I believe that wealth is a valuable resource that can be used in many helpful ways to alleviate suffering, if not the root causes. So is it wrong to want to gain wealth and prosper? There are many who believe that riches are an unworthy pursuit. However, I have to agree with those who say that poverty is no virtue, either. Can we do more good for others if we have more material wealth? Can wealth be a stumbling block for our spiritual growth? What attitude should we have toward material things and wealth?
asked 01 Nov '09, 07:05
You've raised a number of questions here, John. I'm going to pick one to specifically focus on and hopefully, through some long rambling text-based thought-streaming, my answer will eventually cover the others too.
Obviously you are referring to the biblical phrase here.
To sum up my view in a nutshell, I don't think the love of anything is the root of all evil.
The primary fault I find with that phrase is there is no evil. Evil just means you didn't get what you want. When we classify a person as evil, they are simply not behaving in a way that we or our personal philosophy/religion/society thinks they should.
I remember reading the following quote from Gurdjieff when I was younger and it had a profound impact on my view of how people behave.
When we classify a thing (like money) as evil, we are saying that this thing causes behaviors that we think are evil. But again referring to the above quote, I would suggest that these behaviors are more about our personal moral-based view of the world rather than any universal truth.
So having established that nothing is the root of all evil, I would like to look at the first part of that original quote which talks about the love of money being the root of all evil.
The love of anything implies attachment to that thing. It implies we want this thing so much in our lives that we love it. And the implication is that this love is affecting our mental equilibrium so that until we have that thing we love, we are unhappy.
There are many philosophies and religions that believe that because attachment creates this unhappiness within us, then attachment is wrong. And so we get all kinds of guidelines, rules and regulations that stop us from getting too attached to anything in our lives, all with the noble purpose in mind of helping us live more happily.
I don't doubt that these philosophies are all well-intentioned but I would like to gently suggest (using bold and italic text) that they are all wrong :)
Instead, attachment gives us a reason to focus...a purpose in life (see the poem Ithaca ).
I guess I am actually daring to agree publically with Gordon Gekko's Oscar-winning Greed Is Good speech from Wall Street which surely has to be one of the ultimate love-of-money-is-the-root-of-all-evil movies...and one which I love because it backfired so spectacularly and made the intended villain Gekko into a modern-day role model.
But back to the point...
Attachment only causes unhappiness because we notice that there is a vibrational gulf between what we want and what we have in the present moment.
The philosophies that despise attachment are basically saying not to notice that vibrational gulf and look somewhere else. To use an analogy, they are effectively saying that if a fire alarm is going off, we should wear our headphones and listen to happy music to drown out that annoying noise. I would like to say instead that a better approach would be to put out the fire. :)
When we address that vibrational gulf between what we want and what we have, we align our belief with our desire and then the universe must deliver it to us. I've rambled previously here and here (at least) about how I believe this process works so I won't dredge up the details again.
So what I am trying to say is that the philosophies that present us with statements like the love of money is the root of all evil did not probably understand the nature of the manifestation process well enough to be able to present the people of the time with an alternative solution to getting what they wanted, so they advocated instead the solution of not noticing you don't have what you want and not to even try to get it. ("It's evil - don't get involved with it")
So let me try and draw some conclusions...
Is it wrong to gain wealth and prosper? No, of course not. Because right and wrong don't exist.
Can we do more good for others if we have more material wealth? Yes, certainly. Because what material wealth is, is simply the result of applying Universal Law in such a way that we have manifested the wealth (even if we don't know how). And that ability to flow energy in that way (money is just stored energy) can have useful results in whatever it is applied to.
Can wealth be a stumbling block for our spiritual growth? Money has nothing to do with spiritual growth. It's just a result of how we have previously flowed our energy towards our physical manifestations. As mentioned before, often money gives us a reason to focus in our lives and in this respect the accumulation of money is a great focusing tool for bringing the human race to a higher state. (Greed is good!)
What attitude should we have toward material things and wealth? I would suggest that the best attitude is one of indifference. It's just a game that we are playing and often the game board is controlled by others so why not play a different game instead if you prefer? An increasing number of people these days choose to drop out of mainstream society totally and not play the game at all - a perfectly valid personal choice (in my view).
I'd better stop there. Apologies for the length of this answer (if you've managed to read this far). It's Sunday morning here and I got up a little earlier than usual and couldn't resist it :)
answered 01 Nov '09, 09:10
Well, it's very late as I read this and I'd like to respond, but I need some sleep. To do justice to your lengthy, but well-thought-out answer, I'll have to come back to it tomorrow. But thanks!
(02 Nov '09, 05:47) John
The "good and evil do not exist" argument is problematic for many reasons, but let me give you one good one: it cannot be disputed that the belief in good and evil is real and does exist. There will always be people who do things that are undisputably destructive and harmful. As long as those people exist there must also be people who resist them. You can give that dynamic whatever label you want, but I call it good and evil.
(02 Nov '09, 19:49) Vesuvius
Hi Vesuvius. I completely understand your point of view - I used to hold it once. If one accepts that this universe is truly Law of Attraction-based then there can be no "good" or "evil", just things that you attracted that you wanted and things you attracted that you didn't want. There can be no "victims" or "evil-doers" in such a world view. If one doesn't accept that, then the idea that there are people out there doing "good" and "evil" who must be resisted is a perfectly logical one...so I guess it really comes down to how you think the universe works. :)
(02 Nov '09, 21:00) Stingray
Of course, resisting the "good" people is optional...and I should pay more attention to my grammar :)
(02 Nov '09, 21:20) Stingray
It's hard to imagine someone attracting a drunk driver or manifesting a robbery of their home. While it has never happened to me, I still lock my doors and have an alarm system. I could probably get by with just a sign out front that says that I have an alarm system, or a beware of dog sign. That has more to do with the robber's belief system, rather than mine.
(02 Nov '09, 22:26) Vesuvius
It might be hard to imagine but that's exactly what happens. The difficulty is that is not easy to understand the vibrational stance that attracts it if you are not there to experience it and then observe it objectively afterwards. In my earlier life, I have been physically attacked a number of times. Looking back I can see exactly how my vibrational attitude at that time attracted those events...it was not that I was seeking violence but that I was fighting against violence (vibrationally), which was exactly the same as giving my attention to it, so I would naturally attract it.
(02 Nov '09, 22:54) Stingray
Nice try, but studies have shown that putting an alarm sign in front of your house deters robbers (because it's too difficult; they move on to easier prey). I suppose you're now going to tell me that it's my belief in the effectiveness of the sign that works, and not the sign itself.
(02 Nov '09, 23:16) Vesuvius
You say that the best attitude is one of indifference. How can you be attached and detached at the same time?
(02 Nov '09, 23:18) Vesuvius
Regarding the sign...yes, you got it exactly right. :)
(02 Nov '09, 23:21) Stingray
The attachment is not something you can do anything about - it's just the natural desire you have for things that you want to be, do or have. You still want those things even if you don't believe you can get them or even if you tell others you don't really want them after all. The detachment is what I am calling "indifference"... it's the attitude of mind that releases the resistance to those things coming and allows them to manifest
(02 Nov '09, 23:31) Stingray
Fascinating dialog! Stingray, in your answer, I liked the comment about playing a different game, reminiscent of the super computer's conclusion in the old movie War Games: "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play." That philosophy has served me well on many occasions. It's effect comes by NOT attracting anything either through a negative or positive attachment.
I understand your point about evil, but it's a hard sell. I would have to dispute the premise in Gurdjieff's quote: "Nobody ever does anything deliberately in the interests of evil..." Thanks for your thoughtful answers.
(05 Nov '09, 08:21) John
showing 2 of 11 show 9 more comments
I don't think it is wrong to gain wealth and prosper as it is just a desire like any other, like getting married and having kids. All these desires give you something to aim at, gives your life purpose and pushes your abilities in most cases which makes you grow as a person.
You have mentioned that many believe that riches are an unworthy pursuit. I think there are 2 reasons for that:
Of course, you can do lots of good for others if you are wealthy like give money to charity or helping a friend. But you need to give some thought to helping people this way as when you give money to charity, do you really know how this money is being utilised or whether your friend is going to learn from you helping him or are they going to carry on doing the same things again.
I don't think that wealth is a stumbling block at all to spiritual growth as I think that everything adds to your spiritual growth whether you consider it good or bad. I think wealth is as good a pursuit as any other if that is what people want. My attitude personally towards material things and wealth is to focus on what I want as I have realised that people do not really want money but they want the things that money can buy, in other words the material things or the power that comes with it. So, I tend to focus more on let's say I want a big house or a nice holiday instead of I want lots of money that will then allow me to buy what I want.
answered 02 Nov '09, 12:41
I agree with your statements, but let me play the devil's advocate for a moment. Was Jesus wrong when he said, "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" or do we misunderstand what he was really saying? I raise this question because much of the anti-wealth sentiment in my country (U.S.A.) is based upon Christian beliefs.
(05 Nov '09, 08:53) John
You can't help the poor if you are poor.
Those who seek wealth for the sake of having wealth can become spiritually dispossessed, because they are not focusing on things that will nurture their soul.
However, those who seek to create value for themselves and others, by utilizing their own spiritual gifts and helping others, can have both spiritual and material wealth.
answered 02 Nov '09, 23:24
Does that mean that all progress on the spiritual/material wealth front must come only through win-win situations? What if someone wants to focus on accumulating wealth throughout adulthood, and leave it all for charitable causes at the end of life? Must the value I create for myself and others be concurrent?
(05 Nov '09, 08:36) John
When you create wealth, by definition you are offering something of value to others. Otherwise, it would be impossible to attract wealth, because no one would find what you are offering attractive enough to give you money for it.
(13 Nov '09, 23:04) Vesuvius
So is it wrong to want to gain wealth and prosper? Depends what you want to do with your wealth. If you just want more and more wealth for yourself only and want to sit like a dragon guarding it, it definitely is not good for you.
Can we do more good for others if we have more material wealth? - If we think of wealth as accumulated energy, having wealth gives many advantages of helping others which people with no wealth would hardly have.
Can wealth be a stumbling block for our spiritual growth? - When we look around at people in pursuit of wealth, we notice that for many people it is. Then there are also wealthy people who genuinely believe in charity and try to help others. There are many poor people, who don't have money but are in no way interested in spiritual aspirations either. So not having wealth doesn't guarantee freedom to pursue spiritual aspirations if we are not free from a hankering for wealth.
What attitude should we have toward material things and wealth? - Almost all humanity's spiritual traditions say that we should treat material things and wealth as necessary but potentially dangerous elements for our own spiritual development. If we acquire material things and wealth, we should also learn how to use them wisely so that we can help others rather than becoming slaves of money and things. It does not do any good to hate money and things. That makes us forge a negative bond of attachment to them.
answered 04 Nov '09, 20:08
Good points! I especially like the observation about a "negative bond of attachment to [money and things]". Very insightful. Thanks for your answers.
(05 Nov '09, 07:43) John
I think the word ''love'' is not the correct word to be used here. and that's the root of confusion. the correct word - in my opinion - should be ''greed''. pure love - for anything - could never lead to evil.
answered 01 Nov '09, 15:12
Thanks, Adel. I guess it depends on how you decide to define "love". Do you feel any particular attitude toward money and material things is more conducive to spiritual growth?
(02 Nov '09, 05:52) John
Hi John. like what saint Paul said once: "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.'' that's exactly the difference between love for money and greed. life is a dream, we enjoy it as much as we can. but never get attached to any part of it. including wealth or money. because one day, one moment, we are going to leave all behind and wake up. no attachment, total freedom, pure love. thank you
(02 Nov '09, 14:01) Adel
Thank you. Saint Paul also said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12) Just another way to reinforce your point to "never get attached to any part of it."
(05 Nov '09, 08:43) John
showing 2 of 3 show 1 more comments
No, wealth is not an stumblling block for spiritual growth providing we keep our eyes on the prize which is God is our creator and we are trying to learn more about him, thankful to him, and become one with him and treat others as we should be treated as we continue on our spiritual journey.
It is alright to acquire wealth for their is no chance of helping others financially in a large degree if you are in poverty your self. Also having wealth enables you to pursue your goals, dreams and desires to the fullest and be of help to others as well.
Money is very helpful in providing us an medium of exchange to get and received the things we want or desire that can be bought or made. There is nothing wrong with acquireing this wealth to help yourself, your family, the environment, mother earth, and other human beings.
Now having money or wanting money can lead to many people doing the wrong things that are hurtful to people just to show your power with money like buying out another company because you simply dislike the owner which cause many people to lose their jobs, or stealing something from someone simply because you wanted it and I am not talking about the poor stealing I am talking about the rich stealing from one another. Yes the poor steal too but I am not on that now. It isn't the money people so hung up on it is what money can help you acquire in life, the power it gives you over things, other people, and the status it propels you to like being on top of the world.
It is not the money it is the power that sometimes corruptes people and turn them into non-feeling, number crunching, power grabing scruge.
answered 02 Nov '09, 11:58
Hi, Unknown. Thanks for your answers. It's always good to see what you have to say. Your last sentence made me feel like there was some real strong feelings behind it. Yes? No? So if it's not the money, but the power that sometimes corrupts, isn't money one of the sources of power for people? So isn't money really a big part of the problem? I know you're biblically literate, so how do you account for Jesus' teaching about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God? Have a great day!
(05 Nov '09, 09:05) John
John thanks so much for always wanting to see what I have to say. You are correct strong feelings are there. But that is not to say that because you are rich or wealth than you are bad no that is far from the truth having money does not make you bad or evil or not having it makes you good. Money is neutral. In bibical time they said that they travel on camels an to get into the city you had to enter an gate and some of them were not wide and you would have to remove your material possessions in order to enter the gate just you and the camel NO possesions.
(08 Nov '09, 05:04) flowingwater
John I think Jesus wants us to remember to always remember to acquire wealth in both places physical and spiriual. Of course in the spirit world where God dwell it is not the same kind of wealth but he left an guide the bible as to how he wants Us to do along with the personal realtionship you must have with him. Also when it is said and done an you die or be transform that you can not take any of this material possessions with you. You much have faith in God,love and trust him and his son Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins. Jesus said feed my flock, cloths my sheep. God is LOVE.
(08 Nov '09, 05:12) flowingwater
John I just don't understand why us human beings don't care more about each other as God loves us so much. We much stay prayed up always and thankul to God and Jesus. We must pray for others who we do not know as ask for protection and guide us on our journey of life. Have an nice day John.
(08 Nov '09, 05:17) flowingwater
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments
Money shouldn't be the root of evil. Only man chooses it to be the root of evil. Why? because of temptation. Temptation is and will always be there. Corruption and bribery takes place because man cannot resist temptation. For example, in most third world countries corruption is very rampant. In times of difficulties and hardships, overworked and underpaid workers (with five to ten mouths to feed) couldn't resist the temptation to accept bribery for quick job to be done. And so they are labelled as dishonest, cheaters, etc. etc.
answered 05 Nov '09, 11:21
Thank you Celine. Since you mention third world countries-- do you think it's justifiable to accept bribery or to steal in order to feed your children? If a man is tempted to break a law in order to make sure his children can live, is that still wrong?
(07 Nov '09, 03:58) John
Of course the act of stealing or accepting bribery as the means to support your family is still wrong. Being poor and hungry does not justify the fact that you have committed crime. Society expects you to earn a living in an honest way, because it's the right way. But in today's world, man has let himself become the slave of money, and not the other way. Because the thought of living a luxurious lifestyle is very tempting and difficult to resist even if it will cost his reputation or dignity.
(07 Nov '09, 11:46) Celine
As i've mentioned in another topic, if a man's wealth or material possessions becomes the sole reason for his existence, then he is depriving himself true happiness and not allowing himself to grow and move to a higher level of consciousness.
(07 Nov '09, 11:52) Celine
showing 2 of 3 show 1 more comments
We have to allow ourselves to receive if we want to be able to give. Receiving in the form of money or otherwise. When we have enough we can lead as an example for someone who might need helping up if not directly show them how their thoughts are preventing them from receiving themselves. Their resentment is just a programmed response and is not truth. The universe is limitless and so is money- there is no lack of money despite what people believe. Why would people need money to eat if it was not something that is abundant? The truth of nature is more life- meaning an oak tree will grow from a seed and then it will shed seeds once its grown. An oak tree doesn't have to do anything else than that and it doesn't have to feel embarassed about being an oak tree and it doesn't have to shrink to a dandelion to prove its power. Both of those things are metaphors of what we expect from the rich. But to have money takes alot of growth and courage- we have to clean out our conditioned gunk that hides from our true purpose of being our best selves and giving. If we are worrying about money can we live our true purpose? No of course not. (Think about why you want to follow your true purpose- is it to shine your light for others is it to give your light to others?)
Hope that helps
answered 19 Nov '12, 11:12
If you are seeing this message then the Inward Quest system has noticed that your web browser is behaving in an unusual way and is now blocking your active participation in this site for security reasons. As a result, among other things, you may find that you are unable to answer any questions or leave any comments. Unusual browser behavior is often caused by add-ons (ad-blocking, privacy etc) that interfere with the operation of our website. If you have installed these kinds of add-ons, we suggest you disable them for this website