According to Buddhist scriptures, Maitreya will be the next Buddha and will embody and teach the path of loving-kindness. Maitreya Buddha Project is based on the premise that loving-kindness is the cause of peace and that “inner peace” within individuals is the direct cause of “outer peace” among families, communities and nations.
The Maitreya Buddha statue will be the centre piece of a landscaped park which will contain halls for prayer and meditation and shrine rooms filled with spiritual art.
Surrounding the Maitreya Buddha Project site, the State Government of Uttar Pradesh has set up the Kushinagar Special Development Area Authority to support the planned development of the area around the Project. Within the Kushinagar Special Development Area, Maitreya Buddha Project has already begun a mobile healthcare initiative. This will provide healthcare services, particularly for the underprivileged in Kushinagar and surrounding villages.
Maitreya Buddha Project’s vision integrates spiritual, educational, healthcare and economic benefits with technological advancement and environmental responsibility. The project is being designed and built to international standards of “best practice” and aspires to become a model of socially responsible and sustainable development.
As the project and its spiritual and social work are planned to thrive and continue developing for at least 1000 years, the Maitreya Buddha Project holds the potential to bring incalculable and sustainable benefit.
Who is Maitreya Buddha?
Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future and is regarded as a future Buddha of this world. He is also known as Ajita Boddhisattva. Maitreya has promised that “anyone keeping just one vow of moral discipline purely during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings will become my personal disciple when I appear, and all such disciples I shall liberate.”
Ven. Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche is the Spiritual Advisor to the Maitreya Buddha Statue Project. Lama Zopa is a renowned Buddhist scholar and meditator who for 30 years has guided the spiritual activities of the extensive worldwide network of centers, projects, and services, that comprise the Foundation (FPMT) which Rinpoche founded with the late Lama Thubten Yeshe. FPMT’s activities include a proliferation of charitable and humanitarian projects, and involvement in two Maitreya Projects. One is under planning in Bodhgaya, Bihar, and this project under the auspices of Maitreya Project Trust, is under development in Kushinagar.
History of the project
Lama Yeshe initiated the Maitreya Project in 1982. Lama’s vision was to build a huge statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha in Bodhgaya, Bihar State.
Despite many difficulties, setbacks, and challenges over the years, the Project has moved forward and Lama Yeshe’s vision developed under the spiritual guidance of Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche.
Moved to Uttar Pradesh
By 2001 Bihar had become an extremely difficult place to work. The law and order environment had been deteriorating for more than a decade and Government at all levels was essentially dysfunctional. Although by this time Maitreya Project was far advanced in planning and design of a magnificent statue building in Bodhgaya, the extraordinarily adverse circumstances in Bihar, forced the difficult decision to relocate the Project to Uttar Pradesh where the State Government welcomed Maitreya Project and the prospect of its helping to develop the Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh.
The State Government offered the land in Kushinagar and prospects looked bright but in Uttar Pradesh, Maitreya Project faced a different set of challenges. A comprehensive shared vision for the Project was developed together with the State Government and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2003. Actualizing the MoU and shared vision took a further 10 years of relentless efforts on the side of the Maitreya Project team.
Two Maitreya Statue Projects
Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained the 2 Maitreya Projects, in a letter of February 2014 which may be read in full here. The following paragraphs are extracted from Rinpoche’s letter;
“My very dear students, kind benefactors, friends and others who have compassion to sentient beings – not just compassion, but taking responsibility too free all sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings – to all, I am expressing hello and hope you are all well.
Now we have two Maitreya Projects in India. As you may have already heard, Maitreya Project Bodhgaya has started and the process is happening, but now the statue will be smaller; this is due to the situation of the world and my advice. Maitreya Project Bodhgaya has been taking a long time. The reason is that there were many and continual difficulties which arose principally from trying to operate in an environment of political dysfunction at that time.
The other Maitreya Project is happening in Kushinagar – Maitreya Buddha Kushinagar Project. Kushinagar is where the Buddha showed the holy deed of passing away and where the future Buddha Maitreya will take birth, which is part of the 12 deeds.
Due to karma these two projects happened, so now we need to complete both of these Maitreya statues for the benefit of all sentient beings. In addition to these projects, I also want to build other large Maitreya statues in different parts of the world…Then the particular benefits: the more statues of Maitreya Buddha there are in the world the more it helps to minimize or stop wars, famine, diseases, tsunamis, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. in this very dark period when so many people suffer so much. Due to the result of building many Maitreya statues, this decreases the very dark time of so much suffering. So this is my reason for building many Maitreya statues.”… – With much love and prayers, Lama Zopa