In gladness and in safety, may all beings be at ease. Buddhism Continues to Grow:
As the "Greater Vehicle" literally, the "Greater Ox-Cart"Mahayana is a path available to people from all walks of life - not just monks and ascetics. Mahayana Buddhists accept the Pali Canon as sacred scripture with the Theravadans, but also many other works, the Sutras, which were written later and in Sanskrit.
Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists differ in their perspective on the ultimate purpose of life and the way in which it can be attained. Theravada Buddhists strive to become arhats, or perfected saints who have attained enlightenment and nirvana.
This is considered to only be possible for monks and nuns, who devote their entire lives to the task. The best outcome the laity can hope for is to be reborn in the monastic life. Mahayana Buddhists, on the other hand, hope to become not arhats but boddhisatvas, saints who have become enlightened but who unselfishly delay nirvana to help others attain it as well, as the Buddha did.
Mahayana Buddhists further teach that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime, and this can be accomplished even by a layperson. The various subdivisions within the Mahayana tradition, such as Zen, Nichiren, and Pure Land, promote different ways of attaining this goal, but all are agreed that it can be attained in a single lifetime by anyone who puts his or her mind and sometimes body to it.
The Mahayana form of Buddhism tends to be more religious in nature than its Theravadan counterpart. It often includes veneration of celestial beings, Buddhas and boddhisatvas, ceremonies, religious rituals, magical rites, and the use of icons, images, and other sacred objects. The role of such religious elements varies, however:Although Mahayana Buddhism expresses belief in the saint-like state of a Bodhisattva this is very different from the notion of Creator God in Christianity.
  While some variations of Buddhism believe in an impersonal eternal Buddha or trikaya, in general Buddhism sees empty space as eternal and without a starting point of creation. The inner way refers to Buddhism, and the outer way refers to teachings other than Buddhism, such as Brahmanism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism and so forth.
This principle contrasts and compares Buddhism, specifically, with other religious doctrines. Buddhism versus Zen comparison chart; Buddhism Zen; Belief of God: The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists.
The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God.
Buddhism versus Christianity comparison chart; Buddhism Christianity; Life after death: Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism.
We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently.
Yet all forms of Buddhism share respect for the teachings of the Buddha and the goal of ending suffering and the cycle of rebirth.
The following chart provides an introduction to the similarities and differences between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. Since the arrival of Christian missionaries in the East in the 13th century, followed by the arrival of Buddhism in Western Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, similarities were perceived between the practices of Buddhism and Christianity.
During the 20th century the differences between these two belief systems were also highlighted. Despite surface level non-scholarly analogies, Buddhism.