Basics of Buddhism: The Noble Eightfold Path (Step Five)

March 15, 2021   |   13 Comments

Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 17:58

Dear Open Heart Project,

I’m so happy to send you the fifth video in our eight video series on the noble eightfold path of Buddhism. We have already discussed Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech and Right Action. Today we look at Right Livelihood.

What does it mean to do your work in the world in accord with your personal dharma? Please have a look at this week’s video to learn more. And no worries if you are jumping in right now. Though you’re welcome to watch the earlier videos in the series, it is not necessary.

Traditionally, Right Livelihood is often about what you don’t do for a living: don’t kill beings, craft weaponry, enslave others. All of which makes complete sense—but what comes after this? How can we ensure that our work in the world is more than non-harming (which is essential, of course) but also creates more sanity, connection, and parity? How can our work be part of our spiritual journey rather than a distraction from it?

Somehow, the answers begin with our willingness to care about our experience, our relationships with those we work with, and the details of the work itself. Please have a listen to learn more and, as always, I love to hear what you think. What are your thoughts on Right Livelihood?  How are you finding this series in general? Please leave reactions, questions, reflections in comments.

Look for the sixth video in this series (Right Effort) on March 29.

Sending much love, Susan

P.S. Please join Buddhist teacher and author, Michael Carroll, for a five week program, starting on April 12th: Lending a Hand: Avalokitesvara and the Art of Mind Protection. This program is FREE/by donation. Sign up here.

Program Description

The traditional Buddhist image of compassion is the many armed Bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara, whose nature is to “lend a hand” to those who suffer: to nourish, inspire, heal, and protect. But how does such compassion work?  When life presents us with demanding challenges that can be disheartening, captivating and at times terrifying, is it possible to “protect” ourselves and others from such challenges or is such a prospect futile? During this 5-session program, we will explore the principle of “mind protection” and how the skillful means of Avalokitesvara can offer us insight into living a more compassionate and fulfilled life.


P.S.S. Michele Sapanaro is teaching her second Meditation Posture Workshop for the Open Heart Project on March 21st from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm ET. Meditation practice begins with posture! It is not always easy to find the best way to sit for your body. This workshop is for you if you want to review the way you sit, discuss physical pain, and get recommendations for making your meditation time more comfortable.

Find out more here (just $15 for the class).


P.S.S.S. Our next Meditation and Creativity Day will be peer-led on March 27th. This program is free for Open Heart Project Sangha members. Click here to find out more.

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  • Posted by:  Charles D

    How does “Right Livelihood” relate to retirement?
    Granted there is more choice in what you (want) to do… or not! And there is ALWAYS the creation of “a Sacred World” …
    What is one to do in that time of life that is typically inwardly reflective, a world entirely of my own making. I am no longer defined by you job/career. I am (re)defining myself.
    Granted, I am an artist/designer/craftsman, and my former career has allowed me to enjoy life free(er) from financial concerns, so my focus is skewed, to say the least.
    One could say, I suppose that I am free to incorporate the Buddhist principles in whatever line work I chose to follow. Using the principles as a guiding structure for creative decision making, immediately comes to mind.
    But I feel as though I am missing the essence of “Right Livelihood”…

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      What a great question.

      It sounds to me like your days are filled too with activities of your own choosing–which is wonderful and also, I imagine, difficult to gauge their significance. Nonetheless, could it be that your “work” is deepening, exploring, relaxing, discovering, studying, and, perhaps most important, getting to know yourself in this new setting?

      How does this sound to you? I’d love to hear. Love, S

      • Posted by:  Sue May

        I share Charles’ feeling of being a step removed from Right Livelihood behaviors, since I, too, am retired. My profession was personally rewarding and I had a feeling of being of benefit to others. I was fortunate to be able to engage in activities prior to COVID that allowed me to be with children and I believe of benefit to others. It is sometimes a challenge to bring an attitude of caring to repetitive household tasks (dusting is never done), and I confess that being 100% a sweetie pie to my husband is not always my strong suit. I’m not complaining, just feeling a bit daunted. I’m trying to approach the most humble tasks with gentleness and humor, and an appreciation for even having possessions that need dusting. There is always the opportunity for growth.

        • Posted by:  Susan Piver


          ” I’m trying to approach the most humble tasks with gentleness and humor, and an appreciation for even having possessions that need dusting…”

          is everything!

          When you put your heart into the environment, it seems to shine right back at you.

          xo S

  • Posted by:  Gwen Hartland

    I see you at meeting your vow… provide guidance in the Buddhist practice offerings and receive payment that is fair. This is a tricky balance and I see you as modeling that delicate balance. This is a subject that many of us struggle with in our lives. I am a yoga teacher and it is always that thoughtfulness about how we are compensated for our offerings and being true to our beliefs. Thank you for this exploration of a complex subject most of us wish to avoid.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I really appreciate reading your thoughts, Gwen. It IS a complex subject, one that should be spoken about more often. Please keep me posted as your thoughts evolve. It’s a really rich topic. With love, S

  • Posted by:  Charles D

    My “work” … YES! Now I see the possibility of taking my journey inward/reflective. Draw upon what I’ve done and sow those seeds to the future. Pay it forward. By discovering myself I may discover others – past what the daily grind personas puts in front of me.
    I must say it was advantageous that we came upon you and your sangha just after I retired… almost as if you all were waiting.
    What’s that saying: “When the student is ready the teacher will come!”
    Thanks for being there.
    [Thank you also Sue & Gwen for you insights!]

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Charles, you are such a natural at the spiritual journey! I so appreciate being on the path with you. Do keep me/us posted. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Charles D

    “you” –> “your”
    [So much for my proofing skills…]

  • Posted by:  Eileen

    Ten years….I think? Perhaps you embraced the business side of this 7 or 8 years ago, but you “did your time” in free offerings prior to that!….I am delighted to have found your fashion of teaching and your skill-set in communication…Many, many thanks.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I’m delighted we found each other, Eileen! Much love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Lotte

    -And I thank y o u, for inviting me/us on to this parh. ❤️🌞

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver


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