Temple First Maitreya Trinity
Entering the first floor main hall of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple itself, you will experience the wonderful and breathtaking Hundred Dragons Hall. This main Temple Hall has a double volume space of 27-feet height, to accommodate the 15-feet Buddha Maitreya statue. All the interior fittings are designed according to Tang Dynasty Buddhist temple décor and fittings.
You will notice the serenity and peacefulness that permeates the Hundred Dragons Hall; and the many devotees offering fresh Dendrobium Buddha Tooth orchids, perfumed candles and agarwood incense, whilst whispering their prayers and wishes. It is often filled with the voices of numerous black-robed devotees chanting one of the many sutras used in the various Buddhist ceremonies. A wonderful juxtapose of Sight, Sound, Smell and Spirituality!
Maitreya Trinity in BTRTM
Buddha Maitreya is in the middle of the venerated Maitreya Trinity, with the Bodhisattva Dharma Garden Grove on the left and the Bodhisattva Great Wondrous Appearance on the right.
The majestic Buddha Maitreya was initially modeled after a similar Tang period statue at Fo Gong Si at Mount Wutai, Shanxi, China.
It was carved from a single log and painstakingly hand painted using grounded natural stones and vegetable dyes. The Buddha Maitreya sits in a typical Tang Bhadrasana (auspicious) posture, also called Pralambapadasana (European pose), with each feet on a lotus, symbolic of royalty.
The right hand is raised in the Abhaya mudra (protection, benevolence, peace and dispelling of fear), with the left hand holding a golden water bottle (kundika) containing the amrita, placed in the left palm.
A gilt crown (mukuta) sits on the forehead to symbolise the royalty status.
The Buddha Maitreya is seated on the rectangular Singhasana (lion) throne, a symbol of the Buddha’s royal ancestry and the great strength of His Teachings. Lion thrones are commonly seen in early China Buddhist statues.
The aureole (nimbus or mandorla) is shaped like a lotus petal curved towards the head. It has colorful swirling aura and clouds radiating from the head, with a small stupa at the top.
About Buddha Maitreya
, “The Compassionate One”, “The Compassionate Honored One”, “The Loving One”, “The Future Buddha”, “Ajita (Invincible)” may be considered either as a Bodhisattva, according to the Sutras, or as a Buddha, according to the Tantras.
In some Buddhist literature, such as the Amitabha Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he is referred to as Ajita Bodhisattva. It is found in the canonical literature of all Buddhist sects (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 forgotten on Earth.
Maitreya will be the successor of the historic Buddha ?ākyamuni. Maitreya, will descend from the Tushita Heaven, where He now resides and teaches the heavenly beings, to appear in this world as the fifth founding Buddha of this present kalpa (aeon or world age).
According to Maitreyavyakarana Sutra, The Prophecy of Maitreya (《佛说弥勒下生成佛经》), A translation by Bikkhu Yi Jing during Tang Dynasty:
“Maitreya, the best of men, will then leave the Tushita heavens, and go for his last rebirth into the womb of that woman. For ten whole months she will carry about his radiant body. Then she will go to a grove full of beautiful flowers, and there, neither seated nor lying down, but standing up, holding on to the branch of a tree, she will give birth to Maitreya. He, supreme among men, will emerge from her right side, as the sun shines forth when it has prevailed over a bank of clouds. No more polluted by the impurities of the womb than a lotus by drops of water, he will fill this entire Triple world with his splendour. As soon as he is born he will walk seven steps forward, and where he puts down his feet a jewel or a lotus will spring up. He will raise his eyes to the ten directions, and ill speak these words: “This is my last birth. There will be no rebirth after this one. Never will I come back here, but, all pure, I shall win Nirvana!”
His birthday is the first day of the first month.
The prophecy of the arrival of Maitreya will occur after the Teachings (Dharma) of the current Buddha Gautama are no longer meaningfully communicated or are completely forgotten on Jambudvipa. His arrival signifies the end of the middle time, the time between fourth Buddha, Gautama, and the fifth Buddha, Maitreya, which is viewed as a low point of human existence, due to the absence of such enlightened beings.
Maitreya’s coming is characterized by a number of physical events. For example, the oceans are predicted to decrease in size, allowing Maitreya to traverse them freely. These events will also enable the reintroduction of the “true” Dharma to the people, in turn allowing the construction of a new world.
According to the three main versions of Maitreyavyakarana Sutra (translated by Zhu Fahu, Kumarajiva and Yi Jing) and Cakkavatti Sutta: The Wheel-turning Emperor, Digha Nikaya 26 of the Sutta Pitaka of the Pāli Canon, Buddha Maitreya will be born in a time when Jambudvipa will be like a western paradise on earth. Human beings will live in a prosperous life with a rich material wealth, good morals and good health. 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 rule his kingdom not by military power, but with virtues and the Seven Treasures. 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 Buddha Maitreya.
The Buddha Maitreya is also introduced by Buddha Sakyamuni to disciple Sariputra in the Anagatavamsha.
According to Maitreyavyakarana Sutra, The Prophecy of Maitreya, A Translation by Bhikkhu Yi Jing, Foshuo Mile xiasheng chengfo jing 《佛说弥勒下生成佛经》:
A Dragon (Naga) tree will then be the tree under which he will win enlightenment; its branches rise up to fifty leagues, and its foliage spreads far and wide over six Kos. Underneath it Maitreya, the best of men, will attain enlightenment- there can be no doubt on that. And he will win his enlightenment the very same day that he has gone forth into the homeless life.”
(Note: For more information about the Naga tree, please see the web section: The Temple/First Storey/Mountain Gate/Naga Trees)
In the Surangama Sutra: Indestructible Sutra, 大佛頂如來密因修證了義諸菩薩萬行首楞嚴經(commonly楞嚴經),verses 111 – 118, Maitreya explains the method of cultivation he used to realize Enlightenment.
According to Buddhist sutras, such as The Buddha Speaks the Contemplation of Maitreya Bodhisattva Ascending to the Tusita Heaven Sutra , Foshuo Guan Mile Pusa Shangsheng Doushuaitian Jing
《佛說觀彌勒菩薩上生兜率天經》 , Maitreya is preaching to celestial beings when he is residing in Tusita Heaven.
After descending to human world and attaining Enlightenment, Buddha Maitreya will hold the Three Great Assemblies and turn the Dharma Wheel. There are a few versions of what Maitreya will speak to audiences in Buddhist sutras, but most versions of Maitreyavyakarana Sutra mentioned that Maitreya will speak on Four Noble Truths to His disciples.
During the first great assembly, 96 kotis of people will attain Arhatship. In the second great assembly, 94 kotis of people will attain Arhatship. In the third great assembly, 92 kotis of people will attain Arhatship. These are the people who did not manage to attain Arhatship during the time of Buddha Sakyamuni. Buddha Maitreya will remain in this world for 60,000 years and go into parinirvana . After His parinirvana, Dharma will still remain in this world for another 60,000 years.
Scriptures on Buddha Maitreya also mentioned about various ways of cultivation to reborn in the world of Maitreya.
In The Buddha Speaks the Contemplation of Maitreya Bodhisattva Ascending to the Tusita Heaven Sutra, those who wish to reborn in Tusita Heaven should practice Five Precepts, Eight Precepts, Upasampadā (The complete rules or commandments), cultivate oneself diligently with Ten Good Deeds and think of the various joys in Tusita Heaven. According to the sutra, after the parinirvana of Buddha Sakyamuni, those who diligently cultivate good karma, good deportment, clean pagodas and temples, offer flowers to Dharma practitioners, practice meditation, read the sutras, always visualise the image of Buddha and chant the name of Buddha, once receiving the Eight Precepts and purify his body, speech and mind, will instantly reborn in Tusita Heaven when he passes away.
In various version of Maitreyavyakarana Sutra, Buddha Maitreya also speaks on how human beings can reborn in His world. Maitreyavyakarana Sutra, Foshuo Mile Xiasheng Chengfo Jing 《佛說彌勒下生成佛經》 translated by Kumarajiva, for example, mentioned that those who reborn in His world is whether:
not seeking the pleasures of this life or of the next life in heaven, but the conditions for the eternal bliss of nirvāṇa，
taught by Buddha Sakyamuni, planted the conditions for the future and would see Buddha Maitreya,
by reading and reciting, or by decisively classifying in the Tripitaka the Sutras, the Vinaya, and the Abhidharma,
have cultivated virtues by giving others food and clothing,
by offering the Buddha canopies, flowers and incense,
by making dana, being a vegetarian for developing loving kindness,
by invoking profound lovingkindness and compassion for sentient beings in misery and personally bearing their sufferings to give them happiness，
by observing the precepts and enduring adversities，
by offering food to the monks who came from everywhere to attend the Dharma assemblies,
have cultivated affliction-free wisdom by observing the precepts, hearing much [of the Dharma] and practicing meditation, and
by erecting pagodas and making offerings to holy relics.
In the Dasabodhisatta-uddesa, Buddha Gotama says to Ven. Sariputta,“Not all men will see my physical body. If they encounter my Teachings (sasana), give gifts (dana), observe morality (sila), and cultivate development of the mind (bhavana), through the fruit of that, they will be reborn in the time of Buddha Ariya Metteyya.”
Also of great importance are the “Five Treatises of Maitreya“. These texts are said to have been related to Asanga by Buddha Maitreya, and comprise the heart of the Yogacara (or Cittamatra, “Mind-Only”) school of philosophy in which all Tibetan Buddhist scholars are well-versed. They are as follows:
- Ornament for Clear Realization (Abhisamayalankara, Tib. mngon-par rtogs-pa’i rgyan)
- Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras (Mahayanasutralankara, Tib. theg-pa chen-po’i mdo-sde’i rgyan)
- Sublime Continuum of the Mahayana (Mahayanottaratantrashastra, Ratnagotravibhaga, Tib. theg-pa chen-po rgyud-bla-ma’i bstan)
- Distinguishing Phenomena and Pure Being (Dharmadharmatavibhanga, Tib. chos-dang chos-nyid rnam-par ‘byed-pa)
- Distinguishing the Middle and the Extremes (Madhyantavibhanga, Tib. dbus-dang mtha’ rnam-par ‘byed-pa)
The name Maitreya
is derived from the word maitri
(sanskrit; metta in pali) which means loving-kindness (慈爱). Thus Buddha Maitreya is also known as the Buddha of loving-kindness. When our mind of loving-kindness is developed to its fullest potential through meditation, it is called universal love, which is the wish for all livings beings without exception to experience true lasting happiness. Universal love conjoined with great compassion is the principal cause for developing Bodhichitta
, the mind that spontaneously aspires to become a Buddha for the sake of all beings.
In accordance with Tibeto-Indian religious-historical accounts, Buddha Shakyamuni transmitted His teachings on developing Bodhichitta (which includes instructions on developing universal love) to Maitreya. Maitreya then transmitted them directly to Asanga in Tushita pure land. Upon returning to earth, Asanga passed them to his brother Vasubandhu. This lineage has been transmitted from teacher to disciple for centuries and is currently kept alive by lineage holders of all four Tibetan traditions.
Asanga, Vasubandhu, together with Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Dharmakirti, Dignaga, Gunaprabha and Shakyaprabha constitutes the famed Six Ornaments and the Two Supreme Ones of the Southern Continent (i.e. India).
Just before He demonstrated the attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, Buddha defeated the Maras through the power of His concentration on metta.
It is noteworthy that the charity organisation Ven. Shi Fazhao founded is also named Metta.
Mantras of Buddha Maitreya
The Root Mantra
NAMO RATNA TRAYAYA
Homage to the Three Jewels
NAMO BHAGAVATE SHAKYAMUNIYE TATHAGATAYA ARHATE SAMYAKSAM BUDDHAYA
Homage to the Lord Shakyamuni, Tathagata, Arhat, Completely Perfect Buddha
TADYATHA: OM AJITE AJITE APARAJITE
As follows: Om Invincible, Invincible, Unconquered
AJITAN CHAYA HARA HARA
Conquer the Unconquered, take, take [it]
MAITRI AVALOKITE KARA KARA
You Who Look Down with Friendliness, act, act
MAHA SAMAYA SIDDHI BHARA BHARA
Bring, bring the fulfillment of your great pledge
MAHA BODHI MÄNDA VIJA
Shake the seat of great awakening
MARA MARA ATMAKAM SAMAYA
Remember, remember [your] pledge for us
BODHI BODHI MAHA BODHI SVAHA
Awakening, awakening, great awakening, svaha
OM MOHI MOHI MAHA MOHI SVAHA
Om fascinating, fascinating, greatly fascinating, svaha
Close Heart Mantra
OM MUNI MUNI SMARA SVAHA
Om sage, sage, remember, svaha
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 resting on a lotus. A khata is always tied around his waist as a girdle.
Maitreya (Collection of BTRTM Buddhist Culture Museum; NP001; left) is portrayed as a bodhisattva. Wearing a leaf crown, a graceful robe and adorned with accessories, the Maitreya looks like a royal prince or Hindu deity. Such depiction is inspired by the image of deities in esoteric art. At the center of Maitreya’s crown is a stupa, which represents the Buddha Shakyamuni as His teacher. It also shows Maitreya’s respect towards His teacher. Maitreya is protrayed sitting with both legs pendant, suggesting that He is ready to descend to our world. The dharmachakra mudra that Maitreya is displaying shows that He will be giving lectures on Dharma when He becomes the Buddha.
Besides displaying the mudra, Maitreya is holding onto two Nagapushpa flowers. This signifies that Maitreya will attain His Enlightenment under a Nagapushpa tree. There are two attributes on the Nagapushpa flowers that Maitreya is holding. On the left is a water vase, which possibly represents the Kunda or water phial. It is believed to symbolise Maitreya’s identity as a Brahmin when he descends to our world. On the right is a dharmachakra, which shows that Maitreya will preach the Buddha Dharma after His Enlightenment.
These are Nepali-Tibetan styled Maitreya statues (left)，also under collection of Buddhist Culture Museum. The left (NP003) is currently displayed in our museum. He is wearing a crown with precious stones and has a stupa-like finial on His ushnisha (topknot). His body is slender and adorned with jewellery.
He sits in the Pralambapadasana posture with both feet resting on a lotus pedestal and both hands in the Dharmacakra mudra (turning the Wheel of Dharma hand gesture). On each side of the Bodhisattva is a lotus flower. There is a water pot on top of the lotus on the left.
Also known as the Candana (Sandalwood) Buddha, this statue of Buddha Maitreya (CN111; see below; anonymous collector, sold in Sotheby’s, Paris, December 2007, as lot no. 2 to BTRTM.) is made during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Candana Buddha statue is said to be created by King Udayana of Kosambi in ancient India who wanted to have a statue of the Buddha to remember him by. This statue was said to be the first iconic representation of Buddha Sakyamuni. The Ekottaragama Sutra mentioned that Queen Maya passed away seven days after giving birth to the prince and ascended to Trayastrimsa Heaven reborn as a deva. After His enlightenment, Buddha Sakyamuni ascended to Trayastrimsa Heaven to preach the dharma to Queen Maya for three months. As King Udayana was separated from Buddha Sakyamuni whom he revered very much, he fell sick with worry and anxiety.
King Udayana was the ruler of Kosambi, who became a dharma protector of Buddha Sakyamuni after his wife became a devout Buddhist. Seeing King Udayana unable to get over his distress, his officials constructed a five feet tall Buddha statue from candana (a kind of sandalwood). Only then did King Udayana recover. Legend has it that the art of making the Candana Buddha later spread to China and Japan. Our artefact is modelled after the Candana Buddha image.
The unique traits of the Candana Buddha include: wearing a kasaya (monk’s robes) with U-shaped folds that drape from the shoulders, standing on a lotus pedestal and revealing both feet and the right hand forming the abhaya mudra (fearlessness gesture; the hand is half-raised with the palm facing outwards) while the left is in varada mudra (wish-granting gesture; the hand hangs downwards to the knee with the palm facing outwards). Wearing a regal-looking crown on his head, the statuette has wavy hair and a high ushnisha, which belongs to the style of esoteric Buddhism. He has expressive, delicate features and wears a smile. He also wears earrings and has a serene expression. There are delicate floral patterns at the ends of the robes.
A vishvavajra (crossed vajra) is engraved on the base of the statuette, which is used to seal deity statues after they have been consecrated. It is usually represented with its axes of orientation in the cardinal directions. This skilfully crafted statuette shows the majestic beauty of Buddha Maitreya.
In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, in the first centuries CE in northern India, Maitreya is represented as a Central Asian or northern Indian nobleman, holding a “water phial” (Sanskrit: Kumbha) in his left hand. Sometimes this is a “wisdom urn” (Sanskrit: Bumpa). He is flanked by his two acolytes, the brothers Asanga and Vasubandhu.
Buddha Maitreya (IN013) is seated in a dhyanasana posture (the meditation position in which the Buddha is usually shown seated, cross-legged, with the soles of the feet visible) on a low throne covered with a cushion and a carpet. His folded hands hold a floral spray, which might be a Nagapushpa flower. He is wearing diaphanous robes, a scarf across his waist and multiple necklaces and arm bands. His face shows a benign expression and hair arranged in a topknot. The halo or aureole in circular shape is a distinct feature found in sculptures of the Gandhara period where it has Roman-Greek influences. The heavily folded U-shape cascading of Maitreya’s robe is also unique to Gandharan art.
Since his death, the Chinese monk Budai (Chinese: 布袋; pinyin: Bùdài means “Cloth Sack”; Japanese: Hotei 布袋); has been popularly regarded as an incarnation of the Bodhisattva Maitreya. His depiction as the Laughing Buddha continues to be very popular in East Asian culture.
According to Chinese history, Budai was an eccentric Chinese Zen (Chán) monk who lived during the Later Liang Dynasty (907–923 CE) of China. He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci (Chinese: 契此; pinyin: Qiècǐ; literally “Promise this”). He was considered a man of good and loving character. His identification with the Bodhisattva Maitreya is attributed to a Buddhist hymn (Chinese: 偈语; pinyin: jìyǔ) he uttered before his death:彌勒真彌勒， 化身千百億， 時時示時人， 時人自不識。
Maitreya, the true Maitreya
has billions of incarnations.
Often he is shown to people at the time;
other times they do not recognize him.
Due to the popularity of the pot-bellied Buddha Maitreya since the Song Dynasty, Chinese monasteries seldom make images of the sitting Buddha Maitreya.
Even when they do, they often fail to add in the icons of the two attendant Bodhisattvas flanking him. As such, these two attendant Bodhisattvas and their honorific titles have largely fallen into obscurity.
However, some monasteries in Japan still keep the tradition of the Maitreya Trinity, i.e. making icons of the central Buddha coupled with the two Bodhisattvas. In China, remnant icons of the attendant Bodhisattvas flanking Maitreya can still be found in the western niche of Cave 194 at Dunhuang’s Mogao Grottoes. Continue reading at: Development of BTRTM Maitreya Statue
Maitreya Singhasana Stage
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