The Eightfold Path
The Mahayana branch of Buddhism is often called the "Greater Vehicle" because of its more liberal beliefs. Instead of regarding Buddha as a divine being, the Mahayana believes that Buddha was a manifestation of a divine being. They believe that Buddha takes on three entities: essence, godlike form, and body. Essence is the collection of his spiritual qualities that make him Buddha. In his godlike form, he is seen meditating and revealing himself to his people. In his body form, he is shown as a mortal that walked the earth like his believers. They believe that the Tipitaka is an important resource, but they also use other sutras, or written records of Buddhas experiences, as forms of teachings to live by.
Unlike the teachings of Theravada Buddhism, a Mahayana Buddhist is expected to lead others into nirvana. Mahayana Buddhists believe that they have the ability to do so and see it as a duty. In the Theravada doctrine, people can only find nirvana for themselves. A Mahayana Buddhist also believes that each individual has the ability to gain Buddhahood in his life.