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Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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It is found in the canonical literatur of all Buddhist sects (Theravāda, Mahāyāna, Vajrayāna), and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an event that will take place when the Dharma will have been forgotten on Earth.
The earliest mention of Metteyya is in the Cakavatti Sutta (Sihanada)in the Digha Nikaya 26 of the Pali Canon. He occurs in no other Sutta in the Pali Canon, and this casts Doubt as to the Sutta's authenticity.
Most of The Buddha's sermons are presented as preached in answer to a question, or in some other appropriate context, but this one has a beginning and an ending in which The Buddha is talking to Monks about something totally different.
The primary comparison between the two characters appears to be the similarity of their names.
According to a book entitled The Religion of the Iranian Peoples, "No one who has studied the Zoroastrian Doctrine of the Saoshyants or the coming saviour-prophets can fail to see their resemblance to the future Maitreya.
Paul Williams claims that some Zoroastrian ideas like Saoshyant influenced the beliefs about Maitreya, such as "expectations of a heavenly helper, the need to opt for positive righteousness, the future millennium, and universal salvation".
In China, in the 4th–6th Centuries "Buddhist artisans used the names Shakyamuni and Maitreya interchangeably... indicating both that the distinction between the two had not yet been drawn and that their respective iconographies had not yet been firmly set"
- will lose their doubts, and the torrents of their cravings will be cut off: free from all misery they will manage to cross the ocean of becoming; and, as a result of Maitreya's teachings, they will lead a holy Life.
They will have torn the net of the passions, they will manage to enter into trances, and theirs will be an abundance of Joy and Happiness, for they will lead a holy Life under Maitreya's guidance. (Trans. in Conze 1959:241)
Usually he wears a small Stupa in his headdress that represents the Stupa of The Buddha Sakyamuni's relics to help him identify it when his turn comes to lay claim to his succession, and can be holding a dharmachakra resting on a Lotus.
A khata is always tied around his waist as a girdle.
In the Greco-Buddhist Art of Gandhara, in the first centuries CE in northern India, Maitreya is represented as a [[Wikipedia:Central Asian|Central Asian]] or northern Indian nobleman, holding a "water phial" (Sanskrit:
In Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who is striving for full enlightenment (Arahantship in Pali), whereas in Mahayana Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who has already reached a very advanced state of grace or enlightenment but holds back from entering Nirvana so that he may help others.
In Mahayana Buddhism, once Maitreya becomes a Buddha, he will rule over the Ketumati Pure land, an earthly paradise sometimes associated with the Indian city of Varanasi (also known as Benares) in Uttar Pradesh.
In Theravadin Buddhism, Buddhas are born as unenlightened humans, and are not rulers of any paradise or Pure land. Maitreya's arising would be no different to the arising of Shakyamuni Buddha, as he achieved full-enlightenment as a human being, and passed away into parinibbana when the conditions were ripe for his final passing.
Activity of Maitreya in the current age
- See also: Maitreya-nātha
Future coming of Maitreya
According to tradition, Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha of the present kalpa (aeon) and his arrival will occur after the teachings (dharma) of the current Gautama Buddha are less meaningfully communicated.
Maitreya's coming is characterized by a number of physical events.
For example, the oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely.
According to the Cakkavatti Sutta:
The Wheel-turning Emperor, Digha Nikaya 26 of the Sutta Pitaka of the Pāli Canon), Maitreya Buddha will be born in a time when humans will live to an age of eighty thousand years, in the city of Ketumatī (present Benares), whose king will be the Cakkavattī Sankha.
The scriptures say that Maitreya will attain bodhi in seven days (which is the minimum period), by Virtue of his many lives of preparation for Buddhahood (similar to those reported in the Jataka stories of Shakyamuni Buddha).
Maitreya appears as a significant figure in the text of the Lotus Sutra, however, Nichiren's explanation of Maitreya was as just a metaphor indicating a protective force and a function of “guarding and helping” the Bodhisattvas of the Earth, who also appear in the Lotus Sutra:
In many of his Writing, Nichiren mentions the traditional Buddhist views on Maitreya - but clearly explains that the propagation of the Eternal Dharma of the Lotus Sutra was entrusted by Shakyamuni to the “Earth Bodhisattvas”: “
“The name Maitreya means ‘Compassionate One’ and designates the Votaries of the Lotus Sutra”.
The concept of Maitreya was elaborated within Theosophy during the last few decades of the 19th century. However the Theosophical Maitreya was explained, and developed, differently than the original Buddhist concept.
Since the growth of the Theosophical movement in the 19th century, and influenced by Theosophy's articulations on the Maitreya, non-Buddhist religious and Spiritual movements have adopted and reinterpreted the concept in their doctrines.
Share International, which equates Maitreya with the prophesied figures of multiple religious traditions, claims that he is already present in the World, but is preparing to make an open declaration of his presence in the near future.
They claim that he is here to inspire mankind to create a new era based on sharing and justice.
In the beginning of the 1930s, the Ascended Master Teachings placed Maitreya in the "Office of World Teacher" until 1956, when he was described as moving on to the "Office of Planetary Buddha" and "Cosmic Christ" in their concept of a Spiritual Hierarchy.
- See also: List of Buddha claimants
Since his Death, the Chinese monk Budai (Hotei) has been popularly regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva Maitreya. His depiction as the Laughing Buddha continues to be very popular in East Asian culture.
A particular difficulty faced by any would-be claimant to Maitreya's title is the fact that The Buddha is considered to have made a number of fairly specific predictions regarding the circumstances that would occur prior to Maitreya's coming; such as that the teachings of The Buddha would be completely forgotten, and all of the remaining relics of Sakyamuni Buddha would be gathered in Bodh Gaya and cremated.
- Gung Ye, a Korean warlord and king of short-lived state of Taebong during the 10th century, claimed himself as living incarnation of Maitreya and ordered his subjects to worship him.
- In 690 Empress Wu inaugurated the Second Zhou dynasty, proclaimed herself an incarnation of the future Buddha Maitreya, and made Luoyang the "holy capital."
- l. Ron Hubbard, founder of the belief systems Dianetics and Scientology, suggested he was "Metteya" (Maitreya) in the 1955 poem Hymn of Asia.
"an All-Surpassing God-Man yet to come -- a final Avatar, the ultimate Messiah, a consumate Prophet or Enlightened Sage, a Spiritual Deliverer who will appear in the 'late-time', the 'dark' epoch when humanity is lost, apparently cut off from Wisdom, Truth and God.
Buddhists call that Expected One 'Maitreya'."
- Raël's Maitreya claims center on the content of the Agama Sutra (Japanese: Agon Sutra), supposedly a very ancient text written by Buddha himself, but which has been deemphasized or forgotten by the majority of Buddhist cultures.
Raël has claimed directly to people attending Asia Raëlian Church seminars, that someone born in France, a country which is often symbolized by the cock (or rooster), west of the Orient, meets the criteria of the Maitreya.
Rael himself claims to be this individual.
- Joseph Emmanuel of the Mission of Maitreya claims to be the ([[[Maitreya]] Buddha)], as well as a major prophet of God who purportedly fulfills prophecies from the Old Testament, New Testament, Qur'an, Baha'i scriptures and eastern scriptures.
Perhaps the most prominent example of Emmanuel's claims to being the Maitreya is the fact that his main teaching seeks to unify the World's religions by means of showing how each Religion corresponds to one of seven "seals".
His use of the term "seal" is a reference to a central tenet of Christian eschatological belief described in the Bible, in which it is predicted that Christ would return and open a book sealed with "seven seals" (Rev 5:5).
Maitreya sects in China
Pre-Maitreyan Buddhist messianic rebellions
Southern and Northern Dynasties
- 515: The Mahayana Rebellion.
In the late summer of that year, the renegade monk Faqing 法慶 married a nun and formed a sect in the Northern Wei province of Jizhou 冀州 (in the southern part of today’s Hebei province) with the assistance of a local aristocrat named Li Guibo 李歸伯.
The sect was named the Mahayana ("The Great Vehicle", in reference to Mahayana Buddhism), and Li Guibo was given the titles of Tenth-stage Bodhisattva, Commander of the Demon-vanquishing Army, and King who Pacifies the Land of Han by Faqing.
- Using Drugs to send its members into a killing frenzy, and promoting them to Tenth-Stage Bodhisattva as soon as they killed ten enemies, the Mahayana sect seized a prefecture and murdered all the government officials in it.
Their slogan was "A new Buddha has entered the World; eradicate the demons of the former age", and they would kill all Monks and nuns in the Monasteries that they captured, also burning all the Sutras and icons.
After defeating a government army and growing to a size of over 50,000, the rebel army was finally crushed by another government army of 100,000. Faqing, his wife, and tens of thousands of his followers were beheaded, and Li Guibo was also captured later and publicly executed in the capital city Luoyang.
- The Fozu Tongji (Comprehensive Records of The Buddha), a chronicle of Buddhist history written by the monk Zhipan in 1269, also contains an account of the Mahayana Rebellion, but with significant deviations from the original account, such as dating the rebellion to 528 rather than 515.
- 516: The Moonlight Child Rebellion.
A man named Fa Quan and his associates were claiming that an eight-year-old child named Liu Jinghui was a Bodhisattva called the Moonlight Child (yueguang tongzi pusa； 月光童子菩萨), and that he could transform into a snake or a pheasant.
- 517: Early in the spring of that year, surviving remnants of the Mahayana rebels regrouped and mounted a sudden attack on the capital of Yingzhou province, which lay just northwest of their original base in Bohai prefecture.
Although a "new Buddha" was mentioned, these rebellions are not considered "Maitreyan" by modern scholars. However, they would be a later influence on the rebel religious leaders that made such claims.
Therefore, it is important to mention these rebellions in this context.
- 610: On the first day of the Chinese New Year, dozens of rebels dressed in white, burning Incense and holding Flowers proclaimed their leader as Maitreya Buddha and charged into the imperial palace through one of its gates, killing all the guards before they were themselves killed by troops led by an imperial prince.
- 613: A skilled magician named Song Zixian claimed to be Maitreya in Tang County (northwest of Yingzhou), and allegedly could transform into the Form of a Buddha and make his room emit a glow every night.
Nearly a thousand "from near and far" joined his sect every day, and he plotted to first hold a Buddhist vegetarian banquet (wuzhe fohui) and then make an attack on the emperor who was then touring Yingzhou.
The plot was leaked out, and Song was arrested and executed with over a thousand families of his followers.
- 613: The monk Xiang Haiming claimed to be Maitreya in Fufeng prefecture (western Shaanxi) and led a rebellion.
The elite of the Chang’an area hailed him as a holy man (dasheng) because they had auspicious Dreams after following him, and his army swelled to several tens of thousands before he was defeated by government troops.
The House of Li is ending, and the House of Liu is about to rise".
- 1047: Army officer Wang Ze led a revolt of Buddhists expecting Maitreya; they took over the city of Beizhou in Hebei before they were crushed.
Yuan and Ming Dynasty
- In 1355, Han Shantong's son, Han Lin'er (韓林兒), was proclaimed "Emperor of the Great Latter Song" (大宋, referring to the dead Song Dynasty) (1355-1368?) by Liu Futong.
- “The leader of White Lotus sect, Han Shantong called himself Ming Wang (明王 - "King of Brightness"), while his son, Han Lin'er called himself Xiao Ming Wang (小明王 - "Small King of Brightness"), both names reflecting the sect's beliefs.
- The Yi He Tuan (義和團), often called in English the "Society of Harmonious Fists" was a 19th century martial-sect inspired in part by the White Lotus Society.
- 1899: The Boxer Rebellion (義和團之亂). It was a Chinese rebellion from November 1899 to September 7, 1901 against foreign influence in such areas as trade, politics, Religion and technology that occurred in China during the final years of the Qing Dynasty.
Maitreya (Skt.; Tib. བྱམས་པ་, Jampa; Wyl. byams pa) or Maitreyanatha (Skt. Maitreynātha; Tib. Jampé Gönpo; Tib. བྱམས་པ་མགོན་པོ་, Wyl. byams pa'i mgon po) is the bodhisattva who will be the next buddha after Shakyamuni Buddha.
Among the five, four are classed as shastras (commentaries) proper, and one falls into the class of oral instructions.
The four that are shastras are extensive are:
- The Ornament of Clear Realization (Skt. Abhisamayālaṃkāra; Tib. མངོན་རྟོགས་པའི་རྒྱན་, Wyl. mngon par rtogs pa'i rgyan).
- The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras (Skt. Māhayānasūtrālaṃkāra; Tib. ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ་སྡེ་རྒྱན་, theg pa chen po'i mdo sde rgyan).
- Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Skt. Madhyāntavibhāga; Tib. དབུས་དང་མཐའ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་, dbus dang mtha' rnam par 'byed pa).
- Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata (Skt. Dharma-dharmatā-vibhāga; Tib. ཆོས་དང་ཆོས་ཉིད་, chos dang chos nyid rnam par 'byed pa) is very brief and direct in its presentation and is included within the class of oral instructions.
- The Sublime Continuum (Skt. Uttaratantra Śāstra; Tib. རྒྱུད་བླ་མ་, Wyl. rgyud bla ma).
- The Fortunate Aeon: How the Thousand Buddhas Became Enlightened (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1986), volume 2, page 521-523.
- Jamgön Mipham, A Garland of Jewels, (trans. by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso), Woodstock: KTD Publications, 2008
- Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, pages 125-126.
Various ancient works of India, China, and Tibet mention that Asanga ascended to the Tushita Heaven where he learned the Mahayana doctrines from Bodhisattva Maitreya and thereby attained enlightenment.
Maitreya's works include The Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice, The Treatise on the Discrimination of the Middle and the Extreme, and The Ornament of Mahayana Sutras.
Maitreya is 'The Buddha of the future'.
Maitreya, 'the offer Joy one' is an important and popular deity who is widely worshipped in the Himalayan and East Asian regions. Because he is also frequently alluded to in Pali exegetical literature, Maitreya is hence the only Bodhisattva recognized throughout Theravadin and Mahayana.
People's immorality, after that, will gradually increase.
After 5670000000 years, as the cycle of lifespan changing from decrease to increase, people's health and Spiritual quality will gain positive improvement.
The World in this time will be politically neutralized, and therefore the warrior class and its martial virtues will be obsolete. People will be living in a prosperous society with peaceful and joyful environment.
That is the time when Maitreya Buddha will descend from the Tushita Heaven to this World. Maitreya will be born the son of a priest, and will renounce the World and attain Enlightenment in a single day, unlike Shakyamuni's six-year of practice. Due to the high intellect of the audience, Maitreya will only offer three Dharma lectures to the public. T
Unlike Shakyamuni's asceticism, Maitreya's followers will not have any material and Spiritual obstacle; this new teachings will offer Joy and Happiness to interpret Dharma for the ultimate Enlightenment.
According to one such calculation, the teachings of the current buddha Śākyamuni would flourish for five hundred years after his death, after which would follow a one thousand- year period of decline and a three-thousand-year period in which the dharma would be completely forgotten.
Initially a minor figure in early Indian Buddhism, Maitreya (whose name derives from the Indic Maitrī, meaning “loving-kindness” or “benevolence”) evolved during the early centuries of the Common Era into one of the most popular figures in Buddhism across Asia in both the mainstream and Mahāyāna traditions.
As the first bodhisattva to become a figure of worship, his imagery and cult set standards for the development of later bodhisattvas who became objects of cultic worship, such as Avalokiteśvara and Mañjuśrī.
Such worship takes several forms, with disciples praying to either meet him when he is reborn on earth or in tuṣita heaven so that they may then take rebirth with him when he becomes a buddha, a destiny promised in the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra (“Lotus Sūtra”) to those who recite his name.
Maitreya is also said to appear on earth, such as in a scene in the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang’s account of his seventh-century travels to India: attacked by pirates as he sailed on the Ganges River, Xuanzang prayed to and was rescued by the bodhisattva.
Devotees across the Buddhist world also attempt to extend their life span in order to be alive when Maitreya comes, or to be reborn at the time of his presence in the world, a worldly paradise that will be known as ketumati.
His earliest iconography depicts him standing or sitting, holding a vase (Kuṇḍikā), symbolizing his imminent birth into the brāhmaṇa caste, and displaying the Abhayamudrā, both features that remain common attributes of his images.
He is said to sit in a chair in “pensive” posture in order to be able to quickly stand and descend to earth at the appropriate time. Once he is reborn, Maitreya will replicate the deeds of Śākyamuni, with certain variations.
For example, he will live the life of a householder for eight thousand years, but having seen the four sights (Caturnimitta) and renounced the world, he will practice asceticism for only one week before achieving buddhahood.
Mahākāśyapa has kept the robes of Śākyamuni, which the previous buddha had entrusted to him to pass on to his successor. Upon his arrival, the mountain will break open, and Mahākāśyapa will come forth from a stūpa and give Maitreya his robes.
The cult of Maitreya entered East Asia with the initial propagation of Buddhism and reached widespread popularity starting in the fourth century CE, a result of the popularity of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīkasūtra and several other early translations of Maitreya scriptures made in the fourth and fifth centuries.
- (1) the Guan Mile pusa shangsheng doushuo tian jing promised sentient beings the prospect of rebirth in tuṣita heaven together with Maitreya; and
- (2) the Guan Mile pusa xiasheng jing and
- (3) the Foshuo Mile da chengfo jing emphasized the rebirth of Maitreya in this world, where he will attain buddhahood under the Dragon Flower Tree (Nāgapuṣpa) and save numerous sentient beings.
In Silla, the hwarang, an elite group of male youths, was often identified with Maitreya and such eminent Silla monks as Wŏnhyo (617–686), Wŏnch’ŭk (613–696), and Kyŏnghŭng (fl. seventh century) composed commentaries on the Maitreya scriptures.
From this bag, which never empties, he feeds the poor and needy.
Today, nearly all Chinese Buddhist monasteries (and many restaurants as well) will have an image of this Maitreya at the front entrance; folk belief has it that by rubbing his belly one can establish the potential for wealth.
The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism by Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
He represents all encompassing love.
He is commonly represented sitting on a raised seat with his feet resting on the ground as a sign to arise from his seat and appear in the world.
He is now preaching in Tusita Heaven.
He is usually represented as the fat laughing Buddha.
The Buddha of the Future.
Maitreya (Chinese: Mi lo; Japanese: Miroku), the Buddha of the Future, believed to reside in the Tushita Heaven until it is time for him to succeed Shakyamuni as the next incarnation of Buddhahood on earth.
According to some Buddhist traditions, the period of the Buddhist Law is divided into three stages: a first period of 500 years is of the turning of the Wheel of the Law; a second period of 1,000 years is of the deterioration of the Law, and the third period of 3,000 years is the one during which no one practices the Law.
Fu attracted many students to his Dharma lectures. Living in a time of great hardships and famines for the peasants, he sold all of his possessions to feed the local villagers, and also fasted to give away his food to the needy.
At the culmination of his fast, many of his followers offered to burn themselves in his place, some going to the extent of burning their fingers or cutting off their ears as offerings and engaging in other ascetic extremes.
They finally convinced Fu to abandon his plan.
For example the Shat sahasrika Prajna paramita (5th century AD) says:
"Besides wealth and material objects, a bodhisattva should be ready to sacrifice his limbs for the good of others, his hand, foot, eye, flesh, blood, marrow, limbs great and small, and even his head."
Indeed in the Jataka tales which are legendary stories about bodhisattvas, there abound numerous instances where they are shown sacrificing parts of their bodies or even their lives to save that of another.
The embodiment of the loving kindness of all the Buddhas. At the time of Buddha Shakyamuni he manifested as a Bodhisattva disciple in order to show Buddha,s disciples how to be perfect Mahayana disciples.
The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana) and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an actual event that will take place in the distant future.
According to the Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta, he will be born, when human beings will live to an age of eighty thousand years, in the city of Ketumati (present Benares), whose king will be the Cakkavatti Sankha.
Among his followers will be Isidatta and Purana, two brothers, Jatimitta, Vijaya, Suddhika and Suddhana, Sangha and Sangha, Saddhara, Sudatta, Yasavati and Visakha, each with eighty four thousand companions.
Together they will leave the household and arrive on the same day at the Bodhi tree.
According to the Mahavamsa (Mhv.xxxii.81f.; see Mil.159), Kakavannatissa and Viharamahadevi, father and mother of Dutthagamani, will be Metteyyas parents, Dutthagamani himself will be his chief disciple and Saddhatissa his second disciple, while Prince Sali will be his son.
The worship of the Bodhisatta Metteyya seems to have been popular in ancient Ceylon, and Dhatusena adorned an image of him with all the equipment of a king and ordained a guard for it within the radius of seven yojanas (Cv.xxxviii.68).
Maitreya is the future Buddha, who will be born 30,000 years from now.
Maitreya Skt. (Jap., Miroku), lit., “Loving One”; in the teaching of the five earthly buddhas, already present in the Hīnayāna but first fully developed by the Mahāyāna, the embodiment of all-encompassing love.
His Heaven is tushita (“the joyful”), after which the Tibetan saint Tsongkhapa named the first monastery he founded. As the world teacher to come, Maitreya is expected to appear in around thirty thousand years.
Maitreya was a sage.
His lineage is unknown. He came to the court of Hastinapura to advice Duryodhana to restore the kingdom of the Pandavas, a little while after the sons of Pandu had gone into exile, having been defeated at dice.
(See "Events in Hastinapura")
- "Fourteen years hence, you shall be destroyed in battle by the Pandavas, along with your kinsmen and all that you hold dear. Bheema shall despatch you to the abode of Yama, by breaking your thighs with the mace."