Maitreya (Sanskrit), Metteyya (Pāli), Maithree (Sinhala), Jampa (Tibetan) or Di-Lặc in Vietnamese, is regarded by Buddhists as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita Bodhisattva.
Maitreya is a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor of the historic Śākyamuni Buddha. The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya refers to a time when the Dharma will have been forgotten by most on Jambudvipa. It is found in the canonical literature of all major Buddhist schools (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 mostly forgotten on Earth.
The name Maitreya (Metteyya in Pāli) is derived from the Sanskrit word maitrī (Pāli: mettā) meaning "loving-kindness", which is in turn derived from the noun mitra (Pāli: mitta) in the sense of "friend".
The Prophecy of Maitreya. It implies that he is a teacher of meditative trance sadhana and states that gods, men and other beings: 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. No longer will they regard anything as their own, they will have no possession, no gold or silver, no home, no relatives! But they will lead the holy life of oneness under Maitreya's guidance. 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.
Maitreya is typically pictured seated, with either both feet on the ground or crossed at the ankles, on a throne, waiting for his time. He is dressed in the clothes of either a Bhiksu or Indian royalty. As a bodhisattva, he would usually be standing and dressed in jewels. 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 (wheel of life) resting on a lotus. A khata (ceremonial scarf) is always tied around his waist as a girdle. The Stupa on his head was actually seen by disciples when Maitreya received teachings from his master Buddha Shakyamuni as a sign of his outstanding devotion. That is the reason why he is pictured with a Stupa either on his head or in his hands. Also the original Stupa was a crystal one, which stands for the purity of his devotion.
Maitreya currently resides in the Tuṣita Heaven (Pāli: Tusita), said to be reachable through meditation. Śākyamuni Buddha also lived here before he was born into the world as all bodhisattvas live in the Tuṣita Heaven before they descend to the human realm to become Buddhas. Although all bodhisattvas are destined to become Buddhas, the concept of a bodhisattva differs greatly in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. 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 Mahayana Buddhism, Buddhas preside over a Pure Land (the Buddha Amitabha presides over the Sukhavati Pure Land, more popularly known as the Western Paradise).
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. Orthodox Theravadin doctrine has much less emphasis on deities and Bodhisattvas, and do not view Bodhisattvas to be in an unachievable state
Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha of the present kalpa (aeon) and his arrival will occur after the teachings (dharma) of the Buddha are no longer practiced.
His coming is characterized by a number of physical events. The oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely. Maitreya will then reintroduce "true" dharma to the world.
His arrival signifies the end of the middle time, the time between the fourth Buddha, Gautama Buddha, and the fifth Buddha, Maitreya, which is viewed as a low point of human existence. 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. Sankha will live in the palace where once dwelt King Mahāpanadā, but later he will give the palace away and will himself become a follower of Maitreya Buddha.
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).
At this time a notable teaching he will start giving is that of the ten non-virtuous deeds (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, idle speech, covetousness, harmful intent and wrong views) and the ten virtuous deeds (the abandonment of: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, idle speech, covetousness, harmful intent and wrong views).
In those days, brethren, there will arise in the world an Exalted One named Maitreya. He will be an Arahant, Fully Awakened, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, an Exalted One, a Buddha, even as I am now. He, by himself, will thoroughly know and see, as it were face to face, this universe, with its worlds of the spirits,its Brahm-as and its M-aras, and its world of recluses and brahmins, of princes and peoples, even as I now, by myself, thoroughly know and see them. The Law, lovely in its origin, lovely in its progress, lovely in its consummation, will he proclaim, both in the spirit and in the letter; the higher life will he make known, in all its fulness and in all its purity, even as I do now. He will be accompanied by a congregation of some thousands of brethren, even as I am now accompanied by a congregation of some hundreds of brethren.
I am not the first Buddha [awakened one] who has come upon the Earth, nor will I be the last. In due time, another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy one, a supreme enlightened one, endowed with auspicious wisdom embracing the Universe, an incomparable leader of men, a ruler of gods and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will establish his Law [religion], glorious in its origins, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal in the spirit and the letter. He will proclaim a righteous life wholly perfect and pure, such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousands, while mine number many hundreds. He will be known as Maitreya.
Listen attentively with one heart. A man whose spirit shines brightly, a man whose mind is completely unified, a man whose virtues excels everyone – such a man will truly appear in this world. When he preaches precious laws, all the people will be totally satisfied as if the thirsty drink sweet drops of rain from the heaven. And each and every one will attain the path of liberation from struggles.
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