Vehicle of characteristics

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The Vehicle of Characteristics (Skt. lakṣaṇayāna; Tib. རྒྱུ་མཚན་ཉིད་ཐེག་པ་, gyumtsen nyi tekpa, Wyl. rgyu mtshan nyid theg pa), or Causal Vehicle (Skt. hetuyāna; Tib. རྒྱུའི་ཐེག་པ་, Wyl. rgyu'i theg pa), refers to the Sutrayana and thus includes the shravaka yana, the pratyekabuddha yana and the Mahayana. It is called a vehicle of characteristics because it has all the characteristics of a path that is a direct cause for bringing about the ultimate fruition, the level of buddhahood.[1]

Longchenpa says:

The causal vehicles are so called because of accepting a sequence of cause and effect, asserting that buddhahood is attained by increasing the qualities of the buddha nature which is merely present as a seed, through the circumstance of the two accumulations.[2]

Alternative Translations

  • Expository vehicle of causality (Padmakara, Treasury of Precious Qualities)
  • Philosophical vehicle


  1. A Brief Presentation of the Nine Yanas by Alak Zenkar Rinpoche
  2. Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom Vol. One, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1999), pages 152.

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