There is a controversial story abroad, which says that in our midst lives a great and wise teacher, a Self-realised man of infinite love, intelligence and wisdom. His name is Maitreya, he is the World Teacher for the New Age or cosmic cycle we are now entering into, the ‘age of Aquarius’. It is a story circulated far and wide over the last thirty-five years or so by the British artist and writer Benjamin Crème. It is a story I first heard in October 1987, which for me had the ring of truth; it is an extraordinary tale of hope and wonder that if true, must be the single most important event of our time.
The Coming One
The coming of a Guide, or Teacher, sits within a long-held tradition that recognizes the cyclical pattern of such momentous events, known in the East as ‘The Doctrine of Avatars’, in the West as ‘The Doctrine of The Coming One’. “Whenever there is a withering of the law and an uprising of lawlessness on all sides, then I manifest Myself. For the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of such as do evil, for the firm establishing of the Law, I come to birth age after age” [Bhagavad Gita (Book iv, sutra 7 & 8)]. The ‘I’ refers to Krishna, a manifestation of Vishnu, or Love – the Christ-consciousness or principle of the Christian theologian. The ‘age’ alludes to the particular astronomical conjunction brought about through the movement of the sun around the heavens in relation to the 12 signs of the zodiac: the precession of the equinoxes, a journey from one constellation to another, which takes around 2,200 years.
In every age Teachers have come forth; we know these Great Lives historically as Christ, the Buddha, Krishna, Sankaracharya, Vyasa, Mithra, Rama amongst others. They set the tone of their time and revealed some new aspect of reality. They are the perfected men from whom millions of people throughout the world seek comfort, guidance and peace. Maitreya, it is said, is one such man. According to Benjamin Creme [editor of Share International (SI)], Maitreya is the Coming One, awaited by Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus: the World Teacher for the age. Not a religious leader, but a guide for all of humanity, religious and non-religious alike, and, Creme states, He has been in the world since 1977, quietly going about His work of inspiring and guiding outer events from behind the scenes.
Signs of the Time
It is an extraordinary story with a certain arguable logic, and looking at recent world events it seems clear that something unusual is taking place. Perhaps there is a connection, a relationship between the Maitreya story and the tumultuous events witnessed in many parts of the world. The worldwide protest movement (of which the Arab Spring has to be the greatest example), which has seen millions take to the streets demanding social justice, greater levels of equality, an end to corruption and freedom from repressive levels of government control; the repeated collapse of what many of us see as a defunct, unjust economic system; a growing environmental awareness; and the rise of the Occupy Movement. Key happenings in what appears to be a world undergoing accelerated change. In many cases, state violence and social turmoil has been the result of the people’s call for change, as the reactionary, conservative forces, fearful of losing power, resist.
It is a world in transition, moving (let us hope) from an outdated model of civilization based on competition and division, which has failed the majority and poisoned the planet, to a new fairer way of living, in which sharing, cooperation, justice and freedom are the guiding principles. Such ideals of brotherhood and justice have of course been banded around for some time – two thousand years or so, when the previous World Teacher in the form of Christ came. He laid out a set of common-sense guidelines for human affairs; don’t kill, practice honesty, avoid materialism and greed, love thy enemy, do unto others, as ye would have others do unto you, cultivate forgiveness and live in peace. All great ideals, that have remained largely unexpressed, un-manifest and therefore of little (if any) value.
Alongside unprecedented worldwide social movements for change, a plethora of miraculous ‘signs’ have been recorded over the last 30 years or so, which also suggest something is afoot.
In July 1991 Life magazine’s cover story asked: ‘do you believe in miracles’ – apparently most people do. They reported that, “thousands of unexplained miraculous phenomena [are] occurring worldwide,” and in 1995, Time Magazine devoted eight pages to its cover story on miracles, and concluded: “People are hungry for signs.” Miraculous crosses of light have been springing up in homes in America, Australia, New Zealand, India, the Philippines, Britain and Germany. Unexplained healings have been attributed to these crosses of light; mysterious and beautiful patterns of light have been photographed on buildings and pavements all over the world, throughout Europe, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada; icons of the Madonna, Jesus, and the Buddha are discovered weeping – water, oil or blood; and in what is perhaps the most widespread example of an unexplained phenomenal event, The Hindu ‘Milk Miracle’ on 21 September 1995, in which millions testified that Hindu deities around the world drank milk offered in worship.
On Saturday 11 June 1988 a man miraculously appeared at an open-air prayer/healing meeting on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Many of the 6,000 assembled cried out ‘Jesus, Jesus’. Job Mutungi, editor of The Kenya Times, witnessed the event and wrote: “The tall figure of a bare-footed, white-robed and bearded man appeared from nowhere and stood in the middle of the crowd.” He disappeared, literally, into thin air: “several people who witnessed this were astonished by his mysterious disappearance.” According to Benjamin Creme the ‘tall figure’ was Maitreya.
Such events and there are lots, have convinced large numbers of people from varying backgrounds that the appearance of the ‘Coming One’ is imminent. Many people of different religious backgrounds “now expect the return of their awaited Teacher,” states Crème. Indeed in the US alone, a staggering “79% of Christians say they believe that Jesus Christ will return” [Pew Research Center]. And interestingly 50% of those polled believe that “people and nations can affect when Christ returns”.
A new Civilization
We are living through times of tremendous opportunity and, as the forces of the past resist the demands of millions for a new and just way of living, times of great tension. “The outer signs of turmoil and violence, of hatred and fear, are but the death-throes of a dying civilization under the impact of the new” [Share International/A Master Speaks]. Which is emerging, slowly and surely.
With increasing momentum, ideas of the new time – tolerance, cooperation, unity and sharing – are colouring thinking, generating alternative ways of working and living and challenging the existing outdated methods. The repressive pillars of civilization though – the decaying, albeit revived and growing, economic system of market fundamentalism; corporate influenced/controlled state Government and a value system rooted firmly in materialism, which sees everything and everyone as a commodity and has created a civilization in which competition saturates every area of our lives causing division and conflict – remain largely intact.
The crisis facing humanity is a spiritual crisis, albeit one that is focused in the political and economic sphere and it is here that it must be resolved. It is a crisis of ideas and values. A new imagination is required to transform the existing economic and social structures; an imagination which recognizes the inherent unity of humanity, understands that social justice and freedom are human rights and that with freedom goes responsibility – for one another and for the natural environment. Principles of Goodness, which every great Teacher throughout the ages has articulated, including Maitreya, whose commonsense, dogma-free message extolling “the need for sharing and right relationships [and] the oneness of humanity” [SI], many of us would agree with. We are indeed living in extraordinary times, and for a new civilization to emerge we must build it, if indeed the ’Coming One’ is in our midst, and there are certainly signs that support what is a story of great hope and if His role is in keeping with the Teachers of old, He will offer guidance only. It is for us to throw off the shackles of the past and together create a new and glorious civilization, allowing people everywhere to live happy and dignified lives, "a simpler life” as Maitreya puts it, “where no man lacks, where no two days are alike, where the Joy of Brotherhood manifests through all men."