The Power of the Mystic Law

By Michele Chavez

In 1984, when I was in my early 30s, a year after my divorce from my first husband, I was living in a tiny one-room apartment in Hollywood. So tiny, in fact, that my "bedroom" was my closet. I had a little job that paid $5+ an hour. 

During the summer, I was working every day after work on the Jesse Jackson for President campaign. One day in a park, I met a fellow who was very nice and we began a friendship. His mother had fallen and broken her hip. When she got out of the hospital, he was at his wit's end taking care of her, so he asked me to come over occasionally and mommy-sit. One day, he took a long time coming back, so his mom told me to go look for him. I went across the street and there he was at another guy's house. I got talking with this other guy and he started telling me about Buddhism. I agreed to go to a meeting with him and my other friend. I had visions of folks sitting around meditating in orange robes.

A few days later, when we got to the meeting, it wasn't what I had envisioned at all. There were a bunch of regular people in regular street clothes, mostly black, but some other races, too, sitting on the floor and the sofa in front of this big box with a scroll in it, all chanting these strange words. I thought they were nuts! One girl, who was half-Japanese and half-Greek, got up after the chanting and read from a book a letter with advice to a couple with a sick child. I remember that vividly and how I was moved by the writing. Then, the leader asked the guests to ask questions. This was right after the multiple murders at the McDonald's in San Ysidro and I was very angry about the senseless killing and asked how Buddhism explained that. He calmly explained cause-and-effect and karma. Not satisfied, on my way out of the meeting, I told my new friend not to ever take me there again!

But, within days I was asking him when the next meeting was, because I remembered the happy, smiling faces. These were not pasted-on smiles, but real happiness shining through. I wanted me a piece of that. You see, I had always throughout my life, been depressed. I couldn't remember any other way of life, but I knew I wanted to be happy, not sad all the time.

I had been plagued by suicidal thoughts. If my boyfriend and I had a fight, my first thought was suicide. (When I was 18, I had actually made a half-hearted attempt but a fellow who had the hots for me saved me.) 

So, a month later, after attending many meetings, at a big meeting in North Hollywood, one of the leaders came up to me and said, "Well, Michele, are you ready to receive your Gohonzon?"  My mouth said, "yes," while my mind said, "Why did I say THAT?!!!!" Two days later, I received the Gohonzon in a Gohonzon conferral ceremony at the North Hollywood Community Center. That was August 23, 1984. I felt so exciting during the ceremony! This was what I felt my HS graduation ceremony SHOULD have felt like. I felt like I was graduating. And in a sense, I was.

I still didn't really believe that the practice of Buddhism could work. I was told that I could chant for anything I wanted. To try the practice for 90 days "like a scientist" and see what happened. "Yeah, right!", I thought.  I had been looking for that big IT for all my life. That one thing that would "solve" all my problems. This was just another hype.

I decided to at least give it a try. My concept of what it could work on was really tiny. The first thing I chanted for was an answering machine. After chanting about finding an answering machine one morning, I jogged over to my ATM to get some cash. It was a really windy day and while I was punching in my number a piece of paper blew up under my running shoe. I looked down and picked it up. It was a flyer for an electronics sale that was going on that morning at a local hotel, and right there on the list of items being sold were answering machines. I had me my new answering machine that I could afford that morning before I got to work.

Okay, so it worked for something small. Now, I set my sights on something bigger. I started chanting for the guy that told me about the practice. He had never even looked at me as a woman. After a few weeks, he called me up and asked me if I was seeing the guy I had mommy-sat for. I told him "No, the other guy and I were just friends." He called again the next day and asked me out. He told me that one day he had just looked at me and thought, "She's beautiful." (The relationship didn't work in the long run, but chanting about it helped me to realize that he wasn't the one for me.)

After 9 months of practice, one day I was sitting in front of the Gohonzon chanting, when a profound feeling of JOY welled up from somewhere inside and washed over me. I realized in that moment what real happiness feels like and that I never wanted to stop chanting. And that it had been months and months since I had had a suicidal thought. After all these years, they have never returned. 

Now, I chant about everything, from small to huge. I don't limit myself or the practice. I set out on my own human revolution 15 years ago and am still growing and evolving. I've overcome obstacle after obstacle, some I would never have thought surmountable. There's a quote from President Ikeda, the president of the SGI, that my husband has placed on our altar, which says, 

"Anyone would think that victory is impossible and that's probably how you feel right now. Don't forget this marvelous Gohonzon. We have the power to transform something you would normally think impossible into something possible. Those who give up before they try, don't really know the power of the Mystic Law..."