This course involves lessons which lead students through a stepwise, progressive enumeration of groups of Dhammas similar to that found in the Aṅguttara Nikāya. The Course is broken up into Eight Units with each unit providing enough material for a suggested two weeks of in-depth study. The course discussion forum hosted through Discord can be reached through the link to the right.

1.8 – The Three Trainings (Sīla; Samādhi; Paññā)



The whole of the Buddha’s prescription for how to live can be encapsulated in what are called the “three trainings” (tisso sikkhā) of sīla (virtue), samādhi (concentration), and paññā (discernment). His teachings on sīla focus on harmlessness and propriety of bodily and verbal action and are manifested in the factors Right Speach, Right Action, and Right Livelihood of the Noble Eightfold Path. In this rubric of the three trainings, samādhi includes the Path factors of Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration and is elsewhere called “development of mind.” Paññā involves Right View and Right Intention and can be translated both as discernment and wisdom. This lesson will explore these essential aspects of Buddhist pragmatics through primary texts and engaging commentary focused on lived practice.

You may download the topic’s flashcard deck on Quizlet or Anki for further study.

Pre-test yourself

1) Definitions

  1. Sīla
    1. morality
    2. virtue
    3. wholesome behavior
    4. (Pali English Dictionary entry) sīla
  2. Samādhi
    1. concentration
    2. collectedness
    3. solidity of mind
    4. (Pali English Dictionary entry) samādhi
  3. Paññā
    1. wisdom
    2. discernment
    3. insight
    4. (Pali English Dictionary entry) paññā

Review (Click text for answer)

2) Sutta Selections

  • MN 44 The Three Trainings and the Eightfold Path
  1. Sīla
    1. MN 61 “Advice to Rāhula at Ambalaṭṭhika”
    2. DN 31 “Advice to Sigālaka”
    3. MN 41 “The Brahmins of Sālā”
  2. Samādhi
    1. MN 39 Abandoning Hindrances Leeds to Concentration
    2. SN 45.8 Right Concentration
    3. MN 39 Jhāna Similes
  3. Paññā
    1. AN 8.2 Causes for Wisdom
    2. MN 39 Wisdom Seeing Clearly

Review (Click text for answer)

3) Ancient Commentary

  1. Sīla
    1. The Path of Purification: Part I Virtue (p. 50 of pdf)
    2. MN-a 10 The All-Embracing Net of Views: The Analysis of Virtue (p. 125 of pdf)
  2. Samādhi
    1. The Path of Purification: Part II Concentration (p. 137 of pdf)
    2. DN-a 22 The Way of Mindfulness: Concentration
    3. DN-a 22 The Way of Mindfulness: Concentration – 11 Supports
  3. Paññā
    1. The Path of Purification: Part III Wisdom (p. 487 of pdf)
    2. MN-a 10 The Discourse on Right View: Introduction
    3. MN-a 10 The Discourse on Right View: Conceptual Right View
    4. MN-a 10 The Discourse on Right View: Experiential Right View

Review (Click text for answer)

Modern Commentary

  1. Sīla
    1. Ajahn Lee”Training in Virtue”
    2. Bhikkhu Bodhi “Nourishing the Roots: Essays on Buddhist Ethics”
    3. Ajahn Thanissaro “The Healing Power of the Precepts”
  2. Samādhi
    1. Bhikkhu Bodhi “Right Concentration”
    2. Ajahn Thanissaro “The Path of Concentration and Mindfulness”
    3. Ajahn Sucitto “Samādhi it Pure Enjoyment”
  3. Paññā
    1. Bhikkhu Bodhi “Shining the Light of Wisdom”
    2. Ajahn Thanissaro “Discernment: Right View”
  4. Review (Click text for answer)