The meeting of the three is contact

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2482
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:17 pm

The Buddha said:
Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact.
Why the Buddha did not say: the meeting of the two is contact?

What are the two? the eye and forms are the two, which is contact!

Eye consciousness is the outcome of the eye and form, so to make them three, eye consciousness is counted twice: 1- as an outcome of eye and form, and 2- as a separate phenomena. Unless eye and form are necessary but not sufficient conditions for "seeing" to happen, then the third necessary condition would be "attention" (mind consciousness) not eye consciousness.

In ordinary use of language, the word "contact" is often associated with the meeting of two things, not three, so what did the Buddha mean by saying "the meeting of the three is contact?

What is contact?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 985
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Nicolas » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:36 pm

If you are asleep but your eyes are open, there appears to be no eye-consciousness there, yet light can hit the eye.

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2482
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:49 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:36 pm
If you are asleep but your eyes are open, there appears to be no eye-consciousness there, yet light can hit the eye.
That would make the third necessary condition "attention" which is mind consciousness, not eye consciousness.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
Volo
Posts: 903
Joined: Sat Jul 28, 2018 9:32 am

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Volo » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:05 pm

Mind consciousness perceives mind objects, not forms. Forms are the object of the eye consciousness.

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 985
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Nicolas » Thu Aug 22, 2019 4:52 pm

My understanding:
The qualia of seeing are eye-consciousness. The stuff of seeing (colors, etc.) is eye-consciousness.
Consciousness of attention would be mind-consciousness. You can be attentive without knowing you're attentive.
I don't think "attention" is mind-consciousness, unless it's attention of thoughts etc. Attention & awareness of hearing is attention of ear-consciousness.

sunnat
Posts: 341
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:08 am

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by sunnat » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:03 pm

From the Chachakka Sutta: The Six Sextets:

"Dependent on the mind & thoughts there arises mind consciousness.
The meeting of the three is contact.
With contact as a requisite condition there is feeling.
With feeling as a requisite condition there is craving.

Mind consciousness arises dependent on the mind and thoughts.
The meeting of the three is contact.

Contact is a condition for what is felt as pleasant, painful, or neutral.

When you experience a pleasant feeling, if you don’t approve, welcome, and keep clinging to it, the underlying tendency to greed does not underlie that. When you experience a painful feeling, if you don’t sorrow or wail or lament, beating your breast and falling into confusion, the underlying tendency to repulsion does not underlie that. When you experience a neutral feeling, if you truly understand that feeling’s origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape, the underlying tendency to ignorance does not underlie that. Mendicants, after giving up the underlying tendency to greed for pleasant feeling, after dispelling the underlying tendency to repulsion towards painful feeling, after eradicating ignorance in the case of neutral feeling, after giving up ignorance and giving rise to knowledge, it’s totally possible to make an end of suffering in the present life."

Dinsdale
Posts: 6813
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:28 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:17 pm
The Buddha said:
Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact.
Why the Buddha did not say: the meeting of the two is contact?

What are the two? the eye and forms are the two, which is contact!

Eye consciousness is the outcome of the eye and form, so to make them three, eye consciousness is counted twice: 1- as an outcome of eye and form, and 2- as a separate phenomena. Unless eye and form are necessary but not sufficient conditions for "seeing" to happen, then the third necessary condition would be "attention" (mind consciousness) not eye consciousness.

In ordinary use of language, the word "contact" is often associated with the meeting of two things, not three, so what did the Buddha mean by saying "the meeting of the three is contact?

What is contact?
Yes, it looks rather muddled. Is phassa the same as vinnana, and if not, why not? Phassa seems more like noticing, or attention. If we don't notice something then there is no vedana or reaction.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
Zom
Posts: 2493
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 6:38 pm
Location: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Contact:

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Zom » Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:47 pm

“If, friends, internally the eye is intact but no external forms come into its range, and there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range, but there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. But when internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range and there is the corresponding conscious engagement, then there is the manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness."

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2482
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:04 pm

Zom wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 5:47 pm
“If, friends, internally the eye is intact but no external forms come into its range, and there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range, but there is no corresponding conscious engagement, then there is no manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness. But when internally the eye is intact and external forms come into its range and there is the corresponding conscious engagement, then there is the manifestation of the corresponding section of consciousness."
Thanks zom :anjali:

According to your understanding, what are the necessary conditions for the corresponding conscious engagement to occur?

If its only an intact eye and an external form, then the second possibility in what you quoted would be ruled out.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 5812
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:29 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 3:17 pm
The Buddha said:
Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact.
Why the Buddha did not say: the meeting of the two is contact?

What are the two? the eye and forms are the two, which is contact!

Eye consciousness is the outcome of the eye and form, so to make them three, eye consciousness is counted twice: 1- as an outcome of eye and form, and 2- as a separate phenomena. Unless eye and form are necessary but not sufficient conditions for "seeing" to happen, then the third necessary condition would be "attention" (mind consciousness) not eye consciousness.
I might be wrong, but I take this formulation to mean that "contact" occurs when three things are present: eye consciousness, the eye, and forms. Whereas the eye and forms can exist independently, eye consciousness is dependent on the other two. The fact of its dependence does not make it the same thing as the other two, any more than the rainbow is the same thing as the raindrops and sun upon which it depends.

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2482
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:46 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:29 pm
I might be wrong, but I take this formulation to mean that "contact" occurs when three things are present: eye consciousness, the eye, and forms. Whereas the eye and forms can exist independently, eye consciousness is dependent on the other two. The fact of its dependence does not make it the same thing as the other two, any more than the rainbow is the same thing as the raindrops and sun upon which it depends.
Your interpretation sounds plausible, but the Buddha mentioned two necessary conditions for eye consciousness to arise without mentioning the third which is attention, then decided to present eye consciousness as independent from eye and form to make the meeting of the three "contact" which is a new term distinguishable from the five aggregates.

What is the significance of all of this? why introducing phassa in this way is necessary?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

santa100
Posts: 3827
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by santa100 » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 pm

Bundokji wrote:In ordinary use of language, the word "contact" is often associated with the meeting of two things, not three, so what did the Buddha mean by saying "the meeting of the three is contact?
2 components are not sufficient. You need to be "conscious" (ie. eye-consciousness as the 3rd element) to "sparks" the contact with the visual object, otherwise, say if someone punches you in the head and you lay there unconscious, you still have your eyes open and there's some visual form in front of you, but without your eye-consciousness, nothing "spark" the contact.

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2482
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:17 pm

santa100 wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:58 pm
2 components are not sufficient. You need to be "conscious" (ie. eye-consciousness as the 3rd element) to "sparks" the contact with the visual object, otherwise, say if someone punches you in the head and you lay there unconscious, you still have your eyes open and there's some visual form in front of you, but without your eye-consciousness, nothing "spark" the contact.
What is the added value of the way things presented, as opposite to the following:

Depending on eye, form and attention, eye consciousness arises, from eye consciousness comes feeling ...etc

Does the word "contact" has any significance of its own?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 5812
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:20 pm

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:46 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:29 pm
I might be wrong, but I take this formulation to mean that "contact" occurs when three things are present: eye consciousness, the eye, and forms. Whereas the eye and forms can exist independently, eye consciousness is dependent on the other two. The fact of its dependence does not make it the same thing as the other two, any more than the rainbow is the same thing as the raindrops and sun upon which it depends.
Your interpretation sounds plausible, but the Buddha mentioned two necessary conditions for eye consciousness to arise without mentioning the third which is attention, then decided to present eye consciousness as independent from eye and form to make the meeting of the three "contact" which is a new term distinguishable from the five aggregates.

What is the significance of all of this? why introducing phassa in this way is necessary?
I'm not sure attention is mentioned in the suttas describing this. What's the Pali term? There is no independence of eye consciousness; it remains dependent upon the eye and form. It's the only one which would disappear if one of the others did. Back to my image of the rainbow: there is a rainbow, and there is sun, and rain. All three need to be there to constitute the "scene with the rainbow", but the rainbow can't exist without the continuing presence of the other two. The insistence on the dependence appears to underline the important fact that there is no independently-existing "consciousness" thing which predates the contact, or experience; per the MN 38 analogy with fire and fuels.

User avatar
Bundokji
Posts: 2482
Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:57 pm

Re: The meeting of the three is contact

Post by Bundokji » Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:34 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 7:20 pm
I'm not sure attention is mentioned in the suttas describing this. What's the Pali term? There is no independence of eye consciousness; it remains dependent upon the eye and form. It's the only one which would disappear if one of the others did. Back to my image of the rainbow: there is a rainbow, and there is sun, and rain. All three need to be there to constitute the "scene with the rainbow", but the rainbow can't exist without the continuing presence of the other two. The insistence on the dependence appears to underline the important fact that there is no independently-existing "consciousness" thing which predates the contact, or experience; per the MN 38 analogy with fire and fuels.
One can argue that the rainbow does not exist without you looking at it, attention seem to be necessary for knowing whether things exist or does not exist.

Apart from semantics, i was trying to understand the significance of contact, or why the Buddha chose a certain way of deconstructing our experience as opposite to other possible ways.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], char101, form and 246 guests