FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Carnival Cruise Lines heiress and richest woman in Israel comes to terms with her wealth, her father and her faith
SPECIAL TO SOUL’S CODE: SHARI ARISON, excerpted from BIRTH
— In my decades of seeking inner peace, I have become increasingly aware of the fierce battle raging within me — between sadness and happiness, between acceptance and frustration, between praise and envy, between strength and lack of confidence, between the adult and the child. I have recognized the evil inclination within me. The dark side. The closer we get to our inner essence, to the divine spark that resides in every human being, the closer we get to the basis of the evil within us.
Just as I saw God within me, the Garden of Eden within me, so I saw Satan and hell within me. This can be a harrowing experience; it is exceedingly difficult to accept that we have within us something that is evil. Acknowledging this can be painful, but to be able to choose the good, to opt for life, we must reach this place.
When I would tell people that happiness, tranquility, and peace are not connected to anything external but flow from within, they would always respond: “Ah, that’s easy enough Shari Arison for you to say. You’ve got money, you’ve got a yacht, you’ve got a plane.”
No one understood that none of this is connected to anything. On the contrary. For a long time, I was tormented by possessions like my yacht or my private jet, things that are supposed to bring me pleasure, but which I never truly enjoyed. I possess these things for reasons that are external to me: for my children, for my husband, for the status, for entertaining guests.
But I suffer from the fact that they are in my possession. From an ecological perspective, from the standpoint of sustainability, I feel that it simply isn’t right to own these things; they are too flashy, too extravagant, too wasteful. In short, they are not consistent with my values. Not that I have anything against private jets or yachts as a matter of principle. There is nothing wrong with being content with what you have, and if this is what you have — that’s terrific. But I was never able to be happy about material things. In fact, just the opposite is true.
For years, I debated whether or not to sell certain items like the yacht and the jet, and when the global economic crisis hit, I felt, among many other things, a certain sense of relief. It provided me with the perfect excuse to put them up for sale, in addition to sharpening my understanding that we do not have to consume more than we really need. I saw that many people, myself included, had lost a sense of proportion, behaving as if there is no end to material desire without being fully aware of the consequences of this excessive consumption upon their soul, and upon the world.
The ultimate letting go: “we cannot take money to the grave”
I’ve always thanked God for the many gifts I have received, and I’ve never taken material things too seriously, because I know that what’s here today will not necessarily be here tomorrow. I realize that whatever happens to me, I will see it as a part of my mission, my path, something that had to occur, a lesson. We cannot take money to the grave; we can take only our values with us to the world beyond. This is the only “commodity” the soul accumulates.
During most of my life, I have been very sad and very frustrated, and all the money in the world could not have helped me get rid of those negative feelings. Because just as the good begins and ends within me, so does the bad. I could be on a dream vacation — blue skies and sunshine, parties galore, crystal-clear water, plus quiet and tranquility — and within a split second, I could be in hell, despite having the best room and the best food and the best of everything. Because hell or heaven is within, and each of us can choose in which of them we wish to spend our lives.
To order Birth: When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together, go to:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1607477254
From the early 1990s until September 2009, Shari Arison served as the chairman of the Arison Group, Arison Investments and the Ted Arison Family Foundation. For an overview of Shari’s good works, visit: www.arison.com
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