Lobsang Damchoi wrote:(...)
Do you mean practiced for the purpose of gaining personal Liberation only? Or the only practice that is used by an individual to gain Liberation?
If you mean the former, then this doesn't belong in the Mahayana forum. I guess it's the use of the word "solely" that bothers me. Aren't all Pure Land practitioners followers of Mahayana Buddhism, which strives to help all sentient beings get out of samsara (the attainment of Pure Land is a desirable step towards the goal of liberating all beings)?
Or is there some kind of Hinayana tendency "lurking" in the main Chinese and Japanese traditions.
From what I understand about Chinese Mahayana Buddhism (or any Mahayana Buddhism in the human world), there is always some lurking Theravada tendency until we have reached a certain level. Like you said, a Pure Land practitioner may every now and then focusses only his/her/its own liberation from samsara. Similarly a Zen or Esoteric practitioner may have such moments until his/her/its Bodhicitta is firmly set.
In the Chinese Tiantai school there is a classification system of Buddhist teachings:
1) the Tripitaka Teaching (zangjiao 藏)
2) the Common Teaching (tongjiao 通)
3) the Separate Teaching (biejiao 別)
4) the Perfect/Complete Teaching (yuanjiao 圓)
(This is where I obtained the English translation http://www.fgu.edu.tw/~buddhist/chinese ... 20/015.pdf
From what I have learned, the Complete Teaching is for becoming a Buddha pretty much instantaneously. Apparently this is beyond the reach of most human Buddhist practitioners nowadays. The Separate Teaching are for those beings who are already liberated from samsara; the Separate Teaching is purely Mahayana.
For most of us still in samsara, we have either the Tripitaka Teaching, which is purely Theravada, or the Common Teaching, which can be both Theravada and Mahayana. Most of us Mahayana practitioners belong to the Common Teaching category. Even if we have committed ourselves to Mahayana practices, most of us still have certain practices, beliefs and moments of thoughts that is Theravada in nature. A Theravada beginning to accept and take up the Mahayana way is also considered to be in the scope of the Common Teaching.
This is what I have learned from a Chinese Buddhist monk in his lectures. I could have misunderstood this and welcome any Tiantai practitioners (or any knowledgeable posters really) to correct or confirm the above.
In conclusion, while we consider ourselves to be Mahayana we might in reality not be as Mahayana as we want to be.
Having said that, I would like to add that Mr. G in his first post mentioned "for liberation" only. He did not specific whether the liberation was for only the self or all beings.