Right Livelihood on the Plant Path: Herbalism as a fulfilling and self-sustaining career of measurable benefit to others – Canadian Herb Conference
2024 VIHG

Right Livelihood on the Plant Path: Herbalism as a fulfilling and self-sustaining career of measurable benefit to others

“To practice Right Livelihood (samyag ajiva), you have to find a way to earn your living without transgressing your ideals of love and compassion. The way you support yourself can be an expression of your deepest self, or it can be a source of suffering for you and others.”

Contemplating this quote by the venerable Thich Hat Han, we can understand how our livelihood – when an expression of our most essential being – can be a ’calling’ or destiny: a vital connection to our work, practice, and/or profession which can nourish our sense of fulfillment as well as the needs of our community— if we hear that call and wholly dedicate ourselves to it. And such is the power of our beloved medicinal plants in this process that we may well feel that it is the plants themselves that ‘call’ us to herbalism.

Join Gabriel Mojay for this lively presentation and interactive sharing of his four decades’ experience as a practicing clinical herbalist and aromatherapist; herbal apothecary employee; plant medicine teacher and Institute principal; author and journal editor; purveyor of fine organic essential oils; industry consultant; and co-founder of a UK nonprofit with members in 50 countries. 

Yet most especially, Gabriel will tell the stories that shaped his early business sense as a self-employed herbalist; the challenges he faced when launching and establishing his herbal practice in a big city; the lessons he learned as a practitioner and businessperson along the way – from the no-show patient to the clinical success story – and the rewards that can be reaped in financial and spiritual ways if one applies one’s vision and determination.

Taking as an inspirational framework for the Plant Path the Buddhist Seven Awakenings, Gabriel considers the following principles to ensure an absorbing yet ‘boundaried’, productive yet balanced, and profitable yet fair and sustainable botanical business:

  • Mindfulness (sati) — how can and do we cultivate insight into our practice? How are we guided by the virtue of our livelihood?
  • Insight (dhammavicaya) — how can and do we investigate the nature of our reality by gaining a clearer perspective of the conditions of our socioeconomic and fragile planetary environment, especially in terms of the challenges and opportunities it embraces?
  • Energy (vīrya) — how can and do we sustain our vitality, determination and productivity as practitioners and engaged, successful businesspeople?
  • Joy (prīti) — how can we cultivate our imagination, spontaneity and sense of accomplishment, ‘spontaneously carrying out all that has to be done for the welfare of all beings’, and so invoke and project abundance?
  • Tranquility (prashrabdhi) — how can and do we nourish our spirit and cultivate the necessary relaxed state of mind and body to renew ourselves and be of optimal service to our patients, organization and/or community?
  • Concentration (samādhi) — how can and do we foster a calm and single-pointed state of mind that will allow us to stay focused on our goals, aims and objectives?
  • Equanimity (upekshā) — how can and do we balance our expectations with the ability to accept reality as-it-is, “without craving or aversion”, and therefore allow our mistakes and misjudgments to teach, empower and transform us?

In the process of asking these questions, Gabriel will in addition to sharing his own experiences, cite examples of herbalist colleagues who have excelled in the business of herbalism in different ways— and so often through the confidence in their expertise and their dedication to, and passion for, our discipline. 

….When Gabriel has needed specialist business or financial advice, he’s blessed to have his 35-year old Londoner son Chester to turn to— a successful social entrepreneur occasionally asked to join BBC Radio 5’s Wake-Up To Money as a guest. Chester reminds him that there is always more to learn on this path! And all to ‘play’ for!!

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