Sanghamitta wrote:And its not as though the polemically laden term in its perjorative sense is obsolete, I never posted on the " grey forum " but I remember a number of threads in which the "h" word was used in just that way, as describing a lesser or inferior vehicle by people who had authority within that forum. And they meant it, it was clear from context.
I was there, at times in the middle of it. I know, and often some on the Mahayana side presented it as if the Mahayana were the
arbiter of all things Buddhist, which, is of course, sectarian nonsense. The Mahayana does not get to define the Theravada for Theravadins any more than the Theravada gets to define the Mahayana for Mahayanists. The is not to say that there cannot be criticisms of by the other, but there is no basis for either claiming some sort of objective independent truth by which the other is rightfully critiqued.
The sort of stuff the Theravadins had to continually contend with is that Mahayanists insisted on using their
understandings of nibbana, bodhi, the Buddha, dhammas, etc as being the basis of the critique of the Theravada, and never mind how the Theravada understood and used those terms. It was an uphill climb to get them to see that their limited hinayana was not at all appropriate to the Theravada. The notion of chosen ignorance
comes to mind for some the participants who would not see that the Mahayana does not get to define the Theravada for Theravadins.
Using Nagarjuna and Co., for example, as a basis for critiquing the Theravada carries no weight, simply given that Nagarjuna and Co. are not recognized as having any authority within the Theravada, and it was not unusual for some of the Mahayanist to get a bit testy when showing that Nagarjuna's positions did not accurately characterize the Theravada.
While I engaged in these debates, my concern was not to convince or beat up the true believers of the Mahayana; rather, it was to give information to those who were open to listening what was being said.
Quite frankly, in my opinion the concept of hinayana as a sectarian way of classification is one of the most singularly problematic things to come out all of Buddhism in general, and it needs to be looked at within a context of the history of Buddhist ideas in order to correctly understand it. As much as one might try, there are still going to be those who are going to insist that Mahayana/hinayana
is the truth and that the Theravada IS hinayana because it is not Mahayana.