February 3, 2019
The Book of Matthew (19:16-22) tells of a wealthy young man who asks Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. After Jesus tells him to keep the commandments, and the young man assures him that he does, Jesus famously suggests that he give away everything he owns and follow him. The young man walks away, grieving, unable to part with his material goods.
Which brings me to Scott Wellenbach.
Wellenbach is both a world-class poker player and a devout Buddhist. Last month, he won $671,240 at a high-stakes game in the Bahamas — and promptly gave it all away to charity. The 67-year-old Canadian, who translates Buddhist teachings from Sanskrit and Tibetan, confesses that he reconciles the teachings of his faith with the adrenaline of a straight flush “with great difficulty,” and that tension led him to decide to simply give away all his winnings to Buddhist nonprofits and aid organizations.
Besides, he says, he doesn’t really need the money. Buddhists, he says, “sit around and meditate a lot — and that’s free.”