Posted on June 4th, 2020

Palitha Mapatuna

What is evident today in the face of Covid 19 is the sense of sheer helplessness even among those who may presume to be powerful.

To a discerning individual, this situation can bring into focus the essence of the teaching of the Buddha, namely the universal characteristics of existence.

The universal characteristics consist of the following relationships:


suffering in impermanence, and

not-self in suffering.

The following is a brief discussion of these characteristics.


Existence is a series of experiences and each experience consists of five elements: form (matter), feeling, perception, determinants (intention), and consciousness.

All these elements are subject to rise and fall and, hence, impermanent. They change and dissolve with the change and dissolution of the things on which they depend. 

Such change and dissolution are mostly hidden in the busy day to day existence, but a keen individual may vividly perceive it in the current circumstances of Covid 19.

Suffering in impermanence

Arising from impermanence is a sense of oppression of being relentlessly subject to it. No agreeable state of affairs can be relied upon to continue; it is accompanied by an underlying sense of insecurity, and subtle anxiety. This is the essence of suffering in impermanence. 

This sense of oppression is manifest in mainly aging, sickness and death, and the latter two are particularly evident currently.

Not-self in suffering

With regard to not-self, the term ‘self’ (or ‘soul’ or any other term representing it) needs definition; without defining this term will be meaningless.

Basically, the function of a thing defines it. The (supposed) function of ‘self’ is essentially that of ‘master’ (one who ‘owns’ or ‘dominates’). In the absence of this unique function, anything could be self!

However, a master requires mastery and, therefore, self requires mastery. In the absence of mastery, ‘self’ will be an empty notion, a mere sound.

The absence of mastery is emphasized in the sense of helplessness in the face of  Covid 19. 

In this way, there could be an insight into not-self in impermanence and suffering.

This is an insight into reality, leading to freedom from delusion.  

Palitha Mapatuna


  1. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    The Buddha, the greatest human being ever born, was real and could see through birth, life, death and the
    universe while the others were man made myths. With regard to any one thing there can be only one truth.
    Religion is same. Science has proven Buddhism to be the only true religion again and again. Yet people outside
    the religion frown on The Buddha’s teachings and want to destroy it since Buddhism isn’t a religion of
    convenience which regard sins (crimes) as sins.

    All the crimes (sins) any two legged creature can do anywhere under the sun:
    1 killing (rewarded with 72 or whatever, in the 21st century? Courts everywhere give maximum punishment)
    2 stealing
    3 sexual misconduct
    4 lying
    5 drugs/alcohol abuse.
    The above is the basis for penal code for every country under the sun.

    Buddhism’s Five Precepts:
    1 refrain from killing (guaranteeing right to life for all living things)
    2 refrain from thieving
    3 refrain from sexual misconduct
    4 refrain from lying
    5 refrain from drugs/alcohol abuse.

    Do we have to say any more? This is just one example. The Buddha preached, health is wealth. How appropriate
    for a money ruling, greedy, selfish, uncaring world today. While the two legged creatures will run a mile when
    their life is in danger, animals? Oh, they are our food and we pray several times a day and our fake gods are
    fine with it. That’s is the attitude of the two leggeds’. Don’t give a damn, if it is to your advantage and the victim
    is a helpless creature/man/woman/country etc. All living things have instincts to survive. That’s why trees move
    their branches towards the sun or hibernate in the winter (a ‘switch’). Then to believe animals have no fear of
    death is downright absurd! Sometimes they are killed in front of other animals. Seeing their fate not going to
    make them scared for their lives. Of course not for the greedy two leggeds.

    If the two leggeds care to look at their teeth and then check the teeth of a cat/dog/lion (picture in a book of
    course), it tells you what sort of diet we should be eating. After all our distant relative chimp (Darwin’s Theory of Evolution) isn’t a meat eater. People who sin end up animal kingdom to pay for their sins 100s of 1000s of
    lifetimes before being ‘promoted to be legged’ again (Darwin’s Theory Evolution?). Science and Buddhism are
    one and same!

    The Buddha touched all the civilisations of the day and iran, afganisthan, pakisthan, bangladesh, malaysia,
    indonesia (Google those countries’ Buddhist heritage) used to Buddhist countries until the fastest breeding
    religion aka religion of violence mussies got there with their baby machine wives (BMWs?). Mussies made
    them all mussie countries within a few hundred years after multiplying like . This is what mussies doing in Sri Lanka now with the help of GooandPee aka UNPatriotic_rats party deshapaluwas’ help who worship them for
    their votes. Buddhism didn’t fit the society inIndia with castes systems, animal sacrifices etc. etc. and quickly
    people reverted back to religions of conveniences which don’t regard as sins as sins. Then invading mussies killed all the Buddhist monks and set fire to Buddhist universities (a world first) and uprooted Buddhism from its birth place.

    The Buddha preached, universe is a vast vast vast vast place (NASA showed the earth’s size is a grain of sand
    in the vast vast vast universe where distances are measured in light years) and we don’t need to find out about it since we are going through a samsaric journey and every universe’s life time a Buddha is born to show the way
    to two legged creatures to stop being reborn (end of suffering). Surprise, surprise a few centuries later god
    theory came and people quickly embraced it. Then another few centuries later yet another god came on the
    scene. People used to worship rivers, mountains, trees, gods in the olden days in the absence of science.

    Covid19 could be the curse of the animals who pay with their lives in billions on daily basis. The two legged
    who was in the jungle have evolved so much and are flying in planes, landing on the moon etc. and the
    livestock never moved all this time? They too must have evolved and must be cursing two leggeds and all
    too powerful two leggeds are running scared. Livestock too have diseases and they pass those to two legged
    creatures when the two leggeds devour them all the time (their revenge). What’s more livestock generate a lot
    of greenhouse gases to pollute the planet, this is in addition 1000s of acres of jungles cleared to rear them.
    Action reaction (Newton’s Law of Physics). What goes round comes round. If you sin, it follows you all the time,
    from this life to next life. Health is wealth, The Buddha preached. How appropriate for a greedy, selfish, uncaring,
    money ruling world! As the great inventor, Arthur C Clark predicted by 2050 Buddhism going to be the only
    religion left in the world. Science keeps proving Buddhism to be true and one day fake gods going to be buried
    for good. Covid19 could be it. WW1, WW2, Spanish Flu, etc. etc. which killed millions no gods ever appeared and
    billions of people living/lived never seen one. Not even any museum in the world displays one. Science and Buddhism one and same!

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