For centuries hundreds of people have claimed to be Maitreya, the next Buddha to enter into our world. So far none of them have shown any reason for us to believe their claim. They have never exhibited any of the Buddha's transcendental powers or boundless wisdom. Claimants include the laughable, such as L. Ron Hubbard, some guy (he has no name aside from Maitreya) from Share International, Suma Ching Hai, and a whole host of others.
While there are undoubtedly many spiritually advanced people on the Earth at this time and even some fully enlightened beings (until someone comes up with at least some kind of evidence that Sai Baba is a fake I won't even entertain the idea; millions of people say he's the real deal but there are only a few "unconfirmed reports" (the actual words used) of his misdeeds), it doesn't seem as if Maitreya has come yet. There is a slim possibility that a Buddhist monk, Palden Dorje, could possibly be Maitreya awaiting to awaken. The prophecies say that Maitreya will come at a time when the oceans have decreased in size, allowing him to travel across the world quicker (could this be an allusion to jet airplanes?) and that he will come as a bodhisattva who will achieve Buddhahood in seven days. Certainly Palden Dorje exhibits the qualities of a bodhisattva. Between 2005 and 2006 he sat in meditation for six months without eating or drinking or using the head. Scientists sent to study him reported that he breaths only three times an hour. He was bitten by a cobra twice and shows no ill effects and once he burst into flames and burnt his clothes off to prove his powers to doubters. Not too long ago (some time in March I think) he left the spot where he was meditating to venture further into the wilderness because a media circus sprouted around him. He said it will take six years to reach Buddhahood, but with all this distraction could it be seven? This is interesting because I'm not well versed in Pali (the language of the Buddhist canon) and have to rely on the English translations. Noting that Biblical English sometimes uses the word "day" in place of "year" it's no stretch that Maitreya could realize enlightenment in seven days where each day is equal to a year and not a literal day. Admitedly this is a stretch but still, it's an interesting potential correlation. Definitely something to write about. Well, I guess the only way to know is wait until 2011 when Palden Dorje returns. Hopefully the world will be ready for the new Buddha by then, though it would have to take a miracle (further proof of Maitreya's arrival?).