Maitreya Project Update, August 2004
The purpose of Maitreya Project is to bring as much benefit to as many as possible, for as long as possible - spiritually, in education and healthcare, and indirectly, through the creation of employment opportunities.
The name Maitreya comes from the Sanskrit word 'maitri' meaning 'love'. The form of Maitreya represents the embodiment of loving-kindness.
Table of Contents
Maitreya Project is located in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh — the place in northern India where the historical Buddha passed away 2,600 years ago.
The focus of the Project is the 500ft/152m Maitreya Buddha statue. It is designed to last for at least 1,000 years so that it will be a long-term catalyst for spiritual, social, and economic benefit. To this end, the Project will operate as Maitreya Project Trust.
The comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding, signed by Maitreya Project Trust in India and the Government of Uttar Pradesh, represents a shared vision for bringing about this major undertaking.
The Kushinagar Special Development Area
To support and manage development in the communities immediately surrounding Maitreya Project, the UP government has established the Kushinagar Special Development Area.
In time, the Project’s major education and healthcare programmes are planned to extend throughout the Kushinagar Special Development Area. This area is currently home to approximately 300,000 people. The focus of Maitreya Project’s social programmes are the poor and underprivileged.
When Will Construction Begin?
Maitreya Project will take possession of the new land site in Kushinagar and the engineering team will be remobilised when the legal and administrative procedures are completed, expected later this year, 2004.
The next phase of the Project’s detailed design and construction will be based in India. We expect to open Delhi and Lucknow offices and initiate social programmes in Kushinagar towards the end of 2004.
The Project is at the stage where detailed design can be resumed and site work can begin as soon as Maitreya Project Trust takes possession of the 750-acre (300-hectare) land site.
The budget for the Maitreya Project (which includes development of the new, much larger site at Kushinagar) together with healthcare and educational programmes is:
|500-foot/152-metre Maitreya Statue Building||US$ 195m|
|Healthcare and Educational Programmes||US$ 35m|
|Development of Kushinagar 750-acre Site||US$ 20m|
|Total Estimated Project Cost||US$ 250m|
The ancient and sacred Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relics destined for the Maitreya Buddha statue in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, India were displayed for one month in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia, during the Enlightenment Experience Celebration IV (26 May – 29 June, 2004). The Enlightenment Experience Celebration was a non-profit Buddhist festival for Mongolians and visitors from all over the world.
At the Opening Ceremony, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Spiritual Director of Maitreya Project, added relics of Geshe Lama Konchog to the collection. Geshe Lama Konchog was a great 20th century yogi who passed away on 15 October, 2001. His relics were offered to Lama Zopa Rinpoche for the Maitreya Project by Tenzin Zopa, Geshe Lama Konchog’s attendant.
In total, 70,000 people paid their respects and received the blessings of the relics during the month, all thus making a direct connection with the Maitreya Project. On average days as many as 3,000 devotees poured into the Kalachakra Gompa (temple).
One of the many EEC4 highlights was on Saka Dawa, which fell this year on June 3rd). Saka Dawa is the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar; it is when the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing away are specially remembered. On that day an estimated 10,000 visitors queued patiently to view the Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relics, a world record attendance for the relics exhibition.
The Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relics have been touring the world for the last three years.
To fulfil the many invitations received from all over the world and bring the blessings of the relics to people in Europe and the Americas at the same time, we have divided the Heart Shrine Relics into two collections.
The first European tour of the Heart Shrine Relics got off to an auspicious start at Maitreya Instituut in Amsterdam, 31 July – 1 August, 2004. Approximately 1,000 people attended the two-day event, receiving blessings and listening to talks about the relics and Maitreya Project. The opening ceremony included sangha from many Buddhist traditions and the recitation of the Heart Sutra in many languages.
The Relics will proceed to Germany, England, Austria, Slovenia, France and Russia.
Concurrent with the European Tour, the Maitreya Project Heart Shrine Relics returned to North America in July and will continue to move across the country through December 2004.
To view the Heart Shrine Relic Tour Calendar for both the European and the Americas tours, please click on this link.
The world premiere of ‘Travellers and Magicians’, the new film by award-winning writer and director Khyentse Norbu (‘The Cup’), screened in Singapore at a gala event to benefit Maitreya Project on 11 May, 2004.
The movie is set in Bhutan, in the high mountain kingdom some consider the model for Shangri-La. (For information please visit www.travellersandmagicians.com)
Ven. Khyentse Norbu and producer, Mal Watson were the guests of honour at the evening event. The Bhutanese-themed reception featured a Bhutanese exhibit as well as Bhutanese-inspired food and decor.
Ven. Khyentse Norbu very kindly offered back the amount of his event honorarium to Maitreya Project and thanked the organisers for allowing him to contribute to the Project.
On behalf of Maitrey Project, “Thank you, Ven. Khyentse Norbu!”
We have had many requests for a Direct Debit feature so that one may support Maitreya Project each month, automatically, and spread a donation over a period of months or years.
Many thanks to Travellers and Magicians, Ven. Dashka, a monk at Idgaa Choinzingling Gompa in Mongolia, and Nicholas Dawson for permission to use their photos.