Those [Of The] Great Vehicle Must Not Look Down On [The] Small Vehicle’s Teachings [And Vice Versa]
Those learning, although then focusing mainly [on the] Great Vehicle’s [teachings, they] also must not [have] disdain [and] abandonment [of the] Small Vehicle’s [teachings]. With [the] Small Vehicle’s [teachings, they were] originally for entering [the] Great Vehicle’s [teachings] then established. Thus, [they are with the] Thus Come [One’s] deliverance [of] sentient beings’ wonderful function, truly [for those of] low[er] roots, [as] their exiting [of] suffering’s great plan.
[Note 1: To be truly great, the Great Vehicle’s (大乘: Mahāyāna) teachings (geared towards the complete liberation of one and all) have to encompass and transcend the Small Vehicle’s (小乘: Hīnayāna) teachings (geared towards self-liberation). Since the Great Vehicle’s teachings are thus inclusive, they cannot in principle exclude the Small Vehicle’s teachings. At the same time, as it is clear upon detailed study, that the Small Vehicle’s teachings are incomplete for Buddhahood, this is where the Great Vehicle’s teachings come in, to complete the Buddhas’ perfect vision, of how to attain our greatest spiritual potential.]
Thus [did the] Sūtra [Of] Forty-Two Sections say [in the Thirty-Ninth Section of ‘(That) Taught (Are) Without Differences (第三十九章：教诲无差)], ‘Those [who] learn [the] Buddha’s path, [of] that [the] Buddha taught [by] speaking, all should [be] faithfully followed. For example, like eating honey, [in the] centre [and at the] sides, all [is] sweet, my sūtras [are] likewise thus.’
[The] great ocean, although having [the] shallow [and] deep, [its] water’s taste [is] originally without two kinds. All belonging [to the] Buddha’s sūtras, certainly should [be as] one body respected.
[Note 2: The Great Vehicle’s teachings contain the complete path to Buddhahood (佛果: which is complete liberation). Voluminous and with profound depth, they are capable of guiding all to the same goal. The Small Vehicle’s teachings contain the path to Arhathood (阿罗汉果: which is self-liberation). All were taught by the Buddha, with the universal flavour of freedom (i.e. liberation from suffering’s causes, conditions and effects), although with capabilities of different degrees.]
Like [the] Wheel[-Turning] King’s orders, [for] matters although [with] all kinds, [that are] not [the] same, these [are] as [the] King’s decrees, then one [and the same] too.
And [when] complete [teachings’ (圆教)] persons receive [the] Dharma, [they are] without [any] Dharma [that is] not complete (圆满) [and perfect].
[Note 3: When one with the Great Vehicle’s inclination receive any Dharma teachings, even if they are of the Small Vehicle in origin, one is able to accept them with the spirit of the Bodhi Mind (i.e. Bodhicitta: 菩提心), thus interpreting and expanding them in scope, to be of the Great Vehicle.]
[His] words [for] governing [the] world, supporting lives, livelihoods [and] others, all follow [the] Right Dharma.
[Note 4: Wheel-turning Kings rule with the Right Dharma, just as Buddhas teach only the Right Dharma.]
Moreover, [those from the] Thus Come [One’s] golden mouth that [were] spoken, of arising [and] ceasing, non-birth, Four [Noble] Truths, Twelve Causes [and] Conditions, [and] other Dharma [teachings]!
[Note 5: Unfortunately, some adherents of each vehicle might disparage those of the other vehicle due to lack of harmonious and interconnected perspectives. For example, some from the Small Vehicle might feel that there should be self-liberation first, before even thinking about liberating others. As another example, some from the Great Vehicle might feel that there should be aiming to liberate all together, now and quickly.
On the first example, it is actually possible, to some extent, to guide others to complete liberation while guiding oneself too – such as by practising and introducing the Pure Land path. (Upon reaching Amitābha Buddha’s [阿弥陀佛] Pure Land [净土], swiftest Buddhahood for helping all beings is guaranteed in that lifetime.)
On the second example, some are indeed more inclined in aptitude to self-liberation first. (Of course, the Pure Land can also be reached with focus on self-liberation first, with complete liberation later.) In our defiled land here, while those learning the Great Vehicle might spiritually backslide to the Small Vehicle, those learning the Small Vehicle can spiritually advance to the Great Vehicle too. (In the Pure Land however, there is only non-retrogressive progress to Buddhahood.)
As it is also possible to have ‘Great’-minded learning but with ‘Small’-minded practice, or ‘Small’-minded learning but with ‘Great’-minded practice, it is not healthy to overly harp upon superficial differences. Although it is natural for individuals to have preferred scopes of focus, if all are to humbly study and practise each vehicle’s teachings in depth, it will be realised that both are much more profound and substantial than imagined.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(Treatise [On With] Wholehearted Sincerity Then Obtaining True Benefits)
Cultivation Is With Precepts’ Practice With Sincerity And Respect As Foundation
Sūtra Of Forty-Two Sections