HIGHER & LESSER VEHICLES
In Tibetan Buddhism there are two main belief systems: Hinayana & Mahayana
Hinayana is often called Theravada. It’s also known as the lower vehicle. When we refer to these belief systems as vehicles, it can seem a little bit complex. However,
if We think of our car or other vehicle to get us from A to B, it’s a little bit the same except it involves the mind & consciousness.
Hinayana is called the ‘lower vehicle’ because of the way it gets you to the level of becoming awakened or reaching ‘Nirvana’.
Mahayana is often called the higher vehicle – but this doesn’t mean that Hinayana is not important.
Hinayana or Theravada means “teaching of the elders” and it’s mostly found in places like Sri Lanka and Thailand. Hinayana goes back to the 12th century.
Hinayana believes it’s more important to develop ourselves to become enlightened and not be reborn again on the Earth. Practitioners of Hinayana do this by taking themselves away from everything and focusing only on meditation and self development. They are not interested in anything other than developing themselves to be spiritually clean.
Later, some of the Hinayana monks started to get bored and they realised that there were other important things in the world to be explored and started to ask questions. Older monks or elders became angry because they believed Hinayana to be the only only possible way but some of the monks started to move away from the older ones and set up new groups. These groups were called
Mahayana practitioners and gradually people became interested in these teachings. Slowly Mahayana began to deliver Buddhas teachings about freeing oneself from the binds of the 3 poisons – Ignorance, Anger & Attachment. developing compassion and getting rid of all the negative poisons that keep us stuck in something called Samsara. Samsara is the place where most others remain whilst we are ignorant and bound by attachment to negative things. The only way that we can become free from samsara is by getting rid of the ignorance we have. Mahayana teaches about love and compassion for other people. It teaches about the nature of emptiness and the Law of Causality (that everything whether material, or phenomenon has a root cause)
Hinayana teaches – only through meditation and strong practice to develop the self, can a person reach nirvana. But Mahayana teaches – the way to reach nirvana is by developing good karma through practice of the Buddha’s Teachings (Dharma)
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