My dear kind friends, those who like to benefit other sentient being through the teachings of the Buddha.
I would like to announce that the Maitreya Project director is changing from the current director, the precious kind Peter Kedge, to the precious kind Nita Ing.
Also, the Maitreya statue will now be built in Bodhgaya, but due to restrictions there, the statue won’t be as tall as originally planned (500 feet); now it is going to be 150 feet in height. For the past nine years we have worked hard with Uttar Pradesh state government to locate the Project in Kushinagar but because of very difficult issues regarding land acquisition, with the approval of His Holiness the Dalai Lama we have now decided to build the Maitreya Statue in Bodhgaya.
For the last fifteen years Peter Kedge has dedicated his life to the Maitreya Project, working really, really hard. He has travelled to many countries such as China, Japan and so forth where other large statues have been built, to check the statues, meet the organizers and find out what difficulties they encountered with different aspects of the project, gathering as much information as possible so that our planned 500-foot Maitreya statue would be a great success, last for a thousand years or more and bring vast benefit to sentient beings and the world.
Peter also worked for many years in India, bearing many hardships and experiencing problems and difficulties there. The key difficulty, however, has been acquiring sufficient land together in one parcel.
There have also been other significant setbacks, such as major donors being unable to fulfill their commitments through difficult economic conditions and untimely death.
Once the Maitreya Statue has been built it will benefit the world and the sentient beings of the six realms, particularly those in this world, not only for a thousand years but also for a very long time after that. Any sentient being who remembers, sees, touches or hears about the statue—and of course, no question, those who actually build the statue, who offer time, life, money and all the different things needed to actualize the statue—all those sentient beings will ultimately achieve full enlightenment. By the way, they will also achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara and temporary samsaric pleasure while still in samsara. So it is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, most unbelievable, the benefits that the Maitreya Statue will bring. It will bring happiness to numberless sentient beings; this is what they will receive from the statue.
Because of the inconceivable benefits that the statue will bring sentient beings, then of course we have to expect there will be many obstacles. As you know, you have to have good karma and unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable merit to be able to finish building such a statue and then for it to last for such an incredible length of time, benefiting so many sentient beings. Even many ordinary companies in India that are only doing work for this life have to stop all their work and close down after some time because it is too difficult or there are too many obstacles. Of course, for us, there is no way that we will close down the Maitreya Project.
I want to thank from my heart all the people who have dedicated so much of their life trying to help us build the Maitreya statue—those who have made offerings and given their time and energy. All the merit you have created will become the cause of enlightenment, to fully awaken your own mind. Even though we have not yet actualized the statue, helping in the various ways you have still becomes the most unbelievable purification, purifying negative karma and defilements created from beginningless rebirths, and an unbelievable way to collect skies of merit, especially if your help has been offered with bodhicitta motivation. In that way, every single action becomes a cause to actualize the Maitreya statue, every single action becomes highly meaningful, and so you have already collected immense, immense merits. So don’t have any regret at all. You should have not one single regret—if you do, you will harm the merit that you have already collected.
Just to briefly mention the benefits of this statue, not only for those who have dedicated their time and made donations, even one rupee, but for anybody who touches, sees, remembers, makes offerings to or circumambulates the statue and so forth. Such actions immediately become the cause of full enlightenment for sentient beings and, by the way, an unbelievable, unbelievable cause of temporary pleasure and, after that, ultimate happiness, total liberation from oceans of samsaric suffering. But the main benefit is the ultimate one, full enlightenment for sentient beings—the total cessation of all defilements, even the subtle ones, and the completion of all qualities; full enlightenment, where there is not one sentient being left and all beings are enlightened by you, through all those actions done in relation to the Maitreya statue. Then the ultimate goal is reached.
Even if you offer just one grain of rice to the Maitreya Buddha statue, that will be the result—all temporal and ultimate happiness up until every single sentient being has been brought to full enlightenment. When that happens, the benefits of having offered that single grain of rice to the Buddha have been realized. So you can see that the benefits of the statue are really incredible.
A sutra states that even if you look at a drawing of the Buddha on a stone wall with anger, that still creates the cause to eventually see ten million buddhas.
There are five Mahayana paths to enlightenment: the paths of merit, preparation, right seeing, meditation and no more learning. The first path, the path of merit, has three categories: small, middle and great. When you achieve the great path of merit, wherever you are, you see an unbelievable number of buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect.
Just like the Kadampa Geshe Chayulwa, who was following his guru Chengawa, doing service with great devotion. He cleaned his guru’s room every day, collecting the dirt in his robes and throwing it outside. One day, when he was going down the stairs with all the room’s dirt gathered in his robes, upon reaching the third step he achieved the great path of merit and right there saw innumerable buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect.
So the benefit is not just seeing countless buddhas but ultimately achieving the total cessation of both gross and subtle obscurations and completing all qualities: full enlightenment.
The Sutra of the Mudra Entering, Generating the Power of Devotion mentions another benefit:
Buddha said to Manjushri, “Of any son or daughter of the race (lineage) or other person offering every day divine food of a hundred tastes and divine clothing to self-buddhas (solitary realizer arhats) equaling the number of atoms of the entire universe for eons equaling the number of sand grains of the Pacific Ocean and, Manjushri, any son or daughter of the race or other person seeing a drawing of the Buddha or other material representation such as a painting or statue, the latter (seeing the image) collect infinitely greater merit than the former (making the offerings). So there’s no question that those putting their palms together or offering flowers, perfume, incense or light collect infinitely greater merit than those (merely seeing a drawing, painting or statue of the Buddha).”
Another common example of this comes from ancient India, where an extremely poor person who had nothing offered medicinal food to four fully ordained monks—not arya beings who have direct perception of emptiness but just ordinary sangha. The result of just this one time offering to the sangha was that in his next life he was reborn as the very powerful worldly king, Kashigar. That was the result of this very simple karma.
The quote above mentions solitary realizer arhats, who are liberated from karma and delusion. You can’t imagine the karma of making just one offering of food and clothing to solitary realizer arhats equaling the number of sand particles of the Pacific Ocean and offering one hundred devas’ food and clothing every day for one hundred eons. You can’t imagine; you can’t imagine. If you think about it, you might completely faint; you can’t imagine it. But this merit becomes miniscule compared to the merit of merely seeing a statue of the Buddha. Therefore, any sentient being who sees the Maitreya statue or just a picture of the Maitreya statue, you really can’t imagine! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! By merely seeing it once in their lifetime they receive an incredible amount of merit.
The Piled Flower Sutra states,
The benefit you experience from offering just one flower to a stupa is as great as all the happiness you have experienced since beginningless rebirths up to now.
If you think well about the benefit of making just this one offering, it’s amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing! You receive all happiness up to ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, nirvana, and then ultimate full enlightenment for all sentient beings. Then, as I mentioned before, the final result is to free everybody—numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings—from oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment. That is the result of offering one flower to a stupa just once. The sutra says a stupa, but it means a statue, stupa or scripture; basically any holy object. So, whether it’s a statue of the Buddha or a painting of Buddha, it’s the same.
Here you can see that the benefits are unbelievable, unbelievable. It really is most amazing, most amazing, most amazing how building this Maitreya statue will benefit sentient beings!
This is really what the world needs. The real need is the good heart, the ultimate good heart—bodhicitta and compassion for all living beings: for numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings. Great compassion is needed more than anything else.
That is beginning of bodhicitta. From the five Mahayana paths to enlightenment, that is the root of all success up to enlightenment, all happiness; the root of temporary and ultimate happiness, full enlightenment, for the numberless hell beings, numberless hungry ghosts, numberless animals, numberless human beings, numberless suras, numberless asuras and numberless intermediate state beings. Developing bodhicitta is unbelievable, most important, even without talking about buddhas in the world; the most important thing to bring peace and happiness. So we need to develop the good heart, if not bodhicitta realization, as much as possible. With simply a good heart we give no harm and only benefit to sentient beings. In that way we can be the cause of happiness for other sentient beings. As much great compassion as possible is what is really needed in the heart of everybody in the world.
To create the cause, talk is not enough. To generate compassion and bodhicitta we need a great deal of merit. Therefore you can see how important it is to build the Maitreya statue and to actualize bodhicitta.
The great holy being Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo wrote on a stone in Ladakh that building Maitreya statues helps decrease famine all over the world. Every year, countless people all over the world die from famine, sickness and weapons, so the more Maitreya statues we build, the less this happens.
So it is my dedication and plan to build large Maitreya statues, not small, like tsa-tsas, but one story or more than one story high, as many as possible, in this world, so that such problems become fewer and all the benefits that I have mentioned accrue. So building the Maitreya statue also has this last benefit that I mentioned.
Even the name Maitreya, Gyalwa Jampa, means Victorious Loving Kind One. One of my main aims in building the Maitreya statue is for as many people as possible in the world to generate the good heart. That will bring much more peace and happiness in the world and at the same time all undesirable things will decrease: economic problems, disease, war and tsunamis and so forth; all such things will be pacified.
The need for merit
The main thing people need to have all comfort and freedom from all such problems is good karma; it is impossible to experience all comfort, success and so forth without good karma. For example, even though many people are trying to help others in Africa and other countries where they are homeless and dying of starvation and sickness, they receive very little aid. Either it is confiscated by officials or stolen by other people, so ultimately they do not receive the help. This is because from their side they haven’t created the good karma to receive the comfort and success.
Many years ago there was a severe drought in Africa and some countries tried to help by providing water by airplane, but the minute the planes arrived in Africa the water diminished in quantity and got contaminated and could not be used for drinking. This happened because they did not have the karma to receive it.
We always hear stories of how people are missing this and that, but from their side, what they really need is good karma. That’s what is actually missing. Even generating a good heart is not easy because even for that we need a lot of merit. If we want to generate a good heart, as a preliminary cause we need to create much merit.
The Maitreya Project
Regarding the Maitreya statue, it’s true that we made some mistakes. This was due to karma. We discovered much later that we made some wrong decisions with respect to expecting more money for Maitreya after we spent some or hoping to get a big amount and so forth. That didn’t work out. So we did make some mistakes along the way.
However, there are no words left to thank Peter Kedge, the past director of the Maitreya Project. For the past fifteen years he has sincerely dedicated one hundred percent of the efforts of his body, speech and mind to the Maitreya statue. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! It is amazing the way he has dedicated his life to this. From the depths of my heart, I really, really want to thank Peter and express my appreciation for him. There really are no words left to thank him.
He never wasted his life, his perfect human rebirth. He never wasted it; he made it so meaningful. Even though the statue has not yet been actualized, all the work Peter did has laid the groundwork for the statue to be built. It has also served as a way for us to gain experience and has helped us prepare to actualize the statue.
I also want to thank from my heart all the past directors of the Maitreya Project and Ven. Pende Hawter, Marcel Bertels, all the kind benefactors, and the many other people and companies who dedicated their time and energy as well.
All their work and our many years of experience will serve as the basis for building the statue in Bodhgaya. Also, I hope that we will be able to build large Maitreya statues in other countries. So all that has happened has been very useful, very important experience, for the future and for the many other large statues that I hope will be built in this world.
Now the responsibility for the Maitreya Project passes to our most kind Nita Ing. She has been a great supporter of the FPMT organization for many, many years and through her immeasurable kindness Nita is going to actualize the Maitreya statue. So I rejoice and I ask you to please rejoice too.
Finally, I request anybody who wants to achieve the benefits I have mentioned above and especially wants to benefit sentient beings in this world to please continue helping the Maitreya Statue Project in whatever way you can so that this time we will be able to overcome the obstacles and actually see the statue.
Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers,
Scribe Ven. Holly Ansett, Kachoe Dechen Ling, CA, USA, 26–28 August 2012. Edited by Dr. Nicholas Ribush, November 2012.