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I have seen in many places the description of the phases of contact, feeling, perception, thinking and etc. upon this site. I have three questions:

1) What is the name of this chain? Is it distinct from the links of dependent origination?

2) How can this chain and its parts best be explained?

3) Is there any book which can explain this chain, possibly in detail?

Thank you.

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1) What is the name of this chain? Is it distinct from the links of dependent origination?

It is called 60 piyarūpaṃ-sātarūpaṃ in saccapabba of mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta.

It is a present part of dependent origination, nothing difference.

2) How can this chain and its parts best be explained?

  • Contact = metting of a sense + a sense-organ + a sense-data.
  • Feeling = result of contact.
  • Perception = memory of feeling for recollecting next time to take/avoid the memorized feeling.
  • Thinking.

3) Is there any book which can explain this chain, possibly in detail?

Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha Chapter 8.

  • Why is perception memory when in the sutta is said "it perceives red, blue, yellow" – user4878 Nov 4 '17 at 13:40
  • Sañña = memorizing, marking to recollect/remember/recall again next time. – Bonn Nov 4 '17 at 16:04
  • That definition is not from the suttas – user4878 Nov 4 '17 at 18:36
  • It is very generally use in pāli, but pāli-skill-less student can't not notice. i.e. " Idha, bhikkhave, tadevekaccesu janapadesu ‘pātī’ti sañjānanti, ‘pattan’ti sañjānanti, ‘vittan’ti sañjānanti - Bhikkhus, in a certain state the bowl is known (remember) as Pātīti, in another .... (M.N. Araṇa­vibhaṅ­ga­sutta). In this context, it means "everyone in some state identically memorize bowl as Pattaṃ, some state as Pātī..." Sañjānanti, in everywhere of tipitaka, is used like this case, too. It can connect the word in context better, especially 5 aggregates and paticcasamuppāda. – Bonn Nov 4 '17 at 23:13
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(1) What is the name of this chain?

This chain should be held distinct from dependent origination (as explained below). In this chain, contact-feeling-perception are inseparable and will always arise together (refer to MN 43 quoted below). Vitakka (thinking) is optional however to undertake ordinary life & social activities, a Buddha, for example, must think. Therefore, thinking (vitakka) can be included in sutta that mention feeling & perception.

The above said, different teachings in the Pali suttas use names approximating this chain, such as:

  1. The eighteen mental examinations (manopavicārāti) - AN 3.61

  2. The six sets of six (chachakka) ayatana - MN 148

The above two teachings are not dependent origination because they are not about the origination of suffering.

Is it distinct from the links of dependent origination?

This chain of mental cognition can be distinct from the links of dependent origination because contact, feeling, perception & thinking can be undefiled, enlightened & non-suffering; where as dependent origination refers to the 12 links leading to suffering, in which every link is defiled, tainted or polluted by ignorance, as follows:

And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes mind-&-body. From mind-&-body as a requisite condition come the six sense media. From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes 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. From clinging 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. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering. SN 12.2

For example, the quotes below are not dependent origination because dependent origination refers to the 12 links leading to suffering:

On seeing a form with the eye, he does not lust after it if it is pleasing; he does not dislike it if it is unpleasing. He abides with mindfulness of the body established, with an immeasurable mind, and he understands as it actually is the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Having thus abandoned favouring and opposing, whatever feeling he feels, whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant, he does not delight in that feeling, welcome it, or remain holding to it. As he does not do so, delight in feelings ceases in him. With the cessation of his delight comes cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of being; with the cessation of being, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering. MN 38

Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it, and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one. When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one does not sorrow, grieve and lament, does not weep beating one’s breast and become distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion does not lie within one. When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one. Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, by extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is possible. MN 148


2) How can this chain and its parts best be explained?

I explained it broadly above as a "cognitive" chain because these mental phenomena must occur in all people, including enlightened people.


3) Is there any book which can explain this chain, possibly in detail?

The book called The ABCs of Buddhism may possibly be relevant.

There are Pali suttas that include contact, feeling (vedana), perception (sanna) & vitakka (thinking), such as:

With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about. MN 18


There is the case where feelings are known to the monk as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Perceptions are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. Thoughts are known to him as they arise, known as they persist, known as they subside. This is the development of concentration that, when developed & pursued, leads to mindfulness & alertness. AN 4.41


Feeling, perception & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. MN 43


Bhikkhus, in dependence on an element there arises a perception, there arises a view, there arises a thought. SN 14.13


Bhikkhus, sensual thoughts arise with a source, not without a source; thought of ill will arises with a source, not without a source; thought of harming arises with a source, not without a source. And how is this so?

In dependence on the sensuality element there arises sensual perception; in dependence on the sensual perception there arises sensual intention; in dependence on the sensual intention there arises sensual desire; in dependence on the sensual desire there arises sensual passion; in dependence on the sensual passion there arises a sensual quest. Engaged in a sensual quest, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself wrongly in three ways - with body, speech and mind.

In dependence on the ill will element there arises perception of ill will...

In dependence on the cruelty element there arises perception of harming...

In dependence on the renunciation element there arises perception of renunciation...

In dependence on the non-ill will element there arises perception of non-ill will...

In dependence on the harmlessness element there arises perception of harmlessness. In dependence on the perception of harmlessness there arises intention of harmlessness; in dependence on intention of harmlessness there arises desire for harmlessness; in dependence on desire for harmlessness there arises passion for harmlessness; in dependence on passion for harmlessness there arises a sensual quest. Engaged in a quest for harmlessness, the instructed noble disciple conducts himself rightly in three ways - with body, speech and mind.

SN 14.12

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Yogakara, expounded by Asanga, and more famously Vashubandu that integrates the Theravada masterwork Abidadhamma with the emerging Mahayana thinking and teaching is a great source for study in this area I find it a better discourse on the earlier dependent origination. Some early Theravada texts in which the Buddha designates the conditions for arising of one of the five first senses, say sight, needs the object, the proximity of the object to the eye, and the seeing of the eye. Yogakara has a more nuanced take on this. Yogakara by the way, is a foundation thread in Mahayana and Cha/Son/Zen as is the Lankavatara, though some American Zenists are unaware of the history of their practice.

  • You are mistaken, there's no such named "Theravada" in the Early 18/20 Buddhist Schools, Theravada is used only recently no more than 100 years ago, to rename the different sect from Mahayana, existed in SE Asia. This modern Theravada has only the Abidhamma in their Canon called Visudhimagga from what they can recite from their oral keeping, how could it develop the Yogacara that existed at least 1000 years ahead of it? – Mishu 米殊 Nov 4 '17 at 5:28
  • Any book recommendations on books by Asanga and Vasubandhu? I can't seem to find books by such authors anywhere, and I don't know which specific ones to seek. – Eggman Nov 4 '17 at 12:34

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