The Three Trainings (Reloaded)

A series of teachings, from Vince Horn, exploring the classical Buddhist three trainings model, reloaded for 21st century living.

By: Vince Horn

The Three Trainings are one of the primary organizing models of the Buddhist path. They summarize the three core areas of training that a practitioner engages in on the path of awakening. They’re also a simplified version of the 8-fold path model--one the earliest Buddhist schemas that lays out, with even more specificity, the different dimensions of the Buddhist path.

In the early Buddhist model--now most accurately reflected by the modern Theravada lineage, the three trainings are often translated as: Morality, Concentration, & Insight. In the modern Mahayana & Vajrayana traditions they are typically translated as: Ethics, Meditation, & Wisdom. In this “reloaded” look at the three trainings we’ll be using the later translation primarily, but we’ll also examine the difference in these two orientations.

In addition we’ll be examining each of the three trainings in terms of a meta-perspective on Ethics, Meditation, & Wisdom. With the meta-view we’ll seek to examine a broader, more multi-perspectival understanding of each of these training areas, even as we continue to hold the three together as our guiding model.

Instead of taking a fixed interpretation offered by tradition, we’ll learn from what has been offered, collide the models together, reality-test them in our lives, interrogate them with other tools that 21st century culture provides, and re-form them into a “reloaded” version. The ultimate aim of this is to unfold into a more relevant view of what this 3-fold model of training can reveal.