Mick led me into his room and pointed to his bed. “Sit. Don’t touch anything,” he said. “I have to go back in and talk to my mother, thanks to you.”
We were just in there and Mick’s mother said to him what she always said when I was around. “Why can’t you be more like Richard.”
Mick was sick of it. I couldn’t help it. I was a good boy, the one all the parents liked. I got good grades. I never got into trouble. I had the manners, and the manner, of a good boy.
How did I get like that? My mother told me I was an easy baby. I didn’t fuss or cry much. It seemed to be part of my nature. I learned early that my parents appreciated the fact that I only brought them pleasant results. I got their attention by being good. I got praise for being good. It seemed to work for everyone.
As I started practicing Zen, the façade cracked and crumbled. I found a lot of pain, anger and aggression behind my identity of being a good person. After diving to the bottom of the ocean of self, I found out how a wholesome, moral, and trustworthy person truly moves in the world.
First, I became aware of the ways in which I harmed myself and those around me. I stopped thinking, saying, and doing things that brought distrust, disrespect, and fear. I committed myself to the harmonious, virtuous, and helpful. I took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and practiced the teachings of the Eightfold Path. I stopped doing things that hurt and start doing things that help.