At the Buddha’s time there were probably just those disciples who had understood his teaching/the path (those on/in the stream to Awakening) and those who had not. They were both laypeople or mendicants (monks or nuns). There were probably no “vehicles” or sects, such as Mahayana, Hinayana… There was just Dhamma. There may have been junior monks staying with various accomplished monks, but they would have all looked to the Buddha as the teacher, not the monk they were staying with. This idea is even questionable, since the Buddha instructed monks to go and wander, no two in the same direction.
There is a story of the Buddha asking permission to stay in someone’s barn and they said yes, but told him that there was another monk there already. When the Buddha entered the barn, he saw the monk practising meditation very well. So he joined him. After some time they both stopped meditating and the Buddha asked him who was his teacher. The monk said “the Buddha is my teacher”. The Buddha asked, “but have you ever met or seen the Buddha?” and the monk said “no”. So the Buddha said, “attend carefully and I’ll teach you the Dhamma” and the monk said “ok”. After the talk the monk realised that this monk in front of him was the Buddha. This says two things. The Buddha didn’t look special and some people took him as the teacher, even though they had never met him.
I want to let you know, that all authentic teachings of the Buddha contain all other authentic teachings. We have seen that to some extent in what I shared about the teaching of Mindfulness of Breathing. There I pointed out that the Buddha showed that the Four Foundations of Mindfulness are covered by the practice of Mindfulness of Breathing. I also showed how Calm and Insight (Samatha, Vipassanaa) are also covered by it. Here I’d like to show how Dependent Origination is also covered by it.
Now you may be surprised to know that there are many versions of Dependent Origination. You can see a discussion of some in Dr Rod Bucknell’s article: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/jiabs/article/view/8891/2798. But not all of them fit into other teachings, like Mindfulness of Breathing. The one that does fit into other teachings is the one found in this discourse: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.023.than.html. There it is put together with the “standard” Dependent Origination, but we notice that the standard one does not match Mindfulness of Breathing. This makes it questionable. In fact I haven’t found any teaching matches the standard Dependent Origination. That makes it VERY questionable.
Here they are together:
So now we can compare the side on the right, what I have called “The Way Out” with the teaching of Mindfulness of Breathing, which is just a different way to teach the Path, which is the way out of suffering.
So this is how the authentic teachings of the Buddha protect and support each other.