(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" (M.9).
A twofold division occurs in D.15: patigha (q.v.) -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 (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-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 (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-impression (phassa-pañcamaka), together with feeling, perception, volition 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-impression is an important subject for reflective insight contemplation as succinctly formulated in many verses of the Sn.: 736/7, 778, 851, 870/72, 923.