Mahayana PDF Print E-mail

MAHAYANISTS aim at attaining the highest stage, of Nirvana, Buddhahood, for the sake not only of the individual but all other sentient beings. Motivated by the thought of Enlightenment (Bodhi-chitta) and by compassion, they follow almost the same paths as those of Hinayana. But in addition to those paths, they practice other methods (Upayas) such as the six Paramitas (transcendent virtues). By this practice, Mahayanists seek not only to rid themselves of delusion but also of the defilement of sin, thereby working to attain Buddhahood. The five Mahayanic paths are likewise known as the Paths of Preparation, Application, Seeing, Practice and Fulfillment. But although the name of the paths are the same as those of Hinayana, there is a qualitative difference between them. And since Mahayanists have a different fundamental motive and in general follow different paths and practice different methods, the final goal which they achieve is different.

The question is sometimes asked whether Hinayanists, having achieved Nirvana, will be confined to the stage they have attained, or whether they will subsequently follow the Mahayana. The answer is that they will certainly not regard their own stage of Nirvana as the final goal, but will certainly adopt ways to attain Buddhahood.

By H. H. the Dalai Lama of Tibet