When I was ten years old, I lived on Fair Avenue in North Hollywood. I walked down Hesby Street, toward Lankershim. I saw my friend, Shane.
“Hey, why don’t we go over to your house and throw the ball around,” I said.
“My brother doesn’t like you,” Shane said.
I was completely dumbfounded. Not only could I not imagine someone not liking me (I was ten years old!), but I could not imagine why Shane’s older brother didn’t like me. I didn’t have a lot to do with him, but I didn’t remember having any problems with him. “What? Why?” I said.
“He’s telling everyone that you’re a liar.”
“I don’t know. I have to go.” Shane turned and left me standing there on the sidewalk.
I remember I walked home, feeling sick at heart. Shane’s brother was telling everyone that I was a liar, and for no reason.
In his very first talk, Buddha said that people should be truthful and trustworthy and look for the good and beautiful in others, instead of deceiving, defaming, denouncing, or disuniting. “A harmless mind generated by loving-kindness cannot give vent to harsh speech which first defaces the speaker and then hurts another. Our utterances are not only true, but sweet and pleasant, useful, fruitful, beneficial and acceptable by others.”
It is these experiences that shape our hearts, minds, and souls. I could feel to my bones what it felt like to be slandered. I could imagine, if I had any decency and good sense in me (which I trust I did), that I would never do that to someone and make them feel like I felt, staring at my shoes moving along the pavement, headed back to my house.