Tee Hee Hee
After all, it seems somewhat beside the point what kind of Buddhist you are. Such a large part of the work of Buddhism is based upon working toward not grasping for artificial certainties that the concept of denominations of Buddhism is somewhat amusing to me.
In a secular, descriptive way, I get it. Having vocabulary for such things is a convenient short-cut for understanding each others’ perspectives. If, for example, I say that I am a Theravada Buddhist, then I had better be a nun, because Theravada Buddhists don’t believe that lay people can stop the cycle of birth and rebirth and therefore cannot achieve enlightenment. On the other hand, as a Mahayana Buddhist, I can say that anyone who is doing the work of brushing back the illusions of this life and who is striving to awaken themselves to life without ground is capable of achieving enlightenment.
But it doesn’t stop there, does it?
Of course not.
Because of the idea that only monks and nuns can achieve enlightenment, Theravada Buddhism has come to be called the “lesser vehicle”. Hmmmmm…no shenpa there, huh? And because Mahayana allows for all to work toward enlightenment (with a shot for the Big Time), it has come to be called “the greater vehicle”. And they say size doesn’t matter.
I suppose its all good as long as we can keep our perspective and understand that the labels are truly there only for convenience and that they don’t necessarily represent a concrete reality. My experience with humanity to date, however, suggests that this detail is typically lost in the confusion.
And we haven’t even gotten to Vajrayana Buddhism – the “diamond vehicle”. Now what’s that supposed to mean?