Threefold training

Síla is not only refraining from unwholesome actions and speech, it is also the performing of wholesome actions and speech, such as showing respect or helping others. The Bodhisatta was foremost in virtuous deeds and speech. He was always ready to help and protect other beings. He spoke words which were blameless, pleasant and beneficial, having beings' welfare in mind. The commentary to the Cariyapitaka states that the Bodhisatta had courteous conduct to those worthy of respect. He was waiting upon the sick and helping those who were in need. He inspired with talk on Dhamma those who were in need to be inspired. He was contented with little and he saw danger in the slightest faults.
Bodhisatta recognized gain, honour and fame as a foe in the guise of a friend. One may neglect síla because one believes to gain something, but actually there will be great loss. Neglect of síla brings unpleasant results. For different people different precepts may be difficult to observe, depending on their accumulations.
If one does not develop satipatthana, right understanding of the namas and rupas of our life, it is impossible to acquire perfection of síla. We should remember that it is not self who abstains from evil. When we refrain from unwholesome action or unwholesome speech there are particular mental factors arising with the kusala citta (virati cetasikas) which perform the function of abstention. They are abstention from wrong action, abstention from wrong speech and abstention from wrong livelihood, which is wrong action or speech committed for the sake of our livelihood. These wholesome mental factors can only arise when there are the appropriate conditions, not because of a self who wants to exert control. Also sati accompanies the kusala citta which abstains from evil. Each kusala citta is accompanied by sati which is non-forgetful of wholesomeness, which prevents akusala. There is sati of different levels, of the level of dana, of síla, of samatha and of vipassana. Sati of vipassana is mindful of nama and rupa so that right understanding of them can be developed. When there is abstention from evil there must be sati, but not necessarily of the level of satipatthana. There is not satipatthana each time when kusala citta arises, but if satipatthana is being developed it also conditions sati of other levels. It conditions generosity, the observing of síla, metta and other wholesome qualities. There is more often unwholesome consciousness, akusala citta, than wholesome consciousness, kusala citta. After seeing, hearing and the other sense-impressions there is often clinging, aversion and ignorance. When there is right mindfulness of what appears through one of the six doors one is not taken in by the object which appears. It is sati which is watchful. There is at that moment actually a threefold training (sikkha), namely in higher síla, samadhi (concentration) and panna, which are those of the eightfold Path. We do not have to think, I should have síla, but at the moment of satipatthana one does not commit akusala. There is also calm without there being the need to try to have calm, because there is no disturbance by akusala. If there is the threefold training síla can be brought to perfection.

Topic 248