Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 3.6.0
Sammā-ājīvo – Dhammikasuttaṃ – Introduction to Right Livelihood

“Satidovāriko, bhikkhave, ariyasāvako akusalaṃ pajahati kusalaṃ bhāveti,
sāvajjaṃ pajahati, anavajjaṃ bhāveti, suddhamattānaṃ pariharatī”ti

“With awareness as his door-keeper, O’ Bhikkhus, the disciple of the Noble Ones renounces what is unwholesome and pursues what is wholesome, renounces what is blameable and pursues what is blameless and in this very way preserves himself in purity of life.”

These stirring verses from Milindapañha, called Satidovāriko – ‘Awareness as a doorkeeper’ - shall serve as an inspiring reminder to open this chapter on sammā-ājīvo.

Sammā-ājīvo – Right Livelihood seems to be the trickiest part of all the precepts to be realized and to be sustained. Maintaining the principles of sammā-ājīvo seems to be a special challenge, not only in today’s world but has been so in times past as well. Even so its principles have been laid out by the Buddha quite clearly and a wholesome base is provided by safeguarding sammā kammantā. But today’s world, with manifold global intertwinements and inherent connections between all spheres of one’s professional upkeep, hardly allows sufficient insight in direct or much less indirect results, consequences or implication of one’s occupation.

This chapter tries to present and cover various fields of advice the Buddha gave to laypeople and Bhikkhus alike that impart deeper understanding as to how sammā-ājīvo can be cultivated. Amongst these the Vaṇijjāsuttaṃ1 points to all kind of detrimental livelihood that must be avoided; the Dīghajāṇusuttaṃ2 emphasises the essential points of honest earning; extracts from the Siṅgālasuttaṃ3 highlight the advice of the Buddha to laypeople while the Parābhavasuttaṃ4 points out the way to downfall. A further selection from the Cūḷakammavibhaṅasuttaṃ5 focuses on the kammic results of anger and envy. The Cakkavattisuttaṃ6 refers to the duties of a righteous king; the Sārandadasuttaṃ7 presents the inspiring example of the Licchavīs from the Vajjī-clan and indicates how an ideal democratic society should function. The Buddha took their model when he stressed the importance of proper conduct of the Saṅgha in the Bhikkhuaparihāniyadhammā8(quoted from the Mahāparinibbānasuttaṃ) to uphold non-decline of the Dhamma.

The introductory sutta, the Dhammikasuttaṃ from the Suttanipāta, underscores the necessary healthy base of sammā kammantā in all its three dimensions for anyone living a householder’s life to implement a healthy life and a wholesome livelihood.

[1] See 3.6.2 

[2] See 3.6.6

[3] See 3.6.5

[4] See 3.6.3

[5] See 3.6.7 

[6] See 3.6.10

[7] See 3.6.11

[8] See 3.6.16

Pāli lesson (with audio) 3.6.0

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Last modified: Tuesday, 9 August 2022, 6:30 PM