Three Trainings

The Three Trainings are one way of summarizing the aspects of our lives that we work on through various methods, and are a traditional Buddhist list, though similar formulations are found in other traditions.

The Three Trainings are:

1) Morality (Pali: sila, Sanskrit: shila): refers to all aspects of our life that are not specifically related to meditation and the other two trainings. Thus, all issues of our speech, thoughts, psychological aspects, philosophies, conduct and codes of conduct, vocation, relationships, politics, and every other way we live our life that is not formal meditation practice falls under this heading. As it is such a huge topic, is a lifelong endeavor, and thus is the first and last training, the one will always have more to work on.

2) Concentration, aka Samatha (Pali) or Shamatha (Sanskrit): refers to formal training to achieve the samatha jhanas or concentration states. It is a broad range of practices and techniques to attain to states that are pleasant, increasingly spacious and equanimous, and finally formless and very refined, as well as the psychic powers.

3) Wisdom: related to insight practice and all practices and techniques designed to produce permanent changes in the mind and insights into the true nature of reality and finally to the stages of awakening or enlightenment.

Each of these trainings has radically different assumptions, goals, techniques, teachings, practices, emphases, and using this framework for our practice helps us to keep these straight.