Monday, April 14, 2014

Who is the Future-Buddha Maitreya? (sutra)

Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly based on Ven. Thanissaro, "The Wheel-Turning Ruler," Cakkavatti Sutta (DN 26); G.P. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Names (PTS)
The Future Buddha Maitreya towering in Ladakh (Sahil Vohra/flickr.com)
 
Maitreya Buddha, Thikse Gompa, Ladakh
The following discourse consists of a narrative illustrating the power of wholesome karma (skillful action).

In the past, unskillful behavior was unknown among humans on this Earth. As a result, we lived for an immensely long time -- 80,000 years -- endowed with great beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength.

It was the golden age portion of the aeon-cycle or kalpa. Over time, some began misbehaving. This caused the human lifespan to shorten, which very gradually trends down but is punctuated by highs and lows, until it now stands at 100 years, with a proportionate decrease in human beauty, wealth, pleasure, and strength.

In the future, as our virtue (sila) degenerates further, our lifespan will continue to shorten until it is 10 years, with people reaching sexual maturity at 5.
Among those human beings, the Ten Courses of Unwholesome Action (AN 10.176) will have entirely disappeared... The word "skillful' will not exist, so where will we find anyone doing what is skillful? Those who lack the noble qualities of motherhood, fatherhood, recluseship, and Brahminhood will be the ones who receive homage... Fierce hatred will arise, fierce malevolence, fierce rage, and murderous thoughts: mother toward child, child toward mother, father toward child, child toward father, brother toward sister, sister toward brother.

Indo-Greco Afghan Maitreya Buddha (Boonlieng/flickr)
Ultimately, conditions will deteriorate to the point of a "sword-interval," in which swords appear in the hands of human beings with which they hunt one another like game. A few, however, will take shelter in the wilderness to escape the carnage. And when the slaughter is over, they will come out of their shelters and resolve to take up a life of skillful and virtuous action (karma) again.

With the recovery of virtue, average human lifespan will gradually increase again until it reaches 80,000 years, with people attaining sexual maturity at 500. 

Only three diseases will be known at that time: desire (thirst, craving, passion), lack of food (hunger), and old age (deterioration). At that time, another Buddha -- Metteyya (Sanskrit "Maitreya") -- will gain enlightenment with the ability to teach the Path, his monastic community numbering in the thousands. The greatest ruler of the time, Sankha, will go forth into homelessness (monastic ordination) and attain full enlightenment under Maitreya's guidance.
 
The story, after chronicling the ups and downs of human lifespan and so on concludes with the following lesson on karma and skillful action:

..."Meditators, live with yourself as your island, yourself as your guide, with nothing else as your guide. Live with the Dharma [teachings, truth] as your island, the Dharma as your guide, with nothing else as your guide.
 
Gandhara-style Maitreya, SFO Museum (Boonlieng)
"And how does one live with oneself as island, oneself as guide, with nothing else as guide, with the Dharma as island, the Dharma as guide, with nothing else as guide?

"There is a case where a meditator remains focused on the body in and of itself -- resolute, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and grief with regard to the world. One remains focused on sensations in and of themselves... mind [processes] in and of themselves... mental phenomena in and of themselves -- resolute, alert, and mindful -- putting aside greed and grief with regard to the world.

"This is how a meditator lives with oneself as island, oneself as guide, with nothing else as guide, with the Dharma as island, the Dharma as guide, with nothing else as guide.
 
"Wander, meditators, in your proper range, your ancestral territory. When you wander in your proper range, in your ancestral territory, you will grow in long life, beauty, pleasure, wealth, and strength." More
The Future Buddha (fifth in this aeon)
G.P. Malasekera, Metteyya (Buddhavamsa XXVII.21); Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly
Buddha Maitreya in the Buddhist Indian Himalayan state of Ladakh, India/flickr.com)
  
Sri Lanka's national nāga tree
According to the Cakkavatti Sīhanāda Sutta, the future buddha Maitreya (Pali Metteyya) will be born when human beings again live to an age of 80,000 years.

He will be born in the city of Ketumatī (present-day Benares, Varanasi, India), whose ruler will be the World Ruler Sankha. Sankha will live in the deva palace where King Mahāpanadā once dwelled. But later he will renounce and give the palace away to become a follower of Maitreya Buddha (D.iii.75ff). [The name derives from the Pali word metta, maitrī (मैत्री) in Sanskrit, which means loving-friendliness, amity, loving-kindness. "Noble friendship" (kalyana mittata) is a high Buddhist ideal because it is only by this noble friendship that one can find and observe the path to enlightenment. Our best friend, therefore, is a buddha.
 
The Anāgatavamsa (Journal of the Pali Text Society, 1886, pp. 42-46 ff., 52; DhSA [Atthasālinī].415 gives the names of his parents) gives further particulars. He will be reborn in a very eminent Brahmin family, and his personal name will be Ajita. Maitreya is evidently the name of his familial clan or tribe (gotta).

(W/WQ) In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, in the first centuries CE (common era) in northwestern India, Maitreya is represented as a Central Asian or northern Indian nobleman, holding a "water pot" (kumbha) in his left hand, sometimes a "wisdom urn" (bumpa). He is flanked by his two acolytes, the brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu. The Maitreya-samiti was an extensive Buddhist play in pre-Muslim Central Asia (gengo.l.u-tokyo.ac.jp). The Maitreyavyakarana (Sataka form) in Central Asia and Anagatavamsa in South India also mention him. More
 
For 8,000 years he will live the household life in four palaces: Sirivaddha, Vaddhamāna, Siddhattha, and Candaka. His chief wife will be Candamukhī and his son Brahmavaddhana. Having seen the four signs (old age, sickness, death, and the possibility of renunciation) while on his way to the park, he will become dissatisfied with householder life and will spend one week practicing austerities.

He will then leave home, traveling in his palace [platform, vimana?] and accompanied by a fourfold army, at the head of which will be 84, Brahmins [scholar priests] and 84,000 noble (khattiya, warrior caste) maidens.
 
A large naga tree in bloom (BDN)
Among his followers will be Isidatta and Pūrana, two brothers, as well as Jātimitta, Vijaya, Suddhika and Suddhanā, Sangha and Sanghā, Saddhara, Sudatta, Yasavatī and Visākhā, each with 84,000 companions. Together they will renounce the household life and arrive on the same day at the bodhi tree, the tree under which Maitreya gains enlightenment, which will not be a Ficus religiosa but a nāga tree (Mesua ferrea). After his great enlightenment the new Buddha Maitreya will preach in Nāgavana [grove of the nāga tree]. And King Sankha will eventually ordain, formally taking robes to become a monastic under him.

Maitreya's father will be the Brahmin Subrahmā, chaplain (court priest/minister) to King Sankha, and his mother will be Brahmavatī. His four chief disciples will be Asoka and Brahmadeva, among the male disciples, and Padumā and Sumanā among the female disciples.

Cobra's saffron, Indian rose chestnut
Sīha will be his personal attendant, and his chief patrons will be Sumana, Sangha, Sanghā, and Yasavatī. His enlightenment-tree will be the nāga tree. After the Buddha's final nirvana, his teachings (Dharma) will continue for 180,000 years.
 
According to the Mahāvamsa (Mhv.xxxii.81f.; see Mil.159), Kākavannatissa and Vihāramahādevī, the father and mother of Dutthagāmani, will be Maitreya's parents. Dutthagāmani himself will be his chief disciple and Saddhātissa his second disciple, while Prince Sāli will be his son.
 
At the present time the Future-Buddha is living in the Tusita deva-world (Mhv.xxxii.73). There is a tradition that Nātha is the name of the future Buddha in the deva world.
 
The Bodhisattva
Tibetan Buddhists are so eager to invite the next buddha to Earth from Tushita that they are erecting the largest Buddha statue in the world in the ancient village the historical Buddha chose for his final nirvana, Kusinara, India. To do so, the Relic Tour is traveling.
  
Maitreya at Thiksey, Ladakh (IP)
The veneration of the Bodhisattva Maitreya seems to have been popular in ancient Theravada Buddhist Sri Lanka; King Dhātusena adorned an image of him with all the equipment of a ruler and ordained a guard extending for the radius of seven yojanas [leagues, ~49 miles] (Cv.xxxviii.68).
 
Dappula I made a statue in honor of the Future Buddha 15 cubits high (Cv.xlv.62). It is believed that Maitreya currently spends his time in the deva-world, preaching the Dharma to the assembled (spirits, light beings, fairies, gods, godlings). And in emulation of his example, King Kassapa V used to recite the Higher Teachings (Abhidharma) in the monastic assemblies (Cv.lii.47).

Parakkamabāhu I had three statues built in honor of Maitreya (Cv.lxxix.75), while Kittisirirājasīha erected one in the Rajata Temple Complex (vihāra) and another in the meditation cave above it (Cv.c.248,259).

It is the wish of most Buddhists that they be fortunate enough to meet Maitreya Buddha and hear directly from him the Dharma that leads to their sudden awakening to attain final liberation from all suffering (nirvana, nibbāna) under him. See, for example, Jat.vi.594; MT. 687; DhSA.430.

See upcoming tour dates in the USA and worldwide (MaitreyaRelicTour.com)

1 comment:

Albert Bernard Jansen said...

A very beautiful and informative page. Thank you so much for all your efforts to create it.

Albert