Peter wrote:Though I think it brings us into some difficult territory.
Yes, it can, and that is a good point.
I think if we're sincere enough in our attempts to seek release and attain the heartwood of the spiritual life, we will not deliberately fool ourselves into taking unwholesome activities as wholesome, just to support worldly samsaric endeavour. If there is a tendency to do that, we should try to observe it through Right Intention, Right Effort and Right Mindfulness... see the play of aversion, greed and delusion in action, and learn to see through it, and see the suffering of the sankhara.
People may require specific instructions and "here's what to do if..." scenarios in order to get started and build up that Right Intention, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and so on... but in time, the more worldly prescriptive instructions can be jettisoned for something that hits harder and more accurately at the issue of purifying the mind.
It reminds me of a sutta (?) where a certain forest monk had no need to remember all the 227 vinaya precepts and the Buddha accepted it as so. That these prescriptive rules were added over time in response to behaviours not according with the life of a bhikkhu shows that they are a practical safety net moreso than an integral component of the path.