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At my university I and my group were offered a case of opinion on Buddhism.

Neither I nor my colleagues are Buddhists so we have done a lot of research in the last few days, but we are afraid of misinterpreted this religion.

The case given to us is about a Buddhist who works in an investment fund and basically his job is to recommend investments to clients.

Right now, the best investment he can recommend is related to the manufacture and exchange of automatic weapons.

We found that having a job that causes suffering to other creatures is against buddhism and for that reason, since weapons are something that is created to cause suffering the worker is in doubt...

Can he recommend this investment on weapon to his clients because recommending this investment is really far from causing suffering to other creature with a gun or it doesn't matter and it is against the buddhism and he should leave this job ?

Thank you,

Tiago from Portugal

  • Related topics -- Jobs indirectly related to the meat business and Can lay people be involved in the weapons business?. People can tell you what the doctrine and the commentary say (see here) -- it says something but not much -- any more than that might presumably be based on various people's own opinions/interpretations. – ChrisW May 10 at 17:59
  • Are you his employer, or affiliated with his employer? – Erik May 10 at 18:03
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    Since we haven't attained the kind of wisdom the Buddha or His noble disciples possessed, when in doubt, try to err on the safe side. Investment fund activities are a kind of educated gambling and hence would be best to avoid if possible. If that's not possible, at least try to avoid giving advise on weaponry, at least try to focus on life-saving pharmaceutical drugs, or life-sustaining commodities like grains, food, oil, etc. – santa100 May 10 at 18:40
  • To everyone who replied, thank you, it helped a lot ! – Tiago Costa May 11 at 9:35
  • not to be pedantic: he can: ought he not? i'm almost certain that buddhists do not consider one's profession as an excuse [butcher, bar tender, organized crime], and will even tell you not to keep friends that are fishermen, etc – sorta_buddhist May 13 at 5:50
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It may not be necessary to be a Buddhist to realize that doing harm to others by selling weapons, is not a wholesome act.

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  • Yes. It looks like a rhetorical question. – user14119 May 11 at 10:34
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Its wrong livelihood if the investment advisor persuasively recommends the investment, i.e. actively attempts to get his clients to fund the weapons company. Since shareholders are owners of a company, the shareholders are carrying on a business of trading in weapons.

Its not wrong livelihood if the investor merely points out the features of the weapons investment to his clients. There is no need for the investment advisor to "recommend" the investment. Instead, the investment advisor merely needs to "inform" the clients of the investment and leave it to the investors to make their own choice.

For example. I have been asked to contact you about a new investment opportunity our company is facilitating for our clients. It is an investment in a new weapons company. The return on the investment is expected to be 50% per annum because there is currently a war between Portugal & Spain and the new company is contracted to supply its new technology to the Portugese regime. The Portuguese regime, which is backed by the USA, has entered into a contract for 10 years of supply. If you are personally interested in investing in this weapons company, you can apply through our company, which has the exclusive rights to organise the public offer.

However, it would always be wrong livelihood if such offerings were very common in the job. In reality, an investment company would know what type of industries their clients are willing to invest in because generally investment companies ask these questions when taking clients.

In other words, generally, probably the same investment companies & the same clients would would manage & subscribe to the public offerings of new weapons companies. It would be wrong livelihood to work for an investment company inherently connected to the weapons industry.

For a Buddhist practitioner, it would be dispiriting/disheartening to frequently be dealing in weapons investments. But if this occurred only one a year, then a Buddhist invest advisor could present the information about the investment while remaining detached from the job. As originally said, the investment advisor cannot "recommend" the investment. They can only "inform" a client about the investment and speak in a way that places the intention or motivation to invest upon the client.

The law of kamma/intention is something natural & determined by neurological psychology. As said, for a Buddhist practitioner, it would be dispiriting/disheartening to frequently be dealing in weapons investments; even if the Buddhist tried to merely "inform" the client.

In Buddhism, there is a story not spoken by the Buddha about a hunter's wife who was partially enlightened. Personally, I do not agree with his non-Buddha story the hunter's wife might perform her duties cleaning the traps and such without blame of killing; because the Buddha taught husbands & wives should share the same morality. If the hunter will be reborn in hell for hunting, it is unlikely an enlightened wife would not exercise compassion & try to change her husband.



In the Pali scriptures, there are at least three teachings required to consider this matter:

Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants and business in poison.

Vanijja Sutta


Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech & intellect.

Nibbedhika Sutta


And what is the root of the unwholesome? Greed is a root of the unwholesome; hate is a root of the unwholesome; delusion is a root of the unwholesome. This is called the root of the unwholesome.

Sammaditthi Sutta

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  • But, is there a correct answer ? Or it depends ? We saw some opinions that he should keep recommending the investment because he is to far away and others opinions that it doesn't matter how far you are. My question is, ''in the real world'' how a real compromised buddhist should act on this, is there a consensus among buddhists or there are split opinions ? – Tiago Costa May 11 at 9:44
  • You have been given a question to think about, rather than get another person to answer it for you. – Dhammadhatu May 11 at 12:34
  • yes, i see you think I'm trying to have my job done by some other person... but we really have been thinking and researching about it an we came to our conclusions and what we want to know now isn't written only someone who really practice Buddhism can answer.. that is, is there only one way to look at the Buddhism teachings or each Buddhism can interpret in slightly different ways without being wrong ? – Tiago Costa May 11 at 14:35
  • Ok... i will post another answer – Dhammadhatu May 11 at 21:18
  • Understood, I deep thank you for taking the time to explain me ! – Tiago Costa May 12 at 15:42
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I have a friend, isn't Buddhist that I know of but is an investment adviser. Some (I don't know how many) investment funds like to do "ethical" investing -- and he gives them advice, about whether for example an investment is ecologically sustainable, whether it pollutes, oppresses the local people, etc.

I'm not sure if that answers your question (about "doing this job").

It might be a Buddhist answer, an ideal -- i.e. that it's OK to work, but to work ethically, prefer a more ethical path within the career.

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  • Cultural Politics and Asian Values By Michael D. Barr

As pointed out

Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons

So, unless you want to be disingenuous about it, he should not. Reality -- for most -- is a compromise; that doesn't make it permissible, just excused by oneself and others.

I'm unsure why you are asking here.

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I think the opinions will split;

  1. He trades in weapons
  2. He doesn't trade in weapons, he is just doing his job informing of an investment opportunity, here he is akin to a phone-book in that a phone book has no intention of people calling the ads within, it merely provides a general service function. Much like a hunter's wife might perform her duties cleaning the traps and such without blame of killing.

I won't give my opinion on who is correct but it would have to be classed as the latter for it not to be 'wrong livelihood' which is an immense obstacle to development, a wrong way.

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