(fr. phusati, to touch):
The term samphassa is used in compounds,
e.g. in the following: '"T'here are 6 classes of sense-contact: visual
contact (cakkhu-samphassa), contacts of hearing, smelling, tasting,
bodily (tactile) contact and mental contact" (M.9).
division occurs in D.15: patigha (q.v.) -samphassa, contact by
sensorial reaction', and adhivacana-samphassa, verbal (or conceptual,
i.e. mental) contact'.
Phassa does not signify physical impact, but is one of
the 7 constant mental concomitants of consciousness (cetasika) and
belongs to the group of mental constructions (sankhāra-kkhandha). In lists
of both these categories it is generally mentioned first (e.g. Dhs.1: M.9),
due to its fundamental position in the cognitive process In M.18 it is thus
defined: "Dependent on the eye and the forms, eye-consciousness arises; the
coming-together of the three is sense-contact" (similarly stated in the
case of the other 5 senses, including mind). In the dependent origination, it is
conditioned by the six sense-sources and is a conditioning factor of feeling (s. paticca-samuppāda
5, 6). Its relation to mind-and-body (nāma-rūpa) is described in D.15, and its influence on feeling and wrong views, in D.1 (at the end). - It is
one of the 4 nutriments (āhāra, q.v.), and the first factor in the
pentad of sense-contact (phassa-pañcamaka), together with feeling,
perception, intention and consciousness (see Abh. St., p. 47ff ).
Being a key function in the mind's contact with the world of
objects and being a potential source of defilements, sense-contact is an
important subject for reflective insight contemplation as succinctly formulated
in many verses of the Sn.: 736/7, 778, 851, 870/72, 923.