Dear Noble Sangha,
This month at Rocky Mountain Insight we explore another factor of the Noble Eightfold Path under the category of Sila. Remember Sila is a Pali word for discipline or ethics. Right Livelihood is arguably one of the most important, or at least most prevalent, factors of the path of a modern practitioner. Most of us are not monks or nuns and so we must work to maintain our lifesytle and earn our livelihood.
Below are some words of the Buddha from the Pali Cannon describing Right Livelihood for lay persons, again these are taken from Access to Insight:
“And what is right livelihood? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood: This is called right livelihood.”
— SN 45.8
A balanced livelihood
“Herein, Vyagghapajja, a householder knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.
“Just as the goldsmith, or an apprentice of his, knows, on holding up a balance, that by so much it has dipped down, by so much it has tilted up; even so a householder, knowing his income and expenses leads a balanced life, neither extravagant nor miserly, knowing that thus his income will stand in excess of his expenses, but not his expenses in excess of his income.”
— AN 8.54
Its relation to the other factors of the path
“And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong livelihood as wrong livelihood, and right livelihood as right livelihood. And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, & pursuing gain with gain. This is wrong livelihood…
“One tries to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter into right livelihood: This is one’s right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter & remain in right livelihood: This is one’s right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right livelihood.”
— MN 117
Associate Spiritual Director
Rocky Mountain Insight