According to one’s learning and level of practice, there is a distinction made between Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism. Hinayanais a term given by the Mahayana to those schools of Buddhism that practice to attain Sravaka Bodhi, the enlightenment of a Sravaka, or one who listens to and understands a Buddha’s Teaching. This enlightenment is termed that of an Arahant, or accomplished one. Mahayana Buddhists, on the other hand, aspire to win the Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi of a Buddha, both for their own liberation and for the liberation of all sentient beings. A traditional contrasting simile characterizing these two Yanas is that of a solitary individual riding a bicycle, which is analogous to the Hinayana path, while riding in a train full of people is comparable to the Mahayana path.
According to the Bodhisattva Dharma, an individual who has determined to practice and seek deliverance for himself only has blockaded himself within and limited himself to the region of Hinayana. In contrast, one who has determined to practice the Bodhicitta, with the aspiration to assist in the liberation of other living beings, has entered the region of Mahayana. The practice of Bodhisattva Dharma is just the promotion of this Mahayana insight, and its basic spirit is the determination of the Bodhicitta.
[ Next: Determining The Bodhicitta: The Four Great Vows
And The Four Defeats Of The Bodhisattva Dharma ]
Source: Young Men’s Buddhist Association of America