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Threefold Training

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Title: Threefold Training  
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Subject: Śīla, Buddhism, Nichiren-shū, Buddhist meditation, Noble Eightfold Path
Collection: Buddhist Philosophical Concepts
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Threefold Training

The Buddha identified the threefold training (sikkhā)[1] as training in:

  • higher virtue (adhisīla-sikkhā)
  • higher mind (adhicitta-sikkhā)
  • higher wisdom (adhipaññā-sikkhā)


  • In the Pali Canon 1
    • Similarity to threefold partition of the Noble Eightfold Path 1.1
  • Notes 2
  • Source 3
  • External links 4

In the Pali Canon

According to Theravada canonical texts, pursuing this training leads to the abandonment of lust, hatred, and delusion.[2] One who is fully accomplished in this training attains Nibbana.[3]

In the Anguttara Nikaya, training in "higher virtue" includes following the Patimokkha, training in "higher mind" (sometimes simply referred to as "concentration") includes entering and dwelling in the four jhanas, and training in "higher wisdom" includes directly perceiving the Four Noble Truths.

In several canonical discourses, a more "gradual" instruction (anupubbikathā) is provided to receptive lay people (see also, gradual training). This latter instruction culminates in the teaching of the Four Noble Truths which in itself concludes with the Noble Eightfold Path, the constituents of which can be mapped to this threefold training (see below).

Similarity to threefold partition of the Noble Eightfold Path

The Buddha's threefold training is similar to the threefold grouping of the Eightfold Path as follows:

Threefold Partition Eightfold Path Method of Practice
VIRTUE Right Speech Five Laymen Vows
Right Action
Right Livelihood
MIND Right Effort Dwelling in the four jhanas (meditation)
Right Mindfulness
Right Concentration
WISDOM Right View Knowing Four Noble Truths
Right Intention


  1. ^ See the Anguttara Nikaya Book of Threes' (Tikanipata) Monks chapter (Samanavagga). This chapter's suttas are alternately identified as AN 3:82 to 3:92. Of these suttas, the two most widely translated into English are AN 3:88 and 3:89, respectively referred to as "Sikkha (1)" and "Sikkha (2)" by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and as "Dutiyasikkhasuttam" and "Tatiyasikkhasuttam" in the Sinhalese canon. English translations of these latter two suttas can be found in: Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), pp. 69-71; Thanissaro (1998a); and, Thanissaro (1998b). Also see, e.g., DN 16.4.3 (PTS D ii.123) (boldface added for emphasis):
    "Sīla samādhi paññā ca,
    vimutti ca anuttarā;
    Anubuddhā ime dhammā,
    gotamena yasassinā. Iti buddho abhiññāya,
    dhammamakkhāsi bhikkhuna;
    Dukkhassantakaro satthā,
    cakkhumā parinibbuto"ti.
    Translated by Vajira & Story (1998) (boldface added for emphasis) as:
    "Virtue, concentration, wisdom, and emancipation unsurpassed —
    These are the principles realized by Gotama the renowned;
    And, knowing them, he, the Buddha, to his monks has taught the Dhamma.
    He, the destroyer of suffering, the Master, the Seer, is at peace."
  2. ^ See AN 3:88 (Thanissaro, 1998a).
  3. ^ See AN 3.89 (Thanissaro, 1998b).
  4. ^ Thanissaro (1998c).


  • Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans. and ed.) (1999). Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: An Anthology of Suttas from the Anguttara Nikaya. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press. ISBN 0-7425-0405-0.
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998a). AN 3.88: Sikkha Sutta - Trainings (1). Available on-line at
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998b). AN 3.89: Sikkha Sutta - Trainings (2). Available on-line at
  • Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1998c). MN 44: Culavedalla Sutta: The Shorter Set of Questions-and-Answers. Available on-line at

External links

  • English translation and romanized Pali transliteration of the Anguttara Nikaya's Book of Threes' Monk (samana) chapter, including AN 3:82 to 3:92 (
  • "Threefold Training", talk by Mahasi Sayadaw.
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