children, and retainers. Therefore, it may be extremely difficult for you to sustain your faith throughout life. This is why I have always told you that, because of your position, it would be better to feign ignorance of this teaching. No matter what may happen in the future, be assured that I will never forsake or neglect you.
As for my teachings, regard those before my exile to the province of Sado as equivalent to the Buddhas pre- Lotus Sutra teachings. I had thought that, if the ruler of this country desired to govern well, he would summon the priests of the True Word school for an open debate with me, and that on that occasion I would reveal a matter of truly supreme importance. Before my exile, I withheld this even from my disciples for fear that if I should tell them, even in confidence, they might inadvertently disclose it to the True Word priests, who would then avoid the debate. This is why I refrained from revealing it to each one of you as well.
Then on the night of the twelfth day of the ninth month in the eighth year of Bunei (1271), I was very nearly beheaded at Tatsunokuchi. From that time, I felt pity for my followers because I had not yet revealed this true teaching to any of them. With this in mind, I secretly conveyed my teaching3 to my disciples from the province of Sado. After the Buddhas passing, great scholars and teachers such as Mahakashyapa, Ananda, Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu, Tien-tai, Miao-lo, Dengyo, and Gishin knew this teaching, but kept it in their hearts and did not express it in words. The reason was that the Buddha had forbidden them to spread it, stating, After my passing, this great Law should not be revealed until the Latter Day of the Law arrives.4 I may not be an envoy sent by the Buddha, but my appearance in this world coincides with the age of the Latter Day. Moreover, quite unexpect
edly, I came to realize this teaching, which I now expound to prepare the way for a sage.5
With the appearance of this teaching, all the teachings advocated by the scholars and teachers of Buddhism during the Former and Middle Days of the Law will be like stars after sunrise, or an awkward apprentice beside a skilled craftsman. It is stated that, once this teaching is revealed in this era, the Buddha images as well as the priests of the temples built in the Former and Middle Days will all lose their power to benefit people, and only this great teaching will spread throughout the entire land of Jambudvipa. Since all of you have a bond with this teaching, you should feel reassured.
Utsubusa came a long distance to visit me despite her advanced age, but since I was told that it was merely a casual visit on her way back from the shrine to the god of her ancestors, I would not see her, although I pitied her greatly. Had I permitted her to see me, I would have been allowing her to commit slander against the Lotus Sutra. The reason is that all gods are subjects, and the Lotus Sutra is their lord. It is against even the code of society to visit ones lord on the way back from calling on one of his subjects. Moreover, Utsubusa is a lay nun and should have the Buddha foremost in mind. Because she made this and other mistakes as well, I refused to see her. She was not the only one, however. I refused to see many others who stopped by to visit me on their return from the hot spring resort at Shimobe.6 Utsubusa is the same age that my parents would be. I feel deeply sorry to have disappointed her, but I want her to understand this point.
After you came here to see me the year before last, I received word true or not, I do not know that you were ill, and I wanted to send a messenger to inquire after you. But my disciples said