Fire of great kindness
Blazing, consuming all anger
Shining, clearing dark ignorance
With brilliant light of wisdom
Protector of all beings
Loving them like a mother
To You, the Future Buddha
We bow down in deep devotion
OM Buddha Maitreya Mem
OM Buddha Maitreya Mem
~ H. E. Tai Situ
Maitreya is a bodhisattva revered by
Buddhists of most schools. His name derives from the Sanskrit word maitri
meaning caring or "loving-kindness" (in Pali, metta.) He
is one of the few deities depicted in paryanka asana -- seated with
legs hanging, like a Westerner. He is currently believed to be
functioning in the Tushita heaven, and will be born on earth for the
benefit of beings 4, 000 years [or 5, 000, according
to another source] after the passing of Shakyamuni Buddha.
A scriptural source for this date is Shakyamuni's response
to Shariputra's questions (The Surangama Sutra.) He responded that
Maitreya would appear before the last of The Five Disappearances:
The disappearance of Attainments, the disappearance of
Method, the disappearance of Learning, the disappearance
of the Symbols [the outward forms] and the disappearance of the
Relics ... .
And, regarding that last disappearance:
Then when the Dharma of the Perfect Buddha is 5,000 years old, the relics, not receiving reverence and honor, will go to places where they can
be received ... .
Various groups, including authorities of belief systems
other than Buddhism, calculate the date according to their own agendas.
Maitreya (Chin: Mileh-fo, Jap: Miroku Butsu or Bosatsu) is often depicted as a fat, laughing monk whose belly
some considered auspicious to rub.
He is also referred to as The Monk with the Cloth
Bag. However, that image is based upon Chang Dingzi (907-1060) a
Buddhist monk who was a native of Chekiang Province. He was an
itinerant who wandered about at the end of the Tang and beginning of the Wu-Tai
Dynasties propagating the Dharma. Though dressed only in thin monk's
robes, he could lie on the snow without getting cold and wet, and he also
had the ability of foreseeing the future. One story says that he had an eye on his
back; perhaps he saw the past, too.
being a yogi, he was also a learned man, but everyone addressed him as Pu
Tai -- 'calico bag' or 'cloth bag' after the large bundle that
he carried wherever he went. He soon became worshipped as an
incarnation of Maitreya.
It is possible that the fat belly is symbolic shorthand for the Chinese
idiom that is used to express someone who is exceedingly tolerant -- has a
"big stomach." The monk may really have been fat, or since
Maitreya is a bodhisattva with limitless compassion, the quality of
character that is shown by an actual "big stomach" is further
emphasized by the laughing expression and a version that has numerous,
little children (noisy, too, no doubt) swarming over him. As
Laughing Buddha, he is called in one Chinese transliteration, "Ta-pao
The fat belly and the children later led women to rub the belly of images of
Mileh Fo a.k.a. Pu Tai, in hopes of conceiving children through his
The bodhisattva Maitreya is not to be confused with the American, Ron
Spencer, who claims to be a messiah.
For one person's experience see