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I am looking for companies who operate in resonance with the ideas of right livelihood. I have looked for them, but don't seem to be finding any.

Does anyone know how to find companies that practice right livelihood?

Kind regards,

Timothy

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  • Would you like to be more specific about what you're looking for -- your definition of "right livelihood", and in what way[s] you think most companies don't operate like that, such that you "don't seem to be finding any"? – ChrisW Jan 18 at 23:58
  • Hello, right livelihood with regards to buddhism? With regards to your question though, I have found 'word of mouth' from the ground up is the most effective way to ensure any community or company meets criteria you are looking for and the mission statement on their webpage is a rule of thumb to measure against. – Beau. D Jan 19 at 0:03
  • Maybe try learn of/ observe their business practices & policies. Thank you – M H Jan 21 at 2:24
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"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

Is it really very hard to find companies that don't deal with weapons, human trafficking/ slavery/ prostitution, meat, alcoholic beverages, recreational drugs, and poisons (for malevolent purposes)?

For e.g. the company running Stack Exchange (with offices in New York and London) itself should fulfill these criteria.

UPDATED:

Right Livelihood applies to individual Buddhists, not entities like companies.

It's up to individuals to run businesses or be employed in businesses based on trades allowed by Right Livelihood.

Companies don't practise Buddhism. Individual Buddhists do.

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  • By right livelihood i am referring to companies that not only do not violate the tenants you describe in terms of the products/outcomes that they create or enable, but that also never allow financial harm to their employees/communities, esp in times of financial hardship. – Timothy Quinn Jan 20 at 0:28
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    @TimothyQuinn Right Livelihood applies to individual Buddhists, not entities like companies. It's individuals who observe Right Livelihood, not companies. – ruben2020 Jan 20 at 2:25
  • Imagine if companies did practice no harm to people, communities or Earth, ever, and this is their first goal, above making a profit. – Timothy Quinn Jan 20 at 3:37
  • A noble ideal @TimothyQuinn, but not one that can be put into play in this day and age. The majority of this world's current economy is and has been made either through exploiting needs or wants. Exploitation for the sake of economic benefit is out of the question for an ascetic with the goal of harmony. – Beau. D Jan 21 at 7:36
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Avoid large companies, that's step one. Most major retail companies use some form of legal or illegal slavery (third world sweatshops, prison labor, etc.). Every major technology company, as far as I know, has profited from slavery (again, legal or illegal), building hardware or software for weapons, or both. Large national and international companies will engage in business that (if they were people, not companies) would break the precepts, because that kind of business is profitable, and profit is the entire point of companies.

Smaller companies would be a safer bet, and companies that are at least nominally committed to openness and transparency. Your average small to medium sized business probably isn't running a sweatshop in Indonesia or a cobalt mine in Congo, and most likely also isn't inventing new ways to get people on drugs or writing software to more accurately guide drone strikes. Even small companies, even very small family-owned businesses, will do things that are unethical sometimes, because again, the point of companies is to make a profit. Even nonprofit work is frequently harmful, because nonprofits also have to do things that increase profits (for their donors).

I think if you're looking for an employer where you can feel like you're not contributing to harm (whether in a way that breaks the precepts or otherwise), you're always going to feel like you're in a bit of a grey area. It may be better to just stay away from directly breaking the precepts (don't work at a liquor store, don't work for Raytheon, etc.), work for an employer where you don't feel too conflicted, and not worry about what the company gets up to otherwise.

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  • And yet, companies are in fact people, with the incorrect top priorities. The truth of a competitive workplace and a separated life is before us as we speak, and we have learned that it is not sustainable. Love based decision making at all levels of business (right livelihood between all stakeholders) is sustainable, as well as connecting and nurturing at all levels. And all it is, is a priority shift. This is quite doable, and it would be a game changer on this planet. – Timothy Quinn Jan 22 at 4:12
  • @TimothyQuinn I'm not disagreeing with you (and I have my own very strong opinions about the ethics and sustainability of the current dominant economic system and type of labor relationships in most of the world), but that's not the world we live in right now. We can do what we can to change things, but in the mean time, we still have to pay our bills :) – Zac Anger Jan 22 at 4:52

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