debate with my opponents, but instead I was sent into exile and my very life imperiled.
When it comes to understanding the Lotus Sutra, I have only a minute fraction of the vast ability that Tien-tai and Dengyo possessed. But as regards my ability to endure persecution and the wealth of my compassion for others, I believe they would hold me in awe. [As a votary of the Lotus Sutra] I firmly believe that I should come under the protection of the gods, and yet I do not see the slightest sign of this. On the contrary, I am subjected to increasingly severe punishments. In view of this, am I perhaps then not a votary of the Lotus Sutra after all? Or have the heavenly gods and benevolent deities perhaps taken leave and departed from this land of Japan? I find myself in much perplexity.
But then I recall the twenty lines of verse in the Encouraging Devotion chapter of the fifth volume of the Lotus Sutra.78 If I, Nichiren, had not been born in this land of Japan, then the words of the World-Honored One predicting such persecutions would have been a great prevarication, and those eight hundred thousand million nayutas of bodhisattvas would have been guilty of the same offense as that of Devadatta, of lying and misleading others.
The sutra says, There will be many ignorant people who will curse and speak ill of us and will attack us with swords and staves, with rocks and tiles.79 Look around you in the world todayare there any priests other than Nichiren who are cursed and vilified because of the Lotus Sutra or who are attacked with swords and staves? If it were not for Nichiren, the prophecy made in this verse of the sutra would have been sheer falsehood.
The same passage says, In that evil age there will be monks with perverse wisdom and hearts that are fawning and crooked,80 and They will preach
the Law to white-robed laymen and will be respected and revered by the world as though they were arhats who possess the six transcendental powers.81 If it were not for the priests of the Nembutsu, Zen, and Precepts schools of our present age, then the World-Honored One would have been a teller of great untruths.
The passage likewise says, Because in the midst of the great assembly . . . they will address the rulers, high ministers, Brahmans, and householders . . . [slandering and speaking evil of us]. If the priests of today did not slander me to the authorities and have them condemn me to banishment, then this passage in the sutra would have remained unfulfilled.
Again and again we will be banished, says the sutra. But if Nichiren had not been banished time and again for the sake of the Lotus Sutra, what would these words again and again have meant? Even Tien-tai and Dengyo were not able to fulfill this prediction represented by the words again and again, much less was anyone else. But because I have been born at the beginning of the Latter Day of the Law, the age of fear and evil described in the sutra, I alone have been able to live these words.
As other examples of prophecies that were fulfilled, in the Buddhas Successors Sutra it is recorded that the World- Honored One said that one hundred years after his passing a ruler named Ashoka the Great would appear. In the Maya Sutra he said that six hundred years after his passing a man named Bodhisattva Nagarjuna would appear in southern India. And in the Great Compassion Sutra he said that sixty years after his passing a man named Madhyantika would establish his base in the dragon palace. All of these prophecies came true. Indeed, if they had not, who would believe in the Buddhas teachings?