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Right Livelihood

The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path is the path to enlightenment as taught by the Buddha. It is illustrated by the eight-spoke dharma wheel because the path is composed of eight parts or areas of activity that work together to teach us and help us manifest the dharma.

Right livelihood means that one should abstain from making one’s living through a profession that brings harm to others, such as trading in arms and lethal weapons, intoxicating drinks or poisons, killing animals, cheating, etc., and should live by a profession which is honorable, blameless, and innocent of harm to others. One can clearly see here that Buddhism is strongly opposed to any kind of war, when it lays down that trade in arms and lethal weapons is an evil and unjust means of livelihood.

If we are embarking on a spiritual path, we need to live our lives ethically, and this means ensuring that we do as little harm as possible to anyone or anything while we’re earning our daily bread.

We cannot run away from our connection to the rest of the world. It guarantees our existence. If we have a “good job” and yet refuse to think about where our food comes from, where the plastic goes, why gas can be so cheap, and so on, our spiritual practice will be undertaken with eyes wide shut.

These three factors (right speech, right action, and right livelihood) of the eightfold path constitute ethical conduct. It should be realized that the Buddhist ethical and moral conduct aims at promoting a happy and harmonious life both for the individual and for society.

This moral conduct is considered as the indispensable foundation for all higher spiritual attainments. No spiritual development is possible without this moral basis.

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