For me “right livelihood” means to do the work that is in front of me to do, to do it well, with joy, and from my whole being.
Right Livelihood is not simply picking a career. It includes our ongoing choices about how we spend our working time, which is for most of us our largest single time commitment, day in and day out, year in and year out, and so potentially the largest single domain of our practice.
The contributors to Claude Whitmyer’s Mindfulness and Meaningful Work are many and varied: Joanna Macy, Sam Keen, E.F. Schumacher, Shunryu Suzuki, Walpole Rahula, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gary Snyder, Tarthang Tulku, Robert Aitken, Toni Packer, Fran Peavey, and many more. Some write abstractly, some personally. Some describe their career paths and the qualities of work that engages their whole being. Others talk about how intention and mindfulness can transform any job into an integral part of one’s spiritual development.
While most write about work as occupation, others write about work/life outside the workplace as well. Gary Snyder says:
It is as hard to get the children herded into the carpool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. . . . Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings. . . . don’t let yourself think that these are distracting you from more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we wish to escape from so that we may do our “practice” which will put us on a “path”—it is our path.