Charity & Lottery

My nephew asked me to buy charity draw tickets, as urged by his school to sell. It always struck me as ironical to ‘need’ to use a lottery system to promote charity. Is it out of greed for more donations, or an act of desperation to appeal for them, a mix of both, or something else? Am not sure. Unless the prize money is already specifically provided for by generous donors, it’s going to be an uphill task in the first place gathering enough donations to cover the attractive prize money ($30,000 for first prize), making the fund-raising project almost an investment that might fail? I guess it’s a carefully calculated risk.

On the side of the donors who buy the tickets, their ‘donation’ might feel like an investment too – giving not just for helping others per se, but potentially helping oneself with a windfall too? However, I do believe in the practice of stretching the practice of generosity bit by bit. Better that someone buys a charity ticket than not do any form of charity at all. By the way, the charity tickets were for a non-Buddhist charity, but I bought a couple anyway, to stretch my practice of generosity to be less recipient-specific or conditional. I wonder if my donation is considered a true donation, or is just part of the prize money – as a ‘donation’ to donors? Nope, I didn’t win anything. And if I did win, I wonder which charity I would donate the prize to… hmmm…

On a related note, was chatting with a friend, who was thinking of trying out the often inadequately explained ‘law of attraction’, by buying a lottery ticket, in the hope of striking it big. The basic idea is that when one focuses on a goal, the universe might ‘conspire’ to help – because one might already have planted the seed for sudden wealth in the past, thus only needing conditions (such as buying a lottery ticket) to let the seed ripen. However, one might instead only be providing worthless conditions, without having planted the karmic seed of generosity adequately in the first place. In short, buying a lottery ticket is indeed a gamble – as long as one is unsure if one will win. Actually, 99.999…% of gamblers assume they deserve to win, which is why they gamble, but obviously, they lack the seeds and/or conditions to win.

Also, pining for sudden wealth, unless for noble reasons, can plant new seeds of greed; the opposite of generosity, which lessens the power of the seeds of generosity. Then again, one might be planting seeds of generosity in other ways at the same time too. Me? I don’t buy lottery stuff because I don’t have confidence that I have planted adequate seeds to deserve windfalls, while I also believe that good karma can manifest in our lives in many other ways naturally; not just in terms of money – having good health and Dharma friends for instance! Am I also taking a gamble by not gambling? Nay, because the better ‘gamble’ is not to gamble! The Buddha advised against gambling too.

Related Article:
Is Gambling Investing?