What are the major forms of Buddhism?

There are three major schools of Buddhism. Hinayana Buddhism, the lower vehicle, which is also called Theravadan or School of the Elders, focuses on a solitary realization of the path from suffering. Mahayana Buddhism, the second school, focuses on the altruistic attitude that maintains that Englightment is sought of the sake of others. The goal of that school is to seek an end of suffering not just for oneself, but rather for all sentient creatures. The final school, which is Vajrayana Buddhism or the "Diamond Vehicle," is characterized by psychological methods based on highly developed rituals.

It is extremely important to note that, unlike sects of the other major world religions, there is a high level of harmony and respect between the major Buddhist schools. The major reason for this is that the Mahayanists must first except the Hinayana teachings as a pre-condition of their practice. Likewise, the Vajrayanists must accept both Hinayana and Mahayana practices. Nevertheless, the Mahayanists and Vajrayanists consider their schools as more advanced and a "quicker" path to ultimate Enlightenment. (Tibetan Buddhists, such as those affiliated with the Drepung Loseling Insitute, are Vajrayana Buddhists.)

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