Once in Korea a man wanted to take the five precepts. But, he liked to drink. “I want to drink!”, but then he thought, “If I only drink and take the precepts that means breaking the precepts.” So, he got an idea. He invited a friend out to dinner and said, “I’ll drink for you!” As the evening proceeded the friend saw that he was drinking a lot, much more than him. “That’s not correct,” said the friend. “Now you are breaking two precepts: the one against drinking and the one against lying!”
A long time ago my teacher, Zen Master Ko Bong, gave the five precepts to Chung Dong Go Sa Nim. Everything in the ceremony went smoothly until the part where the preceptor recites the precepts. Suddenly the man stood up and said “If I cannot drink, I die!” So, now there was a problem. Immediately Ko Bong Sunim said “Then you take only four precepts.” He became the “four precepts layman” and got four precepts enlightenment. Anybody can take four precepts–no problem!