Five Precepts Blues; #4.7 – Draft Dodger’s Rag

I was once told that the five precepts are like a gate, they can be opened or closed when the situation calls for it. Personally, I try not to think about them that way, I have enough trouble as it is following them I don’t need any encouragement not to!
But I can accept that there are some situations where stepping around one of the precepts might keep you from breaking another.
In the Vaca Sutta, the Buddha may have even given us a bit of a loop-hole for the precept of not lying;

“Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?

It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.

A statement endowed with these five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people.”

If you are lying to get out of harming another being or even being harmed yourself, wouldn’t your lie be endowed affectionately, beneficially, and with a mind of good-will?

I’ve heard many stories of people lying to the draft board during the Vietnam War. Jim Morrison loaded his system with drugs, told them he was gay and that if they drafted him, it would be the worst mistake they ever made. Frank Zappa put peanut butter in his underwear and while waiting in line would stick his finger down his pants and stick some in his mouth. I don’t think he even had to lie for them to think he was crazy! When my father and his friend were drafted, they drove around the country, eventually down to the Florida Keys, then to Puerto Rico, sending a letter to the government from just about ever town they stopped in, saying they were there waiting for their physical.

Phil Ochs’ Draft Dodger’s Rag is pretty much a song about lying, but given the circumstances, I have a feeling even the Buddha would have approved!


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