Note: The following passage was taken from S.Dharmamitra's Home Page (http://www.teleport.com/~dh-mitra/) which nicely summarises the current misconception on Hinayana and Theravada.
Although the dialectical terms "Hinayana" and "Lesser Vehicle" do appear in these texts, the reader should understand that it would be a great error to associate these terms with any living Buddhist tradition, least of all the Southern School monastic tradition styling itself "Theravada" after one of the great schools of early Indian Buddhism.
In over 25 years of contact with Dharma communities, I have never met a sincere Buddhist who did not feel compassion for other people and who did not wish them the benefits of Dharma. This is all we should require for admission into the all-embracing community of the "Great Vehicle" or "Mahayana". One would surely want to include as bodhisattvas Theravada monks such as the Venerables Sumedho and Amaro who sacrifice decades of their lives to spreading Dharma.
The words "Hinayana" and "Lesser Vehicle" are best reserved for those unfortunate few in any tradition who stray from the true spirit of Dharma and who exploit its rhetoric for their own self-benefit.
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