AN9.45: freed both ways

Hello all,

My first post to this wonderful forum :slight_smile:

I was wondering whether someone could help me understand the meaning of a line in:

AN9.45 Freed Both Ways

I think the correct pali line is:

Yathā yathā ca tadāyatanaṁ tathā tathā naṁ kāyena phusitvā viharati, paññāya ca naṁ pajānāti.

The lines in Ajahn Thanissaro’s translation appear to be “He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there”.

In Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation I think they are “They meditate directly experiencing that dimension in every way”.

I’d be grateful for a literal translation of the line, and any pointers on what it might refer to.

Thank you in advance for your knowledge and insight,


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“He remains touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there, and he knows it through discernment. It is to this extent that one is described by the Blessed One as released both ways without a sequel.”—Anguttara Nikaya 9.45

Most of this sutta is concerned with jhana, but the final statement introduces discernment, or insight. Tranquillity and insight are the two ways. Tranquillity is connected with removal of the unwholesome roots of greed and hatred. Insight is penetration of the four noble truths at any level.

Yathā : as, like in relation to
ca : and, both, moreover
tadāyatanaṁ : then, in that case
tathā : also
naṁ : indeed
kāyena : the body
phusitvā : having touched
viharati, : abides, dwells
paññāya : wise
ca : moreover
naṁ : indeed
pajānāti. : clearly know

I highly recommend switching your suttacentral view to line by line Pali on @sujato ’s translations and activating the English Pali word lookup.

Then you can do this:

Which makes getting a sense of the “literal” translation very easy.

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thank you @paul1 - much appreciated. i was specifically wondering about the phrase “touching with his body in whatever way there is an opening there” and the absence of this in bhikkhu sujato’s translation. do you have any thoughts on that phrase? i interpreted this as related to the form jhanas but it’s a specifically odd phrasing to me …

The basic literal sense seems to be that the body “touches” or experiences a deep meditative attainment (the “tranquility”) AND the mind “clearly knows” it, I.e understands it (in the Buddhist sense this probably means understanding it to be impermanent and non-self) hence the “both ways” of a deeply relaxing state of the body and a profoundly liberating understanding of the mind.

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thank you @josephzizys - much appreciated. i had looked at the suttacentral translation view but the majority of words there seem to be insubstantive (as, moreover, indeed, then, also, indeed, moreover indeed). the only meaningful words i could get were “he abides having touched the body”, though again this differs from ajahn thanissaro’s and bhikkhu sujato’s translation … grateful for any thoughts or suggestions - thank you

thank you - it’s that bit from ajahn thanissaro’s translation that makes me feel like i’ve missed something more - that “in whatever way there is an opening there” …

i’m not sure is this is poetics (unusual as i don’t find ajahn thanissaro prone to poetics generally) … not sure what i’m missing in the translation.

I don’t see “opening” but “in whatever way” is possibly a gloss of either yaytha or tatha


I should stress that I don’t have any real knowledge of Pali, or grammar (including English grammar) and trying to learn languages or grammar has always given me a very particular kind of headache, I just paste the words into the machine.

Having said that one only needs to compare any English translation of any Buddhist text, say between Sujato, Bodhi, Thannisaro, Analayo etc to realise that pretty profound differences occur even amongst those who claim such expertise.

Oh, and another thing that I notice is pretty profound “group-think” also often occurs, as in when a very particular and sometimes peculiar English word is used by ALL the translations and yet when digging down into the Pali it really seems like there are a much wider variety of legitimate glosses than appears in the translations, so it works both ways.

That is why I love suttacentral so much, as whenever I like I can click through the Pali word by word and get a sense of the literal meaning.

Btw- suttacentral’s built in dictionary isn’t that great, so when a word comes up as “?” I take the sentence it’s in (don’t paste the word by itself as too many hits will crash your browser) and paste it into

Which has a much more powerful and complete dictionary function AND allows me to see any other occurances of the line in the canon. Very helpful.

Finally if all else fails I head over to

And try there.

Oh, and often if I want to explore the Sanskrit cognates or speculative etymology then

Often has the most comprehensive list of the root words use in other areas of ancient Indian culture.



“Touching with the body” means the experience of joy (rapture). “In whatever way there is an opening there” means when conditions are suitable as this is a physical experience and subject to many variables. Anguttara Nikaya 9.45 is more expansively described in the following sutta, where discernment (the fifth factor) is shown to supervise any tranquillity:

“And furthermore, the monk has his theme of reflection well in hand, well attended to, well-considered, well-tuned[1] by means of discernment.” Anguttara Nikaya 5.28

I would guess that @paul1 is refering to;

Puna caparaṁ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno paccavekkhaṇānimittaṁ suggahitaṁ hoti sumanasikataṁ sūpadhāritaṁ suppaṭividdhaṁ paññāya.

which Sujato translates as;

“Furthermore, the meditation that is a foundation for reviewing is properly grasped, attended, borne in mind, and comprehended with wisdom by a mendicant.”

I would just note that AN5.28 is a repetition of the standard jhana formula, with the standard similes, and that in all the other places that this formula-with-the-similies occurs (DN2 DN10 MN39 MN77 MN119) the formula lacks the line

Puna caparaṁ, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno paccavekkhaṇānimittaṁ suggahitaṁ hoti sumanasikataṁ sūpadhāritaṁ suppaṭividdhaṁ paññāya.

In fact this line occurs no where else in the Tripitaka or the Visuddhimagga.


Oh , and one more site that is UNBELIEVABLY useful is;

by our own @cdpatton

I use this to compare the Pali with Chinese parallels. (has DA, most of MA and substantial parts of SA and some of EA)


and AN5.28 has no parallels in the Agamas. However you may be interested in;

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Hello. While I am not an expert in Pali, I personally cannot discern literalism in Thanissaro’s translation. The text is:

Yathā (whatever) yathā (whatever) ca (and) tadāyatanaṁ (that dimension/sphere/sense object) tathā (thus) tathā (like that) naṁ (like this) kāyena (with the body) phusitvā (touching) viharati (dwells), paññāya (with wisdom) ca (and) naṁ (like this) pajānāti (understands).

I am not sure what “naṁ” means.

expletive-emphatic particle, often used in comparative-indefinite sense just so, like this, as if, as


Therefore, plugging the Pali into Sujato’s translation, it seems to be:

Yathā yathā ca tadāyatanaṁ tathā tathā naṁ kāyena phusitvā viharati, paññāya ca naṁ pajānāti.

“They meditate (viharati) directly experiencing (kāyena phusitvā) that dimension (tadāyatanaṁ) in every way ( tathā tathā)”. And they understand (pajānāti) that with wisdom (paññāya).

Plugging the Pali into Thanissaro’s translation, it seems to be:

Yathā yathā ca tadāyatanaṁ tathā tathā naṁ kāyena phusitvā viharati, paññāya ca naṁ pajānāti.

He remains (viharati) touching with his body (kāyena phusitvā) in whatever way there is (Yathā yathā tathā tathā) an opening there (tadāyatanaṁ)

As said, the term “tadāyatanaṁ” does not literally mean “an opening”. For example, the term “tadāyatanaṁ” is found in a sutta about Nibbana. Personally, I simply translate “āyatana” as “sense object”.

There is, mendicants, that dimension where there is no earth, no water, no fire, no wind; no dimension of infinite space, no dimension of infinite consciousness, no dimension of nothingness, no dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; no this world, no other world, no moon or sun.

Atthi, bhikkhave, tadāyatanaṁ, yattha neva pathavī, na āpo, na tejo, na vāyo, na ākāsānañcāyatanaṁ, na viññāṇañcāyatanaṁ, na ākiñcaññāyatanaṁ, na nevasaññānāsaññāyatanaṁ, nāyaṁ loko, na paraloko, na ubho candimasūriyā.

Ud 8.1


The term “kāyena phusitvā” is common in the suttas. The word “kāyena” is simply the word “kāya” but in the “instrumental” grammar case. Since “kaya” here is an instrument or tool, “kayena” is used & translated as “with the kaya” or “using the kaya”.

The word “kaya” means “collection” or “group”, such as in the word Nikaya. “Kaya” does not literally mean “physical body”. For example, in DN 15, the terms “nama-kaya” and “rupa-kaya” are found, which means “mental group” and “physical group”. For example, in MN 118, it is said the in & out breathing is a “kaya” among other “kaya”.

The phrase “touching with the kaya” is a phrase indicating the most intimate direct experience in meditation. Such an experience is so direct that it completely transforms the mind when it is experienced.

“Touching with the kaya” means experiencing with the totality of the entire group of mental faculties or aggregates (available). Therefore, the experience is completely felt (with vedana), acutely perceived (with sanna), completely experienced (with vinnana) using every relevant brain-cell or nerve (rupa), accurately understood & interpreted (with sankhara).

Thanissaro’s translation of “kāyena phusitvā” is the most literal, namely, “touching with his body”, even though “body” is vague, inaccurate & leads to jhana wars on chatsites.

Sujato’s translation is not literal but an attempt to be more practical & experiential. :slightly_smiling_face:


Anguttara Nikaya 5.28 is valuable because it’s explicit about discrimination being a supervisor in every level of tranquillity. There’s an element of objective thinking always remaining in reserve. The principle of stepping up from one state to another based on observation of drawbacks is universal throughout the suttas:

“He discerns that ‘This mode of perception is empty of the perception of village. This mode of perception is empty of the perception of human being. There is only this non-emptiness: the singleness based on the perception of wilderness.’ Thus he regards it as empty of whatever is not there. Whatever remains, he discerns as present: ‘There is this.’ And so this, his entry into emptiness, accords with actuality, is undistorted in meaning, & pure.”—Majhima Nikaya 121

Unless exclusively dealing with jhana, all the suttas describing the progression in full, end with the reference to insight:

“Through the ending of the mental effluents, he remains in the effluent-free awareness-release & discernment-release, having known and made them manifest for himself right in the here & now.”—Majhima Nikaya 119

“And, having seen [that] with discernment, his mental fermentations are completely ended.”—Anguttara Nikaya 9.34

thank you @CurlyCarl - this is very helpful. kāyena phusitvā viharati - this was the essence of my question.

“touching with his body” - this had seemed similar to the “bodily witness” the buddha speaks of elsewhere - i wasn’t sure whether they were connected.

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