Right livelihood means making one’s living in such a way as to avoid causing suffering to others (human or animal) through cheating them (Majjhima Nikaya, III.75) or by physically harming or killing them: avoiding ‘trade in weapons, living beings, meat, alcoholic drink, or poison’ (Anguttara Nikaya, III.208).
Source: Excerpted and adapted from Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, 2nd ed, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), page 83.
Right Livelihood suggests that we earn our living in an honorable and life-affirming way, free from deceit or dishonesty. We do not earn our livelihood in any way that involves harm, cruelty, or injustice to either human beings or animals, nor do we support those who harm other beings. For example, Right Livelihood means not selling or trading in arms and lethal weapons, not selling intoxicating drinks or poisons, not killing or mistreating animals, not cheating or deceiving others, and so forth.
The Dharma of a human being is to support and assist life, embracing our interconnection with all sentient beings. Being in accord with Right Livelihood means living in harmony and unity with all of life; living not just to satisfy our own personal desires, but to compassionately serve the welfare of all beings. Through Right Livelihood we cultivate ethical conduct (personal integrity/sila), and establish the essential foundation of the Path.
Source: SourcePoint Global Outreach, The Heart of Dharma Collection (Mount Shasta, CA: Naljor Prison Dharma Service, n.d.) http://sourcepointglobaloutreach.org/what-we-offer/