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Maitreya (Skt.; Tib. བྱམས་པ་, Jampa, Wyl. byams pa) or Maitreyanatha (Skt. Maitreynātha; Tib. བྱམས་པ་མགོན་པོ་, Jampé Gönpo, Wyl. byams pa'i mgon po) is the bodhisattva who will be the next samyaksambuddha after Shakyamuni Buddha. For now he resides in Tushita. He transmitted teachings to Asanga, who transcribed them as the ‘Five Treatises of Maitreya’. As one of the eight great bodhisattvas, he is sometimes depicted as whitish-yellow in colour and holding an orange bush which dispels the fever of the destructive emotions.

Five Treatises

Maitreya transmitted the root teachings to Asanga. Among the five, four are classed as shastras (commentaries) proper, and one falls into the class of oral instructions. The four that are shastras are extensive are:

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  1. The Ornament of Clear Realization (Skt. Abhisamayālaṃkāra; Tib. མངོན་རྟོགས་པའི་རྒྱན་, Wyl. mngon par rtogs pa'i rgyan).
  2. The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras (Skt. Māhayānasūtrālaṃkāra; Tib. ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ་སྡེ་རྒྱན་, theg pa chen po'i mdo sde rgyan).
  3. Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Skt. Madhyāntavibhāga; Tib. དབུས་དང་མཐའ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་, dbus dang mtha' rnam par 'byed pa).
  4. Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata (Skt. Dharma-dharmatā-vibhāga; Tib. ཆོས་དང་ཆོས་ཉིད་, chos dang chos nyid rnam par 'byed pa) is very brief and direct in its presentation and is included within the class of oral instructions.
  5. The Sublime Continuum (Skt. Uttaratantra Śāstra; Tib. རྒྱུད་བླ་མ་, Wyl. rgyud bla ma).

Further Reading

Canonical Literature

Despite his central role in the Mahayana tradition, there are very few canonical texts devoted exclusively to the bodhisattva career of Maitreya, and there are no extended hagiographies concerned with this figure. In the Tibetan Kangyur, we find:

There are also a few short sutras, such as:

  • The Sutra on Maitreya’s Birth in the Heaven of Joy, and
  • The Prophecy of Maitreya (Skt. Maitreya­vyākaraṇa), describing the circumstances leading to his awakening, his future appearance in the world, and the methods to apply if one wishes to be reborn close to him at that time.

Other sutras in which previous lives of the bodhisattva Maitreya are recounted include:

Other Resources


  1. Mainly 84000, Introduction to Maitreya's Setting Out

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