(100-10) x 100 = 9,000年
(84,000-10) x 100 = 8,399,000年
(84,000-80,000) x 100 = 400,000年
Most, if not all, Buddhist dictionaries and encyclopedias indicate that Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born and become the next Buddha in the Saha World 5.6 or 5.7 billion years later. However, this answer is most likely incorrect. Why is that?
It is well known that Maitreya Bodhisattva will be the next Buddha in this Saha World. However, the question is, when will this happen?
A Chronicle of the Buddhas and the Patriarchs (Fasc. 30) and Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’s Commentary on the
Lotus Sutra (Vol. 2, p.156) say that Shakyamuni Buddha was born when the average human life span was 100 years. The human life span will decrease from 100 years to 10 years, then increase from 10 years to 84,000 years, and then decrease from 84,000 years to 80,000 years. At that time Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born and become the next Buddha in the Saha World. As the average human life span decreases/increases by 1 year every 100 years, one can calculate how many years separate the births of Shakyamuni Buddha and Maitreya Buddha.
Life span from 100 to 10 years: (100-10) x 100 = 9,000
From 10 to 84,000 years: (84,000-10) x 100 = 8,399,000
From 84,000 to 80,000 years: (84,000-80,000) x 100 = 400,000
Therefore, the births of the two Buddhas are separated by 8,808,000 years. This number differs by only 1,000 years from TL Zhuang’s estimate of 8,809,000 years (A Chronicle of the Buddhas and the Patriarchs,Fasc. 30).
While the Long Agama Sutra (Fasc. 6), the
Intermediate Agama Sutra (Fasc. 13) and the Abhidharma-vibhÁçÁ-äÁstra (Fasc 178) also say that Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born when the average human life span is 80,000 years, at least five other Sutras and one Shastra (Bhadrakalpa Sutra (Fasc. 7),
The Sutra of the Bodhisattva’s Descent from Tushita Heaven into his Mother’s Womb (Fasc. 2),
The Sutra on Maitreya’s Achieving Buddhahood, The Sutra on the Descent of Maitreya, Sutra on the Coming of Maitreya, and MahÁprajñÁpÁramitÁ-äÁstra (Fasc. 3)) all say that Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born when the average human lifes pan is 84,000 years. Should this be the case, Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born 400,000 years earlier, i.e., 8,408,000 years after Shakyamuni Buddha.
However, at least one Sutra (Foshuo chuchu jing) says that Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born 570 million years later. This calculation must have been based on the lifes pan of the gods in the Tushita Heaven.
The gods in the Tushita Heaven have a life span of 4,000 years (Long Agama Sutra (Fasc. 20),
Qishi jing (Fasc. 7), Abhidharmakoäa-bhÁsya (Fasc. 11)). However, one day there is equivalent to 400 years on earth (Abhidharmakoäa-bhÁsya, Fasc. 11)! So, 100 Tushita days equals to 40,000 earth years, and 1 Tushita year is 144,000 earth years (assuming 360 days in a year.) The gods’ life span of 4,000 Tushita years is thus equivalent to 576 million earth years.
However, The Sutra of the Contemplation of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Ascent to Tushita Heaven Spoken by the Buddha, The Sutra of the Immortal of All-Wisdom’s Light Who Abstained from Eating Meat for Reasons of Kindness, The Sutra of the Bodhisattva’s Descent from Tushita Heaven into his Mother’s Womb (Fasc. 2),
The Sutra on the Wise and the Foolish (Fasc. 4), the Ding Fubao1 and Foguang Buddhist Dictionaries, Charles Muller’s Digital Dictionary of Buddhism and the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia all say that Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born 5.6 or 5.7 billion (56 or 57
yi (億)) years later. The Abhidharma-vibhÁçÁ-äÁstra (Fasc.178), nevertheless, gives 57
koti years; so yi (億) must be the Chinese translation of
koti. One koti is 10 million (Abhidharmakoäa-bhÁsya Fasc.9, Ding Fubao Buddhist Dictionary). Nagarjuna Bodhisattva (MahÁprajñÁpÁramitÁ-äÁstra (Fasc. 4)) and Great Master Kui Ji (Praise to the Sutra of the Contemplation of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Ascent and Birth in the Tushita Heaven (Fasc. 2)) also interprets
yi (億) as 10 million. Nowadays, however, yi (億) means 100 million. So it should be 5.76
yi (億) or 576 million earth years before the birth of Maitreya Bodhisattva (Praise to the Sutra of the Contemplation of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Ascent to Tushita Heaven, Summary of the Sutra on the Ascent of Maitreya, Prologue on Three Sutras on Maitreya, (Fasc. 1)).
It is not for sure that all Bodhisattvas will live for 4,000 years in the Tushita Heaven, just as humans have different life spans on earth. For example, Shakyamuni Buddha entered nirvana at an age of 80 when the average human life span was supposed to be 100 years. In fact, Shakyamuni and Maitreya live different lengths of time in Tushita Heaven. Shakyamuni Buddha was born in Tushita Heaven when the average human life span was 1,200 years and was then born in the Saha World to become a Buddha when the average human life span was 100 years. Maitreya, on the other hand, was born in the Tushita Heaven when the average human life span was 100 years and will be born in the Saha World to become a Buddha when the average human lifespan is 84,000 years (Mile jing youyi彌勒經遊意,
Praise to the Sutra of the Contemplation of Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Ascent to Tushita Heaven, Fasc. 1). Besides, Shakyamuni Buddha was originally scheduled to be born on earth when the average human life span was 10,000 years. However, the conditions weren’t right, so he waited until the human life span decreased to 100 years (A Chronicle of the Buddhas and the Patriarchs, Fasc. 30). Obviously, Bodhisattvas need not to live up to 4,000 years in the Tushita Heaven.
To conclude, Maitreya Bodhisattva will be born in the Saha World to become the next Buddha either 8 or 570 million years later. The former seems to be more plausible.
1Ding Fubao Buddhist Dictionary rightly gives 144,000 earth years for one Tushita year; however, it erroneously calculates 4000 Tushita years to be 5.76 billion years!