will be such that] even the Buddha wisdom could never finish calculating their extent.9
Nichiren alone took the lead in carrying out the task of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. He may even be one of them. If Nichiren is to be counted among the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, then so must his disciples and lay supporters. The sutra states: If one [of these good men or good women in the time after I have passed into extinction] is able to secretly expound the Lotus Sutra to one person, even one phrase of it, then you should know that he or she is the envoy of the Thus Come One. He has been dispatched by the Thus Come One and carries out the Thus Come Ones work.10 Who else but us can this possibly refer to?
When praised highly by others, one feels that there is no hardship one cannot bear. Such is the courage that springs from words of praise. The votaries born in the Latter Day of the Law who propagate the Lotus Sutra will encounter the three types of enemies, who will cause them to be exiled and even condemn them to death. Yet Shakyamuni Buddha will enfold in his robe those who nonetheless persevere in propagating. Heavenly gods will make them offerings, support them with their shoulders, and carry them on their backs. They possess great roots of goodness and deserve to be great leaders for all living beings. Thus extolled by Shakyamuni Buddha, Many Treasures Buddha, all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the ten directions, the seven reigns of the heavenly deities and the five reigns of the earthly deities, the Mother of Demon Children and the ten demon daughters, the four heavenly kings, Brahma, Shakra, King Yama, the gods of the waters and winds, the gods of the seas and mountains, the Thus Come One Mahavairochana, the bodhisattvas Universal Worthy and Manjushri, and the gods of the sun and
moon thus praised by all these honored ones, I, Nichiren, have been able to endure countless harsh trials. When praised, one does not consider ones personal risk, and when criticized, one can recklessly cause ones own ruin. Such is the way of common mortals.
Now, no matter what, strive in faith and be known as a votary of the Lotus Sutra, and remain my disciple for the rest of your life. If you are of the same mind as Nichiren, you must be a Bodhisattva of the Earth. And if you are a Bodhisattva of the Earth, there is not the slightest doubt that you have been a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha from the remote past. The sutra states, Ever since the long distant past I have been teaching and converting this multitude.11 There should be no discrimination among those who propagate the five characters of Myoho-renge-kyo in the Latter Day of the Law, be they men or women. Were they not Bodhisattvas of the Earth, they could not chant the daimoku. At first only Nichiren chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, but then two, three, and a hundred followed, chanting and teaching others. Propagation will unfold this way in the future as well. Does this not signify emerging from the earth ? At the time when the Law has spread far and wide, the entire Japanese nation will chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, as surely as an arrow aimed at the earth cannot miss the target.
But now you must build your reputation on the Lotus Sutra and give yourself up to it. At the Ceremony in the Air, when the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions gathered together, the two Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Many Treasures, nodded in agreement. What they decided on was nothing other than the perpetuation of the Law throughout the Latter Day. Many Treasures Buddha had offered Shakyamuni Buddha a place beside him, and when they unfurled the ban