Maitreya Buddha (Happy Buddha) 彌勒大佛

Maitreya Buddha

(Happy Buddha)


Amitabha Buddha! Welcome to Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada!

The location you are currently at is the Maitreya Buddha of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden. This Maitreya Buddha statue is the largest of its kind in North America. Speaking of the origin of this large-bellied Maitreya Buddha, there is a fascinating story behind it.




It was on a hot summer day in 2009 when the President of the Buddhist Association of Canada and the abbot of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden, Venerable Dayi Shi, was driving alone as usual between Cham Shan Temple and the construction site of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden. Feeling a bit tired as he returned to Cham Shan Temple at dusk, he unintentionally dozed off. In what seemed like a dream, the venerable suddenly heard a voice saying, "There are many Bodhisattvas, why build only the Four Great Bodhisattvas? Where is Maitreya?" A Bodhisattva with the appearance of Maitreya appeared in the dream.

Venerable Dayi Shi woke up abruptly from the dream, realizing that indeed, temples usually have statues of Maitreya Bodhisattva, so how could Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden not have one? The venerable thus resolved to build a statue of Maitreya on Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden.

Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada is a long-term project, and the statue of Maitreya that the venerable aspired to build had to be large enough to complement the surrounding environment of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden. However, at that time, there was neither sufficient funding to construct such a massive Buddha statue nor an appropriate model for the statue of Maitreya.

Just as the venerable was at a loss, the very next day, a devotee named Zheng from Hong Kong, who had immigrated to Canada, came to visit him. Learning that the venerable was troubled by the lack of funds for the construction of the Maitreya statue, Zheng immediately made a great vow to contribute financially to the creation of this immense Maitreya statue.

Yet, while there was now funding, the version of the statue remained a major issue. The venerable sought to find an image of Maitreya Bodhisattva that exuded solemnity. He began searching through various materials and images, but none satisfied him.

A few days later, an elderly overseas Chinese told Venerable Dayi that he had a precious Ming Dynasty bronze statue of Maitreya Bodhisattva in his home, which was imbued with spiritual energy. He hoped that Venerable Dayi would come to assess it. Astonishingly, when Venerable Dayi saw this statue of Maitreya, he realized that it was the exact appearance that had manifested in his dream. Thus, based on the likeness of this statue, the current Maitreya Bodhisattva statue was constructed at the entrance of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada. This Maitreya statue stands 13 meters tall, weighs over 700 tons, with the Buddha's head alone weighing 27 tons, carved from a single piece of stone.

The stone carving of Maitreya Buddha statue in Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden depicts a constant smiling expression, welcoming all sentient beings. The Buddha has large ears that extend down his shoulders, symbolizing profound blessings. His rotund belly represents great capacity and compassion. He holds a string of prayer beads in his right hand, placed on his knee, while his left hand holds a bag of blessings. He sits on the throne in a playful posture. The base of the Buddha is hexagonal, representing the practice of the six perfections, which are the foundation for achieving Buddhahood. Each face of the base is intricately carved with the images of five hundred Arhats (known as Luohan in Chinese). Originally, the term "five hundred Arhats" referred to the highest realization attainable by those practicing Buddhism. Later, it evolved to denote individuals who have achieved the status of Arhat. Generally, it refers to the five hundred monks who participated in the first Buddhist council after the passing of Buddha Shakyamuni, led by Mahakasyapa and Ananda.

Now, the tallest Maitreya Buddha statue in North America sits enthroned in Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada. Venerable Dayi's aspiration is for the sacred image of Maitreya Bodhisattva to not only solemnize the spiritual ground but also to bestow blessings upon sentient beings in Canada and around the world. Thus, when you see this remarkable and magical statue of Maitreya, you can pay homage and join your palms together in reverence, forming a karmic connection with the future Buddha, and surely there will be grounds to attain Buddhahood!

This is the story of the Maitreya Buddha of Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden in Canada.