Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

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

Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:28 pm

Hello All,
I started a similar thread on ES.

I am looking to leave my current job and pick up a waiting position at a restaurant. I need to make a lot more money than I do now to help pay off some extreme debt and hopefully help pay for school. But I don't have my degree yet, so obviously my choices are limited (especially in this American economy).

A few of my friends work at bars and restaurants and make really good money, relatively speaking. I would like to do the same. However, of course, the concern is "dealing in meat and intoxicants".

Upon reading Right Livelihood: The Noble Eightfold Path in the Working Life by Susan Elbaum Jootla, there doesn't seem to be much wiggle room with the 5th Precept. She doesn't say anything about serving meat to others, but it seems serving intoxicants to others is not a good idea...

Any insight is appreciated. And please, don't sugar coat it for me. Tell me the cold, hard truth :-)

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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby AlaskanDhamma » Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:50 pm

Well in my opinion, which might not mean much to you, I think that you're in the clear as far as serving alcohol as a job. Supporting yourself is important. Attachment to money and worldly things is something to be avoiding, but in this world we as laypeople must survive somehow. We need to have a job. I think that if it is that person's choice to partake in drinking intoxicants, that choice in not influenced by the fact that you choose to work there. You can not be held responsible for what that establishment offers, only yourself and your own actions.

That's just my thoughts. Hope it helps. :)
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:09 pm

AlaskanDhamma wrote:Well in my opinion, which might not mean much to you, I think that you're in the clear as far as serving alcohol as a job. Supporting yourself is important. Attachment to money and worldly things is something to be avoiding, but in this world we as laypeople must survive somehow. We need to have a job. I think that if it is that person's choice to partake in drinking intoxicants, that choice in not influenced by the fact that you choose to work there. You can not be held responsible for what that establishment offers, only yourself and your own actions.

That's just my thoughts. Hope it helps. :)


Thanks very much for your comments AD. I tend to agree with you, but I just wanted to make sure to cover all the bases first. Is there not something to be said about my aiding them in consuming alcohol? I guess they would just get it elsewhere anyway...

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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:30 pm

how about getting a job to do with your degree? think about the long term benefits of doing that?

as for meat well if someone is so attached to the eating of meat or lack thereof that they would feel uncomfortable serving it then there is work to do there.
as for Alcohol same goes, we each make our own decisions in life we inherit the Kamma we sow it is how we deal with it that matters
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:49 pm

Manapa wrote:how about getting a job to do with your degree? think about the long term benefits of doing that?

as for meat well if someone is so attached to the eating of meat or lack thereof that they would feel uncomfortable serving it then there is work to do there.
as for Alcohol same goes, we each make our own decisions in life we inherit the Kamma we sow it is how we deal with it that matters


Thanks for your comments Manapa.

Well, my degree is in sociology...not many jobs out there for a student such as myself who doesn't have a degree yet...sociology is a pretty limited field without a degree.

I think you're right about working on my aversion to the eating of meat or consuming of intoxicants. Maybe it's not so healthy to despise it so much. Although, I wouldn't say I'm extremely against it. After all, I ate meat for quite a while until just recently, and I have consumed alcoholic beverages every once in a while, just haven't been drunk in a long time.

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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:58 pm

advertising? Marketing research? you could even get a job in mental health
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:04 pm

I would not personally worry about being a waitperson as far as Right Livelihood. Your job is to basically bring something from point A to point B. Sometimes it's a salad, sometimes it's a beer.

You could get a job waiting in a restaurant with a BYOB policy, meaning they don't serve alcohol but customers bring their own.
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:47 pm

Manapa wrote:advertising? Marketing research? you could even get a job in mental health


These all require a degree in the States. I'm still a student - I don't graduate until next year. I need money right now so I can begin paying off debt.
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:48 pm

Peter wrote:I would not personally worry about being a waitperson as far as Right Livelihood. Your job is to basically bring something from point A to point B. Sometimes it's a salad, sometimes it's a beer.

You could get a job waiting in a restaurant with a BYOB policy, meaning they don't serve alcohol but customers bring their own.


Thanks for the advice Peter. Though I've never heard of a restaurant with a BYOB policy.

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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:26 am

Dhammakid wrote:Thanks for the advice Peter. Though I've never heard of a restaurant with a BYOB policy.

Liquor licenses can be expensive and sometimes difficult to acquire. Thus a restaurant might have a BYOB policy.
Oh, and it means "Bring Your Own Bottle" meaning a bottle of wine.
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:39 am

Right Livelihood refers to trade in meat, in intoxicants, . . . therefore, appears to imply ownership of the business. If you are an employee and working for wages, it should not be a problem. It is the customers who are making the decisions as to what to eat and drink.

I would not want to own a business that serves meat or alcohol, but working as an employee would not be a violation of any precept, in my opinion.

Perhaps an analogy: If I take some people out to eat at a restaurant, everyone knows that I am a vegetarian and do not eat meat or drink alcohol. Even if I am paying, I don't tell them what they can or cannot order. That is their decision, even if I am the one paying.
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:40 am

i worked in a liquor store for 2 years, i learned a lot about wine and enjoyed talking about it with others who knew about it, but i hated the job over all, i was treated poorly by most people, had to deal with lots of rude and mean people, kids who try to buy, or steal, drunks etc. i finally just quit after a supervisor was rude to me... i dont regret leaving.
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby AlaskanDhamma » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:19 am

I found and interesting documents about jobs/careers in sociology. I see a lot in this list that could have entry-level potential if you use your time right to search.

colfa.utsa.edu/Sociology/Jobs.doc
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:47 am

TheDhamma wrote:Right Livelihood refers to trade in meat, in intoxicants, . . . therefore, appears to imply ownership of the business. If you are an employee and working for wages, it should not be a problem. It is the customers who are making the decisions as to what to eat and drink.

I would not want to own a business that serves meat or alcohol, but working as an employee would not be a violation of any precept, in my opinion.

Perhaps an analogy: If I take some people out to eat at a restaurant, everyone knows that I am a vegetarian and do not eat meat or drink alcohol. Even if I am paying, I don't tell them what they can or cannot order. That is their decision, even if I am the one paying.


This a great point Dhamma. Thanks for the enlightening perspective.

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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:48 am

jcsuperstar wrote:i worked in a liquor store for 2 years, i learned a lot about wine and enjoyed talking about it with others who knew about it, but i hated the job over all, i was treated poorly by most people, had to deal with lots of rude and mean people, kids who try to buy, or steal, drunks etc. i finally just quit after a supervisor was rude to me... i dont regret leaving.


Haha, thanks for sharing JC. You definitely won't catch me working at a liquor store anytime soon...or ever. I barely ever go inside them anymore. Nothing there for me, haha.

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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby Dhammakid » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:49 am

AlaskanDhamma wrote:I found and interesting documents about jobs/careers in sociology. I see a lot in this list that could have entry-level potential if you use your time right to search.

colfa.utsa.edu/Sociology/Jobs.doc


Thanks for the link AD! I'll be sure to check it out and get back to you.

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EDIT: I looked at the list and a lot of them do seem to have some entry-level/low experience potential. It seems they are more along the lines of an assistant or transcriptionist or something like that, which I don't mind doing at all. Heck, I'll fetch coffee for staff members if it pays well. I'll see which of these can be found in my area. Thanks again.
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Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby GrahamR » Tue Feb 17, 2009 5:29 pm

I recall working in hotels, bars and restaurants as a student too.
I remember seeing one client make himself so ill with alcohol after his wife left him that he lost his job and later died, all within a year. That was the most extreme case, but I saw others become ill and have marital and financial problems due to alcohol consumption too.
I’m very glad I don’t drink any more!
If you can’t get a better job, you do have to survive, but I would try not to work in the sleazy end of the market!
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby AlaskanDhamma » Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:26 pm

Glad to be of help. I hope you find something in your area. Don't let other people's personal choices get in the way of yours though. Good luck with everything!

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Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby GrahamR » Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:10 am

Peter wrote:I would not personally worry about being a waitperson as far as Right Livelihood. Your job is to basically bring something from point A to point B. Sometimes it's a salad, sometimes it's a beer.

You could get a job waiting in a restaurant with a BYOB policy, meaning they don't serve alcohol but customers bring their own.


I thought about the concept of just bringing something from A to B, but then you could use the same argument for trafficking drugs or running guns, to make an extreme comparison.
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Re: Restaurants/Bars as Wrong Livelihood?

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:22 pm

GrahamR wrote:I thought about the concept of just bringing something from A to B, but then you could use the same argument for trafficking drugs or running guns, to make an extreme comparison.

So?
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