Annual Maitreya Festival – Schedule of Events
|12.00 p.m.-1:15 p.m.||Vegetarian lunch under the tent|
|1:30 p.m.||Program begins
Procession circumambulating the grounds of TBLC
Monks’ prayers, beginning with a taped message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Teaching by Ven. Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe
Concluding prayers to Maitreya, recited in English and Tibetan
*Please be aware that parking is limited. We suggest you arrive by 11:30 a.m. However, guests are welcome any time.*
After lunch, the Maitreya Festival program begins at 1:30 p.m. at the temple, where the assembled monks offer prayers inviting the future Buddha, known as the Protector Maitreya, to descend from Tushita heaven to be present for the gathering. A procession begins shortly thereafter during which the Protector Maitreya, symbolically represented by a statue, is carried around the TBLC grounds. The monks stop in each of the four cardinal directions to say special prayers and then return to the temple, where all gather for further prayers and teachings. This gathering begins with a pre-recorded message (in Tibetan) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who offers his reflections on the Festival’s relevance. The tape is then translated into English. Following this are further prayers and a short Buddhist teaching after which the monks and guests join together to recite a prayer to the Protector Maitreya.
The Festival is primarily an outdoor event. Guests are encouraged to bring their families and enjoy the beauty of the TBLC grounds. Rain, however, does not cancel the Festival.
Who is Maitreya?
The Maitreya Festival is a way of honoring and making a connection with the Protector Maitreya, the Future Buddha. According to Buddhist tradition, Shakyamuni Buddha, our historical Buddha, was the fourth of one thousand Buddhas who will appear and give the Teachings during the current eon. The Protector Maitreya, Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciple and destined to be the fifth Buddha visiting our world, resides in a heaven called Tushita (“Joyous”), where he awaits the precise moment to enter into human history – a time when the Buddhist Teachings will have become extinct. Like Shakyamuni before him, he will “turn the wheel of Dharma” and reestablish the Buddhist Teachings. Festival-goers thus seek to cultivate virtue and thereby create the causes for meeting Maitreya Buddha in that future era in order to receive his teachings and advance spiritually. As his name translates as “Loving Kindness,” the festival also honors and celebrates Maitreya as both the outer manifestation of loving kindness and the loving kindness within our own hearts. The TBLC curriculum is based on the teachings for new Buddhists that were indicated by Maitreya and revealed to the fourth century Indian scholar and meditator Asanga.
History of the TBLC’s Maitreya Festival
Maitreya worship has been a central feature of Buddhist life throughout Asian history and in Asian lands as far-ranging as Burma, China, and Japan, to name but a few. The tradition of holding a Maitreya festival began in India and soon spread with Buddhist culture into surrounding lands, including Tibet and Mongolia, the two cultures in whose traditions the TBLC is rooted. Here in the United States, Geshe Ngawang Wangyal, the Center’s founder, began the Maitreya Festival in 1965 in commemoration of his spiritual teacher, Lama Ngawang Losang Dorjieff, a religious assistant to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. Renowned for promulgating Buddha’s Teachings in Kalmykia, Lama Dorjieff himself had likewise instituted this custom there in 1905.