The Great Vehicle

A vehicle refers to a boat that enables one to cross the waters and go from this shore (the state of sleep) to the other shore (the state of enlightenment).

Horus with the Egyptian Sun God Ra in the night bark,
(The Papyrus of Ani, Egyptian text)


The Buddha is like a good pilot; the dharma is like a ship; and the company of disciples is like people who have succeeded in reaching the farther shore. -- Buddha



The wisdom necessary to reach the other shore has to be put it into practice with our mind; whether we recite it or not does not matter. Mere reciting it without mental practice may be likened to a phantasm or a magical delusion. On the other hand, if we do both, then our mind will be in accord with what we repeat orally.
-- Huineng (6th Patriarch of Zen-Buddhism)
Christ, the pilot of the ship is asleep, symbolizing the heart not using the wisdom it has. (Illuminated manuscript, Cologne, 12th century)


The ship is your heart. Guard it. -- Macarius the Great, The Philokalia (Greek Orthodox Christian text)

The ship refers to the heart that has the wisdom to reach the other shore and is using this wisdom.

If only done with your tongue and not your heart, the repetition of God’s name is in vain. -- Sultan Bahu (17th c. Sufi)




The inner meaning of repeating the name of god refers to reminding oneself to be present.

The name 'Allah' means divine presence. -- Ibn Arabi (13th c. Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher)
When the mind unceasingly repeats the name of the Lord, and the intellect gives its full attention to the invocation, light fills the entire soul like a luminous cloud. -- Theoleptus, The Philokalia

The Little Vehicle refers to repeating the name of the Lord only one time. The Great Vehicle symbolizes repeating the name of God and refers to a mantra, spell or charm of true words.

I've got a spell called True Words to calm the mind. -- Journey to the West
All changes of spiritual consciousness depend upon the heart. There is a secret charm, which although it works very accurately, is yet so fluid that it needs extreme intelligence and clarity, and the most complete absorption and tranquility. People without this highest degree of intelligence and understanding do not find the way to apply the charm; people without this utmost capacity for absorption and tranquility cannot keep fast hold of it.
-- The Secret of the Golden Flower (Taoist text)
The heart has a wonderful charm. The hidden and wonderful spell gives eternal life. -- Journey to the West

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