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Three Trainings For Liberation – The Sikkha Sutta
For a complete understanding of this sutta within the context intended by an awakened human being, please read the suttas linked at the end of this article. ([x])
Everything the Buddha taught was taught in the context of Dependent Origination and the ongoing stress, suffering and distraction that results from ignorance of Four Noble Truths. 
His first teaching was taught to describe the results of this common ignorance and the singular path the Buddha taught to recognize and abandon ignorance. [2,3]
The Eightfold Path is the Buddha’s complete and singular path to awakening – gaining full human maturity.
The Sikkha Sutta teaches that the Eightfold Path is a path that incorporates the three aspects or trainings necessary for becoming Rightly Self-Awakened as the Buddha instructs. The Eightfold Path is a path directly developing heightened virtue, heightened concentration, and heightened wisdom.
The factors of the Eightfold Path that develop heightened virtue are Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood.
The Factors of the Eightfold Path that develop heightened concentration are RightEffort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation.
The factors of the Eightfold Path that develop heightened wisdom are Right View and Right Intention.
As a complete path to awakening the wise Dhamma practitioner gains a profound and penetrative understanding of the nature of stress and suffering and establishes a calm and peaceful mind.
My Comments below are italicized.
Sikkha Sutta: Three Trainings For Liberation
Anguttara Nikaya 3:91
The Buddha addressed those gathered:
“Friends, there are three trainings that I teach. I teach training in heightened virtue. I teach training in heightened concentration. I teach training in heightened wisdom. 
“The training in heightened virtue brings restraint in speech, actions, and livelihood. This Dhamma practitioner remains pure in their behavior at all times.
Restraint at the six-sense-base is the immediate application of a well-informed Dhamma practice. 
“They train themselves following these rules of behavior and understand the danger of even the slightest deviation.
“This is called training in heightened virtue.
“The training in heightened concentration – jhana – develops the concentration necessary to support refined mindfulness. This Dhamma practitioner remains secluded from sensory indulgence and unskillful mental qualities.
The Buddha taught a singular meditation method for the singular purpose of deepening concentration, for deepening jhana. 
“They enter and remain in the first jhana characterized by rapture and pleasure born of seclusion and accompanied by directed thought and evaluation.
“As concentration deepens further they enter and remain in the second jhana. Focused thoughts and insight still. Delight and pleasure born of composure and inner assurance arise.
“As concentration deepens further they enter and remain in the third jhana. Delight and pleasure and the perception of pleasure and pain disappear. Equanimity and refined mindfulness increases and a peaceful mind prevails.
“As concentration deepens further they enter and remain in the fourth jhana. Mindful equanimity prevails. Greed and aversion disappear. This is the development of concentration that brings peace and calm here and now.
“The training in heightened wisdom brings the ending of greed, aversion, and deluded thinking. Through the ending of these defilements the wise Dhamma practitioner remains in the defilement-free release from ignorance.
“The wise Dhamma practitioner has established profound wisdom fully mindful moment-by-moment as life occurs. This is called heightened wisdom.
“These are the three trainings of my Dhamma.
“The trainings in heightened virtue, concentration, and wisdom establish:
- Absorption in Jhana
- Refined Mindfulness
- Wise Restraint
“These three trainings should be practiced consistently and in all situations with unlimited concentration.
“These are the three trainings that brings pure understanding.
“Developing these three trainings you will be called a Rightly Self-Awakened one who has completed the Path.
“The cessation of ignorance (of Four Noble Truths) and craving for self-satisfaction extinguishes the fires of passion.
End Of Sutta
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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website Dhammatalks.org, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.
Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.
I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths.
Becoming-Buddha.com and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.