and their like, the moon, a gods son, is foremost, so a person who upholds the Lotus Sutra is likewise.169 Keep these words in mind. All of the wise persons of Japan at the present time are like the host of stars, and I, Nichiren, am like the full moon.
Question: Is there anyone from times past who has spoken the way you have just done?
Answer: The Great Teacher Dengyo states: One should understand that the sutras on which the other schools base their teachings are not foremost among the sutras, and those people who can uphold such sutras are not foremost among the multitude. But the Lotus Sutra, which is upheld by the Tendai Lotus school, is the foremost of all the sutras, and therefore those who can uphold the Lotus are foremost among living beings. This is borne out by the words of the Buddha himself. How could it be mere self-praise?170
A tick that attaches itself to the tail of a chi-lin can race a thousand miles in one day, and a worthless man who accompanies a wheel-turning king can circle in an instant about the four continents of the world. Who would question the truth of such matters? Dengyos words, How could it be mere self-praise? should be kept in mind.
If what he says is correct, then a person who upholds the Lotus Sutra just as it teaches must be superior to the king Brahma and more worthy than the lord Shakra. If you have asuras to help you, you can lift and carry even Mount Sumeru. If you have dragons in your employ, you can drain all the water in the ocean until it runs dry.
The Great Teacher Dengyo says: Those who praise him will receive blessings that will pile up as high as Mount Calm and Bright, while those who slander him will be committing a fault that will condemn them to the hell of incessant suffering.171 And
the Lotus Sutra states, If this person [should slander a sutra such as this], or on seeing those who read, recite, copy, and uphold this sutra, should despise, hate, envy, or bear grudges against them . . . When his life comes to an end he will enter the Avichi hell.172
If these golden words of Shakyamuni Buddha, the lord of teachings, are true, if the testimony to their truth given by Many Treasures Buddha is not false, and if the sign of assent given by the Buddhas of the ten directions when they extended their tongues is to be trusted, then there can be no doubt that all living beings in Japan at the present time are destined to fall into the hell of incessant suffering.
The eighth volume of the Lotus Sutra says, In later ages if there are those who accept, uphold, read, and recite this sutra. . . . Their wishes will not be in vain, and in this present existence they will gain the reward of good fortune.173 It also says, If there is anyone who offers alms to them and praises them, then in this present existence he will have manifest reward for it.174
In these two passages are the words in this present existence they will gain the reward of good fortune and in this present existence he will have manifest reward for it. These two statements in their Chinese original each comprise eight characters. If these sixteen characters are meaningless, and if Nichiren does not receive some great reward in this present life, then these golden words of the Thus Come One will be in the same category as the empty lies of Devadatta, and the testimony of Many Treasures Buddha that guaranteed their truth will be no different from the baseless assertions of Kokalika. Then none of the people who slander the correct teaching will ever be condemned to the Avichi hell, and the Buddhas of the three existences will not exist! But could such a thing be possible?
Therefore, I say to you, my disci