By Nhất Quán


          Every year, whenever the spring comes, every Vietnamese people anywhere on this planet will eagerly and joyfully welcome the spring of mankind according to the Asian Tradition that is the Lunar New Year, the Vietnamese call is Tet Nguyen Dan. Nguyen meant originally or beginning. Dan means early or in the morning. The Lunar New Year is a holiday to welcome the first day of the new year, a new dream, a new hope in your mind, and the outside world. The new year will bring to everyone in every family and all other species the best for life.
          In this spirit, no matter how busy, all of the Vietnamese people spend a certain amount of time in order to paint the house, re-polishing the lampstand, incense burner, decorating the ancestral altar, Buddha altar for the most beautiful and solemn in order to prepare to welcome the Lunar New Year. Every family tries to buy the foods in order to use for the three days of the new year such as rice cake, watermelon, the seed of watermelon, flowers, and fruits, etc. It is the new year for every people in the folk, but for Buddhist Layman, the Lunar New Year is often called Maitreya Spring.
          It is said to celebrate Maitreya's spring, not to say it is to celebrate the spring of other Buddhas because Maitreya Buddha's birthday was right on the first day of the Lunar New Year, he appeared on the first day of life with his physical form:
          - Big belly, dimple cheeks.
          Around the six children screaming and laughing.
The reason Sakyamuni Buddha selected Maitreya Boddhisattva descends into the earth, and become a Buddha in the future because Maitreya Boddhisattva had attained the virtue of contemplation on the compassionate mind. Of course, other Boddhisattva also has the compassionate mind but not attained contemplation on the compassionate mind.  Moreover, the reason why Sakyamuni Buddha chooses Maitreya Boddhisattva is that in addition to the compassion, the on the lip always has a smile on his happy face and the tolerant big belly. Joy and tolerance are the two good virtue that people living in this world need. Because in life, everyone wants to meet a happy smile and tolerance hearts. That is why people have chosen these two qualities to symbolize the beginning of the new year. Maitreya Buddha meets these two conditions, therefore, it is not unintentional that folk call the Maitreya Boddhisattva is the Joyful Buddha or the Compassionate Buddha.
To clarify, We try to find out about his name. The title of Di Lăc is in Vietnamese transcribed from Sanskrit as Maitreya meaning Từ Thị. Thị is the surname, Từ is the give names, meaning compassion. Từ Thị put together, through the West people call him Future Buddha or Smile Buddha, because he practices the contemplation on the compassionate mind, therefore the mind always radiating the bright light of pure, vast love and vow to save people.
When the love is full, true understand shines, so the mind is always at peace before all changes in life. Considered the laughing Buddha, it is the reincarnation of the future Lord of this world, also is the successor of Sakyamuni Buddha teach the Buddha dharma for sentient being according to the testament or entrust of Sakyamuni Buddha. On the occasion of the new year, we try to learn some characteristics of the future Buddha in this future life. Sakyamuni Buddha once said that:
The first day of January is the anniversary of Maitreya Boddhisattva, and he will later become a teacher at the Dragon Flower Assembly.
Therefore we often hear the praise and appreciation for him during these important festivals
- Homage the founder of the Dragon Flower Assembly is Maitreya Buddha will be born in the future,
- The most respectful mind I bow down to the founder of Dragon Flower Assembly is Maitreya Buddha will be descent this world in the future.
This sentence identifies that:
- Maitreya Boddhisattva will be the future Buddha, signed by Sakyamuni Buddha after becoming a Buddha in this world to continuing education and saving sentient beings.
Talking about the future of the Maitreya Buddha, the Maitreya Sutra it is written that:
Maitreya Boddhisattva is now one of the four complementary Boddhisattva residing in the interior of Tusita Heaven or we can call is Heaven of Satisfaction(Tusita heaven there two different institutes, interior and exterior institutes), waiting until the end of the period Destruction of ninth and the begin of the period Increase of tenth, then at that time Maitreya Boddhisattva will incarnate into this mundane world in the family of Brahmin named Tu Pham Na, and mother's name is Pham Na Bạt Đề.
When he was born, he has thirty-two good marks and eighty beauty signs on the physical body, the virtue of integrity, outstanding intelligence, grew up and ordained as a monk. Then he came to sit under the Dragon Flower Tree with diamond wisdom to eradicate ignorance, to attain supreme Bodhi. After he attained enlightenment, he went to to the Sushan mountain or Kukkutapada mountain in English call is Chicken Leg Mountain meeting Sage Mahakasyapa to receive the robes and bowls of Sakyamuni Buddha that had been given to Mahakasyapa keeping in the past. Then He began to lecture in the Forest Flower Hall under the Dragon Flower Tree.
In the life of the Maitreya Buddha, He taught only three assemblies:
- The first assembly He saves 96 billion people attained Arhat fruit.
- The second assembly He saves 94 billion people attained Arhat fruit.
- The third assembly He saves 92billion people attained arhat fruit.
That's why it's called the Three Dragon Flower assemblies. He preaches for sixty years and saves numberless of Sentient Being escape from suffering.
While waiting for the Dragon Flower Assembly, Maitreya Boddhisattva split reincarnated in many different countries with different bodies to educate sentient beings. Therefore in the Buddhist Sutra often said that:
- The Boddhisattva attaches great importance to the welfare of the sentient being in order to do their duty and responsibility.
One of the Maitreya Boddhisattva's most frequent embody which that we often heard is The Venerable The Great Reverend, Cloth-bag monk, or an erratic monk in China Buddhism. He often carried the cloth jute around the market, village, everyone who gives him something, he put everything into the bag carrying with him. He often preaches the dharma for needy people, doing many miraculous and incredible things. In the folk, no one could understand what kind of person he was, they just called him together with the Venerable Master with Big Bags, ie the most venerable always carrying the big cloth bag. Before he passes away, he gathers people at Nhac Lam Temple, and sat upright and said the verse:
- Maitreya is really Maitreya
Transform a hundred, thousands, million body
Often present in life
That people no one knows.
After saying the verse, in peaceful he enters the nirvana
The basis on according to this embodiment, therefore China and Vietnam Buddhism often statuary of him with a gentle, joyful face, and a happy smile. He symbolized an original source of happiness, flexibility, and shining, therefore his statue was carved in the image of a big, fat Buddha, a very free-stanging figure, wearing an open-breasted top shirt, and smile brightly. On his body, there are also six mischievous babies, one is touching the ear, one is touching the nose, eyes, mouth, etc.
         The six babies or six robbers sitting on Maitreya Buddha's body want to imply for six organs: Our ears, eyes, nose, tongue, body, and mind, They come into contact with the external world is: Color, sound, fragrance, smells, emotion(the activity of the psychological sense) and the phenomena of things outside, in order produce the state such as Joy, happy, angry, love, fear, suffering, depression, disgust, etc. But for Maitreya Buddha:
         Eyes: Although seeing the material, but He does not accept is eternal, is precious and does not hold for self-own.
         Ears: Although hearing a lot, but He does not accept the compliment or criticism, so the mind does not distinguish is love or hate.
           Nose: He does not let the taste, the strange scent distracts the mind. Once the mind distracted, it becomes a passion, like to enjoy.
         Tongue: Do not let the feeling of good or bad, or fancy that commander, so will not create bad karma.
          Body: He doesn't dispute whether he wins or loses, doesn't show off beautiful and ugly things, so there is no disregard or competition with anyone.
           Mind: He does not let the idea of being deluded, crazy, because that way the scattered mind will fall into sin.
Therefore, once the six organs are in contact with the six external scenes, if you can not own yourself, it will affect and make you insecure, disappointed, scare, and suffering, etc.To you who have had the miraculous joy of your own true nature, that is mastery yourself, so all inner-arising or external influences become a magical power to maintain your joy, peacefulness, flexible, lightness of self-interest. Since then, peace comes naturally, therefore you are at ease and free in this transforming and hysterical life.
Maitreya Buddha image is one of the most popular Buddha images. The image of Laughing Buddha you can be found in Chinese and Vietnamese families and restaurants around the world. Maitreya Buddha is considered a fortune Buddha because people believed that the Maitreya Buddha's image brings good luck and prosperity to business people.
Those who called Maitreya Buddha the gifted Buddha said that his big sack contained many ingots of gold and precious stones. Some people believe that all his assets are in a big belly. In order to enjoy the fortune of laughing Buddha, people should strokes Maitreya Buddha's stomach every day.
          Others think that Laughing Buddha is a happy Buddha because people said that he likes to remove all the unhappiness, difficulties, and affliction of people put in the sack. Nothing makes him happier than transform the suffering into happiness.
Many Vietnamese Buddhist Layman considers Laughing Buddha as Buddha will come in the future consider very handsome. According to the legend's Hong Kong people said that Maitreya Buddha was very handsome in a lifetime causing many girls to be tired, so, Maitreya decided to transform into a big and fat belly.
Therefore, the Maitreya Buddha of Hong Kong is a Big and Fat Belly Laughing Buddha. Place Laughing Buddha in the living room, preferably opposite the front door, the bigger the better. You can choose Laughing Buddha in any posture. The statue of the Laughing Buddha is made with various postures and materials, from ceramics,  stones, jewel, to ivory, and wood.
When the statue of Laughing Buddha is displayed in the house, in the company, in the shop, in the office, this is considered a symbol of peace, joy, luck, happiness bringing many good things for family and homeowners.
In the folk consider the first day of the new year is the decisive day of a year. Therefore, on this day people are wary of every word and every action, wary of every people who come to visit, wary of all sorts of things. Thus, the first day of the new year is the day full of meaning for oneself future. In the Temple, on the first day of the new year is the anniversary of Maitreya Buddha is also a brilliant future day, the future day will become Buddha.
Therefore, on the morning of the first day of new year, everyone went to the Temple to pray, prostrate to the Buddhas in general, prostrate to Maitreya Buddha particular, and put all hope into the future, everyone hoping to become Buddha in the future. So, on the first day of New Year to the Temple to worship Buddha and to harvest the spring buds, it is not just praying for wealth and good fortune, but it is praying for the Buddhas bless the peaceful mind, the family is also peaceful, and also the opportunity to generate vastly mind cultivated to become Buddhahood quickly
          There is no hope of wealthy, luxurious but only hope of becoming a Buddha. That is the deepest meaning of the first day of the new year for us to celebrate Maitreya Buddha.
In India, Maitreya Buddha is mentioned at the earliest in the Cakavatti Sutra, Digha Nikaya 26, in Pali's Tripitaka. In India paintings or statues, The Maitreya Buddha sits on the ground, the symbol of readiness to stand up and educate sentient beings. In the early images, Maitreya Buddha was depicted as a slender prince, handsome, often dressed in India royal attire.
And to prepare for the birth of Maitreya Buddha in the future, India Buddhism and Tibet Buddhism are now combined to build a Maitreya building at Bodh Gaya, west along the banks of Niranjana river in the Town of Gaya, now is Bihar State, India.
          Here, a giant Maitreya Buddha statue, 128m high will be worship at the heart of a 48-acre park, when the construction is completed, it will be the tallest statue in the world. The official cost is unknown, but it is expected to be $50 million dollars. Maitreya statue will be placed on a 61meter high platform. Inside the statue will be: A temple, a large electronic panel showing the history of the holy place of Bodhgaya, the life and teachings of Shakyamuni, and some features of civilization, religion and Indian philosophy to the world.
          Although the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter of heaven and earth are constantly changing, the practitioner follows the  Buddha's footsteps, living with the Spring and from the mind of Maitreya Buddha, their hearts always peace and calm:
            - The Spring to the field of flowers and grass
            The Spring comes back to a thatched roof is closed
          The conifer and chrysanthemum flower goes to the small alley
             Drifting, Bubble and shadow enter paradise.
           Four season constant changs, under eyes of an enlightened monk, any time always full of poetry, beautiful. The Zen Master enjoys all four seasons. With human life, the true practitioner is not persecuted because of old age, illness, and death, on the contrary, living according to the natural law, with the enlightened practitioner, the birth is being happy, old, sick, and dying is also happy.
          In short, Maitreya Buddha Spring or The Enlightened Spring or Spring of the practitioner sees the transformation of The Creator, through all the happenings of everything, all species from the past to the future and live with the truth. Therefore, the Spring still exists forever in them, never fade or wither, suffering. Despite the fact that the days and months have passed every day, but the sincere spirit of the monk always receives more joy and joy, so, sadness, suffering, angry, dissatisfaction have no place in the life of the liberated practitioner. Spring is always present in the mind of true practitioner, history shows that there are people engrossed in living with an endless source of that pious joy, so the change around them is also never unknown, because of the mind of enlightened Zen Master never change.  
        According to the story of Buddha, the image of tranquility, gentleness peaceful footstep without bare dust of a monk, and a simple robes, bareheaded and barefoot, leisurely life, liberation have been making Prince Siddhartha become a respectable symbol in human society. Originating from the palace of gem gold, high status to the ultimate nobility, but the life of Gotama is simply pure, extremely austere, and embodied by an outstanding transcendental and to leave the world man.
Buddha is the virtuous beauty of full Compassion and wisdom. We are fully blessed, so to live in the Buddha's teaching, rejoice in the joy of Maitreya Buddha spirit, no matter what life is like, but we do not need busy for foods and clothes, no worries about right and wrong stories of the world. By doing so, we have been enjoying the heritage of the Blessed One. Therefore, we should aware that, on the path of study and practice of Dharma, there will certainly be many obstacles and there are temptations of material and fame in the period of self-control. Let us take it as a challenge so that we can train ourselves to cultivate the mind better.
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