By Lora Ben
Who gives you a reputation? And who decides if you are honorable?
I don't know exactly how to translate this in English, but there are old Italian sayings like "l'abito non fa il monaco" or "non tutto cio' che luccica e' oro" or better yet "l'apparenza inganna."
Normally, others decide if you are a person of good or bad reputation or a person of honor or not. I'll give you one of my experiences to prove my point. When I was a teenager, I had a "friend" who was telling her parents that she was going out with me, but as soon as we were far enough from her home, she would leave me to go with boys.
After several months, her parents came to my home and talked to my parents accusing me of being a bad influence on their girl. They did not just say that to my parents, they also said that to the whole neighborhood.
I used to tell
my parents where I would be at all times; they always knew where they could
find me, but even if my parents trusted me, my reputation was shattered
because others believed the rumors that I corrupted her. The only thing
I had done wrong was to cover up for her. The rumors, even though unfounded,
made my family suffer because they ruined my reputation.
Encouraged by the trust that my parents had in me, I began to go out again, always keeping in mind what may father had told me. I knew who I was and my parents trusted me — to me was all that mattered at the time.
I will always love my parents for the trust they gave me and the kind of person they thought me to be. I love my parents even though they are no longer in this life for several years now.
I was young and I was invincible because of what they taught me — self-respect. I am older now, and a mother of a 17-year-old young man. I teach him the same values. One thing I also teach my son is to be a friend to anyone, and don't let others drag him into their world, but have them follow him into his world.
My son belongs to YMD (the Buddhist Young Men's Division), and he introduces all his friends to Buddhism — the "good" ones and the "bad" ones.
In 1980, I married my son's father Lennis. After a few years following our marriage and the birth of our son Lucantonio, in 1983, he began to become abusive with me. I loved Lennis so much that I forgot to love myself and lost my self-respect. We were married for 17 and a half years, and we had a very abusive situation. I did not have Gohonzon in my life then, but better yet, Gohonzon was within me, I just did not know "it" was inside me the whole time, waiting for me to find "it". My life became unbearable. I was away from my country and the rest of my family, I felt every moment that my life was a lost cause, I wanted to die. Then I met the Gohonzon, and Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the second time. This time I did not ignore "it" and I began practicing.
The Gohozon and my son have saved my life, people still talk, some think I am crazy because I practice this Buddhism, even my ex tells me that all I need now is to shave my head and I am ready for a mental hospital. However, I have my self esteem, my self respect, my son, and most of all I have Gohonzon in my life, and this time I know. I am invincible!!!