In his forty-nine years expounding on the Buddha-dharma, Sakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, taught the Five Vehicles of Buddhism. These Five Vehicles are taught as expedients to cater to the different capacities and capabilities of sentient beings. In Buddhism the term ‘vehicle’ is analogous to a conveyance of deliverance for sentient beings. Thus, when one cultivates according to the teachings of these vehicles, one is conveyed or ferried from one shore to the other. That is, from the present shore where there is an abundance of affliction and suffering of birth and death, to theshore where there is bliss and enlightenment.

The Five Vehicles of Buddhism are:

no-rays1.GIF (1695 bytes) Humanity Vehicle Buddhism, or translated phonetically from Mandarin, Jen Chen Buddhism: Themain objectives of Jen Chen Buddhism are to purify the human mind and to promote a blissful culture for humanity, so that we may realize a happy and blissful family, and pure land in this world. 

no-rays2.GIF (1758 bytes)

Deva Vehicle Buddhism: The doctrines expounded to the Devas or celestial beings.

no-rays3.GIF (1523 bytes) Small Vehicle Buddhism, Sravaka, or Hinayana Buddhism: The doctrines for those who cultivate for the sake of personal liberation and aspiration for personal salvation. The highest level of attainment forcultivators of Hinayana Buddhism is the Arahat.

no-rays4.GIF (1508 bytes) Middle Vehicle Buddhism or Pratyeka-Buddha Buddhism: This is slightly more advanced than the Small Vehicle Buddhism. Like those of the Small Vehicle Buddhism, practitioners of the Middle Vehicle Buddhism are not concerned about the salvation of other sentient beings.

no-rays5.GIF (1518 bytes) Greater Vehicle Buddhism, Bodhisattva Vehicle Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhism: While the Small Vehicle is like a motorcycle or a bicycle which carries one or two persons at a time, the Greater Vehicle is likened to a train or a ship which can ferry many passengers on a single trip. Thus, the doctrines of the Greater Vehicle are for personal salvation as well as for the salvation of other sentient beings. Practitioners of the Greater Vehicle Buddhism aspire to ferrying both self and others to the shore of enlightenment. Amongst the well known Bodhisattvas of the Greater Vehicle Buddhism are Avalokitesvara or Kuan-Yin, Mahasthama, Manjusri, Ksitigarbha and last but not least, Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.


Copyright 2001. Jen Chen Buddhism Centre