Leading on from this answer - in the Maha-cattarisaka Sutta it identifies wrong action in one's livelihood as

  1. Scheming
  2. Persuading
  3. Hinting
  4. Belittling
  5. Pursuing gain with gain

What is meant by pursuing gain with gain? It is a problem with the translation that makes it unclear or have I just missed an obvious interpretation?

2 Answers 2


My first thought was that it meant usury, but apparently Buddhagosa defines it as,

'Herein, what is pursuing gain with gain? Seeking, seeking for, seeking out, going in search of, searching for, searching out material goods by means of material goods, such as carrying there goods that have been got from here, or carrying here goods that have been got from there, by one bent on gain, honour and renown, by one of evil wishes, a prey to wishes—this is called pursuing gain with gain' (Vbh. 352- 53).

... which I think implies being a merchant (buying here and selling there), or more generally capitalism.

Note that that sutta is addressed to monks.

  • Thank you for the explanation ChrisW. What does the Buddha mean when he says Right Livelihood with Effluents and without Effluents. I thought the former refers to laypersons who are immersed in the 5 strings of sensuality. But, as you said the sutta is directed to monks and nuns yet mentions these. Or, is he referring to Right Livelihood of an Arahant vs not an Arahant?
    – Luv
    May 18, 2018 at 7:10
  • I think you're quoting MN 117? It says, And what is right livelihood that is accompanied by defilements, has the attributes of good deeds, and ripens in attachment? It’s when a noble disciple gives up wrong livelihood and earns a living by right livelihood. ... And what is right livelihood that is noble, undefiled, transcendent, a factor of the path? It’s the desisting, abstaining, abstinence, and refraining from wrong livelihood in one of noble mind and undefiled mind, who possesses the noble path and develops the noble path. ...
    – ChrisW
    May 18, 2018 at 8:50

Interesting answers, especially the Buddhaghosa answer. I also heard an interesting suggestion that gain may have meant 'profit', thus gain-with-gain meant compounded interest. But then I thought Buddha did say that honest wealth was acquired by the sweat of ones brow and the strength of one's arms, so I inclined to Buddhaghosa's interpretation. Also consider that the merchants were the ones that used 'writing' in Buddha's time, which was a reason that writing was considered to be a lowly practice. Merchants were pretty much considered to be lowlifes in Buddha's day.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .