Homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Highest Self—Enlightened One!
Sayagyi U Chit Tin
Published: 2014-08-21 — Updated: 2019-04-17 — History
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We have gathered here all the information we could find in the Theravada tradition concerning the coming Buddha. In Burma and Sri Lanka, the coming Buddha is generally spoken of as Ariya Metteyya, the Noble Metteyya. The term Ariya was already added to the name in some post—canonical Pali texts, and it shows the deep respect felt for the Bodhisatta who will attain Awakening in the best of conditions. Indeed, all aspects of his career as a Buddha rank among the highest achievements of Buddhas of the past as recorded in the Buddhavamsa (The Chronicle of Buddhas).
It is only natural that over the years
many people have aspired to meet Buddha Ariya Metteyya—not only because
it has become less common for people to attain Awakening, but also
because of a natural desire to encounter such a rare occasion. In his
introduction to his edition and translation of the Dasabodhisatt—uppattikatha(The Birth Stories of the Ten Bodhisattas), Ven. H. Saddhatissa
has given several texts included in Pali commentaries and
chronicles and in Sinhalese Buddhist texts in which the writers express
the wish to meet the coming Buddha.
The commentary on the Jataka stories
ends with a poem in which the writer aspires to be with the Bodhisatta
Metteyya in the Tusita Deva world and to receive a sure prediction of
future Buddhahood from him when he becomes a Buddha. Sinhalese
versions of the Visuddhimagga end with a poem in which the writer
aspires to rebirth in the Tavatimsa Deva world and then to final
liberation under Buddha Metteyya.
▶“The Ten Great Warriors of King Dutugemunu 1.” Click on the video to play it. View Full Video >
Ven. Sadhatissa attributes these
verses to Ashin Buddhaghosa, but they seem to be written by a copyist.
Another aspiration to encounter Buddha Metteyya is found at the end of
Sinhalese manuscripts of Ashin Buddha — ghosa’s Atthasalini.
Ven. Saddhatissa also cites many
instances from the Pali chronicles (Mahavamsa and Culavamsa) in
which Sinhalese kings honoured Metteyya. King Dutthagamani of the
second century B.C. was considered to be destined to become the next
Buddha’s chief disciple.
Royalty and high—ranking officials in
Burma often made similar aspirations. This seems to have led to building
pagodas with five sides at Pagan. Paul Strachan points out that with the
Dhamma—Yazika (Dammrazik) Pagoda, completed in 1196 by King Sithu
II, “The addition of a fifth side to temple and stupa ground plans
in Burma is without precedent throughout the Buddhist world and the
Burmese were possibly the first society throughout the world to attempt
this pentagonal type of plan for a major architectural work. The origins
of this movement lie in contemporary religious thought: the cults of
Mettaya, the future buddha, and the present cycle of five
buddhas.” Two thirteenth—century inscriptions at the temple in
Buddha Gaya record that repairs on the temple were carried out through
the generosity of King Kyawswa of Burma, and the concluding verse is an
aspiration to become a disciple of Buddha Metteyya. As in Sri Lanka,
many Buddhist texts end with the aspiration to meet Buddha Ariya
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Just as the future Buddha Metteyya
became more important for Buddhists as the centuries went by, many of
the texts giving infomation about him are fairly late. The Anagatavamsa
is said to have been written by the author of the Mohavicchedani,
Ashin Kassapa (1160—1230 A.D.) It is very difficult to know how far
back information goes when it is given in the Pali commentaries,
sub—commentaries, chronicles, and other texts written down after the
canon. We have given all the information available to us that is part of
the Theravada tradition, but we must be careful to remember that texts
such as the Dasabodhisattuppattikatha (The Birth Stories of the
Ten Bodhisattas), the Dasabodhisattauddesa, the Dasavatthuppakarana,
and the Sihaavatthuppakarana seem to contain information that was
added at a relatively late date. This is especially evident in the many
variants in various texts for names and numbers.
It takes more than just a wish if a
person is to encounter a Buddha and attain Nibbana, however. Sayagyi U
Ba Khin taught his meditation students that they must practise Sila,
Samadhi, and Panna (virtue, concentration, and wisdom) as
Buddha Gotama taught we should. Sayagyi U Ba Khin made every effort to
make sure that his own practice and what he taught was consistent with
what his teachers passed on to him and with the Teachings of the Buddha
in the Pali canon and commentaries.
There are many pressures in the world
today to modify the Teachings of the Buddha. The Buddha foresaw that
this would happen and warned his disciples to be careful to maintain the
practice just as he had taught them.
▶“The Tipitaka Sattapanni Cave 1 (where the first Buddhist council was held).” Click on the video to play it. View Full Video >
Ven. Maha—Kassapa convened the
First Buddhist Council shortly after the Buddha’s demise in order to
rehearse the Teachings. The Sangha has kept these Teachings intact over
the centuries, and the Sixth Buddhist Council, held in Burma in
1954—1956, was the most recent effort to make sure the three collections
of texts (Tipitaka) are kept pure.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin repeated the Burmese
tradition that those who live in accordance with these Teachings will
meet Buddha Ari Metteyya. It is even believed that the coming Buddha’s
power will be such that he will be able to reach people who have lived
up to the Teachings in this life but who have done deeds in the past
which lead to their being born in lower realms before he comes. Some
hints of this are found in Pali texts which show the power of sharing
Sayagyi also often repeated a saying of
the Buddha’s found in Dhammapada verse 354: Sabbadanam dhammadanam
jinati.“The gift of the Dhamma surpasses all other
gifts.” This, of course, does not mean that we should not give
material gifts. Sayagyi himself was always very generous with gifts to
the Sangha and others.
The Dhamma wheel (Dhammacakka). Click on the image to download a larger version.
But the gift of the Dhamma can only be given
while the Teachings of a Buddha are available, and by laying emphasis on
this quotation of the Buddha’s, Sayagyi reminded us that we must never
become so involved in material considerations that we neglect the most
important gift of all. (See also paragraph 2, page 12 below. If we
assume that Bodhisatta Metteyya’s last human life before attaining
Buddhahood is during a Buddha’s Dispensation, he would be able to give
the gift of the Dhamma, unlike Vessantara, who lived outside such a
May all make the right effort here and
now in this life so that they will attain Nibbana!
One text, the Mahasampindanidana,
was not available to us. For the story in it concerning Ven.
Maha—Kassapa, see Dbk, pp. 43—45. According to this text, the body
of an Arahat name Kassapa who lived after the time of the Buddha
Kassapa is inside Kukkutasampata Mountain and will come out at the
time of the next Buddha to be cremated then. Some works which
include discussions of the material found in Pali texts have not
added any new information, and so are not quoted. See, for example,
Emile Abegg, Der Messiasglaube in Indian und Iran (Berlin:
Walter de Gruyter, 1928); Emil Abegg, “Der Buddha Maitreya,”
Mitteilunger der Schwizerischen Gestellschaft der Freunde
Ostasiasticher Kultur, VIl (1945), pp. 7—37. For a discussion of the
importance of Metteyya in Sri Lanka, see Culte, pp. 86—96.
The name is also shortened in Burma to Arimetteyya.
See pp. 32—43.
These verses are given in Pali and
English in Dbk, pp. 381. They are not included in the English
translation of the Jataka.
The Path of Purification, pp. 837f. and Dbk, p. 40.
Expos., p. 542.
See Dbk, pp. 42f.
Pagan, Art and Architecture of Old
Burma (Whiting Bay:
Kiscadale Publications, 1989), p. 122. See also p. 32.
See Dipak K. Barua, Buddha Gaya
Temple: Its History (Buddha Gaya Temple Management Committee, 1981),
According to the Gandhavamsa (61,
1). See K.R. Norman, Pali Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz,
1983), pp. 147, 161.