Dengyo for more than twenty. I have been refuting the provisional doctrines for more than twenty years, and the great persecutions I have suffered during this period are beyond number. I do not know whether they are equal to the nine great persecutions suffered by the Buddha, but surely neither Tientai nor Dengyo ever faced persecutions as great as mine for the sake of the Lotus Sutra. They encountered only hatred, envy, and slander, whereas I twice incurred the wrath of the rulers and was exiled to remote provinces. Furthermore, I was nearly beheaded at Tatsunokuchi, wounded on the forehead [at Komatsubara], and slandered time and again. My disciples have also been exiled and thrown into prison, and my lay supporters have been evicted and had their fiefs confiscated. How can the persecutions faced by Nagarjuna, Tien-tai, or Dengyo possibly compare with these? Understand then that the votary who practices the Lotus Sutra exactly as the Buddha teaches will without fail be attacked by the three powerful enemies.
In the more than two thousand years that have passed since the Buddhas advent, Shakyamuni himself, Tien-tai, and Dengyo were the only three who perfectly carried out the Buddhas teachings. Now in the Latter Day of the Law, Nichiren and his disciples and lay believers are just such practitioners. If we cannot be called votaries faithful to the Buddhas teachings, then neither can Shakyamuni, Tien-tai, or Dengyo. Could Devadatta, Kokalika, Sunakshatra, Kobo, Jikaku, Chisho, Shan-tao, Honen, Ryokan, and others like them be called votaries of the Lotus Sutra? Could Shakyamuni Buddha, Tien-tai, Dengyo, or Nichiren and his disciples and lay believers be the practitioners of the Nembutsu, True Word, Zen, Precepts, or other schools? Could the Lotus Sutra be called an expedient and provisional
teaching, and the sutras of the Nembutsu and other schools be the Lotus Sutra? None of this could ever be possible, even if east were to become west and west become east; even if the earth and all its trees and plants were to fly up and become the heavens, and the sun, the moon, and the stars were to tumble down and become the earth.
What a great pity it is that all the Japanese people are delighted to see Nichiren and his disciples and lay believers suffer at the hands of the three powerful enemies! What befell another yesterday may befall oneself today. Nichiren and his followers have but a short time to endure merely the time it takes for frost or dew to vanish in the morning sun. When our prayers for Buddhahood are answered and we are dwelling in the true land of Tranquil Light where we will experience the boundless joy of the Law, what pity we will feel for those who sink to the bottom of the great citadel of the Avichi hell and meet extreme suffering there! How they will envy us then!
Life flashes by in but a moment. No matter how many terrible enemies you may encounter, banish all fears and never think of backsliding. Even if someone were to cut off our heads with a saw, impale our bodies with lances, or shackle our feet and bore them through with a gimlet, as long as we are alive, we must keep chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Then, if we chant until the very moment of death, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and the Buddhas of the ten directions will come to us instantly, exactly as they promised during the ceremony at Eagle Peak. Taking our hands and bearing us on their shoulders, they will carry us to Eagle Peak. The two sages,19 the two heavenly kings,20 and the ten demon daughters will guard us, while all the heavenly gods and benevolent deities will raise a canopy over our heads and unfurl