A question to those of you who’ve spent some time in academia: is academic research right livelihood?

Given that it requires one to engage in thinking for the entire duration of one’s working hours, could it actually be a hindrance on the eightfold path?


2 Answers 2


I haven't spent time working as an academic, but right livelihood is expressed as avoiding work dealing with weapons, human beings, poisons, meat and intoxicants. So as long as your work does not cause harm you should be ok. The fact that you are thinking is not an impediment, there is no job that does not require thinking, and thinking is never a hindrance. Arahants think.

  • Thank you. That is a great point about arahants. I know that the explanation given for right livelihood is usually in those terms. But my sense is that the underlying principle is that, on balance, it should make good kamma. On balance, trading in weapons, etc., makes bad kamma. I am wondering if the kamma of conditioning oneself into thinking is also bad?
    – Student
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 16:21

It's not nessasarily wrong livelihood but the achedemic will have less suffering and more wellbeing when the thoughts and the studying are not being clung to.

Thinking isn't nessasarily wrong. It's just that, conceptually speaking, thinking can lead to bias or wrong view if one isn't mindful.

  • 1
    Thank you. A follow-up question, although I am half expecting the answer to this: do you mean not cling to it as in don’t treat the products of thinking as “mine,” or in some other way? I suppose anything that increases one’s sense of atta is wrong thinking. Am I missing something else?
    – Student
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 2:15

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