Right Livelihood: Work?

This past week at a Cape Cod Dharma Collective meeting, Pete and I were talking about choosing the right job. Not just the right job that will help take care of your family, but a job that will have the least amount of negative impact on those we work for and the community.

For instance, I recently took a job working for a local cable company. I brought up the point that at times, I feel like I am enabling others to be lazy and watch TV, I mean, this is America and we watch ALOT of TV!

But in the end, I think it comes down to pleasing those we serve, regardless of our job. There was a job I was out on recently and it was a simple hook up the customer to the internet type of thing. Afterward, the homeowner asked if we could run a cable to the kids playroom, which used to be their garage. After planning it all out and doing the work, it was complete and the kids now had Nickelodeon and Disney Channel in their playroom. As we were about to leave, the two little girls that lived in the house were thanking us up and down for hooking that silly little TV up with their channels.

Today I was at an elderly couple’s home and they couldn’t receive the same channels in their bedroom as they could in the livingroom. It was just a simple fitting problem on the cable they had, so I made them a new cable with shiny new fittings. As I walked out they said “You just made an old couple very happy, thank you”.

I guess the whole “enabling” thing is moot, it all depends on the user of the service that is provided. I feel good about what I do and feel it makes people happy, and that’s what’s really important.

When I was searching for a job I was very aware of the type of job I wanted, and that was one that had no harmful impact on anyone or anything. For instance, I didn’t want to be a butcher, a fisherman, a soldier, etc. I mean, I respect the people that hold those jobs, it’s their choice to hold those jobs. But following this path I wanted to make sure that the next job was a decent one.

Honestly, it would be great to see all these people reading instead of watching the boob tube, but what can you do. They are happy at the end of the day, so am I.


  1. I love when people muse on right livelihood, because our jobs may have a big impact on the world around us, after all. I don’t feel TV is inherently bad, since I get so much news out of it, and the entertainment shows I watch, I use to connect with people around me (while trying to moderate my watching and avoid emotional attachment)! Interesting point from zensquared about reading not being better automatically–I know people who read nothing but romances, and have found it hard personally to see the benefit of that. So the benefits of TV may come down to what the viewer chooses to watch, and I’ll be hoping they watch something that inspires and educates (or simply relaxes) them or may even lead them to think on the nature of suffering. (TV does that for me a lot.)

  2. That’s a nice perspective on Right Livelihood — thank you. I guess we could all talk a lot about the “waste” of time spent watching TV, but really, when people are reading, is that always better? And when people are tired, and they worked a lot all day, maybe they should just sit down and close their eyes … but maybe that’s not relaxing for them, because there is too much junk in their head, and it’s all swirling and churning. So they turn on the TV to get a little peace.

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