Question: How do we know what financial investments are truly ethical, as the companies (corporations, banks, insurance firms…) invested in have free rein to further invest in livelihoods which might be harmful to sentient beings? (E.g. trade in weapons, sentient beings, meat, intoxicants, poisons…)
Answer: We need to use our personal wisdom to judge, and constantly keep up to date on the background, current actions and future plans of the said companies. When there is lack of clear information, it is best to think twice about investing before adequate further research.
Beyond wisdom, compassion is crucial too. If not, we might become well-to-do at the expense of other sentient beings‘ (including humans and animals) welfare and lives, the environment and various other conditions. Not only does this not make the world a better place, it does not further our path to become more spiritually sensitive too.
It takes effort to decide what is ethically (and thus karmically) worth investing in. It should never be done only with regard for personal profit while neglecting the welfare of others. Always ask yourself this – ‘If I am the Buddha, one with perfect compassion and wisdom, would I advise a king to invest in “this” or “that” for the welfare of all beings?’ If the Buddha is likely to say ‘nay’, why should you, who wish to emulate him say ‘aye’? Since not a cent can be brought to the next life, we should invest more efforts in Dharma study and practice too, which will never go wrong.