Is my job interfering with my practice?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby uniformsquare » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:26 am

I have a job at a theater my question is in regard to right livelihood. At my job part of my duties depending on the position I am doing for the day I am forced to sell fast food much of that is made from the flesh of animals, does this go against right livelihood?

"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."

— AN 5.177

Sometimes I am not sure about the morality of the theater business as an whole. I often think it is a bad thing because the web of illusions and lies they we present to the customer in my mind perpetuating greed, hatred, and delusion. Talaputa Sutta: To Talaputa the Actor SN 42.2 The Buddha warns of the effects entertainment has upon those who consume it and says acting is not a good path.

So in conclusion should I have additional reason to find a new job beyond lowest legal pay, poor hours, selling people dangerous food, and almost no upward mobility?

P.S. I hate my job T_T
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby Ben » Mon Aug 03, 2009 10:44 am

Hi Uniformsquare

I think your job might fall into that morally ambiguous category, not because you are serving fast-food, but because of your proximity to theatre.
My interpretation of 'business in meat' refers to work in an slaughterhouse or butchery. Not quite the same thing as serving meat-based fast food.
Kind regards

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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby Pannapetar » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:53 am

Theatres does not just entertain; they also educate.

Ajahn Brahm had something intelligent to say on skilful livelihood which seems relevant to uniformsquare's issue in this dhamma talk. It revolves around "how" rather than "what".

Cheers, Thomas
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby genkaku » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:34 pm

Dear US -- Not to detract from any good suggestions here, but I do hope you will consider your own (or others') views of what might constitute right livelihood. Is there some livelihood that is not open to error? If not, what is it that constitutes that error and how can it be corrected?

On a guess, I would say that anything that might be called 'pure' or 'right' depends on your mind or mine. There is no escape from purity or impurity so ... maybe it's best to investigate the mind that rouses up such notions.

Just a thought.
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:14 pm

Uniformsquare, I do not think what you are doing constitutes business in meat.
That said, if you feel your job is interfering with your practice then stop doing it.
That is the heart of the practice, looking into your own mind and taking appropriate steps.
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby chicka-Dee » Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:18 pm

I think one could potentially drive oneself to distraction analyzing such detail of every action (or inaction) that one takes. I think its good to consider such questions, but do not agonize over it. Ultimately it's up to you to decide what actions and inactions are best to take (or not). You have to consider the overall picture of providing for yourself and your family, as well.

But then, I'm not a vegetarian, and don't really understand the difference between killing an animal for self-nourishment, and digging up a potatoe (which kills the plant, doesn't it?) and eating it. The cycle of life is meant to provide for us all, and we for it. It's when waste and greed come into the picture that something is 'wrong', in my view of things. (And fastfood is both.. this would be more my concern.. the litter and poor nutritional value of the food!).

Anyways, that's my 2 cents of thought on the matter, for whatever it may be worth to you :smile:
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:08 pm

chicka-Dee wrote:[I]don't really understand the difference between killing an animal for self-nourishment, and digging up a potatoe (which kills the plant, doesn't it?) and eating it.

The difference is that one the Buddha teaches to be inherently unwholesome and the other not. A plant is not a living being. It is alive, but it does not have consciousness, does not act with intention, does not make karma, does not have taints, cannot be liberated from the taints, there is no "plant realm" for beings to be born into, etc. Whatever your personal opinion on the matter, the Buddha's teachings on this are clear.

As you said, waste and greed are unwholesome as well, regardless whether it concerns meat or plants or rocks.
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby chicka-Dee » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:32 pm

Peter wrote:
chicka-Dee wrote:[I]don't really understand the difference between killing an animal for self-nourishment, and digging up a potatoe (which kills the plant, doesn't it?) and eating it.

The difference is that one the Buddha teaches to be inherently unwholesome and the other not. A plant is not a living being. It is alive, but it does not have consciousness, does not act with intention, does not make karma, does not have taints, cannot be liberated from the taints, there is no "plant realm" for beings to be born into, etc. Whatever your personal opinion on the matter, the Buddha's teachings on this are clear.

As you said, waste and greed are unwholesome as well, regardless whether it concerns meat or plants or rocks.


I'll have to take your word on that, Peter, (about the Buddha's teaching) since I haven't looked into this very deeply at all. I did find this on wikipedia, though, and it seems not all would agree that plants are not sentient beings:

Sentient beings is a technical term in Buddhist discourse. Broadly speaking, it denotes beings with consciousness or sentience or, in some contexts, life itself.[1] Specifically, it denotes the presence of the five aggregates, or skandhas.[2] While distinctions in usage and potential subdivisions or classes of sentient beings vary from one school, teacher, or thinker to another—and there is debate within some Buddhist schools as to what exactly constitutes sentience and how it is to be recognized[citation needed]—it principally refers to beings in contrast with buddhahood. That is, sentient beings are characteristically not enlightened, and are thus confined to the death, rebirth, and suffering characteristic of Saṃsāra.[3] However, Mahayana Buddhism simultaneously teaches (in the Tathagatagarbha doctrine particularly) that sentient beings also contain Buddha-nature—the intrinsic potential to transcend the conditions of samsara and attain enlightenment, thereby becoming a Buddha.[4]

"Those who greatly enlighten illusion are Buddhas; those who are greatly deluded about enlightenment are sentient beings."
—Dōgen[3]
In Mahayana Buddhism, it is to sentient beings that the Bodhisattva vow of compassion is pledged. Furthermore, and particularly in Tibetan Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism, all beings (including plant life and even inanimate objects or entities considered "spiritual" or "metaphysical" by conventional Western thought) are or may be considered sentient beings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentient_being


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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:08 am

chicka-Dee,

I did find this on wikipedia, though, and it seems not all would agree that plants are not sentient beings:

As this is a sub-forum for discussing Theravada teachings, I do not see how the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism are relevant. :shrug:

(there was this great head-scratching emoticon on another forum which I liked to use when I was confused. doesn't seem to be available here tho. :cry: )

Since apparently I need to be very explicit...

According to the teachings of the Buddha as they have been preserved by the Theravada Buddhist tradition plants are not sentient. I am aware that other religions, such as Wicca, teach differently.
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby chicka-Dee » Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:07 pm

Hi Peter :hello:

I'm afraid I'm now scratching my head.. I didn't realize this forum was so narrow-focused as to only include 'Theravadin Buddhist' thoughts and ideas, and exclude all others. My training is of the Theravadin line, but I also draw on teachings from Zen, Taoism, and spiritual teachers outside of Buddhism as well. The Buddha himself asked us to not take his word on anything, to go and find out for ourselves through our own experience. This, for me, is one of my main ways of learning.

I appreciate that Theravadin (and I'm sure many other) Buddhists do not consider plants as sentient. But I also think that part of our spiritual growth is to be aware of, accept and appreciate differences. I certainly don't wish to try and convince anyone that plants are sentient when they believe otherwise, only to point out that not everyone (including fellow Buddhists) believes this. And it's nothing at all personal towards you.

Hope this helps.

With Metta,

Dee
"The image is a dream. The beauty is real. Can you see the difference?" ~Richard Bach from "Illusions"
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby Macavity » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:14 pm

chicka-Dee wrote:I appreciate that Theravadin (and I'm sure many other) Buddhists do not consider plants as sentient.


Neither do Mahayana Buddhists. "Sentient plants" is not an orthodox idea in any Buddhist school.

A contrary impression is sometimes given by certain East Asian Mahayana teachers, who are wont to speak of plants as if they were sentient, when they are waxing poetically (Dogen, for example). But even these, when giving more formal or technical expositions of Buddhist doctrine, will retain the earlier Buddhist schools' conception of the scope of sentience.
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby Ben » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:30 pm

Hi Chick-a-dee

Re:

chicka-Dee wrote:I didn't realize this forum was so narrow-focused as to only include 'Theravadin Buddhist' thoughts and ideas, and exclude all others.


This sub-forum is 'Theravada in the modern world' which was created for practitioners and those genuinely interested in the Theravada to discuss and discover the aspect of integrating their understanding and practice in day-to-day life. Within that context, the parameters are vast.
Please be aware that Dhamma Wheel is a forum predominantly for the discovery and discussion of the Theravada. While we have some sub-forums that are open for the discussion of nearly everything (within reason), most of the sub-forums are focused on Theravada point of view. The sub-fora within the Classical Mahavihara sub-forum are even more specific.
Having said that, everyone, regardless of affiliation is welcome at Dhamma Wheel. Many of our members are practicing Mahayanists and Vajrayanists and some are not even Buddhist. We just ask that our members abide by the TOS and to respect the sensibilities of the forum.
Kind regards

Ben

Ok, let's get back to topic which is infinitely more interesting than what I've just written.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Aug 06, 2009 10:39 pm

uniformsquare wrote:"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."

— AN 5.177

P.S. I hate my job T_T


I take "business in meat" to mean the trader, the owner of the business somewhere along the chain of events from the slaughterhouse to the grocery. There are many Buddhists who purchase and eat meat, but that is another long and heated issue, not the topic here. But if you are just an employee, I see no problem there. You are not the one profiting off that "business in meat."

But if you really hate your job (the p.s. above) then by all means, you should look for a replacement one.
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Re: Is my job interfering with my practice?

Postby chicka-Dee » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:11 am

I humbly stand corrected. Guess that'll teach me for getting my education from wikipedia :oops:

Now :focus:
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