There is a website devoted to a supposed Maitreya, one I've mentioned before, with connections to the United Nations, and hosted by Benjamin Creme: Share International. The Maitreya presented there looks more or less Middle Eastern or Muslim: This Maitreya is said to have been in seclusion in London, although he has supposedly appeared at various religious gatherings from time to time, as reported by Scott Johnson.
But the original Maitreya is Maitreya Buddha (or Buddha Maitreya), and he is represented by many elaborate statues all over Asia, as I discovered only today. I suppose I've seen pictures of these statues before and just took them for variations on the usual Buddha images but apparently there is a specific Maitreya Buddha image.
Buddhists do not consider Siddhartha Gautama to have been the only Buddha. The Pali Canon refers to many previous ones (see List of the 28 Buddhas), while the Mahayana tradition additionally has many Buddhas of celestial, rather than historical, origin (see Amitabha or Vairocana as examples). A common Buddhist belief across all Buddhism is that the next Buddha will be one named Maitreya (Pali: Metteyya).But what has intrigued me as I've been looking at pictures of Buddha and Maitreya statues is that some of them appear to have African characteristics, which puts me in mind of what Alexander Hislop wrote about the black Nimrod being the real model for the heathen gods of many religions. In my post on that subject I posted pictures of Krishna who in many images is clearly black. Well, it seems that so is Maitreya Buddha:
At least I THINK this statue has a black face:
And this one has African type hair:
Here I'm going to link to The Bodhi Tree bookstore in Los Angeles -- well, to be exact on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood -- which hosted lectures called the Maitreya Project, but here's one picture from there, showing the very kinky hair of the Maitreya Buddha:
And here's the biggest Maitreya statue in the world so far, which seems to have a black hand. This biggest Maitreya is apparently about to be outstripped by a new Maitreya Project in India, with a huge statue that is really a building or a complex of buildings.
But then nonMaitreya Buddha statues also have African traits, the indication of kinky hair for instance although the features may appear Asian:
Maybe so many images is overkill but I want to show that there is a conventional way of depicting Gautama Buddha: eyes may be closed as in meditation, and the hands are held in a few stylized positions. He's wearing a simple draped cloth or robe. He appears to have some version of a topknot, more pronounced in some images than others, and elongated earlobes. And in most of the images he seems to have "kinky" type hair, and in the first image his face appears to have been darkened.
The Maitreya Buddha images are quite distinct from the Gautama images despite the similarities: Where Gautama is usually pictured crosslegged, Maitreya is pictured either sitting with his feet planted on the ground or standing. His eyes are usually open. Where Gautama is pictured dressed in a simple monk's robe, Maitreya is dressed as a prince or king.
After writing the above it was then interesting to run across a diagram of a typical Buddhist image, explaining the various points:
Explained at the site as follows:
Siddhartha, the original Buddha, was supposed to be Indian but Indians don't have kinky hair, nor do Asians, which makes this convention of Buddha depictions particularly intriguing in the light of what Alexander Hislop wrote.
KEY TO ABOVE DIAGRAM:
1. . . . the Bump of Knowledge; the uppermost bump of the head, which symbolizes spiritual wisdom; also said to represent accumulated wisdom.
2. . . . The Nikkei Jewel, which radiates the light of wisdom, is located at the base of the Nikkei. In Buddhist statuary, a small circle is typically carved here, or a circular crystal placed here. . .
3. Rahotsu (Japanese). Hair on head in small spiral curls; supposedly represents the stubble left on Prince Siddhartha's head after he cut off his hair; according to one legend, he pulled his hair together into a top knot and chopped it off; it apparently went into fine curls (spiraling to the right), and never needed cutting again. Statues of the Amida Nyorai are said to contain 656 curls, a specific characteristic of that deity.
4. . . . boss, or all-seeing third eye, in middle of forehead; symbolic third eye (spiritual eye), which appears on all statues of the Buddha (Nyorai). . .
5. Three creases in the neck. Not sure about this symbolism. Needs further research.
6. Robe stitched together from rags, in manner prescribed for early monks.
7. Mudra. There are five basic hand positions, each corresponding to five defining episodes in the life of the Historical Buddha (see Mudra page for details).
8. Mandorla. Stylized representation of the magnificent light radiating from the Buddha. The word for halo in Japanese is Kohai -- not sure if this is the light of wisdom or of compassion or of something else.
9. Leg Positioning. Here we see the cross-legged meditation pose called the Lotus Position, one of three basic poses. . . .
On a side note, I found this interesting painting of Krishna as a baby being carried in a basket by his father Vasudeva. The father isn't black but Krishna is:
Both Krishna and Buddha are often portrayed with a multi-headed cobra over them, at least in older images:
Who is Maitreya? Well, he's a Buddhist concept, a being waiting in the wings to appear as the next Buddha, and in that respect he has something in common with the Imam Mahdi of Islam, who is their great savior they also are expecting to appear soon. The Theosophists and others at the top of New Age occultism have also been heralding the appearance of a great one, Benjamin Creme's version going by the name of Maitreya without the specifically Buddhist characteristics. The Theosophic/New Age version is often called The Christ.
Nobody has ever said he will be a black man, and even though I keep finding these characteristics in the heathen gods that Alexander Hislop traces back to Nimrod as the first deified man, I don't know what it all means.
There is still the connection with the Roman Church of course, that odd image of the Moor's head or Ethiopian's head on Benedict XVI's coat of arms. If you track Krishna through Google Image you'll find mother-and-child images similar to those we are familiar with from the Catholics.
I do think that Christians are to recognize the Antichrist when he comes, so that we should have some idea of the world context in which he is to appear, and we should take all serious possibilities seriously, but beyond that, Jesus Christ is Lord and our eyes should be on Him no matter what.