rebuke, curses or humiliation, beatings with a whip or rod, imprisonment, starvation, adversity, or other minor hardships in this lifetime, one can avoid falling into hell. The Parinirvana Sutra says: They may be poorly clad and poorly fed, seek wealth in vain, be born to an impoverished and lowly family or one with erroneous views, or be persecuted by their sovereign. They may be subjected to various other sufferings and retributions. It is due to the blessings obtained by protecting the Law that they can diminish in this lifetime their suffering and retribution.
These passages mean that we, who now believe in the correct teaching, in the past once committed the offense of persecuting its practitioners, and therefore are destined to fall into a terrible hell in the future. The blessings gained by practicing the correct teaching, however, are so great that by meeting minor sufferings in this life we can change the karma that destines us to suffer terribly in the future. As the sutra says, ones past slander may cause one to suffer various retributions, such as being born into a poor family or a family with erroneous views or being persecuted by ones sovereign. A family with erroneous views means one that slanders the correct teaching, and persecution by ones sovereign means to live under the reign of an evil ruler. These are the two sufferings confronting you now. In order to expiate the sin of your past slanders, you are opposed by your parents, who hold mistaken views, and must live in the age of a ruler who persecutes the votary of the Lotus Sutra. The sutra makes this absolutely clear. Never doubt that you slandered the correct teaching in the past. If you have doubt about this, you will be unable to withstand the minor sufferings of this life. Then you may give in to your fathers opposition and desert the Lotus Sutra against your will. Remember that, if this happens,
not only will you fall into hell, but also your precious parents will fall into the great Avichi hell, causing all of you indescribable grief. The essential thing is a great resolve to attain the way.
Both of you have continued believing in the Lotus Sutra; thus you are now ridding yourselves of your grave offenses from the past. For example, the flaws in iron come to the surface when it is forged. Put into flames, a rock simply turns to ashes, but gold becomes pure gold. This trial, more than anything else, will prove your faith genuine, and the ten demon daughters of the Lotus Sutra will surely protect you. The demon who appeared to test the boy Snow Mountains was actually Shakra. The dove saved by King Shibi was the heavenly king Vaishravana.18 It is even possible that the ten demon daughters have possessed your parents and are tormenting you in order to test your faith. Any weakness in faith will be a cause for regret. The cart that overturns on the road ahead is a warning to the one behind.
In an age like this no one can help but thirst for the way. You may hate this world, but you cannot escape it. The people of Japan are certain to meet with terrible misfortune in the immediate future. The revolt19 that broke out on the eleventh day of the second month in the ninth year of Bunei (1272) was like blossoms being lashed by a gale, or like bolts of silk burning in an inferno. Who can help but abhor a world like ours?
In the tenth month of the eleventh year of Bunei, the people on Iki and Tsushima islands20 were slaughtered at one stroke. How can we say that this is no concern of ours? The soldiers who went off to confront the invaders how forlorn they must be! They had to leave behind their aged parents, small children, young wives, and cherished homes to go out and defend a sea to