Bodhisattva is also known as the Bodhisattva of the Compassionate Clan.
His other name is Ajita, which means “invincible.” Maitreya means
“compassionate clan.” Limitless kalpas ago, this Bodhisattva left the
home-life under the Buddha named Light of Sun, Moon, and Lamp. He left
the home-life, but was always looking for opportunities to exploit
situations. He often visited the homes of wealthy Dharma-protectors to
socialize and get on good terms with them. Although he should have
become a Buddha before Shakyamuni Buddha did, he spent so much time
socializing with wealthy families that his cultivation suffered. As a
result, he will achieve Buddhahood later than Shakyamuni Buddha.
Therefore, we should realize that no matter who we are, we must
cultivate seriously and honestly. If we are the slightest bit untrue in
our cultivation, our future will be ruined. Since Maitreya Bodhisattva
paid attention to externals and failed to cultivate, since he neglected
inner sageliness and just wanted to socialize with people, he delayed
his own Buddhahood. .
Later, however, he cultivated the
samadhi (concentration) of mind and consciousness only. He contemplated
the emptiness of all dharmas. He said,
The Three Realms are
created by mind alone.
The myriad dharmas are nothing but manifestations of consciousness.
When he had attained considerable
skill in the samadhi of mind and consciousness only, he received a
prediction from a Buddha that he would be the next Buddha, the honored
Maitreya Buddha. In the tenth small kalpa of the Worthy Kalpa, during
the decreasing kalpa when the average human life span decreases to
84,000 years, he will be born into this world, where he will attain
Buddhahood. He will expound the Dharma for only one day and night in
the threefold Dragon Flower Dharma Assembly, saving all the beings he
is supposed to save. He will be the fifth Buddha and teaching host of
Buddhism in the Saha world.
This Bodhisattva often roams
playfully in the world. During the Latter Liang Dynasty of the Five
Dynasties Period, he manifested as the Venerable Budai (the “cloth
sack” monk), who said, “Setting down the cloth sack, how carefree one
is!” This Bodhisattva often wanders in the world having fun, constantly
full of joy. He doesn’t ever get vexed, no matter how people might
mistreat him. He’s always laughing in his jovial manner. There’s a
matched couplet about Maitreya Bodhisattva that says:
belly can contain all the unbearable things under heaven.
His wide-open mouth laughs at all the laughable people in the world.
His belly is so vast that it can
take all the things in the world that are hard to endure. Whenever he
opens his mouth, he laughs at the comical people of the world. Because
he often attains the samadhi of joy in his practice of patience, he is
in a constant state of happiness.
There is another verse that
describes him well.
The old fool wears a
And fills his belly with plain food.
He mends the rags to keep his body warm,
And lets the myriad affairs just take their course.
Should someone scold the Old Fool,
The Old Fool just says, “Fine."
Should someone strike the Old Fool,
He just lies down to sleep.
"Spit right in my face,” he says,
"And I’ll just let it dry.
That way I save energy
And you don’t get afflicted.
This kind of paramita
Is the jewel in the wonderful.
Now that you know this news,
How can you worry about not attaining the Way.
The “old fool” refers to a stupid
old man. He wears “tattered robes” that have been patched over and over
again. The food he eats is bland and tasteless, unseasoned by oil or
salt. But it’s enough for him, because it makes him full. He mends the
holes in his clothes so that they keep out the chill. No matter what
happens, he accords with the conditions. As the saying goes, “Let old
karma run its course, and take care not to create new offenses.” He
lets things take their natural course.
If someone should scold the old
fool, he says, “Right, you’re absolutely right! Please scold me some
more.” Ordinary people can’t take a scolding, but he just encourages
people to scold him. His attitude is, “The more you scold, the better.”
Their rebukes are music to his ears. He thinks they are singing songs
for him, so he says, “Ah! How wonderful!”
If someone strikes him, he lies
down and goes to sleep, letting them beat him as they please. He
doesn’t lose his temper. If someone spits on his face, he simply lets
it dry by itself, without bothering to wipe it off. Since he doesn’t
fight back, the other person cools off, too. This kind of
paramita—method for reaching the other shore—is a treasure among
wonders. Once you know this news, how can you fail to attain the Way?
A verse in praise says:
The mind gives rise to
All things are created from mind alone.
With no afflictions or worries,
He is perpetually laughing.
In the samadhi of happiness,
He brings forth people’s good roots.
Since he never forgets to have fun,
Spring returns to the Dharma Realm.
The mind gives rise to all things; / All
things are created from mind alone. He understands that the
mind brings about all things, and that all things do not go beyond the
mind. Everything is within our own mind. When the mind comes into
being, everything comes forth; when the mind ceases to be, everything
else ceases as well.
With no afflictions or
worries, / He is perpetually laughing. He never gets vexed or
annoyed. He’s always got a big grin on his face.
In the samadhi of
happiness, / He brings forth people’s good roots. With the
“happy samadhi,” he causes people to plant good roots. Probably he made
a vow that anyone who set eyes on him would be inspired to bring forth
the Bodhi resolve.
Since he never forgets to
have fun, / Spring returns to the Dharma Realm. He likes to
play with children and teach them. That’s why his light shines
universally throughout space and the Dharma Realm.
Another verse says:
If you ask me what I’m
First let me ask you what you’re crying for.
Neither crying nor laughing are the Middle
Why get attached to either side?
In a single gulp, swallow your worries and
With two eyes, see through those who pursue
fame and profit.
No one recognizes the Bodhisattva;
Everyone misses him at close range.
“If you ask me what I’m laughing about,” Maitreya says
to the people of the world, “I won’t answer. First let me ask
you what you’re crying for. If you know why you’re crying,
you’ll understand why I’m laughing.” Neither crying nor
laughing are the Middle Way. Crying is not the Middle Way, nor
is laughing. However, the Bodhisattva uses laughter as a means to save
those who are sad or afflicted. Why get attached to either
side? Crying and laughing are extremes; they are not the
ultimate principle of the Middle Way. They fall to one side or the
other, and they are not the path of cultivation that we should take.
Since Maitreya Bodhisattva has a
vast capacity, the next line says: In a single gulp, swallow
your worries and grief. He gulps down the water of grief and
distress as if it were nothing at all. With two eyes, see
through those who pursue fame and profit. In one glance, he
recognizes people who scheme for name and gain. No one
recognizes the Bodhisattva; / Everyone misses him at close range.
No one recognizes Maitreya Bodhisattva when they meet him, so they miss