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Question: Since I got in touch with the Buddha’s teaching, I’ve been questioning the meaningfulness of my career path. While my job could not be categorised under ‘wrong livelihood’, I feel that my job, which is to market luxury interior furnishing products, seems to indirectly induce people to crave for things they don’t really need.

Right now, a job well done would mean that I have successfully convinced people to crave for and buy material goods that don’t really do them much good. Instead of promoting material goods which give only fleeting happiness, should I perhaps be promoting things that are more substantial, and less worldly? Sometimes, I feel that I should be doing something more meaningful. People whom I have spoken say I think too much. Do you think this is so, that I’m trying ‘too hard’ to follow the Buddha’s teachings?

Answer: Personally, I don’t think you’re thinking too much. If I am in your shoes, I would seriously consider changing to a more meaningful and fulfilling job too. That you feel disturbed means you are spiritually growing, becoming more sensitive to purposefulness in life, that is more aligned to spirituality. There is indeed a high possibility that that which is bought through you is used for sensual indulgence, while neglecting spiritual improvement.

Wrong livelihood, however, refers to occupations that involve harming sentient beings. If the luxury goods include those directly derived from the suffering of sentient beings, e.g. leather sofas, non-vegan foods and such, it would be slanted towards wrong livelihood. Here is another article about jobs to share: http://thedailyenlightenment.com/2012/05/how-right-is-your-livelihood

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7 Responses to “Should I Change My Job?”

  1. This question makes me ponder about working in a company involve with building the casino…I left the job and till now I’m still jobless..

  2. It’s better to be without an unethical job and be poor for a while than rich with it. Jiayou!

    (Y)

  3. Lou Beaulieu December 2, 2012

    Buddha…”Do not believe anything you hear.Do not believe anything that has been written. Do not believe anything that has been said even if I have said it unless it agrees with your own good reason and your own good common sense.”

  4. These are the more accurate words by the Buddha, from the Kalama Sutta:

    ‘”It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias toward a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, ‘The monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them.’

  5. Jane has exchanged her job for a clear conscience (which money cannot buy). If it is something which our conscience is telling us that we should not be doing it, then we should not do it (without even having to refer to buddhist teaching). During this period of searching for a new job, Jane can try to go for a temp/contract job,and take the opportunity to allocate more time towards buddhist studies. Just take it as a temporary break with lower pay but she has “earned” a permanent long-term clear conscience.

  6. Yes, it’s good to have a long break, I believe everything happened with a reason! Thanks for all the advice and encouragement! Have a nice year ahead! (Y)

  7. About a year ago I was helping a friend with an import/export business and he wanted to do seafood. I told him I couldn’t do it, as it would take the life of animals. He told me I wasn’t killing the animals only talking to potential suppliers. Then he decided to work on wine. I told him I couldn’t help him because it was selling intoxicants. He told me I wasn’t killing anything and a little wine was good for people. He was getting exasperated with me and thought I was a fanatic. I patiently held my ground and decided if I had to lose a friendship over my beliefs, then I would lose this friendship.
    A year later he is now asking my help with educational software. I told him I would help him.
    No money yet. But I didn’t lose the friendship, and he isn’t creating bad karma by selling and buying meat or intoxicants.
    Long term, I think his new idea will work out well. It is just a matter of patience and hard work.

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