Vimokkha: 'liberation' deliverance.
I. The 3 liberations are: 1. the conditionless or signless liberation animitta-v 2. the desireless liberation apanihita-v. the emptiness or void liberation suññatā -v They are also called 'the triple gateway to liberation' vimokkha-mukha Vis.M XXI, 66ff, as they are three different approaches to the paths of Nobility. - See visuddhi VI, 8. Cf. Vis XXI, 6ff, 121ff; Pts.M. II. Vimokkha-Kathā.
1. Whosoever being filled with determination adhimokkha, considers all constructions as impermanent anicca such a one attains the conditionless liberation. 2. Whosoever being filled with tranquillity, considers all constructions as painful dukkha such a one attains the desireless liberation. 3. Whosoever being filled with understanding, considers all constructions as without a self anattā such a one attains the emptiness liberation; Vis.M XXI, 70 = Pts.M. II, p. 58.
1 and 2 are mentioned and explained in M. 43, under the name of deliverances of mind ceto-vimutti. - 2 and 3 appear in Dhs 344ff, 353ff in the section on supra-mundane consciousness see Atthasālini Tr., p. 299ff.
II. The 8 liberations attha vimokkha occur frequently in the texts A. VIII, 66; D. 16, etc. and are described as follows:
There are 8 liberations, o Bhikkhus. Which are these?
1. Whilst remaining in the fine-material sphere rūpī one perceives material forms: this is the first liberation.
2. Not perceiving corporcal forms on one's own person, one perceives corporcal forms externally: this is the 2nd liberation.
3. By thinking of the beautiful, one is filled with confidence: this is the 3rd liberation.
4. Through the total overcoming of the materiality-perceptions, the vanishing of the reflex-perceptions, and the non-attention to the multiformity-perceptions, with the idea 'Unbounded is space', one reaches the sphere of unbounded space ākāsānañcāyatana and abides therein: this is the 4th liberation.
5. Through the total overcoming of the sphere of unbounded space, and with the idea 'Unbounded is consciousness', one reaches the sphere of unbounded consciousness viññānañcāyatana and abides therein: this is the 5th liberation.
6. Through the total overcoming of the sphere of unbounded consciousness, and with the idea 'Nothing is there', one reaches the sphere of nothingness ākiñeaññāyatana and abides therein: this is the 6th liberation.
7. Through the total overcoming of the sphere of nothingness, one reaches the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception n'eva-saññā -nāsaññāyatana and abides therein: this is the 7th liberation.
8. Through the total overcoming of the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception, one reaches the ceasing of perception and feeling see: nirodha-samāpatti this is the 8th liberation.
These, o Bhikkhus, are the 8 kinds of liberation
For 1-3, see: abhibhāyatana for 4-7, see: jhāna for 8, see: nir odha-samāpatti.
By 3 is meant the attainment of the fine-material absorptions jhāna by means of concentrating the mind on perfectly pure and bright colours as objects of the kasina. According to Pts.M. this mental state is produced also by concentrating the mind on the 4 sublime states, i.e. all-embracing kindness, Pity, sympathetic joy and equanimity, in consequence of which allbeings appear perfectly pure and glorified, and thus the mind turns to the beautiful.
Maha Thera Nyanatiloka. Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines, Buddhist Publication Society, first edition 1952.