There is one argument from so called ‘mahayanist’ or ‘higher vehicle’ against so called ‘theraveda’ or ‘lesser vehicle’, that desiring liberation for oneself is selfish thing and walking the path of Mahayana is most selfless thing.
If we apply logic carefully, we will understand that this argument itself is false, wrong & blind argument. Saying that person who desires liberation is selfish, is same as saying that lord Buddha was selfish because he attained (maha)parinibbana because we are here still not free from suffering (it’s same as if blaming our own failure to attain liberation on others). As a dominantly selfish being afflicted with tanha and afflicted with 3 poisons of desire, ill will and ignorance, our actions usually denote that we want to suffer. So the most wise thing in this life and this world is to attain liberation. And one of the most stupid(non-dhamma) thing is to call such person selfish who desires liberation. Instead if you(anyone) really call yourself mahayanist, you should be the most happy person in the world if some one is desiring liberation by following Buddha’s teachings.
Such mahayanist who say that one should also work for other’s liberation instead of just one’s own(as its grand motivation), actually forget one thing that world(people around you)(the present world) does not need you to walk the path of Mahayana, instead it’s other way around, you are the one who wants to make everyone free from suffering, so it’s your own selfish thing(although grand but selfish), and not the requirement of world(it is definitely true for the world we are living atleast). As there were past Buddhas and there will be future Buddhas, you are one who wants to be one of them.
Another argument is that which path is easy and which path is hard. Some mahayanist say mahayana path is the hardest path, yes it is. But that’s not the complete truth. Theraveda is actually hardest path for those who want to be Bodhisattva as primary requirement is to renounce samsara, which is actually very very hard, tending to be impossible for those mahayanist who want to stay in touch with the samsara so that everyone around them can satisfy their desires properly (Another beautiful power of ignorance/mara which in some way continues samsara and prevents liberation). We can see this everywhere, that it is actually very hard to leave samsara(household, family, relatives, property and every thing/person that is close to oneself) and become monk who actually works to really attain nibbana(unlike many present day monks). It requires tremendous efforts, which is harder than trying to act like Bodhisattva and imparting dhamma knowledge and having some great spiritual attainments(typical nature of those who want to walk Bodhisattva path). They generally ignore one important thing, that even Lord Gautama Buddha said, he became Bodhisattva only after he attained capacity to become arhat and only after he received definite proclamation from Lord Dipamkara Buddha. So one thing is certain, you cannot become Bodhisattva until and unless you attain the capacity to become arhat. And even if one calls oneself Bodhisattva, one is actually not(amounting to wrong view)! One is just fulfilling perfections which are anyways required either to be Bodhisattva(in real sense) or to be arhat.
Lastly what’s the point of one being who is greatest and eldest in this samsara, who has attained sammasambodhi after fulfilling of perfections to greatest level possible as well as impossible, if others cannot easily attain freedom from suffering. It’s like today’s failure is tomorrow’s success, those who were distracted and did not attain liberation yesterday are the ones who attained liberation today. So wisest thing is to learn from seniors/elders, and eldest, greatest, most senior in this world is Lord buddha, so the most wisest and selfless thing one can do is to attain nibbana by following the teachings given by our great compassionate teacher. So theraveda is actually ‘perfectly’ selfless vehicle, while mahayana is ‘perfectly’ selfish vehicle(yes these are calculated words). And one cannot be perfectly selfish without being perfectly selfless…all the teachings teach us to be more selfless than we are. Selflessness should be revered above all…even before perfect selfishness.
I actually had these thoughts during meditation and wanted to jot them down as they seemed correct to me, I thought why not here…