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Last updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2002
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Peter Kedge's Response

Introduction

In response to my 'Letter from Bodh Gaya' Peter Kedge, the Director of the Maitreya Project, wrote the following piece for Pure Vision.

Maitreya Project

In the previous issue of Pure Vision we featured an article that raised some concerns around the proposed construction of a 500 foot bronze Buddha statue in Bodhgaya. This is the response from the Project Director, Peter Kedge.

Thank you for Maitreya Project's opportunity to respond to Dr Friedlander's piece from your last issue. The chance to clarify, correct misconceptions, and offer an update on this incredible and unique project is greatly appreciated. The project is a major development in Bihar. The statue of Maitreya Buddha will be a public building offering access to multiple levels inside the statue which will accommodate prayer halls, shrines, and libraries. The statue and throne will be the equivalent of a 50 storey building. (In Melbourne, the same size as Nauru House: Ed.) The statue is being designed to last at least 1,000 years. The project was initiated by late Lama Thubten Yeshe who instructed Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche to build a very large statue of Maitreya in Bodhgaya. Size and details were not specified but Lama Osel Rinpoche - the incarnation of Lama Yeshe - confirmed that Lama Yeshe would definitely approve the current scope and scale of the project. The size of the Maitreya statue is deliberately intended to draw people. Holy objects, like statues and stupas have a unique beneficial quality. To attain liberation and enlightenment requires enormous good karma. Normally good karma requires positive motivation. Generating a virtuous mind is extremely difficult for most people. The great quality of holy objects is that irrespective of motivation, circumambulating, making offerings, making prayers, and otherwise venerating them, creates positive karma in proportion to the size of the holy object. Building holy objects is therefore the easiest way to offer benefit to living beings. The planning and design of the project is making excellent progress. The Maitreya Project is working with an international team of world class architects, consultants, engineers - structural, electrical, mechanical, environmental, aviation, foundry - and others. The firms involved are leaders in their fields and are based in India, Hong Kong, UK, USA, and Taiwan. A leading Indian consultancy firm is undertaking a socio-economic impact study to determine ways in which the project will benefit Bodhgaya, Bihar, and India. The project is planning construction of an international standard hospital. The project already runs a school. This will expand as will the village outreach of the project's Universal Education program. Project Director Dr Renuka Singh was misquoted by Dr Friedlander there have been no recent difficulties with land purchases. The project owns 35 acres of privately acquired land - the site for the 500 foot high statue of the future Buddha Maitreya. In August 1999, there was a query from the Airport Authority of India due to the proximity of the 500 foot proposed statue to the currently disused Gaya Airport. The Airport Authority requested a scheme proposal showing how, complying with International Aviation rules, a future developed Gaya airport could without compromise to safety, co-exist with the Maitreya statue. UK aviation consultants prepared the scheme, which was submitted, and accepted by the Airport Authority in November 1999. As a result, AAI now plan re-opening Gaya airport, thus making direct air travel to the Bodhgaya area easier and in turn boosting the local tourist dependent economy. Within the next few years, thousands of jobs - direct and indirect - will be created by the project. Education and employment opportunities will continue as the project, surrounding park, hospital, and school will require hundreds of people for operation. A full Environmental Impact Assessment to international standards will be conducted and the results will be incorporated in the design stages. The objective of the project is to benefit. Over the 1,000 year lifetime of the project, the benefits will be incalculable and the scope will include spiritual, healthcare, education and the economy. The project communicates with the local population at all levels to explain project details and listen to feedback. The project is welcomed and supported by the vast majority. The Indian Government fully supports the project. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and other Buddhist masters fully support the project. The costs of the project are estimated at US$150million. The funding is being raised by private donation from people who wish the project completed as described. Site work begins this year. Technically from this point forward, the project can be completed in 5-6 years. This is subject to the availability of funding and the continuing timely receipt of statutory approvals.

e-mail: maitreya@mos.com.np

Website: www.maitreya-statue.org

[reprinted with the permission of the Editor Pure Vision]

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.