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Inherently wrong occupation according to Buddhism

NB1100NB1100 Explorer
edited March 31 in Buddhism Basics

Hi all,

What is inherently wrong occupation according to Buddhism? Is selling light bulbs, cable extension and/or other electrical equipment can be considered wrong? There are five prohibited livelihoods: business in weapon, in human being, in meat, in intoxicant and poison. While I believe a light bulb is in the list of prohibited livelihood, but a light bulb contains toxic chemicals that can be harmful. Therefore, can it be considered dealing in poison? Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thanks

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Sell all the light bulbs you want.
    What evil work are you engaged in?
    We have had soldiers here, mass murderers (gardeners) and other wrong uns ...

    All have been welcome apart from trolls who have been subject to involuntary cyber euthanasia ...

    Some Buddhists are ... flexible ... B)

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Perhaps another way to consider what is an appropriate or inappropriate occupation for someone wishing to walk the path towards suffering's cessation is....

    If an occupation encourages greed or hate or delusion then it will create suffering for you and others.
    If an occupation encourages compassion or love or true wisdom then it will lessen suffering for you and others.

    What do you look for in an occupation?

    Shoshin1lobster
  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer

    @lobster said:
    Sell all the light bulbs you want.
    What evil work are you engaged in?
    We have had soldiers here, mass murderers (gardeners) and other wrong uns ...

    All have been welcome apart from trolls who have been subject to involuntary cyber euthanasia ...

    Some Buddhists are ... flexible ... B)

    Here is the photo I took. Eight Mindful Steps To Happiness Pg.135:

    "Working for a radio talk show that broadcasts hateful speech should be considered among the "poisons"". If hateful speech is poison than why light bulb is not a poison? What's your thoughts?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    It's a slippery slope.....if you follow the logic you're using above (why light bulbs btw?) then most of us would need to leave our current employment!

    Should people not work in supermarkets because they sell poisons?

    As @lobster said, we need to practical.

    Shoshin1personJohnCobb
  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran

    @NB1100 said:
    Hi all,

    While I believe a light bulb is in the list of prohibited livelihood, but a light bulb contains toxic chemicals that can be harmful. Therefore, can it be considered dealing in poison? Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thanks

    A medicine is also a poison...it just depends on the dose ....

    personlobsterコチシカ
  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    Yes, why light bulbs? We routinely use a lot of things that are poisonous if ingested - bleach, fuels, lubricants, household cleaning products, most pharmaceuticals for that matter - but they are not intended to be used as poisons. Water could be said to be poisonous if you drink enough of it.

    A more practical definition might be - something that is manufactured to be used as a poison, or that is used with the intent to poison - or, possibly, is carelessly discarded in such a way that it is likely to poison another being Light bulbs could only make the cut in the last instance, but the fault would be with the discarder, not the salesman.

    person
  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer

    @Fosdick said:
    Yes, why light bulbs? We routinely use a lot of things that are poisonous if ingested - bleach, fuels, lubricants, household cleaning products, most pharmaceuticals for that matter - but they are not intended to be used as poisons. Water could be said to be poisonous if you drink enough of it.

    A more practical definition might be - something that is manufactured to be used as a poison, or that is used with the intent to poison - or, possibly, is carelessly discarded in such a way that it is likely to poison another being Light bulbs could only make the cut in the last instance, but the fault would be with the discarder, not the salesman.

    Because I'm dealing in selling light bulbs =) What about GMO Foods, okay I know it's safe according to most people. But let's say it's a controversial topic since nobody really knows what it will do to humanity in the long run. Will you sell foods and beverages that may contain GMO in it, or will you take precautionary action by not dealing in such business? Buddhist teaching is to minimize harm, and it gets harder when you have to decide something in gray area.

  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran

    I think you have to consider intent, the chemicals in a light bulb could be poisonous but they are harmless when put to their intended purpose. Similarly with a medicine, if you use it right it is beneficial.

    personRen_in_blackSuraShine
  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer

    @Kerome said:
    I think you have to consider intent, the chemicals in a light bulb could be poisonous but they are harmless when put to their intended purpose. Similarly with a medicine, if you use it right it is beneficial.

    What about GMO foods?

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    I have read that Bhante book. He talk extensively on the subject of intention. Manufacturing lightbulbs would not meet the intent test, in my opinion. We can possibly become a little extreme in our interpretations if we aren’t careful.

    personlobsterShoshin1SuraShine
  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer
    edited March 31

    Ok ok ok thank you guys =) what about GM foods? Is it a little different since GM food is controversial therefore it's best to avoid dealing in such business? Or we shouldn't care even a little since those who are dealing in foods and beverages business do not have evil intention?

  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited March 31

    My interpretation would be this :- if you’re knowingly causing known harm through your actions and intent, then that’s unskilful.

    Bhante G says that eating meat is acceptable, on intention grounds, but killing the animal isn’t. The monks at the UK Theravada temples eat meat, I’m reliably told.

    So, by that rationale, if you eat GM foods, knowingly or unknowingly, you’re not directly culpable in harm. If you’re manufacturing them, perhaps you are.

    Rather than ‘good and bad’, which leads to polarised thinking, Bhante G also talks about ‘to do’ and ‘to be avoided’. Maybe we each must consider and classify our upcoming actions in that context.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Thus have I heard:
    "He who deliberates fully before taking each step, will spend his entire life on one leg."

    If it feels good, do it.
    When in doubt - don't.

    But remember. INTENTION is ALL.

    AlexBunkslobsterSuraShine
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    @federica said:
    Thus have I heard:
    "He who deliberates fully before taking each step, will spend his entire life on one leg."

    If it feels good, do it.
    When in doubt - don't.

    But remember. INTENTION is ALL.

    Indeed. And this is the major difference between (for example) Jainadharma and Buddhadharma.
    The Jain doctrine says that (for example) if you accidentally tread on an ant you will suffer the karmic consequences. But Buddhism says that only intentional actions create karma.
    This general rule applies to all actions..they only produce karma -vipaka (fruit) if they are intentional. Creators of light bulbs intend a useful means of illumination for their customers.
    Arms manufacturers and sellers intend harm for those who are on the receiving end of their wares. It’s hard to see any other interpretation.

    AlexJeffreylobsterWalker
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    GMO food is kind of complicated. Many of them are designed to be beneficial and helpful, such as golden rice. That's rice genetically modified to have much more vitamin A which would be very helpful to many poor people around the world who can't get enough of the vitamin and end up with vision problems. Or the ability to grow crops with less pesticide or water.

    Also, though people have worries about GMOs the science so far seems to say that they are generally safe.

    ChoephalAlexJeffreyShoshin1
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    Yes GMO is tricky. I have a friend who furious with me for a long time because I said that I needed to know more before I was prepared to reject the whole idea out of hand. He is an greenfundamentalista. 🙂 I still don’t know what to think.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Choephal said:
    Yes GMO is tricky. I have a friend who furious with me for a long time because I said that I needed to know more before I was prepared to reject the whole idea out of hand. He is an greenfundamentalista. 🙂 I still don’t know what to think.

    There are two sides to every coin. for every Yin there is a Yang, and vice versa. There is no one good action that does not, in one way or another, sooner or late, have a negative impact for something or someone. We do the best we can, with the tools we are given at the time.
    No GMO scientist worked on the project with the express intention of creating a negative problem. GMO was 'designed' to be of benefit. The fact it has drawbacks, is par for the course.
    Intention is all.

    I said that already, didn't I?

    Alex
  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    Aye, but it bears repeating.

    federica
  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    The important difference between right livelihood and the idea of a perfect livelihood
    is
    that one offers a path for one's next footfall towards suffering's cessation while the other only offers shopping tours away from that path in an endless search for better footware.

  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer
    edited April 1

    @person said:
    GMO food is kind of complicated. Many of them are designed to be beneficial and helpful, such as golden rice. That's rice genetically modified to have much more vitamin A which would be very helpful to many poor people around the world who can't get enough of the vitamin and end up with vision problems. Or the ability to grow crops with less pesticide or water.

    Also, though people have worries about GMOs the science so far seems to say that they are generally safe.

    I think so too. In this situation, would it be okay for you doing business in food that may contain GMO or will you avoid such business?

    There is no hard evidence that GMO food is harmful, until then it's okay to be involved in such business particularly if the intention to harm is lacking. But another thought is, although the harmful intention is lacking but would it be better to prevent it by not dealing in foods and beverages business since we do not really know what is the harmful effect of GMO food in the long run, considering the controversial aspect of GMO as well. It's not good to have intention to ignore such issue. The problem with latter thinking is it's easy for us to slip into the extreme but Buddha's teaching is about compassion or non-harming or at least minimize the harm can be caused.

  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer
    edited April 1

    @Choephal said:

    @federica said:
    Thus have I heard:
    "He who deliberates fully before taking each step, will spend his entire life on one leg."

    If it feels good, do it.
    When in doubt - don't.

    But remember. INTENTION is ALL.

    Indeed. And this is the major difference between (for example) Jainadharma and Buddhadharma.
    The Jain doctrine says that (for example) if you accidentally tread on an ant you will suffer the karmic consequences. But Buddhism says that only intentional actions create karma.
    This general rule applies to all actions..they only produce karma -vipaka (fruit) if they are intentional. Creators of light bulbs intend a useful means of illumination for their customers.
    Arms manufacturers and sellers intend harm for those who are on the receiving end of their wares. It’s hard to see any other interpretation.

    Coulnd't agree more but if you perceive the harmful effect of GM food yet you are still dealing in such business thinking you don't have harmful intention, would that amount to have harmful intention i.e to ignore the harmfulness?

  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer
    edited April 1

    @federica said:

    @Choephal said:
    Yes GMO is tricky. I have a friend who furious with me for a long time because I said that I needed to know more before I was prepared to reject the whole idea out of hand. He is an greenfundamentalista. 🙂 I still don’t know what to think.

    There are two sides to every coin. for every Yin there is a Yang, and vice versa. There is no one good action that does not, in one way or another, sooner or late, have a negative impact for something or someone. We do the best we can, with the tools we are given at the time.
    No GMO scientist worked on the project with the express intention of creating a negative problem. GMO was 'designed' to be of benefit. The fact it has drawbacks, is par for the course.
    Intention is all.

    I said that already, didn't I?

    I think nobody knows exactly what is the side effect of GM food in the long run. It's said to be Generally Safe. Business, politic and profit, all mixed together in a jar. What most consumers know is when they consume it they don't die.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Alex said:
    I have read that Bhante book. He talk extensively on the subject of intention. Manufacturing lightbulbs would not meet the intent test, in my opinion. We can possibly become a little extreme in our interpretations if we aren’t careful.

    Ain't that the truth. I was sitting here thinking I was ok training in healthcare instead of staying in manufacturing but my retirement residence gets its drinks from Nestle.

    Think I should quit?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @David said:

    @Alex said:
    I have read that Bhante book. He talk extensively on the subject of intention. Manufacturing lightbulbs would not meet the intent test, in my opinion. We can possibly become a little extreme in our interpretations if we aren’t careful.

    Ain't that the truth. I was sitting here thinking I was ok training in healthcare instead of staying in manufacturing but my retirement residence gets its drinks from Nestle.

    Think I should quit?

    Haha....yep, it's a slippery slope.

    Try as we might, simply the fact that we are born and live on this earth means we will inevitably (intentionally or not) harm other beings.

    @NB1100 - don't sweat the small stuff and just try to be a nice person as much as you are able. :)

    Davidlobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    @NB1100 said:

    @person said:
    GMO food is kind of complicated. Many of them are designed to be beneficial and helpful, such as golden rice. That's rice genetically modified to have much more vitamin A which would be very helpful to many poor people around the world who can't get enough of the vitamin and end up with vision problems. Or the ability to grow crops with less pesticide or water.

    Also, though people have worries about GMOs the science so far seems to say that they are generally safe.

    I think so too. In this situation, would it be okay for you doing business in food that may contain GMO or will you avoid such business?

    There is no hard evidence that GMO food is harmful, until then it's okay to be involved in such business particularly if the intention to harm is lacking. But another thought is, although the harmful intention is lacking but would it be better to prevent it by not dealing in foods and beverages business since we do not really know what is the harmful effect of GMO food in the long run, considering the controversial aspect of GMO as well. It's not good to have intention to ignore such issue. The problem with latter thinking is it's easy for us to slip into the extreme but Buddha's teaching is about compassion or non-harming or at least minimize the harm can be caused.

    I generally take a fairly literal and narrow interpretation of these sorts of rules. And from my experience that's the way they've been taught traditionally. I kind of think the world is so complex and interconnected today that almost everything we do has some sort of harmful effect somewhere in the web. Even something like healthcare kills 100s of thousands of people accidentally every year.

    The more expansive interpretations I've seen have mostly been from more modern teachers like Thich Naht Hahn. They also have a more forgiving tone and an understanding that these are ideals rather than rules and are intended to help us train our minds.

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    One of the earliest recording of a schism in the Buddha's time came in the form of a monk trying to require Shakyamuni to mandate that the Sangha take on "boons" of higher levels of austerity.
    One of the easiest ways to directly avoid practicing right where we are
    is to simply focus more on where we are not.

    BunkspersonDavidShoshin1
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran

    In truth, there is no inherently wrong occupation. There is, however, recognition or cognition of causality. an example is Shakyamuni's answer to a general that all that is necessary is to end the will to kill. No matter who you are or what you do, butchers, fishermen, bakers, farmers, men women, monks or nuns, all have the same potential, all can attain enlightenment as they are.

  • ChoephalChoephal UK Veteran

    @Lionduck said:
    In truth, there is no inherently wrong occupation. There is, however, recognition or cognition of causality. an example is Shakyamuni's answer to a general that all that is necessary is to end the will to kill. No matter who you are or what you do, butchers, fishermen, bakers, farmers, men women, monks or nuns, all have the same potential, all can attain enlightenment as they are.

    You are saying that fishermen do not have the intention to kill?

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Choephal said:

    @Lionduck said:
    In truth, there is no inherently wrong occupation. There is, however, recognition or cognition of causality. an example is Shakyamuni's answer to a general that all that is necessary is to end the will to kill. No matter who you are or what you do, butchers, fishermen, bakers, farmers, men women, monks or nuns, all have the same potential, all can attain enlightenment as they are.

    You are saying that fishermen do not have the intention to kill?

    No, but he's illustrating those dealing in trading with animals/meat/animal products... we all, at one point or another, have to face an uncomfortable decision, within the parameters of the way we live our lives...

    SuraShine
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Yesterday I killed.

    Fruit fly as it happened. They were in the veg and fruit peelings that I mercilessly added to a compost bin. Oh the humanity! (according to reincarnation)

    Also I watched a thriller series featuring multiple deaths. Promoting the basic killing instinct.
    It was Good Friday so we had fish and lit a candle for the celebrated dead god and Bodhi Jesus.

    Meanwhile the saintly buddhists and troll victims are ... well maybe they can explain ... o:)

    Yours in hypocrisy and dharma
    C S Lobster (professional fish murderer) >:)

    コチシカ
  • KeromeKerome Lovingness is the way The Continent Veteran
    edited April 3

    @Lionduck said:
    In truth, there is no inherently wrong occupation. There is, however, recognition or cognition of causality. an example is Shakyamuni's answer to a general that all that is necessary is to end the will to kill. No matter who you are or what you do, butchers, fishermen, bakers, farmers, men women, monks or nuns, all have the same potential, all can attain enlightenment as they are.

    If you take the Noble Eightfold Path to heart then there is Right Livelihood to look at. The Anguttara Nikaya III.208 asserts that the right livelihood does not trade in weapons, living beings, meat, alcoholic drink or poison. Although everyone regardless of profession has the potential to be a Buddha, one would suspect they would stop wrong livelihood once on the path.

    Davidlobster
  • LincLinc Site owner Detroit Moderator

    My takeaway from this conversation is that @NB1100 really really wants to get out of the light bulb business. ;)

    DavidfedericaSuraShine
  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Veteran

    I find it interesting that people can nitpick things like this but explain away the 5th precept when it suits them.......

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited April 11

    @SuraShine said:
    I find it interesting that people can nitpick things like this but explain away the 5th precept when it suits them.......

    I sometimes feel that way about the 1st one in a world of meat eaters but all we can do is follow our own example and hope others do the same. Judging people only makes it worse.

    lobsterChoephal
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 12

    @Linc said:
    My takeaway from this conversation is that @NB1100 really really wants to get out of the light bulb business. ;)

    Three members declared this comment insightful. The symbol of which, is a light-bulb.
    Oh, the irony....

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Veteran

    @David said:
    I sometimes feel that way about the 1st one in a world of meat eaters but all we can do is follow our own example and hope others do the same. Judging people only makes it worse.

    Just observing, but I hear you.

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