Maitreya is the Buddha of the future, also known as the Laughing Buddha, is the
one to follow up the historical Buddha Sakyamuni. He waits in the Tusita heaven
for the moment he is to appear on earth as the Buddha of the fifth world cycle.
At present he is considered as one of the dhyani-Bodhisattvas, the creators of
the universe. In the future he will be like Sakyamuni, a mortal manusi Buddha
who lives on earth for a while in order to teach mankind the doctrine. Maitreya,
'the loving one', is widely worshipped in the Himalayan regions.
Shakyamuni Buddha predicted that due
to the inevitable degeneration of the times, his own teachings would last just
five thousand years before disappearing from this world. People will grow more
and more immoral and their lifespan will gradually decrease, as will their
health, stature and fortune. While such delusions as miserliness, hatred and
jealousy gain strength, the world will go through prolonged periods of famine,
disease and continuous warfare until it eventually resembles a vast battlefield
of graveyard. Thereupon Maitreya will appear, not in his fully evolved buddha
form, but as a person of regal bearing, very handsome and taller than those
around him. On seeing this unusual being, people will be filled with wonder and
faith, and will ask how he came to have such an attractive appearance. Maitreya
will reply that this is due to his practice of patience, avoiding giving harm to
others, and if others will also abide in love and tolerance, they could become
similar to him.
Maitreya's appearance will mark
a great turning point in the fortunes of this world. As more and more beings
follow his example, their store of merit, and consequently their lifespan, will
increase. Eventually people will live in health for such a long time that the
sufferings of old age and death will scarcely be known. At that time, their
observance of morality will grow lax as people become more and more involved in
the pleasures of their existence. With this laxity will come another gradual
shortening and degeneration of their lifespan until eventually beings once again
will become suitable ripe to take sincere interest in the spiritual path. When
the human lifespan as increased again to many thousands of years, and when the
planet will be entirely dominated by a benevolent wheel-turning sovereign (Chakravartin)
named Shankha, it is at this time that Maitreya Buddha will descend from the
Tushita buddha field (devaloka) where he now resides, to appear in this world as
the fifth founding Buddha of this world age. Maitreya will be born the son of a
Brahmin priest, and will renounce the world and attain enlightenment in a single
day, not requiring six long years. The world in this time will be politically
neutralised, and therefore the warrior class and its martial virtues will be
obsolete. Thus he will be born among the intellectuals, the priests, and his
teaching will bring the gentler emotions to the fore...
In the sixth century before the
Christian era, religion was forgotten in India. The lofty teachings of the
thrown into the background. There was much priestcraft everywhere. The insincere
priests traded on religion. They duped the people in a variety of ways and
amassed wealth for themselves. They were quite irreligious. In the name of
religion, people followed in the footsteps of the cruel priests and performed
meaningless rituals. They killed innocent dumb animals and did various
sacrifices. The country was in dire need of a reformer of Buddha's type. At such
a critical period, when there were cruelty, degeneration and unrighteousness
everywhere, reformer Buddha was born to put down priestcraft and animal
sacrifices, to save the people and disseminate the message of equality, unity
and cosmic love everywhere.
Buddha's father was Suddhodana,
king of the Sakhyas. Buddha's mother was named Maya. Buddha was born in B.C. 560
and died at the age of eighty in B.C. 480. The place of his birth was a grove
known as Lumbini, near the city of Kapilavastu, at the foot of Mount Palpa in
the Himalayan ranges within Nepal. This small city Kapilavastu stood on the bank
of the little river Rohini, some hundred miles north-east of the city of Varnasi.
As the time drew nigh for Buddha to enter the world, the gods themselves
prepared the way before him with celestial portents and signs. Flowers bloomed
and gentle rains fell, although out of season; heavenly music was heard,
delicious scents filled the air. The body of the child bore at birth the
thirty-two auspicious marks (Mahavyanjana) which indicated his future greatness,
besides secondary marks (Anuvyanjana) in large numbers. Maya died seven days
after her son's birth. The child was brought up by Maya's sister Mahaprajapati,
who became its foster-mother.
^ (up) [The Temple of
tooth. Kandy, Sri lanka. (the sacred temple that holds the tooth of the
Siddhatha Gotama (Wesak April/May) 565 BC -
The Buddha was born in a time of prolific
philosophical and religious ideas occuring in India along the Ganges River. He
was a contemporary of Nigantha Nataputta, founder of the Jain faith.
Born into the Kshatriyas (rulers and
warriors) caste, the Buddha "was considered a heretic of the worst kind" by
the orthodox religious teachers of his days.
The Buddha spoke of no self, no soul, no
creator God. ??Early Buddhism did not accept any metaphysical principle or any
empirically unverifiable entity". He taught the Middle Path: conditioned
origination (causality) - neither eternalism nor annihilation.
He rejected extreme ascetic and hedonistic lifestyles as detrimental to
spiritual life. A gradual training and practice leads to the final stages of
The spiritual progress was described as:
starting as an average "normal" human being - 'one who follows the stream' (anusotagami)
to 'stream entrant'
to 'once-returner' (sakadagami)
to 'never (non) -returner'
to 'crossed-over' (parangata
The Buddha's teachings:
Are devoid of authority, rituals,
speculation, tradition, the supernatural. The Buddha rejected divination,
soothsaying, forecasting and magical incantations as roadblocks to liberation.
Emphaisized intense Self-Effort to
understand the Law of Nature ( the Dhamma or Dharma).
Are Empirical, Scientific, Pragmatic,
Therapeutic, Psychological, Democratic
The Buddha's teaching focused on solving
human misery, not on the other living forms.
The first question
Buddhists get asked when they meet non-Buddhists is, as likely as not, What
is nirvana? Certainly, when I was a Buddhist monk travelling about India, I
used to find on trains that no sooner had I taken my seat than someone would
come up to me (for in India people are by no means bashful when it comes to
striking up conversation) and say, You seem to be a
Buddhist monk. Please tell me — what is nirvana?Indeed,
it is a very appropriate question to ask. The question is, after all, addressing
the whole point of being a Buddhist. You may see Buddhists engaged in all sorts
of different activities, but they all have the same overall purpose in view. You
may see shaven-headed Japanese monks in their long black robes sitting in
disciplined rows, meditating hour after hour in the silence and tranquillity of
a Zen monastery.
You may see ordinary Tibetans
going in the early morning up the steps of the temples, carrying their flowers
and their candles and their bundles of incense sticks, kneeling down and making
their offerings, chanting verses of praise to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the
Sangha, and then going about their daily business. You may see Sri Lankan monks
poring over palm-leaf manuscripts, the pages brown with age. You may see layfolk
in the Theravadin countries of South-east Asia giving alms to the monks when
they come round with their black begging-bowls. You may see western Buddhists
working together in Right Livelihood businesses. When you see unfolded this
whole vast panorama of Buddhist activities, the question that arises is: Why?
What is the reason for it all? What is the moving spirit, the great impulse
behind all this activity? What are all these people trying to do? What are they
trying to achieve through their meditation, their worshipping, their study,
their alms-giving, their work, and so on? If you asked this of any of these
people, you would probably receive the traditional answer: We’re doing this
for the sake of the attainment of nirvana, liberation, Enlightenment. But
what then is this nirvana?...