Ki to Revitalization
Under the Hood of “On the Four Stages of Faith and the Five Stages of Practice”


Scholars of Buddhism these days all agree
that, whether in the Buddha’s lifetime or after his passing,
those who wish to practice the Lotus Sutra must devote
themselves to the three types of learning . If they neglect
any one of these, they cannot attain the Buddha Way.
In the past, I, too, subscribed to this opinion, [but now this
is no longer the case.
-- Nichiren
The Threefold Training
The Threefold Training (sikkha) and the three types of learning {san-gaku} are basically identical concepts. In the Culavedalla Sutta (The Shorter Set of Questions-And-Answers Discourse), this is applied to the Noble Eightfold Path as follows:
Visakha the Lay Follower asks: "... are
the three aggregates [of virtue, concentration, &
discernment] included under the noble eightfold path,
lady, or is the noble eightfold path included under the
three aggregates?”

Dhammadinna the Nun replies: “The three aggregates
[Threefold Training] are not included under the noble
eightfold path, friend Visakha, but the noble eightfold path
is included under the three aggregates. Right speech, right
action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue.
Right effort, right mindfulness, & right concentration come
under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right
resolve come under the aggregate of discernment.”

– Culavedalla Sutta
The Threefold Training of Sila, Citta Bhavana, and Panna/Prajna {Kai Jo E} (Ethics, Mental Cultivation, & Wisdom) might be seen as a condensed version of the Eightfold Path. However, the Eightfold Path is actually one of many applications of the Threefold Training.
“There are these three trainings. Which three? The
training in heightened virtue, the training in heightened
mind, the training in heightened discernment.”

Sikkha Sutta
* Virtue Training (adhisila-sikkha)
* Mental Training (adhicitta-sikkha)
* Wisdom Training (adhipanna-sikkha)
Adhi means something like higher, collective, aboriginal, primevail, or origin; it is maybe from the same root as adhesion. The Threefold Training is pointing to the roots of Ethos, Meditation, and Gnosis, or a ‘higher’ morality, concentration, and discernmemt.
The Eightfold Path
Wisdom (samma-panna/prajna}
*Wholesome Views/Understanding (samma-dhitti)
*Wholesome Aspiration/Intention/Resolve (samma-sankappa)
Morals & Ethics (Sila)
*Wholesome Speech {Samma Vaca}
*Wholesome Action {Samma Kammanata}
*Wholesome Livelihood/Occupation {Samma Ajiva}
Mental Cultivation (Citta Bhavana) or Concentration {samma-samadhi}
*Wholesome Effort {Samma vayama}
*Wholesome Mindfulness (samma-sati)
*Wholesome Concentration (samma-samadhi)
Visakha the Lay Follower asks: “Is the noble
eightfold path fabricated or unfabricated?”

Dhammadinna the Nun replies: “The noble eightfold
path is fabricated.”

We don’t need to get hung up on exactly applying the Eightfold Path to modern life; the key is to apply the spirit of the Threefold Training. Practicing the ‘Three Great Hidden Dharmas’ is an effective way for the entry level Buddhists of the Latter Days to do so.
The Three Great Hidden Dharmas are also the roots of the Threefold Training. To paraphrase the Culavedalla Sutta: “The Three Great Hidden Dharmas are not included under the three aggregates [Threefold Training] , friends, but the three aggregates [Threefold Training] are included under the Three Great Hidden Dharmas.”