Maitreya Project – a Disgrace For the Buddhist Community

This proposed construction of the largest Maitreya Statue in the world at Kushinagara in Uttar Pradesh Province in India is a disgraceful waste of money. This holy place, where the Buddha passed away, is one of the poorest areas of India. When I visited this wonderful site, I found children so poor that they will never see the inside of a hospital or school. The money being wasted on this project could go a long way to relieving their poverty and isn’t the relief of suffering and compassion basic to the Buddha’s teaching? Many poor farmers are being displaced to make way for this useless project. They are being given little compensation and are being moved from their traditional land. The State Government is approving this project as it sees it as a revenue raiser by attracting tourists. The wealth provided by tourists will largely go to wealthy hotel owners and very little to benefit the local inhabitants. The Maitreya Project organisers, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, is a wealthy Tibetan group catering for well healed western followers. Their mantram seems to be “Oh money, pay me hum” rather than “Om Mani Padme Hum”. They claim that part of the project will incorporate a hospital and school but this is merely a bandaid to salve their conscience in wasting so much money. They claim that the Dalai Lama has approved it so they feel that they can go ahead and cause suffering to the displaced farmers with a clear conscience. The Dalai Lama is not a god and is subject to error like the rest of us. The FPMT are suffering from the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ syndrome. Let us follow the Buddha’s teachings rather than pandering to our egos.

33 Comments

  1. sdfsdf said,

    25 June, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Dont buddha said not to seat on high seats ? -matreiya project

  2. ananda76 said,

    25 June, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Dear sfdsfd,
    The traditional statue of Maitreya is always seated with one foot on the ground and the other on his lap. The rule of not using high or luxurious beds applies to monks and nuns. It is not about seats but beds. Maitreya was always depicted in this fashion until the fourteenth century when, in the Chinese tradition, he was depicted as an obese monk sitting crosslegged. This figure is known in Chinese as Mi Lo Fwo.
    Be happy,
    Ananda76

  3. James Sibal said,

    22 July, 2008 at 7:53 am

    I’ve just read the press on the Maitreya Project and I, too, have many questions. The first, as an ancient art historian, I wonder why Buddhists seem to be the only ones building colossal statues these days. Any ideas? Secondly, is it a healthy or foolish process? What are the economic impacts? Historically, we know that the Vatican was very aware that St. Peter’s would generate cash, and acted accordingly. Even was more ambitious with Bernini that we see today. And the Saudi house has spent billions on Mecca. And have a cash cow.
    The press on the project cites the sustainable job creation. If we imagin a single 500 bed hotel run by Oberoi, are they going to ship in Philippinos or are local people going to be gardeners, porters, maids, waiters, do the massive laundry piles, etc. Where do the flowers and veggies to feed the tourist come from? China or Chile off season?
    And then with training, are locals going be the various chefs, managers? What is the break down? How many jobs per hotel? How many hotels? What about services not associated with lodging? Internet cafes, bookstores, religious goodies, national restaurants (Mum’s Tea–that kind of thing.) All foreigners? Some foreigners? Just the top jobs? Are enough Indians trained for all of this by now? (Certain in computers and software programs they are among the best.)
    The small army of maintenance for the shrine itself should be in the hundreds I would think. Are they going to imported, or locals? The cab drivers from the airport? Guides? Souvenir sellers?
    Certainly the sheer audacity of building the biggest statue in the world will attract many non-Buddhist, of all classes and budgets. But yes, I want to know the status of the schools, hospitals and the like. Certainly, you can’t have a tourist destination for the wealthy without a good hospital these days. Where is the labor going to come from to keep the hospital running?
    What are the alternatives? Build a hospital then train the people in schools? But then where are the jobs? Calcutta? Dehli? Put in low tech, labor intensive factories? Textiles to compete with Bangladesh? Can they compete with China?
    What are other economic options to jump start this terribly important site? Are their any? Mining? Industrial? Farming? What is the water situation? Soil? Why are the people poor? Is it cultural (lack of techology), environmental? Is the religious connection the best option for 3 sq meals a day? If so, would a simple rebuilding of the site with no, or a modest size cult image generate many tourist? How many tourist do the three other Buddhist sites get? How much money do they generate? Who gets the money? What is the percentage of locals at work? What is their health care? Who owns the hotels, etc. there? Are their any figures on any of these questions?
    I realize that many of my questions might be rhetorical but I just don’t know. It seems to me that since the site–where I’ve yet to go–was in a squalid state, that something was needed to get it moving. I don’t know if the farmers bought out of the 750 acre site were fairly paid, but I rathe doubt they were using their land in an effective manner. I am impressed that solar and wind is to be used for this project for such modalities make it somewhat independent of some geoglobal stresses and certainly locals can master these technologies in a single generation if they haven’t already. There seem to have been much thought for many problems but it could, of course, just be propaganda. But do you see another option?

    Sincerely, JHS

  4. miss jennifer said,

    29 August, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    it is not about money-it isabout vision-far reaching omniscient vision-for all sentient beings in all lifetimes….isn’t it?

  5. miss jennifer said,

    29 August, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    why do you not communicate/debate with the director of the maitreya project? his name is Peter Kedge and he is a true dharma practitioner with guru devotion and is in no way grasping or self cherishing for the fpmt. we must all open our minds to the hideous concept/ignorant interpretation of ozymandis king of kings and question our judgements and non-wisdom based prejudices

  6. miss jennifer said,

    30 August, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Such denigration and judgement is unbecoming for a buddhist gentleman-please greet you quandary with compassionate wisdom, get all the details from your accused wrongdoers(fpmt?) and put your mind at loving rest-and Mr. Lyall-we must catch up with coffee sometime before we shuffle off to the next rebirth…

  7. Peter said,

    9 October, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Seems more of a nice mental formation than anything. Having toured the project at it’s original site a dozen years ago, there has been very little significant development on the project since then. Seems more of another mental formation to note, and then to move on.

  8. Zack said,

    12 February, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Honestly, I must agree that the FPMT is falling prey to capitalist ideals, and I question what is the value of preserving the Mahayana tradition when it is not all that historically accurate, nor does the idea of ‘bodhisattva’ really make that much sense (though it is honourable), but we can’t forget that the FPMT is largely run and supported by the ideas of lay people, and is thus subject to the same faults as embodied by lay people. I think that it is best to just worry about your own practice. If you feel like supporting the Maitreya Project, then so be it. If not, then don’t. Either way it seems to be happening. Is it skillful? Well, that is up to each and every individual. Is it wrong? I don’t think questions of right and wrong are useful in this debate. The idea behind the Maitreya statue is very beautiful, and hopefully any suffering incurred will be made up for with the services it will provide to others. But, on that note, these services should not be offered for a price. Not anything Dhamma-related, anyway. It is wrong to charge people for those things. And to offer free education, free medical care, etc., would be a great opportunity for people to practice loving-kindness. I think generosity and free services should be the foundation of this project. The people who work there should work there for the love of the Dhamma, and I’m sure there are thousands who would line up to volunteer there for a time. This is not to say hotels can’t make their money, or gift-shops and bookstores can’t flourish. Nor is it to say that restaurants and grocery stores can’t make a profit, either. I think there is great economic potential there as well, but also great potential for the practicing of dana as well.

  9. t3rry said,

    2 March, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Graeme my friend …

    I mean you no disrespect when I say this as you have always been my venerable superior, please accept or reject my direction according to your own intelligence.

    Quote
    When one sees everyone on the platform of equality, then one comes to the position of worshiping the Lord perfectly.
    Unquote

    Spoken by Prahlada Maharaja in Srimad Bhagavatan Canto 7, chapter 8, verse 9.

    Worth thinking about.

    Joy to all beings
    t3rry

  10. t3rry said,

    2 March, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    NB: If my own attitude appears to be contrary to the quote please understand that ALL beings are my superiors, you especially :^)

    t3rry

    • ananda76 said,

      2 March, 2009 at 10:29 pm

      If ‘everyone is on the platform of equality’, how can anyone be superior? – especially me.

  11. Zack said,

    3 March, 2009 at 4:49 am

    lol. Neither is really true. And yet both views appear to be true. It’s a matter of paradigm shift. But I’m sure it was meant (or at least intended to be meant) with the utmost humility.

    I don’t think words should be taken so… seriously. No words can express truth; they only sort of… hint at it.

  12. t3rry said,

    6 March, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    How come I knew you’d say that Graeme? Ananda! You haven’t lost your touch.

    You taught me a lot about spirituality. Therefore you are one of my masters, perhaps the first.

    Actually, everyone is the same, BUT, elevated consciousness is the only nobility. The more we move away from ignoring reality the more we can be considered venerable although essentially the same as all other beings.

    But you knew that anyway.

    This world is full of anomalies, stupidity, etc. Nevertheless, by pain and suffering it teaches us to reach for perfection by our own choice. This whole stupid world is perfect.

    cha
    t3rry

  13. Hung Ky Nguyen said,

    7 March, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Dear friends,

    I found the Ananda 76’s point of view very narrow-minded and bias. Of course the benefit that Maitreya Project can bring to the world and local people is enormous. Without talking about the inspiration and spirituality, the project will surely give local people employment and business. I have visited Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan and found that the temple attracted so many people everyday and thus, prospering the economy of the whole region.

    HKN

  14. Zack said,

    8 March, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Aha, well said, t3rry!

  15. sarah said,

    4 July, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    You maybe correct in what you feel. However, there are those of us who are undertaking fundraising under the umbrella to raise money for the children, schools, and the welfare of the people. So please, do not condem or judge others. I am certain that they are building this Buddha out of love of him and what he stood for.Is it not befitting that this statue be built where he died? If it was as bad as you claim, I would like to think that his H.H Dalia Lama would have had some kind of input to say if it is of good or bad. Personally, I came across the site re the statue, when I was looking at the charity for the children. Their needs and schooling. So my opinion of this persons comment about the whole situation, is that they may need to look at both micro and macro when analizing this. Peace to all..

  16. David Woodward said,

    7 November, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Statue still homeless after 20 years.
    8 November 2010

    With million of dollars in donations over 20 years, an international project—controlled by an Isle of Man company, not registered as a charity—carries on its activities with scores of staff. And they haven’t even broken ground on their main project, nor gained control of the 600 acres of local peoples’ land they want to add to the nearly 90 acres owned and promised by the state Government. The state Government approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the project in May 2003.

    Locals have mostly sat quietly in protest; however, voices have been raised and letters have been written since at least 28 May 1999. Local mainstream media coverage has been steady, and as recent as August this year: “697 acres of agriculture land, owned by 2,900 farmers. Of them, around 600 had agreed to give their land. The rest have been running a peaceful dharna against the acquisition under the banner of Bhumi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti.” (Tarannum Manjul Aug 2010 © The India Express. Ltd 2010 Lucknow).

    Most international press has continued, unwittingly, to dole out the grist of a very fine and professional PR mill. The touring part of the project continues; and continues to receive international, national, state and local coverage as it moves around the world; thanks to very active public relations—more coverage than the local farmers, families and landholders enjoy.

    The Statue of Liberty, at an inch over 305 feet (Ground to tip of torch) only needs 14.7 acres (6 hectares) to keep her feet dry. The homeless statue is taller than 305 feet; sure, but they could fit it into, say, 30 acres. Add another 30 acres for a hospital and another 5 acres for schools, 5 acres for nunneries, and 5 acres for monasteries, 5 acres for gardens etc. The state Government has been offering almost 90 acres since at least 2007. It just doesn’t add up.

    The state has a population density 180% of New Jersey’s. The biggest economic activity is agriculture.

    This is a big project, but a project than can move—it did from another state in 2003. Maybe the project still owns those prime, freehold 30 acres near the original site? Maybe they could manage to fit the statue there?

    This project has had a few other names over the years, and a previous registration in the UK, and at least 10 domain name registrations; and nationally and internationally, very professionally arranged: foundations, companies, and other bodies; there is a trust too, and a society, and an association. Over the history of the central governing company the size of that committee has halved.

    footnotes
    =======
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0910/p06s02-wosc.html

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080211164119/www.wildriverreview.com/airmail_india-maitreya.php

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080209213314/www.wildriverreview.com/airmail_india.php

    “Massive Buddha taking shape in Taiwan” By Ian Bartholomew, p. 3 “some locals had asked why it was necessary to build a statue so far away, rather than in Taiwan, where it would be more convenient to visit and make offerings.” Copyright © 1999-2010 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.
    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2001/07/12/93828

    http://www.bodhgayanews.net/statue/statue01.htm
    http://www.bodhgayanews.net/statue.htm

    Liberty Island information adapted from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Island

    ends

    -30-

    ###

    David Woodward
    51 Solomon Avenue, Armidale NSW 2350, Australia
    61 2 6772 2195 / 02 6772 2195
    0429 72 2195
    dave@coherentdesigns.com.au

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  17. ananda76 said,

    8 November, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Thanks to David Woodward for his detailed and thoughtful comment. Statues only serve as a reminder of some great person or event. We have enough of them so let us put the money to relieving suffering rather than pandering to our egos.

  18. buddhagirl said,

    9 January, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I didn’t even know the Maitreya Statue was no longer being erected in Bodh Gaya. But i’m glad it’s not so. Apparently it was going to impact on the water table – many negative environmental and social consequences had been raised in the early 2000s. FPMT had also planned to look after the poor in Bodh Gaya. Now that the statue project has moved on, are they still pursuing a social program at Bodh Gaya? That would be interesting to find out!

    Think some of the people posting above are confusing the dharma with complacent obedience to authority. (shut up and pray, We are ignorant, our teachers are enlightened beings).

    Many sins of history have been committed when good people remain silent. Think the age of massive displays of wealth, whatever their purpose, has passed. Most buddhist orgs. realise this and now have a focus on social justice that puts spiritual practice into a pragmatic, gritty context. This was certainly not the case in Tibet – but we don’t want to return to those days of feudalism, do we?

  19. Bei Dawei said,

    29 September, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I would like to see Kopan Monastery seized and remade into a Museum of Communism. (Let the bastards see how it feels.)

    Let us pray for Zopa’s quick rebirth in hell, so the FPMT’s fund-raising can be halted. And human-rights trials for the leaders of this project in European countries where this is possible.

    • ananda76 said,

      29 September, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Although I don’t share Bei Dawei’s comment, I believe in freedom of speech and opinion so I therefore approved the comment – Ananda

      • ananda76 said,

        29 September, 2011 at 10:50 am

        Anger is a poison and has no place in Buddhism

  20. Mark said,

    11 November, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Where did this hatred come from? Certainly not a Buddhist. Truly sad.

    • ananda76 said,

      11 November, 2011 at 11:01 am

      Hatred comes from ignorance. Criticism noes not necessarily imply hatred. I do not hate the FPMT but I disapprove of their wasting money on statues while people are starving and lack education and health care. Get the priorities right. We have more than enough statues. Understanding and practicing the Dharma is more impotant than worshiping statues.
      Be happy

  21. Dd said,

    26 October, 2012 at 1:17 am

    You are repeating the same history. Monastery took away the peasants land and the communist took away your land.

    For building the status, the land was taken from the local as it seems by the web info.

    When is the cycle ever going to end. Your people are burning themselves dead for what? Where are you going to run to next?

  22. yogini27 said,

    18 November, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    As a Christian who refuses to partake of religious nonsense any longer and who refuses to partake in money making church activities which neglect the poor standing right in front of them…I have to say buddists are going in the direction of the harlot ‘christian’ church

    • ananda76 said,

      18 November, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Hi yogini27,
      I, mainly, agree with your comment. Both Christians and Buddhists, in many cases,
      have lost sight of the essential teachings of their founders. Jesus Christ, as well as the Prophet Mahommed, taught peace and love, but these teachings have been ignored by many followers of these faiths. The Buddha taught us to rid ourselves of greed, hatred and a deluded mind but many Buddhists consider rituals and monuments to be more important. Although religions have their differences, they have much more in common. The followers of all religions should try to practice the teachings of their founders rather than being caught up in superficialities and neglecting the positive teachings of their religious faith. More practice and less statues and arguments would be most beneficial.

  23. AG said,

    12 December, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    From what I Know Maitreya Buddha will be appearing very soon after the end of December 2012. So be prepared he will certainly visit this place because as Bodhisattva he is aware of this project. Remember he will appear from Janma Buddha Dveepa.

    • ananda76 said,

      12 December, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      Unfortunately, I am sorry to disappoint you. The Buddhist scriptures clearly state that the future Buddha, Maitreya, the Buddha of loving kindness (maitri – Sanskrit or Metta Pali) will appear when the Dharma has disappeared from this world. Fortunately, the Dharma is still alive and well and shows no evidence of delining for a long time to come. maitreya will rediscover the same Dharma that was taught by the current Buddha, Sakyamuni. May the Dharma prevail and last for many years to come.

  24. AG said,

    12 December, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Dharma has now disappeared. Lots of crimes are happening every moment. Fathers rape daughters , Mothers kill children , Mothers sell children for prostitution, People eat fish , beef , pork , chicken , . People eat live insects. So where is this so called Dharma now. Anyway you can take my word . World population has to come down to 350 million , After that he is to appear.

  25. AG said,

    12 December, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Dear Ananda76 , If your real name is Graeme Lyall , you are among the 350 million whose life is in danger.

  26. Philip Kamau said,

    28 April, 2014 at 7:23 am

    hi ananda. you got a very enlightened vision.

    all these projects are unnecesary in a way because i am here already


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