Tibetan Buddhism


The myth of “new Buddha”


Among various Mahayana schools of Buddhism, Tibetan teachings in particular hold the belief that Buddhism is currently heading towards decline: a decline which will end in a complete disintegration of its teachings in the future.

This self-destructive doctrine of Traditional Buddhism is contained within the belief in “Maitreya” - a saviour, who is expected to renew Buddhism.  The Maitreya perspective predicts both: the future decline of Buddhism  and the coming of a “new Buddha Maitreya”, who is expected to arrive on Earth to start Buddhism anew” - according to the myth.

This perspective of beliefs, however, undermines the validity and capacity of Shakyamuni Buddha, portraying his teachings of Buddhism as lacking the ability or power to continue to help people.  If Shakyamuni’s Buddhahood was capable of providing a reliable and enduring path for salvation, then why would people fall again in sufferings?  The concept of decline of Buddhism implies that the Buddha’s mission was a failure, and that his teachings cannot survive in the future.

The Origin of the Mythology of Maitreya

Buddhism developed - as it is traditionally accepted – over three distinguished periods of time, called: the Former, Middle and Latter Day of the Dharma. The Latter Day of the Dharma refers to a time when Shakyamuni’s early and provisional (or preparatory) teachings would lose their power to help people, while - at the same time - his final teaching (of the Lotus Sutra) would emerge and flourish all over the world.

Various Mahayana schools still follow the Buddha’s transient (preparatory teachings, expounded before the Lotus Sutra.  For this reason most schools of Buddhism, which do not consider the Lotus Sutra as the final and complete teaching (in which Shakyamuni revealed the Eternal Dharma), had to develop a ‘solution’ to rescue Buddhism from complete disappearance - after the predicted decline of the provisional pre-Lotus teachings.  In this way, the provisional schools offered the ‘solution’ through the concept of a new Buddha who would “fill the gap” by his appearance to reveal the new Dharma - and he would then start Buddhism anew.

Similarity between Traditional Buddhism and Abrahamic Religions

regarding the coming of a Future Saviour

Abrahamic religions express a belief that after great destruction and sufferings, there will be a future saviour, who would descend from heaven on Earth - or emerge somehow on the planet.  This suggestion, however, implies that the original teachings of these religions are not complete or final (otherwise there would have been no need for a new appearance of a Saviour to teach new teachings). 

Traditional Buddhist schools (which incorporate the concept of a Future Buddha in their teachings) depend also on a similar premise, that Shakyamuni’s Buddhism will face decline and disintegration - leading to chaos and sufferings among the people - and therefore the situation requires a saviour, coming from heaven.

Why the concept of Maiterya is redundant

Buddhist teachings are expressions of eternal or abiding laws which do not vanish in time. Nichiren quotes the Lotus Sutra :

                    “All the characteristics of the world are constantly abiding” WND 318.

There is no “Expiry date” for the Buddhist truth. For example, the Law of Impermanence, the Principle of Non-duality, the nature of Void (Sunyata), the truth of Dependant Origination, the inherent Buddhanature in all people…etc… these principle are consistent and non-changing in time or space. The essential characteristics of life expressed in Buddhist teachings cannot lose validity, they are complete and eternal (because they describe life, which is eternal).

The Principles of Buddhism do not “decline” or “disintegrate”.  For this reason, the assumed “new Buddha” will not bring anything “new” to the teachings available now in the Lotus Sutra  -  and as such the concept of New Buddha is redundant:

If Nichiren’s compassion is truly great and encompassing, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo will spread for ten thousand years and more, for all eternity”. WND1 p 736


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