Right Livelihood. What does it mean to engage in Right Livelihood and does anyone ever talk about it? Is it about one’s career choices or the way one relates in relationships? Acting from virtues or being compassionate, responsible, aware, forgiving? Is it about doing more good than harm, having good intentions, knowing right from wrong and living from that place? Is it being true to oneself while honoring others? Considering consequences before speaking or acting? Doing things that make you feel good about yourself? Letting others be human and yourself be flawed? I’m sure we talk about these things in a round-about way, but rarely do we do it so directly as to ask ourselves or others these specific questions.
I think about my Highest Self, that person I want to be and strive to be but do not always channel as constructively as I’d like. I see her standing in a tower, wearing a long blue dress. But nor she or the tower is entirely of this world. And maybe that is exactly as it should be, always keeping me striving for more.
We all have ideals, but we must also compromise them at times in order to be fully engaged with others and with life. We can work toward our highest expectations, but that doesn’t mean they’ll pan out as we’d hoped. We can control what we think and do (although often easier said than done) but we cannot control what transpires. So the best we can do is… do the best we can as often as possible.
In our career, we can choose one that serves others – or we can at least bring honor to whatever it is that we do. In our relationships, we can be as authentic and honest as possible, hoping to bring out the best not only in others, but in ourselves. In our everyday lives and even with mundane stuff, we can make a difference by cutting down waste and negativity, engaging in honest interactions, and aiming to not only do no harm, but sometimes do a whole lot of good (even if bit by bit).
There are times in life when we wonder or ask ourselves, “What’s the point?’ It’s up to each of us to figure out what is meaningful so we don’t give up believing in something. If we lose faith, inspiration and motivation, we may even swing too far to the destructive side, harming ourselves with a dangerous lifestyle or putting others in jeopardy with no healthy conscience set firmly in place. Whatever the reasons for such a careless manner of living, there is really no excusing the actions. The best that can come out of an unpleasant situation is having learned from it. There should be no amount of money, “comfort” or “glory” worth causing others pain, even if we are doing it “unaware”. Ignorance – or denial – is no excuse for consistently bad behavior, and the immediate punishment for this may just be the pain of existing only partially alive.
To live a life based on Right Livelihood no one can be expected to be perfect. But being aware of one’s morals and how one’s decisions affect others… that alone is of the higher ground. Do you care about yourself, others and the planet, and do the majority of your actions mirror the sentiment? If not, something is most certainly off kilter, and the world feels it (even if you’re pretending not to notice).
Why should we care about what we do for a living, how we spend our free time or how we treat other beings? Because everything we do has a re-action that affects someone or something else, and somehow it always finds its way back to us. We could live ethically because of this knowing or out of guilt, or we could choose to live by a moral code that we actually feel, thus living more fully from a place of connection, awareness, intention and engagement.