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phassa {pi}

Pāḷi; √ phassa
alt. sp.: IPA: pʰəs̪s̪ə, Velthuis: phassa, readable: phassa, simple: phassa
translation ~:
khmer: ផស្ស
thai: ผสฺส
sinhal.: ඵස්ස
burm.: ဖဿ


[dic] phassa

phassa: Description welcome. Info can be removed after imput.

ATI Glossary

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Buddhist Dictionary

by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:

phassa: (fr. phusati, to touch): 'sense-impression', contact. The term samphassa is used in compounds, e.g. in the following:

'“T'here are 6 classes of sense-impression: visual impression (cakkhu-samphassa), impressions of hearing, smelling, tasting, bodily (tactile) impression and mental impression” MN 9

A twofold division occurs in DN 15: paṭigha, paṭigha-samphassa, impression by sensorial reaction', and adhivacana-samphassa, verbal (or conceptual, i.e. mental) impression'.

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 formations (saṅkhāra-kkhandha).

In lists of both these categories it is generally mentioned first (e.g. Dhammasaṅgaṇi 1: MN 9), due to its fundamental position in the cognitive process In MN 18 it is thus defined: “Dependent on the eye and the forms, eye-consciousness arises; the coming-together of the three is sense-impression” (similarly stated in the case of the other 5 senses, including mind). In the dependent origination, it is conditioned by the six sense-bases and is a conditioning factor of feeling (see paṭiccasamuppāda 5, 6). Its relation to mind-and-body (nāma-rūpa) is described in DN 15, and its influence on feeling and wrong views, in DN 1 (at the end). - It is one of the 4 nutriments (see āhāra), and the first factor in the pentad of sense-impression (phassa-pañcamaka), together with feeling, perception, volition and consciousness (see Abhidhamma Studies, p. 47ff ).

Being a key function in the mind's contact with the world of objects and being a potential source of defilements, sense-impression is an important subject for reflective insight contemplation as succinctly formulated in many verses of the Snp: 736/7, 778, 851, 870/72, 923.


PTS Dictionary

by the Pali Text Society:


Glossary Thanissaro

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Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:


Phassa: sensation

Phassa usually means ‘sensation’:

• When one is reborn, sensations affect one.

upapannamenaṁ phassā phusanti MN i 390).

• Just as space is not established anywhere, Rāhula, likewise develop the meditation on space; for when you do so, arisen pleasing and displeasing sensations will not obsess your mind.

seyyathā pi rāhula ākāso na katthaci patiṭṭhito evameva kho tvaṁ rāhula ākāsasamaṁ bhāvanaṁ bhāvehi. Ākāsasamaṁ hi te rāhula bhāvanaṁ bhāvayato uppannā manāpāmanāpā phassā cittaṁ na pariyādāya ṭhassanti. (MN i 423)

Phassa: conjunction of three elements

In a technical sense, phassa is the conjunction of three bases of sensation. We likewise call this ‘sensation’:

• Dependent on the visual sense and visible objects, the visual field of sensation arises. The association of the three is sensation.

Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṁ. Tiṇṇaṁ saṅgati phasso. (SN ii 72)

Phassa: relationship to vedanā

Bhikkhus, there are these three types of sense impression

tisso imā bhikkhave vedanā

• which are born of sensation

• stem from sensation

• are due to sensation

• arise dependent on sensation

What three?

• pleasant sense impression

• unpleasant sense impression

• neutral sense impression

Six types of sensation

Phassa is synonymous with samphasso, of which there are six types:

In poetry: tangible object

In poetry, phassa is used instead of phoṭṭhabba.

• In feeling a tangible object

• When touched by a tangible object

• When touched by a tangible object



phassena: (main article see: phassa)

Illustration: phassena, tangible object

When touched by a tangible object do not be elated by pleasure. Do not tremble when touched by pain.

Phassena phuṭṭho na sukhena majje dukkhena phuṭṭhopi na sampavedhe. (SN iv 71)

Illustration: phassa, physical sensation

Maintain detached awareness towards physical sensation, both pleasant and painful, not attracted or repelled by anything.

Phassadvayaṁ sukhadukkhe upekkhe anānuruddho aviruddhakenaci. (SN iv 71)


Disvāna rūpāni manoramāni… Saddañca sutavā dubhayaṁ piyāppiyaṁ etc


samphasso: (main article see: phassa)

Illustration: samphasso, sensation

Dependent on the visual sense and visible objects there arises the visual field of sensation…

Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṁ…

The meeting, the encounter, the concurrence of these three things is called visual sensation…

Yā kho bhikkhave imesaṁ tiṇṇaṁ dhammānaṁ saṅgati sannipāto samavāyo ayaṁ vuccati bhikkhave cakkhusamphasso…

With sensation one experiences, with sensation one perceives, with sensation one aspires.

Phuṭṭho bhikkhave vedeti phuṭṭho sañjānāti phuṭṭho ceteti. (SN iv 68)


phasso: (main article see: phassa)

Illustration: phasso, sensation

Sensation is the basis for the arising of sensuous yearnings

phasso bhikkhave kāmānaṁ nidānasambhavo. (AN iii 411)


phassā: (main article see: phassa)

Illustration: phassā, sensations

He is reborn in a hostile world where hostile sensations affect him and he experiences sense impression that is exclusively unpleasant, as experienced by the beings in hell.

savyāpajjhaṁ lokaṁ upapajjati. Tamenaṁ savyāpajjhaṁ lokaṁ upapannaṁ samānaṁ savyāpajjhā phassā phusanti. So savyāpajjhehi phassehi phuṭṭho samāno savyāpajjhaṁ vedanaṁ vedeti ekantadukkhaṁ seyyathā pi sattā nerayikā. (MN i 390)

Illustration: phasso, sensation

When a bhikkhu has emerged from the attainment of the ending of perception and sense impression, sensations of three types affect him

Saññāvedayitanirodhasamāpattiyā vuṭṭhitaṁ kho āvuso visākha bhikkhuṁ tayo phassā phusanti

1) sensation that is void [of the perception of personal qualities] (cf. suññamidaṁ attena vā attaniyena vā, MN i 297-8).

2) sensation that is void of the perception of abiding phenomena

3) sensation that is void of aspiration

appaṇihito phasso ti. (MN i 302)

Illustration: phassa, sensation

Because of diversity in the elements of sensation there is diversity in sensation.

dhātunānattaṁ paṭicca uppajjati phassanānattaṁ

Because of diversity in sensation there is diversity in sense impression.

phassanānattaṁ paṭicca uppajjati vedanānānattaṁ. (DN iii 289)

Sensation is the origin of all things.

phassasamudayā sabbe dhammā. (AN iv 339)

Sensation is the indispensible and necessary condition by which the aggregates of sense impression, perception, and mental factors are to be discerned.

phasso hetu phasso paccayo vedanakkhandhassa… saññākkhandhassa… saṅkhārakkhandhassa paññāpanāya. (MN iii 17)


phassaṁ: (main article see: phassa)

Illustration: phassaṁ, sensation

Dependent on a sensation to be experienced as physically pleasant the faculty of physical pleasure arises.

Sukhavedanīyaṁ bhikkhave phassaṁ paṭicca uppajjati sukhindriyaṁ

Being physically pleased, he knows that: ‘I am physically pleased.’

So sukhito va samāno sukhitosmi ti pajānāti

He knows that: ‘With the ending of that sensation to be experienced as physically pleasant, the corresponding sense impression―the faculty of physical pleasure that arose dependent on that sensation to be experienced as physically pleasant―ceases and subsides.

Tasseva sukhavedanīyassa phassassa nirodhā yaṁ tajjaṁ vedayitaṁ sukhavedanīyaṁ phassaṁ paṭicca uppannaṁ sukhindriyaṁ taṁ nirujjhati. (SN v 211)


samphassa: (main article see: phassa)

Illustration: samphassa, sensation

When the ignorant Everyman is affected by sense impression born of sensation and uninsightfulness into reality the notion “I am” occurs to him.

avijjāsamphassajena vedayitena phuṭṭhassa asmī ti pi’ssa hoti. (SN iii 46-7)

Illustration: phassaṁ, sensation

He knows that: ‘There has arisen in me an unpleasant sense impression. Now that is dependent, not self-sufficient. Dependent on what? Dependent on sensation. But sensation is unlasting, originated, dependently arisen. So when an unpleasant sense impression has arisen dependent on sensation, which is unlasting, originated, dependently arisen, how could it be lasting?'

so evaṁ pajānāti; uppannā kho myāyaṁ dukkhā vedanā sā ca kho paṭicca no apaṭicca kiṁ paṭicca: imameva phassaṁ paṭicca ayaṁ kho pana phasso anicco saṅkhato paṭiccasamuppanno aniccaṁ kho pana saṅkhataṁ paṭiccasamuppannaṁ phassaṁ paṭicca uppannā dukkhā vedanā kuto niccā bhavissatī ti. (SN iv 213-4)

Illustration: phassa, sensation

‘Sensation is the source of the pleasing and displeasing. When there is no sensation, the pleasing and displeasing do not arise. Of the cessation and continuance of bodily forms, which I mentioned, I tell you that sensation is the source, too.’

Phassanidānaṁ sātaṁ asātaṁ phasse asante na bhavanti hete
Vibhavaṁ bhavañcāpi yametamatthaṁ etaṁ te pabrūmi itonidānaṁ. (Snp 870)

And what is the faculty of physical pleasure? It is physical pleasure, physical pleasantness, pleasant and pleasing sense impression born of bodily sensation.

yaṁ kho bhikkhave kāyikaṁ sukhaṁ kāyikaṁ sātaṁ kāyasamphassajaṁ sukhaṁ sātaṁ vedayitaṁ idaṁ vuccati bhikkhave sukhindriyaṁ.

And what is the faculty of psychological pleasure? It is psychological pleasure, psychological pleasantness, pleasant and pleasing sense impression born of mental sensation:

yaṁ kho bhikkhave cetasikaṁ sukhaṁ cetasikaṁ sātaṁ manosamphassajaṁ sukhaṁ sātaṁ vedayitaṁ idaṁ vuccati bhikkhave somanassindriyaṁ. (SN v 211)


Glossary various Teacher

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See also

Suttas and Dhammadesanā

Phassa: (contact). See also paṭicca-samuppāda (dependent co-arising).

  • As the conjunction of sense-base + sensory object + sense consciousness: MN 148
  • Understanding of Phassa as a basis for Right View: MN 9

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en/dictionary/phassa.txt · Last modified: 2019/10/31 10:08 by Johann