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Buddhism Essays and Homework
1.      Which of these guidelines do you think is the most important? Why?
2.      What is the unifying concept of these guidelines?
3.      What do you think the Buddha would have to say today about "Right Livelihood?" Can you think of any positions in today's workforce that he might use as an activity one should avoid?

1.  By "guidelines" I am presuming that the question refers to the Noble Eightfold Path.  In my opinion it is difficult, if not wrong, to attempt to separate one from the other.  Whilst all are independent guidelines, I think that the Buddha's teaching is clear that until we can abide by all eight of these "guidelines" then still we will not free ourselves from the suffering described in the Four Noble Truths. If pushed, I believe that Right Thought/Intention is of critical importance, although I don't think I could bring myself to say "most importance".  Nevertheless, if our intention is not correct then adherence to the other "guidelines"  could be worthless, and conversely, in extremis, if one's motivation is truly pure then there may be occasions when a slight divergence from one of the other "guidelines", for a specific reason and outcome, might be justifiable.  But how few of us could honestly claim that we have reached such a level of purity which would enable us to deliberately stray from the Nobel Eightfold Path, even for a second, without it having an adverse effect?  

2.  The unifying concept is to make ourselves truly capable of helping other sentient beings, and if we cannot help them, then at least not to harm them.

3.  I think one of the great "miracles" of The Buddha's teaching is that in its apparent simplicity lives a doctrine that is just as relevant and applicable today as it was 2500 years ago. I believe that the concept of "Right Livelihood" is just as relevant today as it was when he taught it, and I therefore think that the description of what is Right Livelihood remains unchanged. I supposed he might comment on the mis-use of the internet in spreading hate, dis-respect or for cheating others financially or otherwise, but in many ways this is already covered by the other "guidelines already" "False Speech" etc.

M D Vickers

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