to my will as a great wind bends the branches of small trees. And yet at such times I was not able to become a Buddha.
I studied the Hinayana and Mahayana sutras, beginning as an ordinary practitioner with no understanding at all and gradually moving upward to the position of a great bodhisattva. For one kalpa, two kalpas, countless kalpas I devoted myself to the practices of the bodhisattva, until I almost reached the stage of non-regression. And yet I was dragged down by the powerful and overwhelming influences of evil, and I never attained Buddhahood. I do not know whether I was among the third group61 who failed to take faith when the sons of Great Universal Wisdom Excellence Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra and again failed to attain Buddhahood during the lifetime of Shakyamuni Buddha, or whether I faltered and fell away from the teachings that I heard numberless major world system dust particle kalpas ago and thus have been reborn in this age.
While one is practicing the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, one may surmount all kinds of difficulties occasioned by the evil forces of worldly life, or by the persecutions of rulers, non-Buddhists, or the followers of the Hinayana sutras. And yet one may encounter someone like Tao-cho, Shan-tao, or Honen, priests who seemed thoroughly conversant with the teachings of the provisional and the true Mahayana sutras but who were in fact possessed by devils. Such men seem to praise the Lotus Sutra most forcefully, but in fact they belittle the peoples capacity to understand it, claiming that its principles are very profound but human understanding is slight.62 They mislead others by saying that not a single person has ever attained Buddhahood through that sutra, or that not even one person in a thousand63 can be saved by it. Thus, over a period of countless life
times, people are deceived as often as there are sands in the Ganges, until they [abandon their faith in the Lotus Sutra and] descend to the teachings of the provisional Mahayana sutras, abandon these and descend to the teachings of the Hinayana sutras, and eventually abandon even these and descend to the teachings and scriptures of the non- Buddhist doctrines. I understand all too well how, in the end, people have come in this way to fall into the evil paths.
I, Nichiren, am the only person in all Japan who understands this. But if I utter so much as a word concerning it, then parents, brothers, and teachers will surely censure me, and the ruler of the nation will take steps against me.64 On the other hand, I am fully aware that if I do not speak out I will be lacking in compassion. I have considered which course to take in the light of the teachings of the Lotus and Nirvana sutras. If I remain silent, I may escape persecutions in this lifetime, but in my next life I will most certainly fall into the hell of incessant suffering. If I speak out, I am fully aware that I will have to contend with the three obstacles and four devils. But of these two courses, surely the latter is the one to choose.
If I were to falter in my determination in the face of persecutions by the sovereign, however, it would be better not to speak out. While thinking this over, I recalled the teachings of the Treasure Tower chapter on the six difficult and nine easy acts. Persons like myself who are of paltry strength might still be able to lift Mount Sumeru and toss it about; persons like myself who are lacking in supernatural powers might still shoulder a load of dry grass and yet remain unburned in the fire at the end of the kalpa of decline;65 and persons like myself who are without wisdom might still read and memorize as many sutras as there are sands in the Ganges. But such acts are not diffi