Five Buddhas Roof
The roof of the Maitreya Center is dedicated to the Five Buddhas, who represent the five wisdoms and our innate ability to transform defilements and ordinary sense perceptions into those five wisdoms. The Five Buddhas are easily identified by their distinct colors that embody the essence and radiance of their enlightened qualities.
The east side of the Maitreya Center’s roof is dedicated to Buddha Aksobhya (Immovable), blue in color. His symbol is an indestructible scepter, known in Sanskrit as the vajra. The south side is dedicated to Buddha Ratnasambhava (Source of Precious Qualities), yellow in color. His symbol is a jewel. The west side is dedicated to Buddha Amitabha (Limitless Light), red in color. His symbol is a lotus. The north side is dedicated to Buddha Amoghasiddhi (Meaningful Accomplishment), green in color. His symbol is the double-vajra. The center, representing the pinnacle point of the Maitreya Center, is dedicated to Buddha Vairochana (All-Illuminating), white in color. His symbol is the Dharma wheel.
Main Level: Maitreya and Mahayana Shrine Halls
The main level of the Maitreya Center will feature a Tibetan-style hall dedicated to the Future Buddha Maitreya and a Chinese-style Mahayana hall dedicated to Buddha Amitabha.
The Maitreya hall can accommodate about 500 persons, providing the space necessary for teachings and other ceremonies, as well as meditation and chanting practices.
The hall will be graced by a thirty-two foot statue of Maitreya, the future buddha. The Buddha Maitreya statue will be encircled by statues of the 1,000 Buddhas who are prophesied to appear in this current eon. The Maitreya statue will be flanked by stupas (reliquary monuments) dedicated to the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa and Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche. To one side of Maitreya will be a statue of White Tara, the mother deity of long life. To the other side will be a statue of Guru Padmasambhava (actual statue shown below), the tantric master who was instrumental in establishing Buddhism in Tibet, in the eighth century CE.
As visitors approach the Maitreya hall’s entrance, they will pass through six columns dedicated to the “Six Ornaments of India”—Nagarjuna, Asanga, Aryadeva, Vasubhandu, Dharmakirti, and Dignaga. These six masters were crucial to the development and preservation of the Mahayana tradition. In particular, Asanga received a number of teachings directly from Maitreya, which Asanga recorded in five treatises that are studied in Buddhist monasteries to this day.
Visitors will then proceed through the Vajrapani vestibule, honoring the bodhisattva who embodies the Buddha’s power and manifests as one of Buddha Amitabha’s close disciples. The entryway to the Maitreya hall is dedicated to the Four Guardian Kings, each of whom swore an oath to protect the Buddha’s teachings in one of the four cardinal directions.
Adjoining the Maitreya hall and facing the western direction will be the Mahayana shrine hall, which can accommodate 135 persons. One set of statues in this hall will depict Buddha Amitabha with his two foremost disciples, the bodhisattvas Kuan Yin and Ta’ Shih Chi (known in Sanskrit as Avalokiteshvara and Mahasthamaprapta, respectively). These three figures are revered as the Three Sages of the Western Pure Land known as “Ultimate Bliss.” Another set of statues will feature Amitabha, Shakyamuni, and the Medicine Buddha in meditative equipoise, each representing aspects of spiritual awakening and the inseparability of the body, speech, and mind of all the buddhas.
According to the Infinite Life Sutra, Amitabha, in his former life as a monk, made forty-eight vows to become a buddha and establish a pure land where all who call upon him may be reborn, receive instruction in the Dharma, and ultimately achieve spiritual awakening.
In addition, the Mahayana Hall will include a Medicine Buddha shrine and Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha shrine.
The entryway to the Mahayana hall will be dedicated to the guardian deities Guan Gong and Wei Tuo (known as the Bodhisattvas Sangharama and Skanda). Rooms and the common area for the ordained Mahayana sangha will be named after the four great bodhisattvas: Kuan Yin (Avalokiteshvara), Dizang (Ksitigarbha), Wenshu (Manjushri), and Puxian (Samantabhadra).
Upper Level: Monastic Residence and Green Tara Shrine Room
The ordained sangha, or community, dates back to the time of the Buddha, who established one of the oldest surviving monastic orders in the world. As prescribed by the Buddha, the residence of a monk or nun was intended as a place of study, contemplation, and meditation. It also was where ordained sangha members engaged in short-term and long-term meditation retreats. To accommodate the Buddha and the sangha members who traveled with him, the Buddha’s patrons established great monasteries so the sangha could dedicate themselves to their practices.
In keeping with this tradition, the upper level of the Maitreya Center will provide accommodations for visiting teachers and monastics. These accommodations will include dining, kitchen, and laundry facilities, as well as an interview room overlooking the Hudson River.
Two suites will be set aside for the foremost masters of the Kagyu lineage: The Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa Suite and The Marpa Suite honoring Kenting Tai Situpa. Other visiting teachers will be housed in The Milarepa Suite honoring Kalu Rinpoche. The Gampopa Suite will provide additional accommodations for visiting teachers and their attendants.
Sangha rooms, each named for masters of the great Buddhist traditions of India and Tibet, will provide monastic quarters, as well as facilities for study and the translation of ancient Buddhist texts.
The Green Tara shrine room, dedicated to the female bodhisattva Tara and her twenty-one emanations, will be located at the easternmost side of this floor. The sacred setting will provide a more intimate space for the Gyalwang Karmapa, Tai Situ Rinpoche, and other teachers to bestow empowerments and teachings, and meet with students.
Lower Level: Community Space
The Maitreya Center’s lower level will feature a community space to accommodate our visitors. It will serve as a dining area, as well as a work space for volunteers and class-room space for Dharma studies. The Maitreya Center will be handicap accessible so that everyone can benefit from the activities and programs that will be offered there.