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The Career of Bodhisatta Metteyya
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahatto Sammasambuddhassa
The Bodhisatta will be the son of the Wheel-turning Monarch's head priest, Subrahma, and his wife, Brahmavati. He will be named Ajita, and he will bear the thirty-two marks and eighty minor marks that are common to Buddhas and Wheel-turning Monarchs. He will lead the household life for eight thousand years. He will have four palaces named: Sirivaddha, Vaddhamana, Siddhattha, and Candaka. He will have 100,000 dancing girls. His wife will be Candamukhi and his son will be named Brahmavaddhana.
Bodhisattas decide to give up household life after they have seen the four signs (an old man, a sick man, a dead man, and a contented man who has gone forth from lay life) and after a son is born to them. They put on the yellow robe and engage in striving. The Bodhisatta Metteyya will go forth in one of his palaces. Accompanied by his followers, he will fly through the air in the palace and go to the Naga tree, which will be his Bodhi tree. He will engage in striving for seven days, which is the minimum period.
There is a detailed account of these events in the Dasabodhisattauddesa:
At the age of eight thousand years, the Bodhisatta will mount a chariot that resembles a glorious celestial palace and when going to the royal park, he will see the four signs. They will produce the knowledge of a sense of urgency. And he will long for the state of going forth. Then he will return and go up to his palace. His mind will be bent on the state of going forth. At that moment, that jewel palace will fly up by a path in the sky, and he will leap up into the sky, like the king of the golden water fowl, together with his followers.
Then the Devas of the ten thousand world systems will take flowers and honour him. The eighty-four thousand kings (of India), the people from the cities and from the countryside will honour him with perfume and flowers. The king of the Asuras will guard the palace. The king of the Nagas will take (him) a precious gem, the king of the Supannas will take (him) a jewel necklace, the king of Gandhabbas will honour him with musical instruments and dancers. The Wheel-turning Monarch, together with his consorts and followers, will go to the Bodhisatta.
By the power of the king and the power of the Great Being, all that crowd will be established in the state of going forth, and the people will rise into the sky with him and go [to the Bodhi tree]. Then, the Maha-Brahma will take a sixty-league parasol and hold it [over them]. The Deva king Sakka will blow the Vijayuttara conch shell. [The king of the Yama Devas,] Suyama, will take a yak's tail fan and honour him. [The king of the Tusita Devas,] Santusita, will hold a jewel fan. [The Gandhabba Deva,] Pancasikha, will take his celestial lute Velupanda, and play it. The [four Great Deva] Kings, swords in hand, will surround them on all four sides. All those Devas, all those people and Gandhabbas, all those Yakkhas, Nagas, and Supannas, surrounding him in front, in back, and on both sides, will go with him. Surrounded by that crowd of Devas, women, etc., of great splendour and beauty, he [the Bodhisatta] will rise into the sky, [and then] descend near the Terrace of Awakening. At that moment, the Maha-Brahma will take the eight requisites [of an ascetic] created by his psychic powers and offer them to him. Then the Great Being will cut off the topknot of hair [on his head] and throw it up in the sky. He will take the eight requisites from the hands of the [Maha-]Brahma and go forth. For seven days he will make the Great Effort. And all that great crowd [of people] will follow the [example] of the Great Being in going forth.
The Naga tree where the Bodhisatta will be Awakened is described as being 120 cubits high with four (main) branches 120 or 130 cubits long. There will be 2,000 (minor) branches. The tips of the branches will be bent, (constantly) moving, and will be continually in bloom with blossoms as big as wheels. They will have a heavenly smell, full of pollen. The perfume will spread around for ten leagues, both with and against the wind. The leaves will be a deep green in all seasons and the flowers will scatter on the people all around.
The Anagatavamsa describes the people who go forth with the Buddha, including the names of the most important people among them: He will be accompanied by a large group of people, including friends, ministers, and members of his family. There will be a fourfold army and an assembly of the four castes to go forth with him. There will be 84,000 princesses and 84,000 Brahmas who are skilled in the Vedas. Among the 84,000 there will be the brothers Isidatta and Purana; the twins of unlimited wisdom, Jatimitta and Vijaya; the householder Suddhika and the female disciple Suddhana; the male disciple Sankha and the female disciple Sankha, the householder Saddara and the famous man Sudatta; and the husband and wife Visakha and Yasavati. Many other citizens and people from the countryside of various social rank will go forth.
The spot on which the Bodhisattas attain Awakening is one of the four fixed places, so Metteyya will make his final bid for liberation on the same spot as all the past Buddhas - the present-day Bodha-gaya. On the day they attain Self-Awakening, Bodhisattas have a meal of milkrice. They are seated on a spreading of grass. They use mindfulness of breathing as their preparation for developing insight and shatter the forces of Mara. They attain the three knowledges and the special qualities not shared by others, etc., while still seated in the cross-legged position. And they spend seven weeks near the Tree of Awakening after becoming Self-Awakened. The Anagatavamsa commentary says that from the time he becomes Awakened, Ariya Metteyya will be known as the King of the Buddhas (Buddharaja).
Then the Maha-Brahma will request that Buddha Metteyya teach others the path to Nibbana.
Buddha Metteyya will preach his first discourse, the Setting in Motion of the Wheel of the Doctrine, in Nagavana ("The Elephant Grove"). The park is said to be in Isipatana near the city of Ketumati. He will be surrounded by an assembly extending one hundred leagues. A great many Devas will approach him at that time, and he will set free one hundred crores from their bondage. This will be the first occasion when a great number of beings attain penetration (Abhisamaya) into the Four Noble Truths.
Then King Sankha will give his jewel palace to the Sangha with the Buddha at its head, and he will make a great donation to the poor, the needy, and beggars. Accompanied by his wife and 90,000 crores of people, the king will approach the Buddha. And all that 90,000 crores of people will be ordained with the words 'Come, bhikkhu' (ehi bhikkhu). This will be the second penetration.
After that, the third penetration of 80,000 crores will take place when Devas and men approach the Buddha with a question concerning Arahatship.
There will be three assemblies (Sannipata) of Arahats. The first will include 100,000 crores. This may be, as for many past Buddhas, at the time the Buddha recites the Patimokkha on the full-moon day of Magha to an assembly possessing four factors: (1) all the bhikkhus present are ordained with the "Come, bhikkhu" ordination, (2) all have the six types of higher knowledge, (3) all of them come without any previous announcement, and (4) the observance day (Uposatha) is on the fifteenth (day in the bright fortnight). The second assembly will be at the time the Buddha proclaims the "Invitation" at the end of the rainy season and will include 90,000 crores. For the third assembly, 80,000 crores of Arahats will accompany the Buddha when he goes in seclusion on the Gandhamadana slope of the Himavant mountain range. Otherwise, the Buddha Metteyya will continually be surrounded by 100,000 crores of those who have attained the six types of higher knowledge (abhinna) and great psychic power.
Buddha Gotama said that just as he was accompanied by a Sangha of hundreds of bhikkhus when he wandered around, Buddha Metteyya will be accompanied by thousands.
Buddha Metteyya will go through the countryside teaching the Doctrine, awakening many people. Some will take the three refuges, some will be established in the five precepts, some will undertake the ten skilful actions. There will be some who become ordained, some who attain the four excellent Fruition States, some who will attain analytic insight into the Doctrine, some who will attain the eight excellent perfections, some the three knowledges, and some the six types of higher knowledge. The Teachings of Buddha Metteyya will be widespread. Seeing people who are ready to be Awakened, he will go 100,000 leagues in a moment to cause them to be Awakened.
It is even said that Buddha Metteyya will quench the heat for beings reborn in the lower realms. The first chief disciple will be the Wheel-turning Monarch Sankha who will have the bhikkhu name of Asoka. The second chief disciple will be Brahmadeva. The Buddha's attendant will be named Siha. The chief women disciples among the bhikkhunis will be Paduma and Sumana. The chief lay attendants among the men will be Sumano and Sangha; among the women, Yasavati and Sangha.
Wherever he goes, Buddha Metteyya will be accompanied by a great company of Devas honouring him. The Kamavacarika Devas will make necklaces which will be adorned by the kings of the Nagas and Supannas. There will be eight garlands each of gold, silver, jewels, and coral. There will be many hundreds of banners hanging down. Awnings adorned with jewels will resemble the moon. They will be surrounded by nets of bells and jewelled garlands. They will scatter sweet-smelling flowers and different sorts of (perfumed) powder, both divine and human. And there will be various types of cloth of many colours. Having faith in the Buddha, they will sport all around. And many marvels will take place through the power of Buddha Metteyya's merit. Seeing those marvels, many people will decide they would rather die than abandon him as their refuge. Many of them will attain Awakening, and those who do not will do good deeds which lead to heavenly worlds.
Several other details can be predicted for Buddha Metteyya as they are part of the list of thirty things that are true of all Buddhas: He will live regularly at a monastery at Jetavana. His bed there will be on the same spot as those of past Buddhas. He will perform the Marvel of the Double at the gateway to the city of Savatthi. He will teach the Abhidhamma to his mother in the Tavatimsa Deva world. He will descend from that Deva world at the gateway to the city of Sankassa.
He will lay down a rule of training whenever necessary. He will tell the story of one of his past lives (Jataka) whenever necessary, and he will teach the Buddhavamsa (The Chronicle of Buddhas) to a gathering of his relatives.
Several details have to do with his day-to-day habits: he will give a friendly welcome to bhikkhus when they arrive. He will spend the rains retreat where he is invited to and will not leave without asking permission. Each day, he will carry out the duties to be performed before and after meals and for the three watches in the night.
Many details are given about the physical appearance of Buddha Metteyya. He will be eighty-eight cubits high. His chest will be twenty-five cubits in diameter. There will be twenty-two cubits from the soles of his feet to the knees, from the knees to the navel, from the navel to the collar bone, and from the collar bone to the apex of his head. His arms will be twenty-five cubits long. The collar bones will be five cubits. Each finger will be four cubits. Each palm will be five cubits. The circumference of the neck will be five cubits. Each lip will be five cubits. The length of his tongue will be ten cubits. His elevated nose will be seven cubits. Each eye socket will be seven cubits. The eyes themselves will be five cubits. The Anagatavamsa says his eyelashes will be thick, that the eyes will be broad and pure, not winking day or night; and that with his physical eye, he will be able to see large and small things all around for ten leagues without obstruction. The space between the eyebrows will be five cubits. The eyebrows will be five cubits. Each ear will be seven cubits. The circumference of his face will be twenty-five cubits. The spiral of the protuberance on his head will be twenty-five cubits.
Rays of six colours will radiate from his body and illumine the 10,000 world systems. The major and minor marks will always be visible as countless hundreds of thousands of rays which will shine in all directions for twenty-five leagues. Through the merit acquired when the blood flowed from his head when he offered it to Buddha Sirimata, his radiance as a Buddha (Buddha-patha) will shine from the summit of the world to the lowest of the hells, Avici, and the offering of his head and the drops of blood will mean that the radiance from the hair between his eyebrows will be unlimited.
People will not be able to distinguish night from day. The only way they will know when it is night is through the sound of bird cries and the closing of the blossoms and leaves of lotuses and water lilies. They will know it is day by the cries of birds going to seek food and the opening of the flowers and leaves of lotuses and water lilies.
Wherever Buddha Metteyya walks, lotuses will spring up for him to step on. This is said to be the result of his great effort in the past life when he was King Sankha and went to Buddha Sirimata. The main petals of the lotuses will be thirty cubits, and the minor petals, twenty-five. The stamens will be twenty cubits, the pistils will be sixteen cubits, and they will be full of red pollen.
But even Buddhas are subject to the law of impermanence. Eventually, Buddha Metteyya will attain final Nibbana. All Buddhas have a meal with meat on the day of their final Nibbana. Before their final Nibbana, they will have accomplished 2,400,000 crores of attainments. According to the Anagatavamsa commentary, when Ariya Metteyya attains final Nibbana, he will not leave behind his human body (Vipaka-kammaja-rupa, 'the body produced by the fruition [of volitional actions]'); he will enter the element of Nibbana (Nibbana-dhatu) and no relics will remain. Although the poem says his dispensation will last for 180,000 years, the commentary says it will continue for 380,000 years.
Published by the
Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, IMC-UK, Splatts House, Heddington,
Calne, Wiltshire SN11 0PE, England,
is one of several marking the tenth anniversary of Mother Sayamagyi and
Sayagyi U Chit Tin's
The gift of the Dhamma surpasses all other gifts.
Dedicated to our
much revered teacher the late Sayagyi U Ba Khin (Thray Sitthu)
Source: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, IMC-UK, http://ubakhin.com/
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