However, the Commentary says that it specifically means raising animals and selling them for slaughter. One should not always take the Pāli text literally, but one should also take the context into account.

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Trading in intoxicants or weapons is a different case. You don't have to manufacture them, if you just trade in them, then its a wrong livelihood. However, the shop-worker is paid to serve customers, so unless they are working on a commission or urging customers to purchase alcohol or weapons, their intention is pure as the example of the hunter's wife shows. They are fulfilling their duty to their employer. A Buddhist should dutifully help his/her employer or husband/wife/parents, unless told to do something immoral such as killing, stealing, lying, etc. He or she can obey an instruction or request, “Please bring my gun, I am going hunting,” but not, “Kill that duck that I caught in the trap.”

The bottom line is that each individual has to decide for himself or herself what they feel is right, after consulting the various texts and asking about the meaning.
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D1W1
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby D1W1 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:52 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Maṃsavaṇijjāti sūkaramigādayo posetvā tesaṃ vikkayo.
Trading in meat means, having raised pigs or deer, etc., he sells them.

In my opinion this would include any kind of living-being sold for its meat or hide, but not if sold for other purposes, e.g. oxen for pulling carts, horses for riding, or dogs for pets or work.

Working in a shop or supermarket that sells meat is not included. Why? Because the staff are not selling the meat, they are only filling shelves, or working on the checkout. The supermarket owners or shop-keepers are the ones who are buying the meat for resale. Likewise, if one is asked to work on the wine counter, and is serving customers who ask for wine, spirits, or beer, then one is not "trading in intoxicants."

However, if one is working on a commission, or if one owns a corner shop that sells intoxicants or meat, then one is trading in and profiting from the sale of intoxicants or meat.

I think what Goenka says is right. The farmer who raises the livestock, the slaughterman who kills it, and the trader who purchases the animal products are all profiting from trade in meat (maṃsavaṇijjā).

However, it goes too far to say that checkout staff, or stockroom and delivery staff are trading in meat (or intoxicants).


Hi Bhante,

Thanks for providing this thorough and useful information regarding right livelihood.
If I can ask your thought, is working as a bartender considered wrong livelihood or right livelihood?

As written bellow, it's from different tradition but the same Right Livelihood (Noble Eightfold Path).

" Obviously a Buddhist cannot be a bartender or a cocktail waitress, ... "

(http://buddhism.about.com/od/theeightfoldpath/a/rightlivelihood.htm)

Do you agree with this?

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robertk
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby robertk » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:34 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:One should look at what the Commentary actually says:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Maṃsavaṇijjāti sūkaramigādayo posetvā tesaṃ vikkayo.
Trading in meat means, having raised pigs or deer, etc., he sells them.


If that is right, then what Goenka says (in black) does go too far. Trading in flesh, according to the Commentary, means trading in animals for slaughter, whether one raises them oneself, or buys them from the farmer and sells them to the slaughter-house.

However, what the Commentary says does not extend to buying meat from the slaughterhouse or the supermarket.

A householder who purchases meat from the shops is not guilty of breaking the first precept unless buying from a market stall that kills live poultry, sea-food, etc., to order. The same applies to a restaurateur who purchases meat for resale in his restaurant.

This topic is an emotive one, and the crux of the debate between vegetarians/vegans and meat-eaters. The fact is that no one can eat meat or fish unless killing is done by someone. However, unless one instigates that killing in some way, there is no kamma of killing living-beings.

The rule for monks is that the meat is allowable unless it is "Seen, heard, or suspected that the animal was killed to provide meat for the Sangha." If the animal was killed by the owner to sell the meat, or to use it himself, then if someone buys it or if the owner cooks it and donates to the Sangha, the meat is allowable.

In four ways one kills living-beings:
  1. One does it with one's own hand
  2. One urges another to do it. The vegetarians say that merely by purchasing meat, that one is urging others to kill. This goes too far. The one who kills is motivated by the desire to profit, and has already killed the animal. If one person doesn't buy it, someone else will.
  3. One condones it, i.e. permits it to occur when one has the right to prevent it, e.g. one owns a fish pond, and allows others to catch the fish. If they do it without one's permission, then one does not condone it even if one makes no special effort to prevent them.
  4. One approves of it.


:anjali: :anjali: :anjali:

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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby D1W1 » Fri Apr 29, 2016 10:59 am

robertk wrote:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:One should look at what the Commentary actually says:
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Maṃsavaṇijjāti sūkaramigādayo posetvā tesaṃ vikkayo.
Trading in meat means, having raised pigs or deer, etc., he sells them.


If that is right, then what Goenka says (in black) does go too far. Trading in flesh, according to the Commentary, means trading in animals for slaughter, whether one raises them oneself, or buys them from the farmer and sells them to the slaughter-house.

However, what the Commentary says does not extend to buying meat from the slaughterhouse or the supermarket.

A householder who purchases meat from the shops is not guilty of breaking the first precept unless buying from a market stall that kills live poultry, sea-food, etc., to order. The same applies to a restaurateur who purchases meat for resale in his restaurant.

This topic is an emotive one, and the crux of the debate between vegetarians/vegans and meat-eaters. The fact is that no one can eat meat or fish unless killing is done by someone. However, unless one instigates that killing in some way, there is no kamma of killing living-beings.

The rule for monks is that the meat is allowable unless it is "Seen, heard, or suspected that the animal was killed to provide meat for the Sangha." If the animal was killed by the owner to sell the meat, or to use it himself, then if someone buys it or if the owner cooks it and donates to the Sangha, the meat is allowable.

In four ways one kills living-beings:
  1. One does it with one's own hand
  2. One urges another to do it. The vegetarians say that merely by purchasing meat, that one is urging others to kill. This goes too far. The one who kills is motivated by the desire to profit, and has already killed the animal. If one person doesn't buy it, someone else will.
  3. One condones it, i.e. permits it to occur when one has the right to prevent it, e.g. one owns a fish pond, and allows others to catch the fish. If they do it without one's permission, then one does not condone it even if one makes no special effort to prevent them.
  4. One approves of it.


:anjali: :anjali: :anjali:


Hi robertk,

I thought above quotes is about killing and eating meat rather than a job as a bartender? :anjali:

D1W1
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby D1W1 » Fri May 06, 2016 5:07 am

Having raised pigs, one sells them. This is what selling meat means, a wrong livelihood. If someone cooks meat, cut meat, I assume this is not wrong livelihood as per the meaning of the letter but does cutting meat e.g. chicken breast fillet and cooking meat are actually create bad kamma? Any reply would be great. Thank you.

SarathW
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby SarathW » Fri May 06, 2016 5:21 am

Say if you see a dead dear (fresh) in the street hit by a car.
Say you have noting else to eat.
You bring the dead dear home and cook and eat it.
I do not think it is bad kamma.
It is bad kamma if you eat the whole dear in one go because of greediness. (but it is a different kind of bad kamma)
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby D1W1 » Fri May 06, 2016 5:32 am

SarathW wrote:Say if you see a dead dear (fresh) in the street hit by a car.
Say you have noting else to eat.
You bring the dead dear home and cook and eat it.
I do not think it is bad kamma.
It is bad kamma if you eat the whole dear in one go because of greediness. (but it is a different kind of bad kamma)


If a dead dear hit by car, ambulance or similar to that will come.
About eating in one go, I don't think dear is smaller in size than carrot.
But cutting meat or cooking meat is different. Does chopping meat, cutting flesh or maybe breaking the bone of dead animal (for some) create no bad kamma at all?

I would like to know about this since it seems to be pretty close with what you do with the flesh of dead animals. Some people are not allowed to cook meat so I guess there is reason for the prohibition.
Last edited by D1W1 on Fri May 06, 2016 5:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

chownah
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby chownah » Fri May 06, 2016 5:42 am

D1W1 wrote:Having raised pigs, one sells them. This is what selling meat means, a wrong livelihood. If someone cooks meat, cut meat, I assume this is not wrong livelihood as per the meaning of the letter but does cutting meat e.g. chicken breast fillet and cooking meat are actually create bad kamma? Any reply would be great. Thank you.

So, if a knife is sitting on the edge of a table and there is a piece of meat on the floor right below it and if an earthquake strikes and the knife falls off the table and cuts the piece of meat is bad kamma created and if so who owns it?....that is to ask if it is the reality of a knife severing meat fibres which gives the rise of kamma?
chownah

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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby D1W1 » Fri May 06, 2016 6:16 am

chownah wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Having raised pigs, one sells them. This is what selling meat means, a wrong livelihood. If someone cooks meat, cut meat, I assume this is not wrong livelihood as per the meaning of the letter but does cutting meat e.g. chicken breast fillet and cooking meat are actually create bad kamma? Any reply would be great. Thank you.

So, if a knife is sitting on the edge of a table and there is a piece of meat on the floor right below it and if an earthquake strikes and the knife falls off the table and cuts the piece of meat is bad kamma created and if so who owns it?....that is to ask if it is the reality of a knife severing meat fibres which gives the rise of kamma?
chownah


No person actually holds and cuts the meat so I wouldn't say there is kamma. :anjali:
But in most occasions people who work in food establishment, for example, cut the meat with his own hand. It is this activity that I am not quite sure.

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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby chownah » Fri May 06, 2016 8:49 am

D1W1 wrote:
chownah wrote:
D1W1 wrote:Having raised pigs, one sells them. This is what selling meat means, a wrong livelihood. If someone cooks meat, cut meat, I assume this is not wrong livelihood as per the meaning of the letter but does cutting meat e.g. chicken breast fillet and cooking meat are actually create bad kamma? Any reply would be great. Thank you.

So, if a knife is sitting on the edge of a table and there is a piece of meat on the floor right below it and if an earthquake strikes and the knife falls off the table and cuts the piece of meat is bad kamma created and if so who owns it?....that is to ask if it is the reality of a knife severing meat fibres which gives the rise of kamma?
chownah


No person actually holds and cuts the meat so I wouldn't say there is kamma. :anjali:
But in most occasions people who work in food establishment, for example, cut the meat with his own hand. It is this activity that I am not quite sure.

Good. So it is not the steel of the blade cutting the meat which causes kamma. Is it the physical contact between the hand and the knife handle which causes the kamma? Is it the connection of the hand with the rest of the body which causes the kamma? Is it the connection between the body and the mind which causes the kamma? Is it the content of the mind which causes the kamma? Is it the intent carried in the mind which IS the kamma?
chownah

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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby D1W1 » Fri May 06, 2016 10:25 am

chownah wrote:Good. So it is not the steel of the blade cutting the meat which causes kamma. Is it the physical contact between the hand and the knife handle which causes the kamma? Is it the connection of the hand with the rest of the body which causes the kamma? Is it the connection between the body and the mind which causes the kamma? Is it the content of the mind which causes the kamma? Is it the intent carried in the mind which IS the kamma?
chownah


It's no doubt the intention is the most important but it seems to be very close to "dealing with meat." A slaughterer leaves a whole dead animal for someone to convert it into pieces of meat for sale. That would include cut open the flesh, take all the innards out from the animal body, wash it, cut into pieces, sever the neck, etc.. Would someone who cut the flesh of the animal and do all that job never have doubt whether his job is right livelihood or not? He is not killing the animal but cutting the flesh of animals.

chownah
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Re: What is right Livelihood?

Postby chownah » Fri May 06, 2016 2:37 pm

D1W1 wrote:
chownah wrote:Good. So it is not the steel of the blade cutting the meat which causes kamma. Is it the physical contact between the hand and the knife handle which causes the kamma? Is it the connection of the hand with the rest of the body which causes the kamma? Is it the connection between the body and the mind which causes the kamma? Is it the content of the mind which causes the kamma? Is it the intent carried in the mind which IS the kamma?
chownah


Would someone who cut the flesh of the animal and do all that job never have doubt whether his job is right livelihood or not? He is not killing the animal but cutting the flesh of animals.

I think it is important for all of us to do our best to discern what our intentions are and it may be that the most valuable thing we get from right livelihood is the encouragement to ferret out some of our intentions and to try to understand how they arise.
chownah


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