Why not Turn the Threat of Covid-19 into Opportunities just the same way that the Maha Sangha did

Why not Turn the Threat of Covid-19 into Opportunities just the same way that the Maha Sangha did

The Tripitaka, the Pali Cannon that contains the precious gem of the Buddha Dhamma may not have been written down on palm leaves in Sri Lanka, about 2000 years ago, if not for one of the greatest threats posed to the humanity in Sri Lanka, at that time! The threat was the biggest famine ever to hit Sri Lanka & the war with the invading south Indian war lords.

The writing down of the Tripitaka undoubtedly is one of the greatest gifts to the humanity, if not the greatest of all, ever! So, who knows, what extraordinary good things would come out of the present threat posed by Covid-19 virus?

The Tripitaka that contains the Dhamma, as discoursed by the Lord Buddha, which was first codified/composed between about 550 BCE has been written down for the first time in the 1st century BCE. The Dipavamsa states that during the reign of King Valagamba of Anuradhapura (29–17 BCE) the monks who had previously remembered the Tripitaka and its commentary orally, wrote them down on palm leaves, because of the threat posed by famine and war. (Courtesy of Wikipedia website)

The Buddha Dhamma in its written form is one of the greatest gifts to the humanity given by those great members of Maha Sangha in Sri Lanka, most likely including, a large number of Arahant Sangha, about 2000 years ago. Up to that time, the teachings of the Lord Buddha have been preserved by the members of Maha Sangha by way of memorising & remembering the Dhamma & reciting them repeatedly over & over again! What was the reason for them to take on that very onerous decision to write down the Tripitaka on palm leaves, at that time?

The main reason was that the members of Maha Sangha who remembered the Dhamma that have been passed down to them by their teachers in a long lineage, have been passing away, (dying), at a very rapid rate due to the illnesses arising from lack of food which was a result of the famine. It was an enormously onerous task because of the rudimentary ways of writing available at that time, enormity of the problem of logistics that required to house & feed a large number of Maha Sangha at one place, the lack of food due to the famine, the insecurity posed by the war etc.

According to Deepavamsa & Mahavamsa, two of the oldest chronicles of the Sri Lankan history, (as found in Wikipedia), the main reasons were the greatest famines ever to hit Sri Lanka & also, the King Valagamba’s, (valiant & finally successful), struggle to protect the country from the Indian invaders. So, the Maha Sangha took the threat seriously, turned the threat into an opportunity & gave the gift of the Dhamma in its written form!

So, why not turn the threat of Covid-19 into an opportunity?

The opportunities could come from material developments such as the new ways of doing medical research, new ways of handling sicknesses, some novel ways of seeing the doctor & also, new ways of buying our groceries. Who knows what else because the Humans are preoccupied with finding ways to gratify our sensual pleasures that bind us to this Samsara!

More importantly though, the spiritual development could take a much greater leap forward! People would start to think about the Dhamma the Lord Buddha taught, in a more serious manner. The caring attitudes & the generous deeds that we see today, may start to galvanize in the society with the potential for the reduction of poverty in the world.

This is the moment to loosen our purse strings! The poor people in 3rd world countries, especially the day-wage-earners will have nowhere to turn for help. The governments in those countries are doing their best but, they are hamstrung due to the meagre resources that they have. So, this is the time for we people living in affluent countries to turn this into an opportunity & start practising the true Dhamma & help those in need. That is practicing the generosity what the Lord Buddha termed Cāga in Pali, one of the four ways of letting go! There are so many ways of helping the poor people in those countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Uganda, so many to name! I know, personally, of very credible local organisations that are on the ground, helping the poorest of poor in some rural parts of a traditional Buddhist country in Asia, right at this very moment. If there is a will to help, there is a way, always!

The increased effort in spiritual development would neither need large laboratories nor any other expensive infrastructure. The efforts will have to come from within each person. So, the Dhamma could be practised well, in seclusion, either at home or at any other individual personal spaces without attending public places such as Dhammaloka Centre etc! The nominal Buddhists may start practising the Dhamma in the true way, making the right effort to end the true suffering!

As Ven Ajahn Brahmali discoursed us on 21 March 2020, at Dhammaloka Centre in Perth, (which we listened on-line, from our home), the Lord Buddha’s teaching is that it is the Conscious Being that keep doing the Kamma, (intentional or volitional acts), because of the Greed or Wanting that arise as a result of Contacts through six sense bases, (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body & mind), which bind/fetter beings to the unending cycle of repeated rebirths, the Samsara. The final point of Ajahn’s talk, as I understood was, “Be Detached”! When detached, the consciousness will have no ground to get a hold of & the cycle of repeated rebirths is broken! The circuit-breaker is in place! No more suffering!

So, it is up to each one of us to take it individually & turn this threat into some opportunity in our lives! Ven Ajahn Brahm’s advice is, “when you have nothing to do, do nothing”! So, let us stop worrying on problems & start practising meditation. Enough writing now, I am going to have a sit! Perhaps, you should, too!

May all beings be happy, healthy & well!

With Metta,


Lockdown period Abhidhamma discussions

My friend Robert K. is hosting daily half-hour Zoom meetings for the discussion of Abhidhamma. So far the two of us have just been talking to each other, but if anyone would like to join us the next session will be:

Time: Apr 17 FRIDAY , 2020 02:30 PM Riyadh (UTC +3 hours)

The meeting ID is 338 744 1540

No previous background in Abhidhamma is required. As the time of the sessions may change slightly from day to day according to the host’s schedule (he’s an English teacher in Kuwait) announcements will be posted on a Dhamma Wheel thread the day before each session, link

(Edited Dhamma Wheel link, 18/04/20)