Nowadays, both in China and Tibet, many people identify themselves as Buddhists, both lay practitioners and monastics. They often participate in the activity of liberating animals, or practice prostrations and the five uncommon preliminaries. Many feel proud that they practice every day. However, if we looked closely at their motivations, we would find that quite a few practice only for their own benefit in this life, such as for health, longevity, or the removal of a life-threatening obstacle. Others hope for a favorable rebirth in the god or human realm just because they fear suffering in the three lower realms (the realms of hell, hungry ghosts and animals). But any form of practice undertaken with these kinds of selfish motivation is considered, at best, a worldly act.
Furthermore, we should not think that burning incense and doing prostrations is worldly, whereas listening to the teachings of the Madhyamaka or the Great Perfection is transcendent. The distinction between the two is simply not about form.
[Depicted from Luminous Wisdom Book Series 1 : The Right View ~ The Three Differences]