Измени себя — изменится Мир вокруг

The three vehicles – the three paths. Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana.

The three main branches on the path of self-improvement are allocated in Buddhist tradition, they are called the Three Yanas or Three Vehicles (Chariots).

Hinayana (“yana” – vehicle, “hina” – small, lesser) – the “Smaller Vehicle”.

Mahayana (“maha” – great) – the “Great Vehicle”.

Vajrayana (“vajra” – diamond) – the “Diamond Vehicle”.

All of them lead to one goal. Allocation appeared because Buddha gave different methods for people with various skills and abilities for improvement.

Each branch has its’ followers. Different people – different methods.

The essence of knowledge given by Buddha exceeds the limits of human dimension. For a better understanding of this knowledge a certain form is set such as the Three Vehicles. Each contains specific instructions, methods of comprehension of the Knowledge.


The Hinayana tradition is based on so-called the earliest Buddhist doctrine, starting with the famous sermon “The Four Noble Truths” - the truth of suffering, its cause, its end, and the path to that end.

The basis of this branch is formed with Tripitaka, Pali Canons – receptacle of scriptures which was made soon after Buddha attained Nirvana.

The Hinayana followers consider scriptures to be the most ancient source of Buddha’s doctrine and therefore the most reliable. Hence the other name of Hinayana is Theravada “The Teaching of Elders”.


The Mahayana tradition takes its’ origins on the north of India later it spread basically to China, Tibet, Japan. It reconsiders the conception of world order and spiritual Path set in Hinayana and reveals the meaning of Budda’s Doctrine in an absolutely different way.

Hinayana and Mahayana are based on Sutras.

These are the texts which came to ancient practicians in a form of spiritual revelation. Supposed they were given by Buddha. However Buddha was not in a form of a specific historical figure – Buddha Shakyamuni – but an emergence of Buddha’s nature in it’s core – timeless, comprehensive, metaphysical reality which goes beyond Human mind.


Vajrayana is the last Vehicle called “Tantric Buddhism”. The name is originated fr om knowledge given by Guru Padmasambava (who is believed to be Buddha’s incarnation) – Tantras. The ultimate goal is similar to Mahayana – reaching the Buddha state for the good of all beings. The difference between Vajrayana and Mahayana is in the methods of indicating this initial state.

The differences between Vehicles.


- Hinayana – Nirvana (liberation fo one-self)

- Mahayana, Vajrayana – the good for all being.

Hinayana perceives the Path of Buddha Shakyamuni as a manual: renounce the world, remove attachments and “pollutions” in order to become enlightened like Buddha and leave this world for eternal delight and happiness in Nirvana – the superior state beyond life and death of Sansar being.

It is important to notice: followers of Hinayana believe that Buddha is a specific historical figure, the Guru who reaches enlightenment and attained Nirvana. That means he stopped existing in our reality. This idea is crucial for understanding the difference in perception of issues of Hinayana and Mahayana.

- Hinayana: Buddha is a person who reached enlightenment.

- Mahayana: Buddha is a metaphysical reality.

Sutras of Mahayana indicate that Nirvana is just a trick on the Path, and Buddha or Tathagata is something much more significant than just a body of Buddha Shakyamuni materialized in this world. Buddha is an aspect of reality, fundamental nature, primary matter, the essence of all being. Thus Buddha perceived in such way cannot “leave” the Sansar world. He remains in it inside of everything, each one of us.

This conception got the name - the Tathagatagarbha Doctrine - the “inception” of Buddha as a fundamental nature inside of all sentient creatures.

In Tathagatagarbha it is written:

“Good sons, all beings, though they find themselves with all sorts of klesas, have a tathagatagarbha that is eternally unsullied, and that is replete with virtues no different fr om my own… Whether or not buddhas appear in the world, the tathagatagarbhas of all beings are eternal and unchanging. It is just that they are covered by sentient beings' klesas.” And later he says: “You will become buddhas just like I am now”.

Perfect individuality:

- Hinayana: Arhat

- Mahayana: Bodhisattva

The ideal in Hinayana is an Arhat – a holly monk who with own efforts attained Nirvana – the main goal according to Hinayana tradition.

In Sutras of Mahayana Arhats are called Sravaka (“who listens the voice”) meaning that they are followers of Buddha who did not comprehend the profundity of the Doctrine and attached themselves to the idea of Nirvana being their personal liberation though yearning for it is a delusion.

First of all, there is no difference between Sansara and Nirvana – both of them are illusions of Mind.

“There is nothing whatsoever of samsara distinguishing (it) fr om nirvana.

There is nothing whatsoever of nirvana distinguishing it fr om samsara.

(That?) is the limit which is the lim it of nirvana and the lim it of samsara;

Even a very subtle interval is not found of (between) them.”

Nagajuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, XXV, 19-20

“Understanding the mind to be the root of both transmigration and Enlightenment, we can be certain

that all the solidity of material phenomena and of sentient beings is merely the illusory vision of our

own mind. Due to the varieties of accumulated karma, in fact, the various types of beings have distinct

illusory visions”.

Namkhai Norbu “The Crystal and the Way of Light”

“This mind has created both samsara and nirvana;

Outside of it neither the one nor the other exists”


Secondly, even if the Mind accepts the rules of those illusory games, longing for “personal” liberation is not a dignified way. Aftar all a “liberated person” leaves others in six realms os Sansara who will keep wondering ignorant and experience continuous sufferings.

Hence the main task of a practician is to bring the maximum benefit for living creatures during his/her life. Which as we know at some point comes to an end and the possibility of being born as a human is priceless as it gives an opportunity to practice.

Refusing from focusing only on him/her-self a practician of Mahayana switches to other people and beings.

The ideal in Mahayana is Bodhisattva – the one who strives to become Buddha to bring the boon for the world.

Such intention is called Bodhicitta (“bodhi” – awakened, “citta” – consciousness). Generating this intention caused by feeling the great Compassion for all living things is the beginning of spiritual development on the Path of Great Vehicle, Mahayana.

Generally in Mahayana you may find a concept that the essence of all actions lies not in action itself but in motivation, purposes and incentives. Therefore something that looks strange or cruel may be regarded worthy if it based on good intentions.

- Hinayana and Mahayana: the Path of renunciation (Sutras)

- Vajrayana – the Path of transformation (Tantras)

Hinayana and Mahayana are called the Path of Renunciation. That means removing all negative actions to clear the Mind and obtain the core enlightened state – reach the Enlightenment.

Vajrayana and Tantra in general is a Tantra Way, the Path of Transformation. Wh ere the attachments, ignorance or affections, which are being removed in Sutra, can be used as a part of practice.

Evgeniy Torchin (a scientist and a theologian) writes:

“Vajrayana states that the main advantage of this method is extreme efficiency, immediate effect that allows a person to become Buddha during only one life not three incalculable (Asamkheya) world cycles – kalpas. At the same time mentors of Vajrayana tradition emphasized that this Path is also the most dangerous.

Vajrayana interacts with obscure abyss of unconscious – the one wh ere “still waters run deep” – using mad surrealistic images and archetypes for fast demolition of the affects’ roots: desires, inclinations (sometimes pathological), affections – all that could rest unperceived by practician kept “attacking” his conscious from the “inside”.”

Nowadays in Western countries under the name of “Tantra” certain practices are being introduced that have a remote relation to spirituality. Such phenomenon is connected with superficial understanding, western conception of the union of a man and a woman, which is allocated in Tantra. Male and female essence in Vajrayana is a union of two aspects of Awakening: wisdom and method.

On images of Tantric deities a divine couple is presented symbolizing a sacred union called “Yab-yum”.

Method (skills, actions), “Upaya” is a masculine form, a deity in a male body.

Wisdom, “Prajna” is a feminine form, a female consort.

In the Buddhism there is a steady trinity: Body, Speech and Mind.

- Practice for the Vajra of Body: doing bowing and prostraition.

- Practice for the Vajra of Speech: reciting mantras.

- Practice for the Vajra of Mind: visualization.

The basic practices of Vajrayana are:

1) Reciting mantras;

2) Visualization of deities;

3) Contemplation of mandalas.

Recitation of mantras in Vajrayana is of such a great importance that sometimes it is being called Mantrayana – the Mantra Vehicle. Pronouncing mantras supposes understanding the inner meaning of mantra and it’s influence. Often you need to visualize the written mantra during practice also a certain color, size and thickness and other characteristics of beheld letters.

Practice of tantric mantras supposes a certain initiation which explained the correct pronunciation of sounds.

In Vajrayana the mentor, the teacher, the Guru plays an important role. Under Guru’s guidance for each pupil a specific practice is selected according to his character. Quality, the trait of character having negative property is called affect (klesa): anger, passion, ignorance, arrogance or envy.

Those who practice Vajrayana claim that such affects should not be wiped out but realized and transformed into awakened state. How is that possible?