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Right Livelihood

Traditionally, Right Livelihood (Pali: samma ajiva, Sanskrit: samyak ajiva) is the fifth element of the Noble Eightfold Path.

Buddha says in the Magga-vibhanga Sutta:1

"And what, monks, 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, monks, is called right livelihood."

In the Vanijja Sutta, Buddha says:2

"Monks, 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.

"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in."

For an insightful discussion of what Right Livelihood means today in the modern world, I highly recommend the second fictional dialogue, "Bhikkhu Tissa and the Greater Good," contained in the webpage "Two Dialogues on Dhamma" by Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano.


1"Magga-vibhanga Sutta: An Analysis of the Path" translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

2"Vanijja Sutta: Business (Wrong Livelihood)" translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu


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