Need for Sri Lanka to realign to the Right Livelihood in Buddhism
Posted on August 9th, 2014

Shenali D Waduge

Buddhism has been the chosen religion by Sri Lanka’s rulers since Buddhism was first brought to Sri Lanka by royal invitation during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. Over 180 Sinhala Buddhist kings led Sri Lanka following the precepts of Buddhism and the dasa raja dharma. Natives too including Buddhists and non-Buddhists followed the precepts of Buddhism. There is little anyone can argue against a philosophy/religion that asks its followers to be compassionate human beings. There is little anyone can object to when Buddha asks not to cause harm to all living beings. The moral restraints enshrined in Buddhism encouraging ethical livelihood are many yet the capitalist society and its competitive nature have caused great harm to our work ethics and peace of mind. Prosperity and financial security are not taboo in Buddhism it is our choice of right livelihood that matters. Rightful” means engaging in a livelihood that does not end the life of another (unless in self-defense) and being honest and ethical in business dealings – not to steal, cheat or lie. No one can object to and argue against Buddha’s moral encouragement to lead a life of integrity.

Right livelihood (samma ajiva) is the fifth factor in the Noble Eightfold Path.

As bold and noble as these concepts are the lessons we need to take from this is that people need to be conscious of the consequences of and the implications on what we do. Right livelihood thus co-joins with conscious livelihood in so far as individuals and society at large should begin to realize the implications of the consequences of certain economic and employment policies.

Modi’s India showing the way

A leader is described as a visionary when he is able to show a vision for his nation. Such a leader is described as an exemplary leader because of his ability to show a noble path and lives by example. The BJP is to also establish a government department for the preservation and protection of cows and to start research institutions, or cow science universities, focused on the rearing and health of the animal. India will next need to think about the real time statistics that make India the world’s 2nd largest beef exporter next to Brazil exporting 1.8m tons of meat in 2014 (20% of world trade). Most of this is actually buffalo beef.

Mr. Modi said in 2012 Our future generation is not getting sufficient milk and this Government wants to kill cows that provide us ‘ladder for life’. I’m sure that you will contribute your might in stopping such insane act. The RSS supported Narendra Modi on his pledge to fulfill 4 commitments, one of which was the protection of cows.

That surfaced in one of the key electoral pledges in Rajastan being honored by the establishment of a Ministry for Cows and contrasts with the Ministry of Crab in Sri Lanka.

In 2011, Attorney Senaka Weeraratne wrote an article titled a little advise to our top national cricketers”
The gist of his argument was to build one’s wealth on right living and not through causing injury or snuffing out the lives of defenseless innocent animals. As cricketers, Mr. Weeraratne reminded the two former Sri Lankan captains that taking the life of a defenseless animal was not an act of sport and did not fit in well with their image of being good role models. An honorable request, and it makes one to imagine how far the two national cricketers would have fared had they commenced a venture that would have highlighted the compassion in Buddhism and created a trend towards encouraging youth and adults to take up ethical and socially conscious investments. This is type of leadership Sri Lanka is desperately in need of. /

When Sinhalese respect the sensitivities of Muslims towards pork and ensure that it is not served anywhere that Muslims frequent should the same gesture for beef not prevail?

Sri Lanka lagging behind

It is anyone’s question to answer how far Sri Lanka has diminished in its Buddhist ethos from times when a beat of a drum was enough to give the King’s proclamation that no animal was to be killed within a radius of seven gau from the city. That was the leadership attitude towards animals and the Mahavansa reveals records of royal protection granted to preserve the well being of all forms of animals. We cannot oppose such a compassionate and tolerance doctrine. The co-existence of man and animal was advocated and accepted by leaders and natives and it stood its time till the arrival of colonial invaders to the shores of Sri Lanka. To descend from the a country that granted ‘Abhayadana’ to the fish in the twelve great tanks which are found in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla districts to the scale of killing taking place and industries to which the Government is opening up means of livelihood is very unfortunate and tells much of who is advising the GOSL. It is unfortunate that the Government advisors are even drawing up schemes and grants that encourage Buddhists to take up livelihoods that are totally against Buddhism.

Dietary habits that were vegetarian was changed by the Europeans though Buddhists continue to remain reluctant to take up employment in animal husbandry. The Buddha also suggested avoiding jobs that disturb the mind, including any activity that promotes harmful speech, lying, gossiping, or activities that involve killing, stealing, or sexual misconduct.

It is good for the GOSL to consider alternate avenues of occupation so that the Sinhala Buddhist image of the country is not degraded by forming schemes and giving grants to inland fisheries, prawn farming/household chicken farming etc. Right livelihood also includes the reason for having the job and the level of happiness enjoyed in doing the job. Can you answer how many people are happy killing animals for a living? How many who cause harm to animals are actually enjoying what they do?

It is not reciting texts or sutras that make one a Buddhist. It is the actual living of the concepts Buddha propagated. When a Government opens ministries and industries that beckon Buddhists to take up livelihoods that rear animals and kill them to make a living, the Government is indirectly drawing these Buddhists away from links to Buddhism and thereby unknowingly converting their minds to not accepting the First Precept. This breach of the Buddhist First Precept will have detrimental results knowing that the last line of defense for Sri Lanka remains Buddhism and the people’s links to Buddhism. It is this link that connects the people with Sri Lanka strong enough to protect it. Therefore leaders must be vigilant of this all important fact.

Disregard for life erodes moral and human values of man. Humans begin to lose sympathy for fellow sentient beings. Economic gain, wealth and prosperity by any means all eventually lead towards harsh repercussions for planet earth and our own karma. Greed has drawn man towards crimes, immorality and a moral degeneration as well as ecological imbalance. Yet, nature has shown that man cannot rule over nature and man must learn to co-operate.

The best way a man should amass wealth is shown in the example of the bee. The bee collects pollen by neither harming the beauty of the flower nor its fragrance.

The basic and fundamental needs of man are food, clothing, shelter and medicine. It is left to a Government to create avenues of employment that enables an average man to afford these in keeping with the notion that man is the central concern in economy as producer and consumer not the profit made in the process of products that change hands. The economy that currently prevails ends up with policies that benefit the rich and barely sustains the poor.

What is noble about right livelihood is that when practiced it leads to not only the elimination of greed when rightly practiced  but also makes a person co-exist with nature and provides moral enlightenment and makes a better person out of a man. Does that not help make a better place for a society, a country and the world?

To get ahead, to be employed, to amass wealth must one kill? Are there no other avenues that people can be employed in and investments made in? Must it always have to do with killing and denying life? For a Government that boasts historical links to Buddhism and has a Constitution that holds it accountable for fostering Buddhism, is it correct for state incentives, state loans to be given for new livelihoods that encourages killing?

These are factors important and crucial enough for debate. Let us all be reminded that the Buddhist nation of Bhutan is a country that boasts it is the ‘happiest’ does not have zoos. Animals are not kept imprisoned and the animals in Bhutan live in open habitat.

Right livelihood is also connected to Buddhist economics. As Sri Lanka has started a new chapter following 30 years of killing, the onus is on the leaders of the nation not to follow a copy cat version of development that morally has nothing to offer and economically places people in a race that is never ending and aspirations that are never fulfilled. Buddhist economics sees the essence of civilization not in a multiplication of wants but in the purification of human character. Contrasting with modern economist that equates the consumption of more to being better off” than the one who consumes less, the Buddhist aspires to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption.

The world is certainly in desperate need of people who care about living beings, about developing humans, who want to protect rights of all living beings including sentient beings and sustaining the environment, an environment that has been beaten, polluted and abused to satisfy human desires. We are in serious need of taking a step back and realizing the consequences and implications of our actions. Our conscious awareness of the wrong we are doing is sufficient to put us back on track.

Individually we must think, collectively we must act.

14 Responses to “Need for Sri Lanka to realign to the Right Livelihood in Buddhism”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Buddhism was officially brought to during the reign of King Deveni Pe Thes. but, buddha had visited Sri Lanka to NAga deepa before that.

    Mahayana Lotus suthra says that buddha visited Sri Lanka during the reign of King Ravana to both Kelani area, nagadeepa and to Samanla kanda area where King Ravana lived. that should the time of the Kasyapa Buddha’s time.

  2. douglas Says:

    I said this earlier too: Buddhism is a “Proven Philosophy and a Way of Life” that anyone could cultivate for his/her good and others, irrespective being “labelled” as a “Buddhist”. In that respect, Sri Lanka is unique and known world over for the adoption of that “Philosophy and Way of Life” in all matters of our lives and way of “Governance”. So there is no need to “Officially” declare it; but what is NEEDED is to manage our affairs in conformity with the Teachings of the “Enlightened One”.

    The question is: Do we “Know” what that Way of Life is and have we uncompromisingly adopted in managing our affairs? The “Irony” is every one pays lip service to it and the worst is all our Leaders make it a stepping stone to acquire “Power” of Governing and having done so make a LIVING quite contrary to the basic principles of the “Teachings”.

    In my opinion, if anyone, irrespective being labelled a “Buddhist” follows the way of life in conformity with the principles, he/she could be called the “True Buddhist” in all respects.

  3. Senevirath Says:

    ratnavali—ruvanvali not swarnamali—-ruvanmali

  4. Nanda Says:

    “When a Government opens ministries and industries that beckon Buddhists to take up livelihoods that rear animals and kill them to make a living, the Government is indirectly drawing these Buddhists away from links to Buddhism and thereby unknowingly converting their minds to not accepting the First Precept. This breach of the Buddhist First Precept will have detrimental results ..”

    True. But this a more difficult precept to keep compared to the fifth one. How about Dengue killing ? How about other Mosssies like LTTE and Jihadist ? It is not easy to keep the first precept as a “Government”.

    But keeping fifth is the easiest. Just give up desire for partying and Lamborghinis. Leader must lead. Leading family must not even take wine. When the Prime Minister is has become Paga Taker from the main Muslim Drug importer Buddhism has been betrayed by the king himself and nothing to talk about. Just kill the BBS monks then to keep Mossies alive.

    Main problem is the Drugs which is directly connected to Mossies.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Truth to be told, NO CHANCE!

    Non-Buddhists are 30% of the population and own 60% of the economy.

    They are DAMN AGAINST Buddhists concepts. So 60% of the economy controllers are against these. That’s it. It will NEVER happen.

    The govt. will also NOT do it because it is greedy for Muslim votes, Tamil votes and Christian votes. IF Buddhist concepts are given precedence in government, NONE of them will ever vote for the SLFP.

    It has to be done GRADUALLY. First change the article 9 to give it TEETH.

  6. Senevirath Says:


  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Don’t be fooled by Modi tactics.

    “NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told visiting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel that India would like to work with US defence majors on a joint development and co-production model as part of Delhi’s efforts to achieve self-reliance and reduce arms import.

    Hagel, in New Delhi exactly a week after Secretary of State John Kerry made his trip to India, was told that the Modi government would like to boost defence partnership beyond a buyer-seller relationship.”


    Modi is another US STOOGE. He is playing a double game.

    Modi’s Endia will also rally AGAINST SL if SL tries to introduce Buddhist concepts in governance.

  8. AnuD Says:

    What Lorenzo says is that Modi before the Indian elections and the Prime minister Modi are not the same. Modi in his mind set may be a pro-Hindu and supporting Hinduthwa – needs.

    But, the prime minister Modi has sacrificed every thing for the needs of the Hindian Bureaucracy. So, modi had to become a puppet of the system.

    He has to become a so-called puppet of the US. Because, many Hindians are helping US – ship to float successfully. They also may be helping Hindia economically by investing or moving their affiliated ventures into Hindia.

    Anyway, that is how the american President works too. Senator Obama and the President Obama are not the same. Obama became a puppet of the system.. their ideology.

    Only the Mahinda Rajapakse is different.

    All his life he worked to promote himself. Now he works to promote his family. All his life he showed the middle finger to Sinhale and to Sinhala-Buddhists. Lorenzo should understand this.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    Well done SL for HAMMERING the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to hell and winning the 1st test in Galle.

    Rain just started immediately after SL won.


  10. Lorenzo Says:


    That is true about Modi.

    But MR was good in his first term. He did promote himself SELFISHLY (like VP who climbed the ranks) but he DID NOT show the middle finger to Sinhale in his first term.

    e.g He won many patriotic titles when he was the PM and president in his 1s term.

    He started doing that after January 2010. Now he is JUNK. Unless he corrects (a LOT to correct), he is not worthy of another term.

    As the DETERIORATION from 1st term to 2nd term is so bad, I can’t imagine what the 3rd term holds!! MR will be another Run-nil in the third term.

  11. AnuD Says:

    Rajitha senarathne, Rauf Hakeem and some others are trying to discredit BBS. That should not be allowed. Instead, those MPs should be defeated in the next election.

  12. AnuD Says:

    What Shenali says can be done only by two ways.

    One way is a grass root movement headed by civilians with the Buddhist monks’ support. the other way, the govt’s initiative.

    As minorities in sri lanka have more courage and determination or are more aggressive than the sinhala buddhists, a grassroot movement may work better.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    Almost all MPs against BBS were DEFEATED at the last general election.

    They came through the NATIONAL LIST!

    e.g. Rajitha, Hackhim (LOST the preference vote battle), Rajiva Wije, DEW, etc.

  14. Christie Says:

    Thanks a lot for Hinduism. Can the writer of this article or some one else show where it says don’t eat beef. Our milk comes from Australia and New Zealand. I am sure India is the biggest exporter of beef. We don’t generally eat buffalo meat and we eat buffalo curd. We are becoming Hindus. Thanks again for the posters and the writer for making us Hindus. Sinhalese always ate beef and were strong, healthy and intelligent. We are becoming Parippuwas and it is Indian brain washing. This is ploy that started by India when it financed SWRD back in early fifties.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2022 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress