Natural Law Says It All: Because everything is in flux, it’s silly to shout for lasting solutions
Posted on April 19th, 2014

By Shelton A. Gunaratne (1)

 The above headline should not come as a surprise to anyone living in Sri Lanka irrespective of his/her religion or ethnicity. It sums up a natural law that anyone can test through personal experience: Everything in this world is inconstant (anicca). Therefore, nothing is permanent; and it’s the mistaken belief in a permanent self when the fact is there is no self (anatta) that impels us to crave for and cling onto things that cause all the unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) in the world.

Buddhist phenomenology asserts that inconstancy, no self, and unsatisfactoriness are the three marks of existence. This was Buddha’s personal discovery, not something passed on to him by a transcendental force.

On the basis of this natural law, existence is coterminous with unsatisfactoriness. Thus, it’s silly to clamor for permanent solutions to problems that make everyone happy. Supreme happiness is possible only in a state of non-existence. Whatever pleasure (physical) or happiness (mental) one enjoys in the course of existence cannot last too long.

Existence is a continuous process that will continue through time and space in a never-ending circle. As quantum physics testifies, everything in existence is a manifestation of energy, matter and information. Buddha identified these as the Five Aggregates: matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.

All “beings” are a composite of these interconnected and interdependent aggregates, which interact continuously to deny the emergence of a permanent self. “We” are conditioned by these five aggregates of attachment although “we” have some control of them through “our” mind consciousness.

Thus, every “being” is in a state of flux from birth to death. The aggregates continue to function after death to produce a new cycle of re-becoming (punabbhava). However, this is not the same as rebirth or reincarnation, which presumes a permanent self. This is a fundamental difference between Buddhism and Hinduism. The reality is that the “being” at death is not identical to the “being” at birth. Nor is it identical to the “being” that will re-become.

The very same natural law applies to ideas, thoughts and theories as well. Let us look at the unsatisfactoriness relating to the ethnic/language/religious problems in Sri Lanka.

The Buddhist Sinhalese, who constitute the large majority of the population, think that unsatisfactoriness is the natural law. Therefore, no amount of concessions is likely to satisfy the Hindu/Christian Tamils, who believe in a permanent self.   They see the Tamils’ demand for Eelam as excessive greed because of failure to comprehend the decimation of their population resulting from war and massive emigration.

If the Hindu/Christian Tamils were to look at the problems from the Buddhist Sinhalese perspective, and if the Buddhist Sinhalese were to look at the same problems from the Tamil perspective, Sri Lanka might be able to derive more satisfactory results in the short run. This is the little leeway they have of using their mind consciousness to control the aggregates of attachment.

Will their unsatisfactoriness cease if the Tamils were to achieve their Eelam? I have great doubts. By then, they would face a new set of similar problems: an unfriendly Sinhalese nation trying to undo Eelam; coalescing with Tamil Nadu to dislodge Hindi as the dominant language; becoming a vassal state of Tamil Nadu after its separation from India; and so on.

Wisdom, ethical/moral conduct, and mental cultivation constitute the path to happiness. I ask the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Tamils and Moors to enter into a dialogue with no buts and ifs rather than crossing cudgels. Aggressive demands and provocations through external intervention will merely prolong the life cycle of these problems thereby engendering further unsatisfactoriness.


(1) Dr. Gunaratne, who lives in the United States, was the first journalist from Ceylon to win a World Press Institute Fellowship in 1966-1967. The WPI will celebrate its 50th anniversary in St. Paul, Minn., June 12-14. 

6 Responses to “Natural Law Says It All: Because everything is in flux, it’s silly to shout for lasting solutions”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Endia is set to get rid of Endian Muslims when Modi becomes PM.

    “PATNA: Senior BJP leader and former minister in the Nitish Kumar cabinet, Giriraj Singh kicked up a huge row when he said all those opposed to Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan as they have no place in India.

    The remarks of the BJP leader, contesting the Lok Sabha election from Nawada, accusing Modi’s opponents of acting on behalf of Pakistan are likely to be examined by the Election Commission.

    “Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India,” Singh told a poll meeting at Mohanpur Haat Maidan near the temple town Deogarh on Friday.”


  2. Nanda Says:

    How about Mervyn Silva saying “all those opposed to MR should go to Endia as they have no place in Lanka “?. No one will care.

    Coming back to the topic of Shelton Ayya, to understand the noble truth of suffering one has to be convince that there is ” this whole mass of suffering” which includes sum total of suffering undergone by satvas ( all beings) in the past and obvious current suffering of all beings. If one understands that, “I am ” idea become so stupid, “Tamil” of “Sinhala” idea will become even more stupid. However this does not happen by mere listening or belief and the stupid world , in the mean time should continue with some order. That is why good law, leaders, rulers become imperative.

    Nowadays, USA has invented a new methods criminality to instigate hate among peace loving people , called “social media”. With proper leaders, this does not work too ! It has become imperative to for Head of State to educate oneself and learn to listen to the smart ( Pandita) if they have no intellectual capacity to possess a “Chintana”.

    This is why Dhammapada ( Buddha’s words) 63 says,
    “A fool who knows his foolishness is wise at least to that extent, but a fool who thinks himself wise is a fool indeed. “

  3. AnuD Says:

    We are talking here a hypothetical situation. buddhists keep quiet for every thing saying every thing is for a short time and we all die.

    Ask a muslim, that is not the case. what their prophet had said every thing was to propagate their religion. They build a mosque per every forty families. Those women in those families are banned to marry out of the religion while men are influenced to marry from other religions in order to convert. for them also, large number of muslim children are a must. Then these new families need houses and new mosques.

    Only positive thing is the day oil pumping is finished their religion also ends.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    That’s true AnuD.

    UNFORTUNATELY Islam and oil went hand in hand. Otherwise no one is talking about Islam.

    The SANE world was divided in Cold War. Saudis, etc. took advantage.

    Now it is the same.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Well done Russia.


    UN sanctions on North Korea? Go to hell!!

    This will bring peace between NK and SK. Americunts want to somehow pit these together in war!

    Russia’s parliament has agreed to write off about $10 billion of North Korea’s Soviet-era debt, in a deal expected to facilitate the building of a gas pipeline to South Korea across the reclusive state.

    Russia has written off debts to a number of impoverished Soviet-era allies, including Cuba. North Korea’s struggling communist economy is just 2 percent of the size of neighboring South Korea’s.

    The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea’s debt. It said the total debt stood at $10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.

    The rest of the debt, $1.09 billion, would be redeemed during the next 20 years, to be paid in equal installments every six months. The outstanding debt owed by North Korea will be managed by Russia’s state development bank, Vneshekonombank.

    Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian media that the money could be used to fund mutual projects in North Korea, including a proposed gas pipeline and a railway to South Korea.

    Russia’s state-owned top natural producer Gazprom, has long planned to build a gas pipeline via North Korea to South Korea with a view to shipping 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

    Moscow has been trying to diversify its energy sales to Asia away from Europe, which, in its turn, wants to cut its dependence on Russian oil and gas.”

    – moscowtimes.

    Russia should build a pipeline to Endia. Difficult but doable. That will be a GAME CHANGER.

  6. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    This article focuses on the Sri Lankan Tamils wanting a separate land and how the philosophy of Buddhism could bring some understanding to it if possible. It goes on to state that if each party were to see the problem form the perception of the other maybe a solution can be reached. But in other articles the creation of Eelam is but a stepping stone for a greater movement for the creation of a “Tamil region” which would include Tamil Nadu and Eelam. If that is the case then the problem is beyond the scope of the boundaries of Sri Lanka.

    As for the philosophy of Impermanence” of the material world that is true. Be it human, a planet, a sun or a galaxy everything is impermanent, because everything we see will have an end. But within that impermanence of life we humans have to achieve what we can, knowing fully well whatever we do achieve is also impermanent. The fact of illusion of impermanence must not negate man from reaching for the highest goals within the short span of life he is given. It should not paralyze us from taking effective actions to pressing problems.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress