They laughed, snorted, guffawed—suddenly they were a group of individuals with individual reactions. Here I was, swearing to lie for them. To preserve their ego. This is moral? But what I caught a glimpse of was boys terrified of being embarrassed in the test of their lifetime. What they heard me say is, “I understand. We can’t talk about the way it really is here. No one gets it. So you say what they want to hear, what will get you laid, what you can hide behind. It’s okay. I will not bust you.” It was the last thing they expected to hear. Or I expected to say.

The filming went on, things blew up, people died. Nothing happened for months. War is boring, and then it is frightening and then it is impossible—and that creates a bond that is complex. There is a kind of terrible love in war that has nothing to do with personality. Kind of like sesshin. They love the mountain, too. Some of those men I know to this day. We could not disagree more politically, but we take care of each other in a very particular way.

If we are to create a tolerant dialogue in a nation, we cannot stand around screaming “You aren’t tolerant!” It leaves no space for the mystery of human connection. To me the precepts are what I can bring to a situation when I am seething with righteousness and contempt, sobbing with injury, trembling with fear, accusing with vigor or glowing with righteous pity masquerading as compassion. There are few things tougher for me to let go of than being right. For me, that is practicing the precepts. They are not about being right, or doing right. They help me find a clearing so I can respond cleanly and without investment in the outcome.

  Carol Kyoryu Dysinger, MRO