Sanskrit: Maitreya मैत्रेय
Tibetan: Jampa བྱམས་པ་
Chinese: Mílè Púsa 彌勒菩薩
Japanese: Miroku Bosatsu 弥勒菩薩
Korean: Mireuk Bosal 미륵보살
Thai: Phra Sri Araya Mettrai พระศรีอริยเมตไตรย
Vietnamese: Di-lặc (Bồ Tát)
Maitreya is the honored future Buddha who currently resides in the Tusita heaven; a heaven where all Bodhisattvas, even Shakyamuni Buddha, reside before their rebirth on earth to become Buddhas. He is also known to Westerners as the “fat Buddha,” “happy Buddha,” or “laughing Buddha.”
While practising as a bodhisattva, he specialized in the meditation on great love. He not only taught this path to others, but meditated on it continuously himself. He would often station himself at the gates of a city and contemplate on loving kindness. So powerful was his meditation that people coming and going through the gates, if they would pass close enough to touch his feet, would themselves receive the realisation of great love. This greatly pleased all the exalted beings of the ten directions. The Tathagatas rejoiced in his actions and predicted that in his future lives, as a Bodhisattva and as a Buddha, he would be known by the name “Love” (Maitreya). This is how he received his name.
He is most often represented seated on a throne, waiting for his succession as the new Buddha. According to some Buddhist traditions, the period of the Buddhist Law is divided into three stages: a first period (True Law) of 500 years (1,000 years in other traditions), of the turning the Wheel of the Law; a second period (Copied/Counterfeit Law) of 1,000 years, of the deterioration of the Law, and a third period (Degenerate/Latter Law) of 3,000 years during which no one practises the Law. After this, Buddhism having disappeared, a new Buddha will appear who will again turn the Wheel of the Law.
He is recognized by wearing a small stupa in his headdress. His attributes may vary, and he may hold a vase or a wheel (cakra) placed on lotus flowers. A scarf is always tied around his waist. Sometimes an antelope skin covers his left shoulder. He often forms a triad with Sakyamuni and Avalokitesvara.
From the Maitreya Bodhisattva Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha says, “After I am gone, any of the four degrees of disciples, who persist to aggregate good karma with good deportment, clean Buddhist pagodas and temples, offer with fragrant flowers to support Triratna (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha), or practice Samatha and chant the sutra should be faithfully and attentively meditate on the image of Maitreya Bodhisattva and chant Maitreya’s title. Though they still have kinds of worries, they seem to attain Six Supernatural Powers. If they can also practice short-term Eight Passes of Fast and Suddhika Sutta, and bring forth of great vows, they can immediately be reborn at Tusita after this life.”
“After I am gone, those who have heard the title of Maitreya Bodhisattva by faith, if willing to worship with respect and pleasure will be reborn in Tusita in an instant after their present life. Even they have just heard the title of Maitreya Bodhisattva, they will not fall into dark or impoverished places, or live in vicious families. On the contrary, they will enjoy longevity and right views in harmonious families far away from dispraising of Tisarana. If any devout men or women who break commandments (precepts) and accumulate evil karma will eliminate all sins instantly if they confess with extreme faith as soon as they hear Maitreya’s title. If any of the future sentient beings sculptures Maitreya’s image after hearing his title worships with fragrant flowers, clothing, silken canopies, streamers, and banners, and recites Bodhisattva’s title he will at the end of his life get reception from celestial beings and Maitreya.”
“After I am gone, any of the four degrees of disciples, together with heavenly beings, dragons, ghosts, and gods who are willing to be reborn in Tusita should meditate on Maitreya’s title and image, visualize wonderful scenes and Tusita, stick to the Buddha precepts from one day to seven days, long for and practice ten positive actions extensively, and share these merits in the presence of Maitreya at Tusita. If anyone can meet a celestial being or a lotus during the contemplation and can extol Maitreya’s title immediately, he will then get rid of one thousand and two hundred felonies. Or even he can clasp his hands in respect when hearing Maitreya’s title, his felonies of fifty kalpas will extinguish as well. Anyone who worships Maitreya Bodhisattva in respect will extinguish his felonies of ten billion kalpas. Even though they are not reborn in Tusita, they will meet Maitreya Bodhisattva who is preaching and cultivating under the Naga-puspa tree and will vow to pursue supreme Buddha-fruits.”
The mantra of Maitreya Bodhisattva is Oṃ maitri mahāmaitri maitriye svāhā.
Smile and be well!
Namo Maitreya Bodhisattva