Initiation of the Buddha Maitreya

Initiation of the Buddha Maitreya

Guru Vajradhara Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche Bestows the Maitreya Empowerment

Kagyu Monlam Pavilion,
16 January 2024

A History of the Empowerment of Victorious Maitreya

Once upon a time in a galaxy far away, called Jambudvipa or Rose Apple Land, an ordinary bhikshu vowed to bestow the five precepts to countless beings.
This bhikshu passed away after twelve years sitting cross-legged atop a lion throne on a lotus in the jewel palace of Tushita, the abode of the gods. His color was like the gold of the River Jambu; he was sixteen leagues tall, complete with all the marks and signs of a buddha.

It was prophesied that after this bhikshu had passed into nirvana, he would take birth as a Brahmin and awaken to Buddhahood as the victorious Maitreya Buddha. At that time, all those who had made connection with the Three Jewels would then be gradually liberated.

Fast forward to 6th century BCE, the time of the Shakyamuni Buddha.
In the presence of the aforementioned bhikshu, Shakyamuni pointed him out and said, “This is the Bodhisattva Maitreya.” But the other bhikshus did not see any aspect of Maitreya’s qualities and wondered how he could possibly be the fifth buddha. The Bhagavan knew this and taught The Sutra that Prophecies Maitreya.

It is believed that those who recite the dharani and mantra of Maitreya now will be sought out by Maitreya when his time comes and they will become enlightened. Additionally, those who have heard Maitreya’s name and prostrate to him respectfully will be born in Tushita at the snap of a finger. Those who merely hear Maitreya’s name will not fall into the lower realms. In all their births they will have a precious human life. Similarly, any person who calls Maitreya’s name even for a moment will be liberated from birth and death. As Maitreya is counted among the eight close sons, he is taught in all the higher and lower classes of tantra.
The lineage of today’s empowerment comes from Wangchuk Dorje, the 9th Karmapa, who included it in his compilation “Knowing One Frees All”. From Wangchuk Dorje it passed down in an unbroken line to the Sixteenth Karmapa, “and I received it from him,” said Vajradhara Tai Situ. “In order to receive that name, the master has done all that is necessary as a master. So now, please engage in the activity for entering the pure realms,”

The Empowerment of Maitreya

“To make such a resolve, especially in the sacred place of Bodhgaya, is the best place there could be in the world”.

The Pavilion holds 10,000 people and is packed with monks, nuns, Tibetan laypeople and international devotees who have been released from the travel ban after three years of Covid lockdown. The gathering is even larger than its capacity so that many people are sitting outside, braving the cold in grassy clearings recently planted with shrubs and trees.
Inside, at the front of the rows of monks, are many well-known Lamas including Mingyur Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku, the young Drupon Rinpoche, and Gyalton Rinpoche. This particular Monlam is a replica of a Sherabling Monlam with onstage lighting from butter lamps casting a flickering glow of warmth. The sponsors are sitting to the side on a raised platform and include Chime Rinpoche’s representatives, and Bhutanese aristocracy, amongst the Tibetans and Taiwanese.
Placed carefully behind a screen decorated in Pali syllables with the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hung, is a gold statue of the Buddha Maitreya hidden by the empowerment master’s high throne.

The following is a lightly edited account of the words of Vajradhara Guru Tai Situ, the future Maitreya Buddha, as he introduced the empowerment.

To make such a resolve, especially in a sacred place such as this, the sacred place of Bodhgaya, is for all of us Buddhists, the best that there could be in the world. There's nothing better than this.

Today, in Bodhgaya, the sacred site where the buddhas of the past, the present Shakyamuni, the future Buddha Maitreya, and the thousand and two buddhas will awaken to buddhahood, I will give you the Maitreya empowerment.

There are many different empowerments of Maitreya, but today, the one I will give is the one that I received from my root guru, Vajradhara Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa. The one who has requested that I give you the empowerment, is the 17th Karmapa.

And so now you need to think, just as the bodhisattva Maitreya aroused bodhichitta,
we also need to make that same resolve, which includes the four immeasureables, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.
Just as the bodhisattva Maitreya resolved to bring sentient beings to happiness,
I too shall achieve buddhahood. Once I have achieved buddhahood, I shall bring all sentient beings to the state of perfect buddhahood. That was his resolve and we all need to follow his example.

It's important for us to have a kind heart. And among all the different types of kind hearts, is a good heart that encourages others. If we go even deeper, we need to have the union of emptiness and compassion.
Now, most of us don't understand much about emptiness, the essence of which is the wish that all sentient beings be happy, just as a mother wishes for her children. Let this loving kindness be for all sentient beings. To make such a resolve, especially in the sacred place of Bodhgaya, is the best place there could be in the world. There's nothing better than this. In such a sacred place as this, we will certainly have faith in the buddhas, the faith of longing and the faith of conviction. We all have this.

When you just hear the words of the Buddha, all the impure, unclean aspects of our mind are naturally purified; it’s cleansed. Am I right? If you're carrying something heavy, it's like you're leaving it behind here. That's sincere faith. It's like you're cleansing yourself. It's like this resolve of the bodhisattva Maitreya, or the original time that Prince Siddhartha became Buddha Shakyamuni. He aroused bodhichitta first. And he said that when I was a poor Brahmin, I offered a bowl of soup to the Buddha and I resolved to become just like him. This is the faith of longing.

I'm giving you the Maitreya empowerment that I received from my root guru. Because of this, I can give it to you. I have not violated or broken samaya, and so you will definitely receive the blessings. If you have faith, you will receive the blessings of the body, speech, mind, qualities and activity. I'll recite each of them in order. Listen with clear faith and you'll definitely receive the blessing.

Vajradhara Guru then gave clear and precise but simple instructions for the visualization which will not be described here but can be watched on You Tube.

After the traditional Mandala offering and the distribution of blessing objects to the high Lamas, the sponsors make their offerings. Then Guru Vajradhara steps down from the elaborate high throne and scatters saffron rice the colour of coral, while four attendants carry a palanquin containing the exquisite gold Maitreya Buddha in the seated position on a chair.
He scatters rice over each and every row of devotees while the monks perform a continuous chant and ensure that the palanquin with the Maitreya Buddha passes above the heads of every single person in the hushed assembly. Then he goes outside to bless the hardy ones seated in the cold. The entire blessing takes well over three hours and shows the inexhaustible buddha activity of a great bodhisattva. Even the new stupas made of a precious white stone from Varanasi receive a blessing. At no time is anyone pushing, shoving, or pressing in the usual manner of a devotional stampede for the blessing.

With the fire of great love, you burn the kindling of hatred.
With the light of wisdom, you dispel the darkness of ignorance.
Regent of dharma, benefactor of beings,
Who dwells in Tushita: I prostrate to and praise you.

2024.01.16 Maitreya Empowerment