Within the teachings of Buddhism, there are two major classifications, Mahayana and Hinayana. Mahayana means “great vehicle,” and Hinayana means “lesser vehicle.”
The word “vehicle” signifies the teaching to carry the people to enlightenment. Shakyamuni expounded Hinayana Buddhism in the early part of his preaching, namely, the Agama Period. These teachings were for the personal enlightenment of those of learning and realization, who only sought to save themselves.
On the contrary, Mahayana Buddhism, which was expounded in the Flower Garland, Expansion, Perfection of Wisdom, and Lotus-Nirvana Periods, is the teaching to lead both oneself and others to enlightenment. Therefore, the profound doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism are superior to the teachings of Hinayana Buddhism.
At Sunday, March 31st’s Introduction to Buddhism meeting, our Chief Priest, Rev. Murata, will explain about the Ten Worlds and the worlds of learning and realization. Join us!
Source: Basic Terminology of Nichiren Shoshu, Volume 1, p.17.