What does liberation /cessation in qualified and unqualified senses mean? (AN9.47, AN9.61)

Dear Bhante @sujato, I have recently gone through your translations of AN9.47, AN9.61 and other suttas in which we see the Buddha touching on the topic of how both liberation (nibbana) cessation (nirodha) can be termed as either pariyāyena or nippariyāyenā.

In your translations you rendered the usage of these terms as basis for denoting liberation or cessation in either an qualified or unqualified sense.

I struggle to understand what qualified sense or unqualified sense mean in this context and therefore kindly seek an alternative explanation of the meaning of these terms in the context of these suttas.

Note that I am not a native speaker of English and if this is something clearly understood by anyone who is (or not!) please feel free to jump in and share your understanding of the terms used by Bhante @sujato!

Thanks in advance for your attention and clarification.



Ven: Bhikkhu Bodhi uses the word “provisional” instead of “qualified” in AN 9.47 and in AN 9.61 they both use the word “progressive”.
My understanding is that Jhanas are the path to Nibbana as is included in the N8FP as the right concentration. This means that one who is able to be absorbed in the 1st absorption, has only reached Nibbana in a qualified or provisional sense because he still has to reach the 9th absorption - cessation of feeling and perception - in order to reach Nibbana in an unqualified or non provisional sense.

The bigger picture is that absorptions - jhanas - are an absolute necessity to realize Nibbana. They develop progressively beginning with 1st absorption and ending with cessation of feeling and perception which is Nibbana.

With Metta


Well, the idea is that it’s “kinda” liberation, but not the full monty. Both “qualified” and “provisional” convey this sense. i.e. it’s liberation “with provisos” or “with qualifications”.


Thanks for your reply bhante.
I was unaware of the usage of the term “qualified” in that sense.
So, in those suttas unqualified definitely means liberation or cessation which is not provisional, which in turn means definitive liberation / cessation?


Indeed. In fact, I think “definitive” is probably a better rendering than “unqualified”, and have changed my translation accordingly. Thanks!


I am glad and honored to help bhante! :anjal:


Hi Bhante @sujato, I have just come across your translation of AN9.42 and there we have a similar issue with the use of term ‘unqualified’:

"Furthermore, take a mendicant who, going totally beyond the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters and remains in the cessation of perception and feeling.
And, having seen with wisdom, their defilements come to an end.
To this extent the Buddha spoke of creating an opening amid confinement in a unqualified sense.”

Would the term “definitive” here work better to render the underlying Pali term “nippariyāyenā”, as it was the case in AN9.47 and AN9.61 ?


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This is corrected on our translation server, it will get on to the main site soon.