How do you understand "contact"?

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vinasp
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How do you understand "contact"?

Post by vinasp » Mon May 26, 2014 11:23 am

Hi everyone,

Please explain how you understand the term "contact" as it is used in the Discourses.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Hickersonia » Mon May 26, 2014 12:33 pm

I've always understood "contact" to refer to the point where the sense organ makes contact with whatever it detects -- the point at which the arising of feeling takes place (pleasure, pain, or neutral).

I don't think it is necessarily about physical touching of an object, or, somewhat inversely, I envision that the eye sort of reaches out and touches the objects I see (like a blind man using his hands to see the features of a person's face).

I look forward to further discussion on this -- ir should be interesting to see how others understand this teaching. :anjali:
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Mon May 26, 2014 1:16 pm

We often think wrongly of "contact" as the interaction (stimulus-->response) of the sensory organs and external stimulus and also with internal forms in the case of mental factors integrated by, and arising within the mind. But in Buddhist terms this is merely "consciousness."

Buddha defined the interaction of all three (sensory organs, exterior and interior stimuli from forms, and consciousness as "contact" as so:
"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.
Sight: Light reflected from exterior objects sensed by the vision organs.
Sound: Pressure waves emanated by exterior beings, or reflected by exterior objects such as echos from canyon walls.
Touch: Pressure, temperature, texture, pleasure and pain sensed by organs of touch, and feel.
Smell: Chemicals emanated by exterior forms.
Taste: (same as above)
Mind: Integration of all of the above, memories, arising thoughts, feelings and emotions in response to both exterior and interior stimuli.

Buddha spoke of these sensory functions as "sense doors", which are to be guarded in that attachment to any sense door inputs could result in dukkha (birth, aging, disease, death, rebirth, pain suffering and dissatisfaction)

It is awareness, or consciousness of these sensory inputs that makes "contact".

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html

The root of such dukkha is impermanence and the fact that all such phenomena are dependently arisen:
SN 25.4 PTS: S iii 226 CDB i 1005
Phassa Sutta: Contact
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 2004
At Savatthi. "Monks, eye-contact is inconstant, changeable, alterable. Ear-contact... Nose-contact... Tongue-contact... Body-contact... Intellect-contact is inconstant, changeable, alterable.

"One who has conviction & belief that these phenomena are this way is called a faith-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who, after pondering with a modicum of discernment, has accepted that these phenomena are this way is called a Dhamma-follower: one who has entered the orderliness of rightness, entered the plane of people of integrity, transcended the plane of the run-of-the-mill. He is incapable of doing any deed by which he might be reborn in hell, in the animal womb, or in the realm of hungry shades. He is incapable of passing away until he has realized the fruit of stream-entry.

"One who knows and sees that these phenomena are this way is called a stream-enterer, steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening."
source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
SN 12.44 PTS: S ii 73 CDB i 581
Loka Sutta: The World
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1998
Dwelling at Savatthi. There the Blessed One addressed the monks: "I will teach you the origination of the world & the ending of the world. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded to the Blessed One.

The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world.

"And what is the ending of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world.

"Dependent on the ear & sounds there arises ear-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the nose & aromas there arises nose-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the tongue & flavors there arises tongue-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the body & tactile sensations there arises body-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact... Dependent on the intellect & mental qualities there arises intellect-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. Now, from the remainderless cessation & fading away of that very craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress & suffering. This is the ending of the world."
source: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html :buddha1:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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beeblebrox
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by beeblebrox » Mon May 26, 2014 3:21 pm

Sound: Pressure waves emanated by exterior beings, or reflected by exterior objects such as echos from canyon walls.
I don't think that this is necessarily true. I'm still able to "listen" (or at least perceive that I do) even though I'm deaf.

I think what this means is that the sense base for "sound" must be different for me and other deaf people, than what it might be for most other people. Another example is, I really don't perceive any spoken words as using a "voice"... I recognize it only when it is signed, so I end up "seeing" different voices as they're signed by different people.

These kinds of experience make me think that the "sense bases" were meant to be taken in a looser sense than the physical senses. It also would explain how people are still able to use their senses in a dream (and perceive them as such), without using any actual physical organ that are related to those.

:anjali:
Last edited by beeblebrox on Mon May 26, 2014 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kasina
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Kasina » Mon May 26, 2014 3:26 pm

beeblebrox wrote:These kinds of experience make me think that the "sense bases" were meant to be taken in a looser sense than the physical senses. It also would explain how people are still able to use their senses in a dream (and then perceive them as such), without using any actual physical organ that are related to those.

:anjali:
Interesting point.

:anjali:
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

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chownah
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by chownah » Mon May 26, 2014 3:33 pm

For me the term contact just means when a sense organ, its object, and its associated consciousness coincide...or make "contact". For me this is the same as the arising of experience......with the resulting arising of feeling, which I usually think of as being sensation. In other words, when the eye, light, and eye consciousness make contact the result is a sensory experience.
chownah

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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by culaavuso » Mon May 26, 2014 6:31 pm

MN 18: Madhupiṇḍika Sutta wrote: cakkhusmiṃ sati rūpe sati cakkhuviññāṇe sati phassa­paññat­tiṃ paññāpessatīti– ṭhānametaṃ vijjati
when there is the eye, when there are forms, when there is eye-consciousness, it is possible that one will delineate a delineation of contact.

cakkhusmiṃ asati rūpe asati cakkhuviññāṇe asati phassa­paññat­tiṃ paññāpessatīti– netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati
when there is no eye, when there are no forms, when there is no eye-consciousness, it is impossible that one will delineate a delineation of contact
See also this thread for a detailed discussion.

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Ron-The-Elder
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Ron-The-Elder » Mon May 26, 2014 10:11 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Sound: Pressure waves emanated by exterior beings, or reflected by exterior objects such as echos from canyon walls.
I don't think that this is necessarily true. I'm still able to "listen" (or at least perceive that I do) even though I'm deaf.

I think what this means is that the sense base for "sound" must be different for me and other deaf people, than what it might be for most other people. Another example is, I really don't perceive any spoken words as using a "voice"... I recognize it only when it is signed, so I end up "seeing" different voices as they're signed by different people.

These kinds of experience make me think that the "sense bases" were meant to be taken in a looser sense than the physical senses. It also would explain how people are still able to use their senses in a dream (and perceive them as such), without using any actual physical organ that are related to those.

:anjali:
Thanks for sharing this experience and reality as it exists for you , beetlebrox. Blind report similar affectations

It is known that these differences arise in the brain (The mental organ.) as it compensates through its magnificent plasticity. Another example (a little different) is synesthesia. What I was describing and what Buddha described was the senso-neural system as it has evolved on our planet. Variations in this system due to disease, or mutation are of course infinitely variable.
In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored.[7][8] In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be "farther away" than 1990), or may appear as a three-dimensional map (clockwise or counterclockwise).[9][10]
Only a fraction of types of synesthesia have been evaluated by scientific research.[11] Awareness of synesthetic perceptions varies from person to person.[12]

Although synesthesia was the topic of intensive scientific investigation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was largely abandoned by scientific research in the mid-20th century.[13] Psychological research has demonstrated that synesthetic experiences can have measurable behavioral consequences, and functional neuroimaging studies have identified differences in patterns of brain activation.[8] Many find that synesthesia aids the creative process.[citation needed] Psychologists and neuroscientists study synesthesia not only for its inherent appeal, but also for the insights it may give into cognitive and perceptual processes that occur in synesthetes and non-synesthetes alike.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

SarathW
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by SarathW » Mon May 26, 2014 11:28 pm

The way I understand, as per Abhidhamma steps from 1 to 6 is contact.

A complete thought process, occurring through the physical sense doors, is made up of seventeen thought moments (citta kha.na). These are:

1.A bhava"nga that flows by in a passive state when one of the five physical sense organs comes in contact with its object (atiita bhava"nga).
2.A bhava"nga that vibrates for one thought moment (bhava"nga calana).
3.A bhava"nga that cuts off the flow (bhava"nga upaccheda).
4.A citta that turns towards the object through the sense door that has been stimulated (pañcadvaara-vajjana).
5.The appropriate sense consciousness; in the case of the eye, for example, eye consciousness (cakkhu viññaa.na).
6.Next a thought moment — the sampa.ticchana citta — which has the function of receiving the object.

7.When the object has been received another thought moment, called the santiirana citta, arises, performing the function of investigating the object.
8.The act (kamma) itself, especially if it was a weighty one.
9 to 15.The object having been determined, the most important stage from an ethical standpoint follows. This stage, called javana, consists of seven consecutive thought moments all having an identical nature. It is at this stage that good or evil is done, depending on whether the cittas have wholesome or unwholesome roots. Therefore, these javana thought moments have roots and also produce new kamma.16 and 17.Following the seventh javana the registering stage occurs, composed of two thought moments called tadaalambane. When the second registering citta has perished, the bhava"nga follows, flowing on until interrupted by another thought process.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #causality
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 27, 2014 8:51 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,
Please explain how you understand the term "contact" as it is used in the Discourses.
In the suttas phassa seems to be quite mechanical, ie a sense impression via one of the 6 sense bases. In practical terms it seems to be about what we notice
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 27, 2014 8:55 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote:We often think wrongly of "contact" as the interaction (stimulus-->response) of the sensory organs and external stimulus and also with internal forms in the case of mental factors integrated by, and arising within the mind. But in Buddhist terms this is merely "consciousness."
Interesting point. I'm now wondering what consciousness without contact actually looks like - could you give an example?
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by Dinsdale » Tue May 27, 2014 8:57 am

beeblebrox wrote:I think what this means is that the sense base for "sound" must be different for me and other deaf people, than what it might be for most other people. Another example is, I really don't perceive any spoken words as using a "voice"... I recognize it only when it is signed, so I end up "seeing" different voices as they're signed by different people.

These kinds of experience make me think that the "sense bases" were meant to be taken in a looser sense than the physical senses. It also would explain how people are still able to use their senses in a dream (and perceive them as such), without using any actual physical organ that are related to those.
Perhaps in the first case it's about eye-contact, and in the second mind-contact?
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beeblebrox
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by beeblebrox » Tue May 27, 2014 11:48 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
beeblebrox wrote:I think what this means is that the sense base for "sound" must be different for me and other deaf people, than what it might be for most other people. Another example is, I really don't perceive any spoken words as using a "voice"... I recognize it only when it is signed, so I end up "seeing" different voices as they're signed by different people.

These kinds of experience make me think that the "sense bases" were meant to be taken in a looser sense than the physical senses. It also would explain how people are still able to use their senses in a dream (and perceive them as such), without using any actual physical organ that are related to those.
Perhaps in the first case it's about eye-contact, and in the second mind-contact?
Hi Spiny Norman,

When a person "sees" or "hears" inside a dream, that is a result of the contact in between the "sense base" and its respective "object," according to the teaching... even though a physical sense organ wasn't used, or that there wasn't a physical object.

When a deaf person says that he is "listening" to someone who is "speaking" (i.e., signing), and that he is perceiving a certain "voice" being used, which of the sense bases was he using?

Basically, a deaf person has a different consciousness than a hearing person... that is due to a different frame of reference being used (namarupa). Each person's sense bases are constructed from his particular namarupa, in the paticcasamuppada.

I don't think that it really matters whether we call it "eye-consciousness" or a deaf person's "ear-consciousness," but whether we are aware of how this construction happens, and especially how we would view that in relative to other people's. For example: would we become confused about it?; create a dispute about it?; try to make a reconciliation?; or construct a new model for it?; etc. These are what turns it into an actual practice, I think.

Namarupa and sense bases in themselves aren't necessarily based on materialism (e.g., physical sense organs)... they're broader than that.

:anjali:

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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by chownah » Tue May 27, 2014 12:46 pm

beeblebrox,
You wrote, "When a person "sees" or "hears" inside a dream, that is a result of the contact in between the "sense base" and its respective "object," according to the teaching... even though a physical sense organ wasn't used, or that there wasn't a physical object." What "teaching " are you referring to?
chiwnah

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beeblebrox
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Re: How do you understand "contact"?

Post by beeblebrox » Tue May 27, 2014 12:51 pm

chownah wrote:beeblebrox,
You wrote, "When a person "sees" or "hears" inside a dream, that is a result of the contact in between the "sense base" and its respective "object," according to the teaching... even though a physical sense organ wasn't used, or that there wasn't a physical object." What "teaching " are you referring to?
chiwnah
SN 12.44, Loka Sutta: The World.

:anjali:

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