One of the most important decisions we make in life is that of livelihood. Livelihood is not simply a question of what we are going to be when we grow up. When we emphasize the concepts of a vocation, field of work, or a job, we often attach an identity. This identity may fuel our ego, or drive our pursuit for attention, money and the like. However, with such emphasis, we may be setting ourselves up for a let down. We may lose our job, or even retire, and thus feel a sense of worthlessness, loss of identity, or depression.
The idea of livelihood has nobility built within it. Buddhism speaks of Right Livelihood. It is characterized by an engagement in activity or effort, knowing that it enriches the unique character of one’s spirit — one would do it whether for money or not, whether it gives one attention, without a sense of extrinsic reward.
Such livelihood could actually be a work or vocation, but it could also be a volunteer activity. It also may be neither. Gardening (hopefully, organic), for example, could be an enriching recreational livelihood, bringing one closer to Nature. In another example, parenting could be seen as a noble livelihood, if one brings their full heart and mind and love to it, without resistance or resentment.
Livelihood, therefore, does not fit neatly into one particular box, as evident with work or vocation. It is an opportunity to use our personally unique gifts, talents or interests to make a difference in daily life. Livelihood is those ways in which we invest our heart, mind and spirit into soulful activities that enrich our life, the lives of others, and this precious Earth.
In what ways do you identity with Right Livelihood? Contemplate this. At Cortesia Sanctuary, we created a Livelihood Prayer to help direct our day’s energies. You may find it helpful for you. You may also create your own livelihood prayer. In any case, use it to direct you. Blessings upon your livelihood(s)!
I offer my joyful and willing service
to make this Earth Sanctuary
a kinder, more beautiful
and peaceful place for all.
I believe in the infinite abundance
of a universe in which all needs are met.
Guide me to fulfill my highest
and most noble potential.
I want to manifest true inner and outer
peace, health, joy and well-being,
for myself and for all.
Cortesia Sanctuary, Eugene, Oregon