Maiterya

A Boddhisattva is a being who is in a position to attain Nirvana but out of Maha Karuna or deep compassion goes on in the world for the sake of others. His capacity for service to others is unbounded and unlimited. When a bodhisattva finally attains enlightenment, he becomes a Tathaghata or a Buddha.

Meaning and origin

The period of Buddhist law according to some Buddhist traditions is divided into three stages-The first period of 500 years of the turning of the Wheel of Law, the second period of 1000 years of the deterioration of the law and a third period of 3000 years during which the law is not practised by anyone. After this it is said that Buddhism will disappear and a new Buddha will appear who will again turn the Wheel of law. At present Maitreya is said to still be in a state of Boddhisattva in Tusita heaven  waiting to take birth as the Buddha of the new age.

The meaning of Maitreya is friendship or benevolence. He is represented sitting or standing as an ornamental Buddha or seated in Padmasana. As a bodhisattva he specialized in the meditation on great love. He meditated on it continuously and also taught this path to others. It is said that his meditation was so powerful that people who came into contact with him or even passing by closely would feel the power of his love and get transformed. This was the reason for his name as it meant ‘Loving Kindness’. His teachings are in accordance with the needs of his disciples. He has led innumerable beings along the path of awakening.

Future Appearance Of Maitreya

It is said that due to delusion and degeneration of human values, in future the lives of humans will be filled with suffering and their life span will decrease to only ten years. At that time Maitreya will manifest as a great spiritual leader or Buddha who with his love and compassion will raise mankind from the levels to which they have fallen thus improving the world conditions and increasing their life span. After many eons man will once again regain his lost inner kingdom. Maitreya will be born to a loving King and Queen and will lead the life of a royal prince. He will marry and later on in life take up ascetism. A number of members of the royal family will also follow him in this path. He will then attain enlightenment demonstrating it only for the sake of his disciples as he is already a Buddha but born only to lead countless beings out of suffering and to Self Realisation. Maitreya will thus remain for a long time leading mankind to their goal.

Although there are slight differences in the details of appearance of Maitreya in the various branches of Buddhism, all of them agree that he will manifest as the fifth Buddha of the present kalpa or cycle.

 

 

 

 

In China

Maitreya is referred to as Mi Lo Fwo or as Pu Tai or the laughing Buddha who is jolly, fat and brings good luck to all those who rub him. In this form Maitreya is found today at the main entrance of Chinese monasteries where he is revered by all monks or laymen to bring good fortune and prosperity.

He is generally worshipped for two reasons-

1.   To take rebirth in the Pure land referred to as Tusita Heaven so as to receive the teaching of the Dharma.

2.   To acquire sufficient merits so as to be born during his rebirth on Earth, to hear his teachings and to be redeemed by him.

Maitreya’s birthday is celebrated in China on the first day of the first moon of the Chinese lunar calendar which coincides with the Chinese New Year Day.

In Japan

Maitreya is called Miroku Bosatsu in Japan. He is considered to be the Future Buddha and a saviour of mankind currently residing in Tusita heaven and liberating millions of seekers as a Bodhisattva. There are famous statues of Maitreya as Miroku in Koryuji temple(Kyoto), Chuguji Temple(Nara) and Yachuji temple(Osaka).

In Other Countries

In Korea Maitreya is referred to as Mireuk, in Tibet as Jampa, in Shri Lanka as Maithree and Vietnam as Di-Lac. In all traditions he is referred to as the Future Buddha.

Hymn in Praise of Maitreya

1)   In the past he was the immortal Wisdom Light,
His samadhi of great kindness is wonderful beyond expression.
Born in the south, in a country of adornment called sea shore,
He ascends to the Tushita heaven, and Buddha in his next life he’ll be.
With perfected mind and consciousness whose brightness spans the realms of the ten directions,
The merit and virtue cultivated in his nature he simultaneously fulfilled.
Many are those who obtain rebirth in the inner courtyard,
As they assemble at the dragon-flower assembly and first receive a prediction

2) Salutations to the World Teacher, The Dweller of the Himalayas.

Salutations to him who has the etheric body of effulgence.

O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Salutation to you, the embodiment of knowledge, the dispeller of ignorance and illusion
You are the pure and the tranquil one.
O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Salutations to you, the one of poised wisdom,
Salutations to you, the embodiment of goodwill in action.
You are the embodiment of complete bliss.
O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Fulfillment and wisdom are the qualities associated with you.
You are the bestower of fulfilment and wisdom.
You are the destroyer of the fear of birth and death.
O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Salutations to you, the action oriented one,
Salutations to you, O Yogi of Yogis.
You are the embodiment of the Word, the Truth.
O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Salutations to you, O Deva of the Initiates,
Salutations to you, O Bridge to the Dharma, the Law.
You are the one appointed by Krishna, the Lord of the Cosmic Synthesis.
O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Salutations to you, Ocean of Compassion,
Who always shower the Nectar of Love.
You are the one related to the World.
O Lord Maitreya, salutations to you!

Maitreya Claimants

It is said that throughout the present times, there have been claimants who state that they are the manifestations of Maitreya or have been reborn as Maitreya and many have even used the name of Maitreya to form a new religious movement or cult or to form a new Buddhist sect.

Conclusion

Maitreya is a Boddhisattva who is said to reside in the holy land of Tusita heaven aiding and granting salvation to his followers and will be reborn as the Buddha in the future. His love and compassion is extraordinary and he is said to respond to the call of mankind and help them to transcend suffering and attain salvation.

 

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