In his noble eightfold path, the Buddha spoke about Right Livelihood and how to live a honest and ethical life. As we try to integrate our practice with our life, our work often challenges us.
The Buddha spoke of five lifestyles to avoid in our work in order to pursue right livelihood:
1. Ingratiation, or speaking kindly to others to win their favor.
2. Flattery, or praising others in order because one seeks to obtain something.
3. Self-promotion, or speaking of one's own qualities to advance your own interests.
4. Calculated generosity, or giving a little to receive a lot.
5. Hypocrisy, or putting on airs in order to receive gain or honors.
Those five lifestyles really come down to us being honest with ourselves about our intention.
Are we acting with our own self-interest or because we are wrapped up in the eight worldly concerns?
Or are we genuinely acting for the benefit of ourselves and others?
You can't be expected to lay down your own well-being and happiness in your work, but how often do we find ourselves scheming and throwing others under the bus?
Right livelihood is possible when we inspire others by our actions. When we don't perpetuate greed, anger, desire and arrogance, we are acting with right livelihood.
The easiest way for our work to be a support for our spiritual practice is if we act with honesty and respect. Be honest with yourself and with others. Inspire them by your actions and they will support you in continuing your work and your practice.