📖 Day 17 Cookbook Discussion Prompt - RIGHT LIVELIHOOD

Welcome to day 17 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!

Today our topic is Right Livelihood.

Another common question for folks on the path to awakening is how to come to terms with making money and having a job or career. Many may want to ditch their career and start teaching yoga or meditation, but that might not be the right path for everyone. In today’s teaching, Ram Dass explores how to navigate the world of money and careers while still maintaining our spiritual center…

Ram Dass:

As you progress with your sadhana [spiritual practice] you may find it necessary to change your occupation. Or you may find that it is only necessary to change the way in which you perform your current occupation in order to bring it into line with your new understanding of how it all is. The more conscious that a being becomes, the more he can use any occupation as a vehicle for spreading light.

QUESTION: Money is such a sticky topic for so many of us - what do today’s teachings bring up for you?

Log into Teachable to access your day 17 teachings here: Day 17 - Right Livelihood - April 1st | Ram Dass Courses


it is said, do what you love , love what you do. I share my light with others through my painting and poetry writing. I have had times in my life where l have experienced lack and others where I experience abundance. In my life now, I see that at simply perspective. I embrace it all.


First off, I’ll be totally honest and admit the entire suggestion that we can be ok with wealth makes me squirm just a little inside. After all, we live in a world filled with so much need. How can I amass any sort of wealth and feel comfortable with that? Now, also being honest, I’m not sure my discomfort is entirely warranted. There truly is validity to the idea that it all comes down to how you attach to money and to the feelings it gives you. How do you use the money you have? Do you walk around with a closed fist and a closed heart when you see others in need?

Perhaps part of my discomfort is based in my own feelings about money. When I have been relatively poor there is so much less guilt in not helping others. Once you have relative wealth, it becomes so much harder to walk through life and withhold that wealth in the face of so much suffering and poverty. Maybe my discomfort is just an arrow pointing to where my work is to be done.


Great question. I suppose, wealth is not limited to just money. It also involves friends, memories, capabilities, and lifestyle. Money is a means to an end, but limited in what it can accomplish.

Society seems to becoming more divisive as it seeks to become more compassionate. A socially constructed paradox with significant and real consequences.

Insights to move away from Taylorist models of human resource management, after a pause, are slowly moving towards another trend with similar consequences (albeit with different names). A stable career with one company is a thing of the past. Transfer of intergenerational wealth is also facing increasing constraints as the cost of housing and resources skyrockets. Diversity and inclusion models are just as likely to exclude people than include them.

The cultivation of capabilities, resources, and wisdom is necessary if a compassionate, just, and equitable society is to survive. Billionares donating their money to charitable causes is a great start, as long as we consider how that wealth was generated. But waiting for pure inputs and outputs before feeding one’s family is impractical, even if a useful normative aspiration. Finding a spiritual-secular balance on the path is a process.


This lesson brought up a lot for me today. I am currently unemployed as my last job was so disregulating for me that I developed an anxiety response where I was up all night vomiting 4-5 times a week. I was losing weight rapidly, always tired and not happy. People around me were worried and encouraged me to quit. A few days after I quit I was completely fine! That was about a year ago, though. Since then I’ve been making art, selling some but giving away more than I’m selling, dedicating more time than ever to my spiritual practice, and traveling often to help my sister with my baby nephew or house/pet-sit for friends and family. I am privileged in that I have some money from an inheritance that helps me get by for now, but that also comes with guilt for not saving it, judgement from my family, feelings of unworthiness, and knowing it won’t last forever. I really feel lost right now when it comes to work. I love the free life I have now and how it enables me to work on myself, my art, and be there for the people I love whenever they need it. I dread having to go back to a 9-5 job that resembles the one I quit last year but I know I am losing out on building weath and career development, which for now I think I’m fine with. I also feel like saying all this makes me sound spoiled and entitled, especially coming out of a family that valued work and money over everything. I feel fragile and sensitive compared to the rest of my family who seems to be able to deal with more stress than I could for much longer than I could. I am trying to have faith that something will come up that is right for me at the right time but I also want to milk this time I have for all it is worth, so I haven’t really been looking. I like hearing RD talk about going back home to his dad asking him if he has a job :slight_smile: so relatable!


Money is sticky but it’s only money. It’s just and exchange of energy we put in. As long as I’m not attaching than it’s all good.

We never really grew up with a lot of money, just enough for what we needed. It had a really solid effect on my adulthood.

I noticed when I didn’t have a lot, I wanted more. When I had more, I felt bland. Honestly, todays topic just showed me that the way I’m choosing to live my life in exchange is on the right path. I work with cannabis and it can get finicky, if I let it. I give grace and thanks to the mother for her blessing every time I open and thanks for the father when I close. I have moments where the universe will test my devotion to my practice but it just shows me that I’m where I want to be.

Thanks for reading and sharing everyone :pray:

Happy April 1st :umbrella::rainbow::cherry_blossom:


Let the guilt and shame go. Do what makes you happy and healthy. You don’t have to buy into the society’s expectation that money and “making something of yourself” should be your primary focus. It’s not any sort of absolute truth. It’s just a story society tells itself. Your highest responsibility is to doing what is right for you not fitting into anyone else’s mould. Do what is right for today. Maybe one day what’s right for you will change and then you can adapt to that change. However, for now, by what you say, it sounds like you are doing exactly what you should be doing.

To paraphrase something I’ve heard said and can’t disagree with: The greatest success is to live life in your own way.


Actually, for me, even though we have enough money to live because of credit cards and very high debt to income ratio, I cannot pass by a homeless person without feeling like I should give them a dollar. I put my hand on my heart, smile, wave with intention of creating an opening for that person and sometimes, I do give them a dollar. I also give a tenth of a tenth to charities or causes I support. Now I feel guilty for not donating to this organization. I can feel guilty very easily despite the constant financial struggles.

Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jeremy! I wonder what it is that I need to do in relation to money and attachment to it.


The job stuff is stressful at times. This course has really helped me with that stress though. So grateful! From the Mindrolling Rick Jarow podcast (30:00), he mentions this guy Daskalos who is working with drudgery as a way to run off past karma. This reminded me of a dream I had being another person who was a businessman. I don’t know what to think about past lives exactly, but sometimes I wonder if I’m working off old karma from this guy.

I’m not sure how to make the career leap of faith exactly. Being a wandering sadhu sounds pretty awesome. I feel like a billionaire, but I don’t have the bank account to support these feelings lol. Perhaps some of the unknown fears of security, stability, opportunity and status are creating misalignment. It’s something I can reflect on, and in the meantime I’ll stay patient and hopefully be ready when the right opportunity arrives.


Well, first things first, I have not worked since 2016, 3 years after a car accident that further degenerated my cervical spine and gave me some degree of nerve pain daily. Enough so that the stress of needing to be somewhere at a particular time caused so much additional nerve pain, that working was not possible.

I think I could find an online job of some sort (I was able to volunteer online for a short period of time, before that, too, started causing more nerve pain, migraines and digestive problems). Classroom volunteer work had to stop prior to that for the same reason - I knew that I was missing too much time. So, it feels very much like I have been told that working is not an option for me.

My daughter is now my focus and I attempt to be available for her whenever she wants/needs transportation. For a while (until I became discouraged because there is no cohort of adults who had broncho-pulmonary dysplasia as infants to warrant any studies) I was writing to researchers in the hopes of finding some new treatment or something that would increase my daughter’s quality of life, decrease her need for oxygen, etc. So now, I do not know what is next.

It is not possible for me to become a wandering sadhu, and if it were, I would be a wandering great grandmother visiting my grands every chance I had. And of course, that requires money we do not have and my daughter does not like to travel far with me. For now, being here, now, is my work.


Yes, money is a very sticky social topic. I have written volumes on this in my own journals, and have nearly exhausted the topic for myself. Money, right livelihood, authenticity, vocation, purpose, service via work, relationships with colleagues and clients, communication skills, privacy issues, attitude, gratitude, debt, saving, budgeting, frugality, simplicity, shopping, how much is actually enough/needed, not having enough for my own needs, reliance on others’ generous capacity for giving, guilt, shame, confusion, wealth disparities for individuals and social demographics, charitable giving, investing, trading, financial sustainability, environmental/ecological responsibility, etc.

Money is energy, but not just energy. It is also a big fluffy functional security blanket for a felt-sense of safety for your nervous system and for your physical needs in the contextual construct(s) of the collective human world (because money is of the human world). If I don’t have my own monetary security blanket, the money required to meet my personal physical needs in this world may be donated by others (from charitable resources to taxes). Granted, “nature” can provide quite a lot of un-monetized treasures, blessings and experiences, but humans have largely commodified and regulated the gross aspects of Earth (water, land, air, food, shelter, energy, info, laws/regulations, taxes, etc.). Accepting this seems to be an important way of finding the freedom from stories about the existence of money and how I relate to it personally, even if others’ disagree. I must continuously practice with my own self-regulation in relation to the energy resource we call money.



Maybe nothing needs to change in what you do. Perhaps it’s only a perspective change which would give you greater peace.


Since 1.5 years or so, I am part of a dream weaving lineage. One enters this online group with a monetary “gift” to one of the people in the group and comes out of it with 8 times the amount one has gifted at the beginning. It works like a mandala or fractal. We share one short message a day, about our awareness practice in regard to the intentions and “dreams” we hope to manifest. It is a bit like a collective diary or continuous sharing circle.
At first, accepting the economical aspect of this work has been challenging for me, as I felt that earning money should not be linked to a higher purpose; I did not want a mindfulness group to be tied to earning money. However, I learned that the people who went through a whole cycle did invest the money in building a mindfulness community, bought instruments for spiritual practices they are pursuing, finance education, build a house, enable themselves to focus more on childcare asf. So understanding that money is energy, and playing with it rather than being scared of it has been a very big lesson for me.


Source: Upaya Zen Center

Right Livelihood, samma avija, is found in the morality arm of the Path along with Right Speech and Right Action. According to the Buddha’s teachings, Right Livelihood is a way to earn a living that doesn’t harm others or oneself. In defining Right Livelihood, the Buddha named five types of businesses that lay people should not engage in. These were:

  • Dealing in weapons
  • Trade of human beings including slavery and prostitution
  • Meat production and butchery
  • Business in intoxicants
  • Business in poison

Very timely teaching as Im on the hunt for a job currently. I tend to live very frugally, and when I had a job would save for traveling and concerts mostly. I don’t have a car or a tv so I save in that way. My apartment is sparse in general, I have just enough and I like it like that. My most prized possession is my puja table full of books, photos and murtis galore. The last few years I’ve grown to love and appreciate the homemade, the well worn, second or third hand, hand crafted, things in my life. Theres beauty in these items, that I used to not see. All that said, if magically a million dollars appeared at my feet, on my walk around town, I’d absolutely love it!

I enjoyed the part about seeing coworkers as souls. And also how you dont have to be employed at some overtly spiritual profession to bring in these teachings, although I will confess being a wandering sadhu or a long term resident at an ashram is something Ive fantasized about for years. If you are a bank teller you are present, here and now, and beaming loving awareness and loving kindness outward to each customer and to all your coworkers and bosses. Whatever your job is, you can transfer the stuff we have learned in this course into actual practices done on the job, where the rubber meets the road. A frustrated customer is upset because the store I work at doesn’t carry a specific spice they were looking for? Remaining calm, cool, collected, helping them as best I can, saying sorry, seeing it from their point of view, and then radiating love energy outward is my plan of action in this situation. I havent had a job for awhile, and in that off time, I’ve spent the majority of it, learning, exploring, and discovering things on the path, so Im eager to try out all these practices at whatever job is next for me.

And even if a job in my past hasn’t been the perfect fit, I agree with Ram Dass that I’ve learned about myself and the world just by taking the job, even if only for a brief time.


One thing I can say about this is that I find it so bizarre and disheartening that most of the people who are most highly rewarded with financial wealth are those who poison the planet, and greatly exploit people and the earth’s resources.

A question I have been asking for awhile now is “How can we make it more profitable to honor, love, and care for one another and the Earth?” 🫶🏽:rainbow::revolving_hearts:


Valid points. Definitely.

I ‘assume’ a buddhist pureland would involve a simpler lifestyle. A complete disruption of the socio economic status quo.

Life would look very different than it does today, which is not to say all science and technology would be considered unnecessary luxuries. A paradigm shift, possibly turning priorities upside down?

The methods and processes of production are inefficient, wasteful, and…produce a lot of products that are not necessary.

In my view, everyone participates in a economy of consumption and waste. We are are all destroying the planet. But it is clear, some benefit more than others.

Right Livelihood…represents a useful lense for evaluating methods, results, and values…, but it’s not enough. The dharma points us in the direction, but people, companies, and governments have to make wiser choices.

Corporate, government, and personal incentives need to be overhauled.


About ten years ago I was in some of these types of “circles” … until I learned about what they actually are. Might be worth reading this :pray:t4::purple_heart:


Thank you for sharing @Erin_Pillman , I am afraid but those articles are written out of fear and separation, feelings that I invite everyone to work on.
In this day’s audio piece, Ram Dass mentioned the man who visited Maharaji, who confronted him with being money-greedy and attached to worldly wealth, and it turned out that the visitor himself was that way, not Maharaji.
Thank you for bringing this up. It is a great example to think about.