Literally: “Great Vehicle”. One of the three main branches of Buddhism, the other two being Hinayana (small vehicle) and Vajrayana (indestructible vehicle). Although this is the branch to which Zen belongs and Zen traces its origin back to the Buddha himself, generally Mahayana is considered to be a newer form than Hinayana. There is less emphasis placed on nirvana and individual salvation in this tradition and more emphasis placed on saving all sentient beings.