COVID and Impermanence

COVID and Impermanence [1]

COVID-19: A Lesson in Impermanence and Loss of Certainty

The untrustworthy Lord of Death
Waits not for things to be done or undone;
Whether I am sick or healthy
This fleeting life is unstable.

– by Shantideva

Covid-19 has really put impermanence and uncertainty in the front of our minds, where it should have been all along of course.

But so many things happen daily, things that have nothing to do with Covid, experiences that are unexpected, for example, the end of a relationship we thought would last for ever. Whether I am sick or healthy, I meet what I don’t want or what I didn’t expect. According to the Buddha, that is the very nature of this life: unstable, unpredictable, impermanent. I could die at any time…

Of course, there are many ways of getting sick and dying, but somehow this coronavirus, because it has spared no person and no country, has captured our imagination, and set in train fear and anxiety, and the sudden realization that life is fragile and I could die at any time. Yet this has always been a fundamental truth of the Buddha’s teachings; it’s just that we don’t really and truly believe it.

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[1] Talk given at the Dhammaloka Centre of the Buddhist Society of WA, Friday 24 September by Len Warren and Sue Lee