Mahayana Buddhist prophesy tells us that Maitreya will return to the earthly realm in the distant future. Indeed, according to the prophecy, Shakyamuni Buddha had proclaimed that Maitreya would be his successor as he departed Tusita Heaven. Until his time comes, Maitreya sits on his throne in a constant state of preparation. For this reason, Maitreya is the only Buddha or Bodhisattva depicted sitting upright in a chair.
Maitreya will first appear in a city called Ketumati which will be part of the Chakravarti Kingdom. Additionally, at this time human beings will have a life span of 80,000 years and the unfortunately, Dharma teachings of Shakyamuni will have been long forgotten. Therefore, he must become a self realized Buddha and reteach the Dharma to all sentient beings.
This Maitreya statue wears the crown and jewels of a Bodhisattva. Maitreya is also depicting the Dharmachakra mudra because it will be his responsibility to set the “Wheel of Dharma” in motion once again. Additionally, between the thumb and index finger of each hand he holds the stem of a lotus flower.
The lotus flower is a symbol for enlightenment. The lotus seed grows from the muddy pond bottom through the murky water and blossoms in the clean air and sunshine. As a result, it resembles sentient life struggling through the vicissitudes of samsara. Only through diligent practice and steadfast dedication will it be possible to rise above the murky water to reach Nirvana. Maitreya statues encourage all beings to overcome all obstacles to their spiritual realization.