Friday, August 1, 2008


Question: (unedited)
a fisherman catch fishes all his life. is it a bad karma to catch fish for a living?

My comment:
There are certain occupations that are considered unwholesome. They are those dealing in flesh, poison, weapons of destruction, and human trafficking (including slavery). The rationale for this is that all these activities cause great suffering for the victims, if not loss of lives. A fisherman catches fish. It is considered dealing in flesh. However there are some mitigating circumstances which we must consider. First, the fisherman is earning an honest living. Second, the lives involve fish and not human lives. Third, as for most fishermen, it may be the only traditional livelihood that he is brought up to do. It may not be easy for him to change occupation especially where he is living in a fishing village. For this reason we should show some emphathy.

It is up to the fisherman whether he is able to uproot his lifestyle in order to change profession. It is not easy. But it is not a good excuse or good defence that he continue with this occupation and not being guilty of it. It is certainly not a very wholesome lifelihood. But then again, who are we to pass judgement?

It is up to us to realize that this existence is not perfect and sometimes it is very difficult for us to avoid certain unwholesome activities. It is more pertinent at this point in time that we should continue to live skilfully so that less problems will come our way because of our persistent wholesome actions that we are now undertaking.

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