Concerning Right Livelihood

By George A. Boyd ©2021

Q: Do you have any guidance about right livelihood? Can the Masters shed any light on this pillar of Buddhist Dharma?

A: There are two major themes in this precept, as we might interpret it for modern life. When the Buddha was alive, 563 BCE to 482 BCE, there were many fewer professions in the world, so we have to take this into account when we interpret this moral rule.

The first theme has to do with not tapping professions that utilize the activities of the Lower Astral Plane, which enslave people through addiction, or attempt to control others through bullying, intimidation, deception, or distorting the truth.

The second theme has to do with the Law of Non-Injury, which says we must not create suffering for any living beings through what we do in our profession.

When we examine the Lower Astral Plane, there are ten major Subplanes:

  1. On the first Subplane, you encounter the archetypes of Wiccan spirituality.
  2. On the second Subplane, you learn about ritual magic and protections against dark forces.
  3. On the third Subplane, you come upon the Chemical Snare—the abode of drug addiction.
  4. On the fourth Subplane, you stumble upon the Sexual Snare—the realm of sexual addiction and fascination.
  5. On the fifth Subplane, you find the Criminal Snare—where people threaten, intimidate, extort, blackmail, injure, and kill others to make money.
  6. On the sixth Subplane, you discover the Political Snare of Power and Corruption—where people use political office to enrich themselves and their families at the expense of the people of a town, a county, a state, or a nation.
  7. On the seventh Subplane, you uncover the Spiritual Snare, which uses manipulation and abuse to lock people into spiritual slavery to a religion or cult.
  8. On the eighth Subplane, you become aware of the Hermit, who meditates to become free from the snares of the third through seventh Subplanes through dispassion and wisdom.
  9. On the ninth Subplane, you behold the degrees of the five Occult Initiations and the Occult Hierarchy that trains initiates in the Occult Teachings and using the Occult Powers—these beings hold those in the Lower Astral Plane and the other bands of the Middle Subtle Realm in their thrall.
  10. On the tenth Subplane, you move beyond the abode of the Dark Lord who oversees the entire Lower Astral Plane, and move across the bridge to the Light of Liberation from the Lower Astral.

As you examine each Subplane, we can break these down into professions or moneymaking activities that invoke dark elements of the Lower Astral Plane and that may also violate the rule of non-injury. This is not an exhaustive list: it samples from these realms activities that draw upon the hypnotic forces of the Lower Astral Plane.

Wiccan Spirituality

  • Using “spells” that harm others; doing “fortune telling” that deceives others to extract money from them and make them dependent on the reader
  • Disseminating herbal oils, potions, or tinctures meant to poison others or injure them
  • Disseminating herbal oils, potions, or tinctures that allow predators to take sexual advantage of others (e.g., date rape drugs), or to anesthetize them so they can be robbed

Ritual Magic

  • Using talismans or objects of sympathetic magic (e.g., a voodoo doll) to cause harm to others
  • Giving teachings that train others to harm others using the Magical Arts

Chemical Snare

  • Disseminating or selling drugs or alcohol to others with the aim to intoxicate them and addict them, so they will become dependent upon the drug and continue to want to purchase it
  • Manufacturing and distributing drugs to those who are addicted with an aim to keep them addicted; drug dealers [this excludes legitimate medical use of these substances for treatment under the supervision of a medical professional]
  • Bartending and selling alcohol

Sexual Snare

  • Distributing pornography with the aim to feed the sexual addiction of others
  • Sex working (prostitution) and sexual bondage workers
  • Using sexuality to force one’s will on others; rape and sexual slavery
  • Pedophilia; sexual abuse of children, the elderly, or dependent adults
  • Distributing sexual enhancement or sexual enjoyment aids as a means of serving others’ addiction to sexuality

Criminal Snare

  • Using deception and misinformation to sell dangerous and substandard products to make money
  • Engaging in extortion, blackmail, or intimidation to gain money or to control others through fear
  • Bullying, threatening, or frightening others to silence them or control them with the threat of physical violence or with a weapon
  • Participating in theft and robbery
  • Adopting schemes to cheat on taxes; utilizing elaborate methods to hide funds from taxation
  • Murdering others for a living [this excludes the actions of soldiers carrying out the legitimate defense of their homeland against invasion or insurrection]
  • Forming syndicates or gangs to engage in sales of illegal drugs, weapons, sexual and work slaves (human trafficking), body parts of endangered species, and counterfeit products

Political Power Snare

  • Accepting bribes and kickbacks to grant favorable treatment to those who petition the government
  • Disseminating propaganda and lies to manipulate the beliefs and behavior of citizens
  • Granting backdoor deals to grant favorable treatment, outside the legal track of procurement
  • Lobbying to maintain illegal or criminal corporate practices
  • Mounting legal suits to intimidate others and destroy them
  • Using government funds to enrich themselves and their families
  • Employing lies and trickery to defeat political opponents, and destroy their reputation

Spiritual Snare

  • Keeping people locked in a hypnotic state, so they can be readily manipulated
  • Creating a false sense of urgency through scenarios of doomsday and catastrophe, to force people to donate money to the leader and obey his or her commands
  • Frightening people through images of hell, demonic attack or possession to enhance their faith in their leader
  • Engaging in practices of spiritual possession and giving powerful suggestion while believers are in hypnotic trance to do the leader’s bidding
  • Offering schemes of indulgences (e.g., forgiveness of sins or salvation for monetary donations)
  • Abusing followers, calling it chastisement; seducing followers, telling them it will bring them closer to God
  • Lying to people in the name of religion to control them and govern every aspect of their lives

Hermit Subplane

There are no professions or activities that tap this level—this represents the withdrawal and renunciation from the other harmful activities of the Lower Astral Subplanes below this station on the Path.

Occult Initiations

  • Using hypnosis to control people against their will
  • Employing seduction and sexual magic to make people buy products and follow the initiate’s bidding
  • Using powerful symbols to mystify, confuse, and distract people
  • Summoning the nation’s resources to maintain authoritarian control over every aspect of life; acting as a tyrant or dictator
  • Leading others in the projects of Occult Adepts to gather groups of people to carry them out; using media to persuade people to follow this movement that the thought stream of an Occult Adept inspires

Bridge to Liberation from the Lower Astral Plane

There are no professions or activities that tap this level—this represents the withdrawal and renunciation from the magnetic maelstrom of fascination of the Lower Astral Plane

Not Injuring Others through Your Profession

As you extract your Soul Spark from the bondage of the Lower Astral Plane, your first task is to stop doing the activities that draw upon the levels of dark realm. This means:

  1. Notice you are engaging in that activity
  2. Identify an alternate means you could earn a living
  3. Study or train to move into that new profession
  4. Gain employment into that new profession
  5. Stop doing that activity that draws upon the Lower Astral and earning money from it

As you continue to evolve spiritually, and your compassion for the suffering of others grows, you may adopt new values that do not allow you to participate in the harming of others. Examples of this change include:

  • Not eating flesh foods; adopting a vegan diet; no longer buying animal products or working in establishments that sell animal foods
  • Not using sales tactics that manipulate others to buy your products or services
  • Not supporting industries that disseminate insecticides and chemical poisons; instead, eating organic foods; farming using sustainable, biodynamic, and organic farming methods
  • Finding ways to live more frugally and less wastefully
  • Supporting renewable energy and finding ways to wean yourself off of dependence on fossil and nuclear fuels
  • Training and gaining employment in helping professions that heal, uplift, and empower people, such as: psychotherapist, coach, counselor, teacher, healing arts practitioner, yoga instructor, meditation teacher, or minister

As part of your necessary need to provide livelihood for yourself and your family, some of you have engaged in these activities of the Lower Astral Plane. We encourage you to extract yourself from these activities and transition to ways of earning your livelihood that do not enslave, harm, or manipulate others. This may not happen overnight, but set yourself on the Path of getting out of these activities and professions that harm others, and ultimately, become a channel for the Love and Light of God through your profession.

[Those who wish to learn about integrating earning money into your spiritual life may wish to acquire our e-Book, Money and Spirituality.]

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