In AN 3.84, a Vajji monk is concerned about not being able to keep the more than 150 training rules. The Buddha tells him not to worry, and just focus on training in “the higher ethics [adhisīla], the higher mind [adhicitta], and the higher wisdom [adhipaññā]”:
“Sir, each fortnight over a hundred and fifty training rules are recited. I’m not able to train in them.”
“But monk, are you able to train in three trainings: the higher ethics, the higher mind, and the higher wisdom?”
“I am, sir.”
“So, monk, you should train in these three trainings: the higher ethics, the higher mind, and the higher wisdom. As you train in these, you will give up greed, hate, and delusion. Then you won’t do anything unskillful, or practice anything bad.”
And what is the training in the higher ethics? It’s when a mendicant is ethical, restrained in the code of conduct, with good behavior and supporters. Seeing danger in the slightest fault, they keep the rules they’ve undertaken.
The way I read this: in AN 3.84, the Buddha tells the Vajji monk to focus on the training recommended by the noble eightfold path (right motivation, right action, etc.), rather than on the particular training rules.
Is my reading correct? I am particularly confused about the distinction between “ethics” and “higher ethics.”
Thank you for shedding any light on this!