Once Mani Bandha Prabhu from Perth, was telling me that many people who win the lotto end up, within a few years, in a lesser financial situation than before they bought the winning ticket. Often times they may stay financially afloat but they regret all of the turmoil generated by being immediately thrust into wealth and fame.
It just goes to show that we are going to suffer and enjoy according to our karma and that just having a lot of money at our command doesn’t guarantee our happiness.
Here’s some stories off the net that I’ve compiled just to confirm this:
1.) Jack Whittaker (USA’s biggest lotto winner ever)
2.) Michael Carroll (20 year old from Britian who won 10 million pounds)
3.) Victoria Zell (Powerball winner who killed one friend and paralysed another.)
4.) Billie Bob Harrell Jr. (Texan who won $31 million then took his life)
5.) Nearly one-third of lottery winners become bankrupt.
“The CFP Board made an offer to the National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries to provide the organization’s members with information to distribute to winners. The Investment News article highlighted the lack of financial guidance many winners receive from state lottery agencies; estimates show that nearly one-third of lottery winners become bankrupt.”
6.) Wealth brings unhappiness. “A new study by American psychologists has found that cash and popularity do not bring nirvana. Experts say that excessive wealth, particularly for people unaccustomed to it, such as lottery winners, can actually cause unhappiness. (..) There is evidence that there are very wealthy people who are very unhappy, particularly people who were not born to wealth like lottery winners.”
Source: BBC News
7.) An interesting study by Brickman, Coates, and Janoff-Bulman:
“The researchers studied both lottery winners and individuals that sustained a physical injury, to determine if winning the lottery made them happier or if sustaining an injury made them less happy. What they found was that immediately after either event, levels of happiness were higher (lottery winners), or lower (physically injured), and that after eight weeks or less, people returned to the level of happiness they had before the event. This research suggests that we adapt to these situations very quickly, and often return to the degree of happiness we had before such an event.”
Source: University of California Regents
8.) A San Francisco Chronicle article titled “Big lottery winners know a lot about what not to do” states:
“The newly wealthy spend most of their first $1 million on travel.”
“Research shows that a significant number of lottery winners lose their winnings within five years, said Stephen Goldbart, a psychologist and co- director of the Money, Meaning and Choices Institute in Kentfield, which advices people who come into financial windfalls.”
“We’ve seen people who had decent marriages who came into money and it destroyed the marriage. Bringing a huge amount of money into the scene is a life-changing event”.
“A hermit drank himself to death just two years after winning $2.57 million (1.8 million pounds) in the lottery.”
Source: San Francisco Chronicle article 2002
9.) Further reading: The Psychological Impact of Sudden Wealth Journal of Financial Planning by Eileen Gallo, January 30, 2001.
Srila Prabhupada spoke this profound statement into a tape recorder when he was struggling alone in New York – February 19,1966:
“This phenomenal world, or the material world, where we are now put, is also complete by itself because purnam idam [Sri Isopansad]. The 24 elements of which, according to Sankhya philosophy, the 24 elements of which this material universe is a temporary manifestation, are completely adjusted to produce complete things which are necessary for the maintenance and subsistence of this universe. No extraneous effort by any other unit is required for the maintenance of the universe. It’s at its own time, fixed up by the energy of the complete whole, and when the time is complete, these temporary manifestations will be annihilated by the complete arrangement of the complete. There is complete facility for the small complete units, namely, the living entities, to realize the complete. And all sorts of incompleteness is experienced on account of incomplete knowledge of the complete. So the Bhagavad-gita is the complete knowledge of the Vedic wisdom.”
So according to this concept we are here for a particular purpose – namely to realize the ‘complete’. Thus the Vedic literature (specifically Bhagavad-gita) gives some explanation as to our situation. It attempts to answer some essential and existential questions such as ‘Who are we?’, ‘What are we meant to do with ourselves?’, ‘What’s the nature of the material atmosphere we experience?’, ‘Who is God?’, ‘How are we being controlled by time?’ When we can factually realize the answers to these questions we become sane. Otherwise we are operating without an understanding our relationship with everything else in our experience and certainly we cannot expect any deep sense of satisfaction in such a delusion.
So for one who sees the world around them according to the enlightened version of Bhagavad-gita, the false sense of completeness from winning the lotto or the empty lamentation from becoming poverty stricken are based on the same unenlightened perspective.
yukta ity ucyate yogī
A person is said to be established in self-realization and is called a yogi [or mystic] when he is fully satisfied by virtue of acquired knowledge and realization. Such a person is situated in transcendence and is self-controlled. He sees everything — whether it be pebbles, stones or gold — as the same.
Another Vedic text named Srimad Bhagavatam give us another angle on this concept:
saṅkalpa iha karmiṇaḥ
In this material world, every materialist desires to achieve happiness and diminish his distress, and therefore he acts accordingly. Actually, however, one is happy as long as one does not endeavor for happiness; as soon as one begins his activities for happiness, his conditions of distress begin.
So the whole point of this article is to implore ourselves to not waste our lives in searching for temporary happiness. Rather we should utelise the advanced state of consiousness that we, as human beings, are capable of to inquire into the absolute.