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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

But not the function of impact


style="text-align: justify;">is the beginning of the psychological processes, for in one whole consciousness (_ekacittasmi@m_) it cannot be said that this comes first and that comes after, so we can take contact in association with feeling (_vedana_), conceiving (_sanna_) or volition (_cetana_); it is itself an immaterial state but yet since it comprehends objects it is called contact." "There is no impinging on one side of the object (as in physical contact), nevertheless contact causes consciousness and object to be in collision, as visible object and visual organs, sound and hearing; thus impact is its _function_; or it has impact as its _essential property_ in the sense of attainment, owing to the impact of the physical basis with the mental object. For it is said in the Commentary:--"contact in the four planes of existence is never without the characteristic of touch with the object; but the function of impact takes place in the five doors. For to sense, or five-door contact, is given the name 'having the characteristic of touch' as well as 'having the function of impact.' But to contact in the mind-door there is only the characteristic of touch, but not the function of impact. And then this Sutta is quoted 'As if, sire, two rams were to fight, one ram to represent the eye, the second the visible object, and their collision contact. And as if, sire, two cymbals were to strike against each other, or two hands were to clap against each other; one hand would represent the eye,
the second the visible object and their collision contact. Thus contact has the characteristic of touch and the function of impact [Footnote ref 1]'. Contact is the manifestation of the union of the three (the object, the consciousness and the sense) and its effect is feeling (_vedana_); though it is generated by the objects it is felt in the consciousness and its chief feature is experiencing (_anubhava_) the taste of the object. As regards enjoying the taste of an object, the remaining associated states enjoy it only partially. Of contact there is (the function of) the mere touching, of perception the mere noting or perceiving, of volition the mere coordinating, of consciousness the mere cognizing. But feeling alone, through governance, proficiency, mastery, enjoys the taste of an object. For feeling is like the king, the remaining states are like the cook. As the cook, when he has prepared food of diverse tastes, puts it in a basket, seals it, takes it to the king, breaks the seal, opens the basket, takes the best of all the soup and curries, puts them in a dish, swallows (a portion) to find out


[Footnote 1: _Atthasalini_, p. 108; translation, pp. 143-144.]


whether they are faulty or not and afterwards offers the food of various excellent tastes to the king, and the king, being lord, expert, and master, eats whatever he likes, even so the mere tasting of the food by the cook is like the partial enjoyment of the object by the remaining states, and as the cook tastes a portion of the food, so the remaining states enjoy a portion of the object, and as the king, being lord, expert and master, eats the meal according to his pleasure so feeling being lord expert, and master, enjoys the taste of the object and therefore it is said that enjoyment or experience is its function [Footnote ref 1]."

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