by Marc Metral, France
[From the SGI Quarterly]
Marc Metral stars in the "Lemon Zone," a musical for children which has drawn an audience of thousands. In December 1994 alone, 11,000 people came to see the popular French ventriloquist when he performed at the Olympia Theater in Paris. The tireless 42-year-old performer has just completed tours of the world-renowned Lido in Paris and the Casino Loews in Monaco, and he plans a repeat of the "Lemon Zone" at the Olympia in December. This fall, he will add an adult-oriented act called "Wailing Metral" to his repertoire. In addition to acting, Marc has his own radio show, "Laughter and Songs," and he is the producer for a rising new comedian, Cartouche.
It is difficult to imagine that Marc has time for any activities besides his professional life. Surprisingly, in addition to being husband to wife Viviane and father to three children, he is a chapter chief responsible for 150 SGI-France members. "I did not think I was capable of handling all this, from husband and father to artist and producer," he notes. "I can only do it because of the Lotus Sutra." He says that by basing his life on the Buddhist teaching he is "able to harmonize every aspect of my life."
Being able to practice Buddhism entailed a major change for Marc. Although he joined SGI-France at the end of 1981, Viviane, who had joined 18 months earlier, realized that it would take a major jolt before her artist husband would be able to sincerely embrace true Buddhism. The jolt came while he was on a tour in Spain. "I felt a sharp pain on the left side of my chest," Marc recalls. Rushed to a hospital and hooked up to an electrocardiograph, doctors discovered that Marc's heart was undergoing spasms similar to those one experiences when undergoing a heart attack.
Feeling mortal for the first time in his 28 years of life, Mark began to really chant. The next day, another examination revealed that his heart was functioning normally. "Though I was still weak, I was no longer on the verge of death," he says. "Since I was arrogant, and the fundamental darkness in my life [which prevents people from embracing the truth] was powerful, it took that kind of experience to get me to chant."
His faith in Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism deepened through his eldest child, daughter Melodie. Soon after her birth, Melodie was diagnosed as having a rare viral infection which triggers meningitis, a fatal fever which strikes the brain. "I chanted from the depths of my being, fierce in my determination that she would survive," her father says of the week that Melodie flirted with death. Even after she recovered, doctors warned that there was a strong chance of her losing her vision. "Yet today, she is 12 years old, healthy, a member of the junior high school division, and excels in her studies," says her proud father.
Other tribulations followed, including an attack by an assailant at knifepoint, but Marc says that such experiences only added to his conviction in Buddhism. Above all, "I learned the unrivaled importance of striving for the sake of other people," he notes.
Today, the artist is actively teaching
others about Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, and he plans to build a meeting
hall in the Seine and Saint Deuis area for his members. He says: "My neighbors
are watching how I cope with life. They have seen us struggle when Viviane
had a nervous breakdown, they watched while I was unemployed and scrambling
to make ends meet. And they have seen how, even in our darkest hours, we
are always filled with hope — they have seen all this, the history of our