Buddhist Time Prophecies

At that period, brethren, there will arise in the world an Exalted. One named Metteyya, Arahat, Fully Awakened, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds, unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, an Exalted One,a Buddha, even as I am now...

...He, by himself, will thoroughly know and see, as it were face to face, this universe, with Its worlds of the spirits, Its Brahmas and Its Maras, and Its world of recluses and Brahmins, of princes and peoples, even as I now, by myself, thoroughly know and see them. -Digha Nikaya 1

The truth [the Norm, the Dhamma], lovely in origin, lovely in Its progress, lovely in Its consummation, will he (Metteyya Buddha) proclaim, both in the spirit and in letter, the higher life will he make known, in all Its fullness and in all Its purity, even as I do know. He will be accompanied by a congregation of some thousands of Brethren, even as I an now accompanied by a congregation of some hundreds of Brethren. -Digha Nikaya 2

This prophecy of Gautama Buddha clearly predicts that the teaching of Mettayya Buddha will be a worldwide teaching.

Baha'u'llah, the founder of Baha'i Faith, does not just fulfill the Buddhist prophecies. He is also Promised One of Jews "the expected Messiah", for Christians and Muslims the awaited return of Christ, for the Zoroastrians (Parsees) the Saoshyant, for the Hindus the Kalki Avatar, as well as being for Buddhists the Metteyya Buddha.

The prophecy of the Lord Buddha that the teaching of Metteyya Buddha will be much more extensive than his own is already being fulfilled through the Baha'i Faith, already a worldwide religion with communities in every part of the planet consisting of all the races and nations of humanity.

So what is this ' teaching that is lovely' predicted by Gautama Buddha and which Baha'is believe Baha'u'll'ah has brought? It is the renewed spiritual guidance and the new social teachings given by Baha'u'll'ah.

But there is another prophecy that is much more specific about the time of the coming of the Metteyya Buddha. Sariputta asked the Buddha:

'The Hero that shall follow you?
As Buddha of what sort is he?
The account in full I fain would learn.
Declare to me thou seeing one'
Gautama Buddha replied:

' I will tell you, Sariputta
Pray lend your ears, for I will speak.
In this auspicious aeon
' Three leaders have already lived
Kakusandha, Konagamana
And also the leader Kassapa.

'The Buddha Supreme, now am I
But after me Mettayya comes,
Before this auspicious aeon
Runs to the end of years.

"This Buddha, then, Mettayya by name
Supreme, and of all men the chief...'

Sariputta: 'How will it occur?'

Buddha replied:

'After my decease, first will occur the five disappearences. And what are the five disappearances?' The disappearance of attainments [to nibbana], the disappearance of the method [inability to practice wisdom, insight and the four purities of moral habit], the disappearance of learning [loss of men who follow the Dhamma and the forgetting of the Pitakas and other scriptures], the disappearance of the symbols [the loss of the outward forms, the robes and practices of monkhood], the disappearance of the relics [the Dhatu]...

"Then when the Dispensation of the perfect Buddha is 5000 years old, the relics, not receiving reverence and honor will go to places where they can receive them... This, Sariputta, is called the disappearance of relics'.

This passage clearly shows that the Metteyya Buddha will appear 'before this auspicious aeon runs to the end of years'. Since Gautama Buddha appeared in India and was speaking to disciples who had also been Hindus and were familiar with the Hindu system of dating cycles.

It would seem likely that when Gautama Buddha said 'before this auspicious aeon runs to the end of years', he was speaking of the Hindu Kali Yuga in the middle of which he had appeared.

This Kali Yuga ended at noon on 1 August 1943, equivalent to the year 2486 of the Buddhist Era. Therefore according to this prophecy of the Buddha, the Metteyya Buddha should already have appeared sometime before 1943.

It is true that this prophecy of the Five Disappearances states that the last of the Disappearances will occur when the Dispensation of the Buddha is five thousand years old. Since only 2,500 years have passed, It might seem that it is not yet time for the coming of Metteyya Buddha.

It should however, be borne in mind that when the Buddha allowed woman to be ordained as nuns, he then prophesied that because of this time that the Dhamma endured would be halved. The period during which the full Dhamma is known and Nibbana achieved (the First Disappearance) is halved from one thousand years to five hundred and similarly for the whole process.

Thus resulting in 2,500 years during which all of the Five Disappearances must occur. The year 2500 of the Buddhist Era was celebrated in AD 1956. This ties in very well with AD 1943 as the last possible date for the appearance of the Metteyya Buddha. Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah, who appeared in the century before the expiration of this deadline, was the Metteyya Buddha.

The Five Disappearances refer to the gradual disappearance of the Dhamma from the world. This is something which the Buddha knew would happen since everything in this world is transient and changes.

He describes the gradual fading of the efficacy of his teachings until even the 'true sacred relics (Dh'atu), not receiving reverence and honor, will go to places where they can receive them. If we consider the situation in the Buddhist world at the time of the advent of Baha'u'll'ah in the middle of the nineteenth century, we will note that all of this prophecy had been fulfilled by that time.

Buddhism had disappeared from native soil in India, the sacred relics had gone from India ' to places where they can receive reverence and honor in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand and elsewhere in the Buddhist world. The scripture and the Dhamma could even be said to have disappeared from the Buddhist community, when Colonel Olcott arrived in Sri Lanka in the last half of the nineteenth century, he could find no monks who knew Pali and could read the scriptures.

There has, of course been a revival in Buddhism since those days but this is only to be expected. For with the appearance of a new Buddha, Baha'u'llah, in this world, the light is once more shining, and the sun, when It shines, shines on all things, whether or not they are turned to it.

Even today in Buddhist countries, however, It is difficult to apply the laws of the Sangha as given in the Buddhist scriptures. Monks, for example, rarely now join the Sangha for life: many are forced to carry money with them, some are involved in politics, and so forth.

Gautama Buddha described the degraded state of the world at the time of the coming of Metteyya, these conditions have been fulfilled today.

Thus, brethren, from goods not being bestowed on the destitute, poverty grew great ..stealing... violence... murder...lying...evil speaking...adultery...abusive and idle talk...covetousness and ill-will...false opinions... incest, wanton greed and perverted lust...till finally lack of filial and religious piety and lack of regard for the head of the clan grew great. From these things growing, the life-span of those beings and the comliness of them wasted.

Among such humans, the ten moral courses on conduct will disappear, the ten immoral courses of action will flourish excessively, there will be no word for moral among such humans - far less any moral agent. Among such humans, brethren, they who lack filial and religious piety, and show no respect for the head clan - It is they whom homage and praise will be given to the filial-minded, to the pious and to them who respect the heads of their clans...

The world will fall into promiscuity, like goats and sheep, fowls and swine, dogs and jackals. Among such humans, brethren, keen mutual enmity will become the rule, keen ill-will, keen animosity, passionate thoughts even of killing, in a mother towards her child. In a child towards mother, in a father towards his child and a child towards his father, in brother to brother, in brother to sister, in sister to brother...

As indicated in this prophecy, the Dhamma will have disappeared from the world by this time. Gautama Buddha states that the true Dhamma will not disappear from the world until a false Dhamma appears to replace it.

There is no disappearing of the true Dhamma until a counterfeit Dhamma arises in the world. Once a counterfeit Dhamma arises then there is a disappearing of the true Dhamma. It is when, here in the order itself, hollow and foolish persons arise that they make this true Dhamma disappear. Baha'u'llah has confirmed that this false, counterfeit Dhamma is present in the world and is replacing the true Dhamma. In the Baha'i writings it is stated that the true Dhamma has been replaced by a desire for material things:

Today, all the peoples of the world are indulging in self-interest and exert the utmost effort and endeavor to promote their own material interests. They are worshiping themselves and not the divine reality. They seek diligently their own benefit and not the common weal. This is because they are captives of the world of nature and unaware of the divine teachings, of the bounty, of the kingdom and of the Sun of Truth.

These prophecies appear to describe accurately the present condition of the world with materialism, consumerism, promiscuity, drug problems and increasing violence and conflict. These problems are ravaging every society and undermining the pillars of all social structures.

The way in which this situation can be remedied is, as the prophecy indicates, for a new Buddha to arise. Only a new Buddha can restore the Dhamma and replace the counterfeit Dhamma of materialism and selfishness. Only a new Buddha can give the new teachings to solve the social problems of the world. Only a new Buddha can solve the problems caused by the modern world by giving new laws.

Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah is
the Metteyya Buddha prophesied by Lord Buddha.

Baha'is recognize Baha'u'llah "as the Judge, the Lawgiver and Redeemer of all mankind, as the Organizer of the entire planet, as the Unifier of the children of men, as the Inaugurator of the long-awaited millennium, as the Originator of a new "Universal Cycle," as the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, as the Fountain of the Most Great Justice, as the Proclaimer of the coming of age of the entire human race, as the Creator of a new World Order, and as the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father," the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father," to Shi'ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha...

Baha'u'llah wrote:

"Verily I say, this is the day in which mankind can behold the Face and hear the Voice of the Promised One. The call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behooveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His Glory."  -Baha'u'llah, Baha'i World Faith p.9-11

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Joel Smith is a member of the Baha'i Faith living in the United States. Much of the material on this homepage consists of extracts from existing Baha'i publications, but also included are a number of insights and comments about prophecies which are entirely the author's own understanding and, as such, do not necessarily represent the official position of the Baha'i Faith or its teachings.