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Whether or not one’s work constitutes right livelihood often has more to do with the way in which one performs the work, rather than with the work itself.
As a lawyer, this is particularly true for me. Every day I am presented with opportunities to practice my profession in a manner rooted in greed, intolerance, impatience and anger. As a Buddhist I have had to ask myself whether it is possible to be a successful lawyer while practicing right livelihood at the same time. For example, when negotiating with a hostile and aggressive attorney, can I get the best result for my client by practicing Buddhist principles such as compassion, or can I only obtain the results my client expects by reacting equally aggressively? Can I pay my staff, let alone support my family, without some level of greed? Can I successfully take a hard-line stance on a position, reacting as though that stance inherently exists, while at the same time acknowledging to myself the empty nature of that position?For me, right livelihood depends on confidence in the Buddhist approach and discipline in following that approach. Although my profession can lead to a livelihood rooted in unwholesome actions, through confidence and discipline it can lead to a livelihood that positively impacts the lives of many people throughout the course of my career.