these passages from the sutra are to be believed, then in the seven hundred and more years since Buddhism was introduced to Japan, there has never been a single votary of the Lotus Sutra other than the Great Teacher Dengyo and I, Nichiren.
Again and again I wonder that the persons who attack me do not, as the Lotus Sutra says, suffer the punishment of having their heads split into seven pieces69 or their mouths closed and stopped up,70 but I realize there are reasons. Such punishments are no more than trivial penalties fit to be inflicted where there are only one or two offenders. But I, Nichiren, am the foremost votary of the Lotus Sutra in the entire land of Jambudvipa. Therefore, people who ally themselves with those who slander me or treat me with malice deserve to meet with the greatest difficulties in Jambudvipa, such as the immense earthquake that rocked Japan in the Shoka era, or the huge comet that appeared as a punishment upon the entire land in the Bunei era.71 Just look at these happenings! Though in the centuries since the Buddhas passing there have been other practitioners of Buddhism who were treated with malice, great disasters such as these have never been known before. That is because there has never before been anyone who taught the people at large to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo! With respect to this virtue, is there anyone in the whole world who dares to face me and say he is my equal, anyone within the four seas who dares to claim he can stand side by side with me?
Question: During the Former Day of the Law, the capacities of the people may have been somewhat inferior to those of the people who lived when the Buddha was in the world. And yet they were surely much superior to those of the people in the Middle and Latter Days of the Law. How then can you say that in the early years of the
Former Day of the Law the Lotus Sutra was ignored? It was during the thousand years of the Former Day of the Law that such men as Ashvaghosha, Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, and Asanga appeared. Bodhisattva Vasubandhu, who is known as the scholar of a thousand works, wrote The Treatise on the Lotus Sutra, in which he declared that the Lotus is first among all the sutras. The Tripitaka Master Paramartha, in describing the transmission of the Lotus Sutra, says that in India there were more than fifty scholars who spread the teachings of the Lotus Sutra, and that Vasubandhu was one of them. Such was the situation in the Former Day of the Law.
Turning to the Middle Day of the Law that followed, we find that the Great Teacher Tien-tai appeared in China around the middle of the period and completed The Profound Meaning of the Lotus Sutra, The Words and Phrases of the Lotus Sutra, and Great Concentration and Insight in thirty volumes, in which he explored all the depths of meaning in the Lotus Sutra. At the end of the Middle Day of the Law, the Great Teacher Dengyo appeared in Japan. He not only transmitted to our country the two doctrines of perfect wisdom and perfect meditation expounded by the Great Teacher Tien-tai, but also established a great ordination platform of the perfect and immediate enlightenment on Mount Hiei. Thus the perfect precepts were acknowledged throughout Japan, and everyone from the ruler on down to the common people looked up to Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei as their guide and teacher. How then can you say that in the Middle Day of the Law the teachings of the Lotus Sutra were not widely disseminated and spread abroad?
Answer: It is a commonly accepted assertion among the scholars of our times that the Thus Come One invariably preached his teachings in accor