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An Interview With Shari Arison

by Staff

Shari Arison is ranked as one of the world’s wealthiest women on the Forbes Billionaires List. Owner of The Arison Group, a conglomerate of global companies and charitable organizations, she has created a ground-breaking and humane business model that incorporates integrity, vision and spiritual knowledge to build a new global reality.To learn more about Shari Arison and her book Birth:Where the Spiritual and the Material Come Together visit www.arison.com. For more information about Shari’s international philanthropic group Essence of Life visit www.eolife.org.

Wisdom: Why did you feel compelled to write Birth? What drives you?

Shari: It simply happened. The writing of the book just occurred in the most natural way. Bottom line, it was very important to me to show, by my own personal example, that each and every one of us can bring about change.

Wisdom: You were born into this world with huge material wealth, as well as the gift of spiritual insight. You use your gifts responsibly to benefit humanity. Why do you think you were chosen for this role? And what are some of the gifts you share?

Shari: I really wasn’t born into money. The wealth came later in my life. Regarding the question of why I was chosen, it is difficult for me to define with certainty but I think it was because I have an intense will, a caring nature and a firm determination to get to the truth, to purity and to lead the world to a different and better place. The material is only the platform, but not the essence – and the fact that I never confused the two is one of the reasons I think I was chosen.

Wisdom: Can you tell us about your own personal journey?

Shari: The description of my journey is fully detailed in my new book, Birth – When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together, in which I talk about my spiritual, business and philanthropic path and the fact that at a certain stage, I understood that in actual fact, everything is connected and it is impossible to separate between these spheres.

Wisdom: Why do you call your book Birth?

Shari: I called the book Birth – When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together because I felt that the process of writing and publishing the book was like a birth, and also which took nine months. And because essentially, I was born anew and the world is also being reborn.

Wisdom: We have lived as a planet where individuals, companies, and entire nations have remained largely unaccountable when it comes to protecting the Earth’s sustainability. What can we do to turn around global patterns of unaccountability and create a future of self-sustainability?

Shari: I think it’s a matter of awareness, knowledge and tools – when people come to understand that if they want to see a different and better world, they must take responsibility. When they fully understand this fact, it will come naturally.

Wisdom: In Birth, you offer answers to break down the complex problems the world is facing. Can you give us your ideas as to how we can make positive shifts concerning some of these problems?

Shari: The first step is to connect with yourself, and when that happens, you connect with everything and that is what actually brings about change.

Wisdom: Can you explain your understanding as to how the external collapse we are seeing around us is really a symptom of internal collapse?

Shari: I believe that everything in our lives is, in fact, a reflection. Everything we see is really a reflection of our inner self and if each one of us is able to make a change within himself or herself, this will also be reflected outwardly.

Wisdom: Do you see a way in which we, as a society, can overcome greed and still have our needs met?

Shari: There’s a certain confusion regarding the question of what our needs actually are. I think that aside from food, clean air and water, what each and every one of us needs is love and happiness.

Wisdom: A large part of your work has to do with your personal ability to weave the spiritual world with the material world. Is there a key element you’ve discovered that has helped you to create this successful interweaving?

Shari: Whether we are aware of it or not, everything is connected with everything else.

Wisdom: How can businesses continue to profit while also giving back to those in need both locally and globally?

Shari: I believe in basic human values and I combine these values with professionalism and good business. This is the only way to succeed in the long run. I also believe that it is possible to do business in a way that combines awareness with responsibility and initiative. You can do business and also benefit the environment; it is possible to profit while contributing to the community. The last few years have shown us that an economy that takes into consideration the social and environmental aspects ultimately yields financial returns, too.

Wisdom: Is there a path to global balance and a self-sustainable environment?

Shari: Balance is within us and the moment everyone reaches inner balance, the entire world will be balanced as well.

Wisdom: How can we make the world a better place – socially, environmentally and economically?

Shari: There are many examples of my activity in each of those fields, as described in detail in my book, Birth. Every person has to choose his or her own path and think about how to really transform the world into a better place.

Wisdom: You have developed a groundbreaking and human business model that you use throughout your global companies. Can you please discuss your blueprint for creating successful and sustainable businesses?

Shari: I’ll give you a few examples: Shikun & Binui, one of Israel’s largest real estate and infrastructures companies that is part of Arison Investments, took it upon itself to become a totally sustainable company within five years. The sustainability projects that the company is leading include the use of solar energy, green construction of residential areas, the construction of shopping centers using green building practices that respect the natural environment, and the building of roads that preserve the environment.

Miya, the global water company that I founded, helps cities throughout the world benefit from the huge opportunity presented by urban water efficiency. Active in five continents, Miya offers the world’s largest repository of accumulated experience and know-how in urban water efficiency.

Wisdom: Can you talk about your international organization, Essence of Life?

Shari: The Essence of Life organization works to arouse awareness and to provide tools for attaining inner peace. I believe that in order to achieve peace in the world, each of us must achieve peace within himself and with his surroundings. At Essence of Life, we work intensively with educational tools such as workshops, a visitors’ center, an Internet radio station and websites in Hebrew and English (www.eolife.org). We are planning to add websites in additional languages in the future.

Wisdom: How is inner peace linked to world peace?

Shari: In my view, in order to achieve peace in the world, each of us must achieve peace within himself and with his surroundings.

Wisdom: What are some ways you find inner peace?

Shari: The way to attain inner peace is to strip away all the shells that have accumulated on us since our birth and throughout our lives in order to reach our inner essence and connect with ourselves. In order to respect, we must respect ourselves. In order to love, we must love ourselves. In order to attain peace, we must attain peace within ourselves. True harmony between thought, speech and action and our inner selves is the key.

Wisdom: What is Good Deeds Day?

Shari: Good Deeds Day is a day of doing good deeds for others that I initiated almost four years ago through the Ruach Tova (Good Spirit) organization, which is part of the Arison Group. I hoped that it would enter the public consciousness and become an annual tradition, and that’s what has happened. The idea is to enable every person to do a good deed for someone else, or to volunteer in a social cause that is close to his or her heart and home. You don’t have to be rich to do a good deed – everyone can give of their time and skills to help another person. It can be assisting an elderly person carry their shopping bags, or even smiling at someone to brighten their day. Many people in Israel took part in Good Deeds Day in 2009 and many were inspired by their experience to go on volunteering throughout the entire year. This year’s Good Deeds Day will take place on March 16, and we are looking forward to helping even more people to help others. In addition, we are working to make this an international event in the future.

Wisdom: Why did you create Good Deeds Day?

Shari: I initiated Good Deeds Day because I wanted to serve as a personal example, to show that you don’t have to be a leader or a rich person to do good things for other people. Everyone, regardless of who they are, can do a good deed, and if lots of individuals will do good deeds, the society can be transformed. It is all in our hands – mine and yours.

Wisdom: Can you share a few examples of the good deeds people have done?

Shari: There are countless examples, for instance, people who went to kindergartens for children with special needs and organized activities with animals, which brought big smiles to the children’s faces. Or there were students from overseas who harvested unpicked oranges and donated them to soup kitchens, and a youth orchestra that volunteered to give a concert for elderly Holocaust survivors. But the really important thing is to do a good deed, large or small – and every one of us can. All you need is the desire.

Wisdom: Can you talk about other projects you have created in support of a sustainable future, such as the Miya project?

Shari: I established Miya several years ago as part of my commitment to sustainability and to preparing the planet to meet the needs of future generations. Miya’s mission is to secure the world’s water abundance, by helping cities throughout the world to benefit from the huge opportunity presented by urban water efficiency. Miya offers the world’s most advanced technology and innovative solutions to maximize all aspects of urban water efficiency, as seen in its successful management of one of today’s largest urban water efficiency projects, in Manila, the Philippines. A global company that is active in North America, South Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia, Miya recently acquired a major water engineering company in Brazil, which will expand its global reach to Latin America as well.

Wisdom: With so many projects and so much responsibility, how do you care for yourself and how do you manage your time?

Shari: It’s important for me to emphasize that if a person really wants to bring about change, the change must begin within himself or herself, in each and every one of us. For example, I make sure to leave myself free time, and I am mindful of my health by eating healthful foods, exercising and keeping in shape, and enjoying quality time with my children and family. I think we need to talk less and do more – and the doing starts, first of all, within ourselves.

Wisdom: Do you envision a common ground where Israelis and Palestinians can meet one another in peace? If so, what would this look like?

Shari: I view peace from another place, not the place of talks and agreements, but rather from the place of the heart, the authentic place – the place that every person has to take responsibility and work on themselves to reach. I believe that only when there is a critical mass of such people, we will be able to attain true peace – locally, regionally and globally.

Wisdom: What are some messages you have received from "beyond" that have directed your path or your course of action?

Shari: I have indeed received messages over the years and examples can be found in my book, Birth—When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together.

Wisdom: What insights do you have about the future of our planet?

Shari: I believe there is a potential for the good, abundance and true freedom, but realizing this potential rests in the hands of each and every one of us – literally taking responsibility for our future.

Wisdom: Next to family, what brings you the greatest joy?

Shari: So many things make me happy – a flower, gazing at the sea, blue skies and sunlight, dancing, singing, loving.

Wisdom: What is next for you?

Shari: I have now reached a place where I’ve learned to live in the moment and at any given moment, to be connected with what is right for me.

Wisdom: Is there anything that is not mentioned above that you would like readers to know?

Shari: The most essential thing is that if you want to see a better future, a future that is more meaningful, cleaner and truer for yourselves and your children, every single one of us must do his or her part and take responsibility for our shared future.

Wisdom: What website would you like me to direct readers to? Do you have any upcoming events you want to promote? Is there any action you would like readers to take?

Shari: At www.arison.com, you can read more about the book Birth. You can also learn about the Arison Group and its business and philanthropic activities. One important upcoming event is:

Good Deeds Day

which will be held on

Tuesday, March 16.

Anyone who wants to take

part and do a good deed

within their community is encouraged to do so.

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