An excerpt from Lewis Richmond’s recent piece on the Huffington Post,

In the much more complicated societies of today, what might “right livelihood” really mean? This is a very important issue, and not only for Buddhists. With many of the world’s people subsisting on a few dollars a day, and with 15 million unemployed here in the U.S., what does this nice-sounding concept of an ethical livelihood mean in real life?

In my 1999 book, Work as a Spiritual Practice, I introduced the idea of right livelihood as conscious livelihood. In other words, regardless of our job (or lack of a job) we should be aware of the implications and consequences of what we do. Though Work as a Spiritual Practice, by intention, emphasized the choices and changes an individual could make in his/her workplace, I also feel that conscious livelihood should not be limited to individual awareness and action. Society at large also has a responsibility to be conscious of the consequences of its economic and employment policies, even more today than in 1999 when when the economy was booming. It is not clear whether the Buddha thought of right livelihood in this way, but it behooves us to do so now.

Two thousand five hundred years ago the Buddha could not have conceived of today’s complex societies. But he clearly understood what is harm and what is not harm. When a person does not have a job and cannot support his or her family, that is harm — there is no question about it. The fundamental moral position of buddhism is ahimsa — which means non harm or minimal harm — and that has powerful implications for today’s workplace world. continued

Read the whole piece here.

Click here to read, “The Authentic Life” an interview with Lewis Richmond from our Summer 2010 issue.