It is quite easy to demonize money and all forms of material wealth. Using the teachings of sages and prophets, we can make money out to be the root of all evil — a pollutant, or a corrosive incentive that hurts us, rather than helping us. Many people feel guilty about acquiring money, and thus shame the wealthy.
Yet there is another perspective, and perhaps a saner one, that sees money as a good thing. As a way to measure the value an individual offers to society. What that individual does with the money gained is up to them, and may be good or bad. But the key point is understanding that the acquisition of money is a good thing.
In western capitalistic society, we exchange our goods or services for money. The more helpful the good or service, the more money we receive. This is why a construction worker gets paid far less than the inventor of a technology. A construction worker has skills that can be easily taught to others, and thus there are many others willing to take his job. Only one person (or a team of people) can be the inventor of a technology. You cannot train someone to become Steve Jobs. There are not millions of people who could become similar to Steve Jobs if the circumstances demanded it. And a great technology can only be invented once.
So what does all this mean, in regards to our own beliefs about money?
It means this: the better you are, the more creative you are, and the more you give to others, the more money you will make. Pretty simple. If you invent things, and do valuable, challenging, things for other people, you will be monetarily rewarded. Capping your own potential with feelings of guilt not only hurts your own financial security, it also harms society as a whole. If Thomas Edison felt uncomfortable making money, he never would’ve committed his life to developing new technologies and bringing them to market.
Of course, this does not excuse the exploitative actions of the rich. Many go too far, and see money as the ultimate goal, rather than a healthy by-product of creative output. This sort of thinking, that sees money as the supreme goal of life, is as bad as the opposite view, which sees money as an evil thing to be avoided.
As in many things, the middle way is best. We should strive to see money as a reward for good deeds, a thing that flows through our lives as we give our gifts to the world around us.
Ultimately, money is a place holder for time. If we see ourselves as valuable, creative beings, we should have no qualms with being rewarded for our time. Time is our most limited resource. It is not renewable, though it is (contrary to what many think) incredibly flexible. Our time can be spent giving, or it can be spent taking. If we decide to give to the world around us, and reach for our highest potential, persisting in what our hearts know is true, financial abundance is inevitable.