Nyanatiloka Thera

The Word of the Buddha

The Word of the Buddha

The three levels of Buddhist teaching are called ‘vehicles’ because they comprise the teachings and methods that will carry us to enlightenment, in much the same way that vehicles carry us to our destination in everyday life.

Hinayana is the basic level of Buddhist teaching and practice that is common to all traditions, though it is often associated with the Theravada tradition. It is called ‘the lower vehicle’, but it is not lower in the sense that it is of lesser value than the Mahayana or Vajrayana vehicles.

Instead, it is the foundation level of Buddhism. Just as a house needs a solid foundation in order to be strong, so also do the other Buddhist vehicles or paths need the solid foundation that Hinayana provides.

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About Nyanatiloka Thera

Nyanatiloka Mahathera (19 February 1878 – 28 May 1957) was the first Continental European in modern times to become a Buddhist monk and one of the foremost Western exponents of Theravada Buddhism in the twentieth century.

Born in Germany, he developed a keen interest in Buddhism in his youth and came to Asia intending to enter the Buddhist Order. He received ordination in Burma in 1903. The greatest part of his life as a monk was spent in Sri Lanka, where he established the Island Hermitage at Dodanduwa as a monastery for Western monks. His translations into German include the Anguttara Nikaya, the Visuddhimagga, and the Milindapañha.

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276