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Interview with Vaishali

by Edie Weinstein Moser

As colorful as the purple clothing that has become her signature garb, this human sparkler steps out into the world with heart wide open and message clear: "You are what you love and you love what you are giving your attention to." Vaishali is an author, speaker, and media darling whose guest appearances on various news programs, that are viewable via her website, had me laughing in delight. Unabashedly honest, she calls it as she sees it, sacredly irreverent.

She has written several books and produced CD’s including "You Are What You Love", "Wisdom Rising", and "You Are What You Love Playbook", She is also the host of a weekly radio show that you can access via her site as well.

She will be speaking at Kripalu and the Omega Institute this year.

Wisdom: When I was asked to interview you, I remembered that a friend of mine has a magnet with your picture on it on her refrigerator.

Vaishali: Oh yes, all the best dressed refrigerators are wearing them.

Wisdom: Is Vaishali a chosen name?

Vaishali: Not by me but it was chosen. I studied Ayurvedic medicine with Dr. Vasant Lad who runs the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve studied Tibetan Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine as well. In Vedantic psychology, you are encouraged to change your name as many times as you would like. It is considered a psychologically and spiritually positive thing to do. The reason it is a valuable practice is because we carry a lot of unconscious baggage that adheres to us through our name. When you look back, there were times in your life when your name was called around a traumatizing event, whether it was a parent calling your name and asking "Why are you so stupid?" or a bully calling your name in a dark alley, or sitting in class thinking "Don’t call on me, I don’t know the answer and I don’t want to be humiliated," and the teacher calls your name. If you change your name, you allow yourself to grow beyond these limiting, unconscious influences that on some level keep you restrained and keep you from really expanding yourself and your self identification. Since I teach Vedantic psychology, I thought it would be horrendously egregious of me if I clung to my same little myopic label. The only way I would know if this has value or not is to try it on for myself. Dr. Lad is one of the few people that actually has the talent for discerning what your sacred Sanskrit name is. The suggestion is that if you are going to change your name, you pick a sacred language; such as Greek, Hebrew or Sanskrit, that has a more potent vibration to it. He actually gave me a different name; a classic Indian name with 12 syllables and the occasional vowel thrown in there and you kind of look at it and think "What am I supposed to do with this?" He then said, "Your Sanskrit name is ‘one who surrenders with divinity’. That’s the vibration you incarnated with, but I’m not going to give it to you, since it is too complicated for Americans. No one would ever be able to say your name." He gave me the name Vaishali. It is a geographic location; the home town of the Buddha. He said, "This is a close enough vibration and people will be able to say it correctly."

Wisdom: So it feels like a good fit for you?

Vaishali: At this point I have had it for 12+ years and it feels extremely comfortable. I do have to tell you that when I changed from the name my parents gave me, which I wasn’t particularly fond of to begin with, I immediately enjoyed getting out of that old definition and I did immediately find value in it. It took awhile to convince my family that it was alright to not refer to me by the same name as they always had. For the most part they have been supportive and it seems second nature to them now.

Wisdom: Is your public persona and your private persona different?

Vaishali: No, sweetheart, it’s all the same. It’s the same with the underwear on and with the underwear off. Did you ever see the movie "Elmer Gantry"? Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons are in it and she plays a woman who calls herself Sister Sharon Falconer. She is honest and true to who she is and even though she is working in this world of tent revivalists, and fundamentalism and carnival kind of spiritualism, she is very loving and wants people to improve their quality of life through the power of love. She has a conversation with Elmer Gantry and it comes out that Sister Sharon Falconer is not her real name. She says "I am her, I fought for her and I deserve to be her." and that’s how I feel about the name Vaishali. I worked for this. I am allowed to let go of my baggage and insecurities. I deserve to be this person who speaks her truth and acts in integrity, that would put her life on the line for the power of love. This is me now.

Wisdom: I see that you also refer to yourself as "a spiritual wild-child" and a "soul stripper".

Vaishali: The idea is that it seems that a lot of people who want to hang out their shingle as being a spiritual teacher, have the long flowing robes and the breathy voices and you can smell the incense. I’m a wild-child compared to them, because I use adult language, I show cleavage. I use sexual overtones. Spirituality is about life. Let’s roll up our sleeves, let’s get real....sex, orgasm, family is all part of life.

Wisdom: How do you define spirituality?

Vaishali: One of my biggest influences is a man named Emmanuel Swedenborg, 18th century Swedish mystic. He defines the word spirit as meaning ‘life’. To me it is about the Socratic cry of a life worth living. What does it mean to be truly alive? If the wisdom you have isn’t pulling your butt out of life’s fires, then it is meaningless. Spirituality should be about creating a quality of life; a wisdom that centers on creating a new response to old limitations and old sources of suffering and unhappiness. It is about having a life at its finest that is conscious and meaningful and that is directed by a well formed intention.

Wisdom: A bit of local interest. Some of our readers live near Bryn Athyn, PA which is a large Swedenborgian community.

Vaishali: I’ve been there. When my book "You Are What You Love" came out, at the same time, I was contacting the Swedenborg foundation in West Chester, PA and they were contacting me. That’s the beauty of the internet. They must have done some kind of Google search. My book had been out 48 hours and they contacted me and I was becoming aware of them. We walked around each other kind of oddly, like somebody might be curiously exploring the contents of a petri dish. They said: "We didn’t know you were out there." and I said, "That’s ok, I didn’t know there was this whole hermetically sealed community in Pennsylvania either, so we’re kind of even." They asked me to come out to the Swedenborg Foundation to give a talk, which I did. They are lovely, lovely people and were very gracious and warm. I felt lovingly received and I’ve been very close with Rev. Jonathan Rose who is the editor of the New Century edition of Swedenborg’s work. He is considered to be the quintessential academic expert on Swedenborg, so if I have a question, I will contact him. I want to represent Swedenborg’s wisdom with integrity and clarity. If I have any doubt, I call him and say: "Ok dude, set me straight."

I was introduced to Emmanuel Swedenborg probably a good 15-20 years before I found out about the foundation. I first encountered the teachings when I was 25.

Wisdom: So his work has been a huge part of your life. Can you talk about the concept: "You are what you love"?

Vaishali: Swedenborg coined that phrase 200 years ago. The first time I heard it, I was 25 years old and was diagnosed terminal for the first time. I have been diagnosed terminal twice. It is one of the reasons I studied Indian Ayurvedic medicine, Tibetan Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese medicine in addition to Emmanuel Swedenborg. These Eastern systems of healing do not take "you are a spiritual creature having a human experience" out of their health diagnosis system like allopathic medicine does. I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I wasn’t expecting to live long. A friend gave me a series of tapes made by Michael Coleman, PhD who was then professor of Philosophy at Sonoma University in California. I had heard about existentialism, I knew about Freud and about reincarnation which is most of what this tape collection was. One tape stood out for me. It was labeled "Swedenborg" and I didn’t know what a Swedenborg was. The thing that really struck my nervous system was the Spiritual Law "You are what you love and you love whatever you give your attention to." The concept is that our consciousness and our awareness is our Divinity and is inseparable from love. There is only the One and the One is love and we are it. This idea was the beginning of a revolution for me. That was my 1776 and I really took it seriously and said, "Let’s really be honest with this idea. Since I’m not expecting to live and have nothing to lose, I am going to see what I am giving my attention to." I took one day out of my life and looked at what I was giving my attention to and I was horrified with how much of my attention went to worrying about everything. I was constantly in a state of apprehension, waiting for the next shoe to drop. I saw that I had to stand back and say "Oh my God; I love worrying. I love being stressed out and ill at ease. I love not having enough. I love being in lack and being tormented by life instead of supported by it. I love this hideously hellish existence, because I give it so much of my attention." It was a wake up call for me. I said, "No wonder I was diagnosed as terminal with internal organ degeneration. No wonder my organs are rotting out inside my body, because what I am giving my attention to wouldn’t sustain anybody."

I began looking at Swedenborg as to how to resurrect spiritually. I studied Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to learn how to resurrect physically because they all had that spiritually, philosophical relative component intact. I began to merge them and create this big gestalt. One of the things I am really thrilled about with my latest book "Wisdom Rising"; and that I am going to go to my grave just knowing that I shared, is the chapter called "Contemplating the Navel." It’s about finding Swedenborg and also discovering this rare form of organ massage from China called Chi Nei Tsang. I learned about it from a guy who is an absolute master of it, from San Francisco. I went to him and he worked on me for about ten minutes. He said: "You’ve been diagnosed terminal from your doctors who did exploratory surgery and you have been slowly decaying for the last couple of years, but you don’t have to die. You’re not digesting your emotions, experiences and perceptions properly. You’re not digesting the energy that is life. You’ve got so much trauma and fear built up energetically in your body that if you do not resolve it, your doctors are right. You will die. It is not too late to reverse this." He began to teach me how to digest my emotions by breathing properly and do an emotional exorcism through this internal organ massage. It took me almost a good 10 years to completely recover, but I began immediately making a change in my quality of life doing these techniques. When I combined them with the wisdom of Emmanuel Swedenborg, I really began to see that because of the extreme nature of my learning experiences and because of my willingness to go way outside the box of my cultural paradigm and expose myself to way off the beaten path teachers and ideas, I realized I had a huge chunk of wisdom about how to own and operate the human experience. If I could pull myself from a near-dead state, to have the quality of life that I do, anyone can do it. After this, about a decade after studying this, I am in a car accident and get this severe head injury and in my humble opinion, Western medicine does not treat head injuries very well. They don’t have the piece about how to deal with it and how to bring people back into a state of balance that these Eastern systems of self healing have because of the way they diagnose illness and energy imbalance. After I had the car accident, I was sitting with Dr. Lad who I had been studying with for a number of years at that point. He does a lot of diagnosis through your pulse. He took his time in taking my pulse which was pretty typical of Dr. Lad. He’s not into sausage factory medicine. He listens and extracts information that is relevant. He looked at me and said: "God must love you a lot, because you should be dead." I looked at him and said, "Well, I think God loves everybody a lot. Apparently there is something more to my life and I’m not allowed to leave until I get it."

This is one of the things I am really excited about speaking at Omega and Kripalu, because my radio show is only an hour. "You Are What You Love" is about 400 pages and "Wisdom Rising" is about 270 pages, so in the books I can take people on a real in-depth journey. What I can do is sit in the same room with you and teach you how to do an emotional exorcism on yourself. I can show you, "This is how you can work on your internal organs. This is how you can tell if trauma is stuck there. You can see if you are digesting your life." I can teach people, since I’ve got a week to spend with them and share the power of how deeply and profoundly this can transform their lives. The radio show offers golden little nuggets, but if I can spend a week with you, Monday-Friday and we can just go over this and I can start working with people in the group and say "Tell me your biggest challenge." and start tearing it apart. By dissecting it, the amount of deep transformational work is unlimited because of our ability to get on a microscopic level with you personally. What is your biggest issue? How do you reverse it? My biggest joke about my life, is that at the smörgåsbord, I’ve sampled everything and gone back twice. There probably isn’t anything out there that you can come and share with me that I haven’t already experienced myself, therefore I know what holds it together and understand its underpinnings. I can begin to show you how to orient your perspective and your life in a way that begins to unravel it. Instead of just enduring life, you are conscious, self actualized and experiencing some quality of a meaningful life worth living.

You can learn more about Vaishali by visiting her website www.youarewhatyoulove.com 

Edie Weinstein-Moser, LSW (a.k.a. Bliss Mistress) is a free-lance journalist, speaker, interfaith minister and therapist who reminds people how to be their bliss. www.liveinjoy.org   

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