Maitreya is, in Buddhism, the name of the prophesied future Buddha who will usher in a new age of adherence to the correct universal law. According to Buddhism, he will appear when the whole world has forgotten the teachings of Sakyumuni Buddha (the historical Buddha, otherwise known as Gautama or Siddhartha).
Many people have claimed to be Maitreya - despite Buddhism still being alive and kicking - however, the very specific prophecies surrounding his ascension have never come to fruition (in particular, the seas are supposed to lower enough for him to walk to all of the world to teach his message). The popular image of the Buddha as overweight and jolly is actually a depiction of Budai, a pre-incarnation of Maitreya.
In Theosophy, Maitreya is the cosmic consciousness watching over the whole world. In the early part of the twentieth century, a group of theosophists became convinced that they had found the future vessel for Maitreya in the form of the Indian boy Jiddu Krishnamurti, a claim he later renounced, closing the Order of the Star in the East, the organization devoted to propagating his teachings worldwide. Many other non-Buddhist groups have used the term in similar ways. Some Christians believe that Maitreya is, in fact, the Antichrist.
- Meaning that Budai was an entity who will someday be reborn and become Maitreya, once Buddhism becomes forgotten
- Warning: Will make your eyes hurt (not joking)
- Keating's 'Maitreya' - The Controversy Heats Up, Rick Visneau, Rense.com