Noble Eightfold Path
One of the most basic of Buddhist teachings is that of right livelihood. Right livelihood is part of the 8-fold way, the way Buddha encouraged believers to live their lives.
In Buddhist thinking, right livelihood means to work, earn money and spend it in such as way that it does the least harm possible. It means to select work consciously, choosing work that will help other people and the world. It means not being greedy, but accepting payment sufficient to meet one’s needs. It also refers to careful consumption, using just what one needs, and not accumulating.
This Buddhist story illustrates right livelihood –
Once there was a fabulous palace. The people who lived in the palace were given warm meals, fine clothing, private baths and everything they needed to live in luxury.
Just outside the palace gate, an old man lived in a one room shack he made himself, slept on an old mat and ate simply.
One day, the old man sat outside the palace eating his dinner of lentils and rice, and a guard came to talk to him. “Foolish man” he said, “if you would serve the king you could feast every night.”
The old man smiled and replied “Dear sir, if you would eat lentils and rice, you wouldn’t need to serve the king.”
In today’s world we are encouraged to serve the king we call money. We are considered good citizens when we earn money, pay taxes and eventually spend the money. Our country is considered strong when we spend and weak when we save.
The idea of right livelihood makes us ask whether the things we spend money on really making people stronger? Right livelihood makes us ask whether we really want to buy expensive clothing or buy just what we need and use the extra money to clothe others?
The idea of right livelihood invites us to re-evaluate life choices, career options and possessions. Being content with what you have, fulfilling your natural purpose in life and showing compassion towards others is the road to happiness and the spirit of right livelihood in the Buddhist tradition.