“O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.14)
These things don’t usually happen to you. “I’m the most unlucky person” has always been your response to anyone who asked what you would do if something like this were to occur.
It happened, though, to everyone’s surprise. Of course, it is easy to lose perspective. One person lives well enough to find shelter in the cold, have air conditioning in the heat, and put plenty of food on the table. Others around the world are not so fortunate.
Even still, there is something of value God has already given. If a person were offered a tremendous amount of money for one of their limbs, they most likely wouldn’t accept. This implies that they do have gifts provided by nature which have such a high value that a price tag cannot be applied.
In this hypothetical situation you have won the lottery. A million dollars. It doesn’t go as far as it used to, but it’s still a lot of money. What to do now? In which direction to turn?
1. Go crazy and buy a lot of stuff
A new car. A bigger house. Relocate to a preferable climate. The sky is the limit. No one to say, “No.” During youth the parents only gave gifts once a year, on your birthday. They didn’t want to spoil you. Other children received so many toys and such on the occasion of Christmas, but not you. If you took the cumulative of every gift you received growing up, it wouldn’t compare to one Christmas’ worth for your neighbor.
Now there is no one to stop. No restrictions. In Sanskrit this path is known as bhoga. Pure enjoyment. Worried about what to eat? Hire a chef. Let them live in the house, even. First thing every morning, they will ask what you want to eat.
2. Put the money away and retire
The opposite path is tyaga. This is renunciation. Either put the money away in the bank, collecting the interest, or just give it away to others. Use this as an opportunity to become detached from the world. No more forced entanglement in daily affairs. No more having to work for this or that. In the bhoga path you can use the money to start new businesses, but that only means more responsibilities and troubles. Time is money, and now that there is so much, time can be freed up for higher pursuits.
3. Think of it like a dream
What if you only won the million dollars in a dream? Is that any reason to rejoice? Is waking up reason to lament? In fact, every person already has such an inheritance, since they are intimately tied to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is resting within everyone’s heart.
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.61)
Winning a million dollars in a dream isn’t so big a deal, but reconnecting with Bhagavan is. This can happen in the human form, which is the real reason for its high value. That connection can take place when someone has a high bank balance, and also when they are dirt poor. Bhagavan is known as the protector of the poor, in fact.
He lifted Sudama Vipra from a condition in poverty, which only the brahmana’s wife was really struggling with. He transformed the contents of the fruit basket into gold and jewels for the vendor in Vrindavana. He made Sugriva the king of Kishkindha and Vibhishana the king of Lanka. He gave salvation to Shabari, the female ascetic.
Those rewards were not necessary, but the Supreme Lord never keeps His devotees in distress for long. The devotion is their real wealth, and so even if they were to come into a lot of money it doesn’t change their behavior. They understand that wealth and good fortune are benedictions from Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune. She is the husband of Narayana, or God the person, and so such blessings should be used for the same purpose, pleasing her husband.
Suddenly into money coming,
Overnight millionaire becoming.
What now after down from high?
Stumped on what to buy.
Like in dream award taking,
Gone once morning awaking.
Connected to such wealth everyone already,
Supreme Lord protecting devotional life steady.
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