Arison currently presides over Arison Holdings, one of Israel's most powerful private companies, with a sizable portfolio of banking, real estate and telecommunications interests. She also chairs the Ted Arison Foundation, whose assets are estimated at $500 million. The foundation regularly donates millions of dollars to Israeli causes and organizations.
In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Arison talked about the event that changed her life and which spurred the subsequent founding of the “Essence of Life,” a New Age teaching group.
The turning point in Arison’s life came after a meeting with Dr. Brian Weiss, a well-known American psychiatrist who has endorsed reincarnation and past life regression therapy. Her enlightenment has spurred much cynicism among the Israeli public, which she said, “doesn’t faze her.”
Despite her intensive involvement in spiritual matters, her business sense is not prompted by spiritual considerations. She is alert, straightforward and knows how to stand her ground.
Her first encounter with Weiss took place in Miami about 15 years ago.
“I spent my entire life being afraid, as a child and later as a teenager and a grown woman. I was miserable most of the time. I was afraid of everything, height, flights, I had no idea why. I knew I had to meet Dr. Weiss’ after reading his second book “Through Time into Healing,” where he illustrates the healing potential of past-life regression therapy. I made an appointment with him on my next trip to Miami. It changed my life. I was rife with phobias. On the flight there, I was tense and overwrought, but I was completely calm on my return flight. For the first time in my life I read a book during the flight, it was an amazing feeling.”
Weiss, the author of “Many Lives, Many Masters,” introduces his first book in a somewhat apologetic tone.
“Since the beginning of time, the human race has been impervious to change and new ideas,” Weiss writes. He then informs the reader that he is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School and the founding chairman and chairman emeritus of the Department of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, so readers don’t doubt him when he begins to discuss reincarnation and past-life regression therapy with the same measure of seriousness.
Arison had initially planned to take just one session with Weiss.
“At first the whole incident seemed bizarre, I suddenly saw myself in another body in another time and I thought I was imagining things, but the more I got into it, the more tangible it became. Although I scheduled a single session, we continued for another 12 sessions, which lasted throughout the summer of 1992.”
YA: How did the therapy affect you?
SA: I think what really changed my life was discovering that everything in life has meaning, that we are here for a purpose. I have a lot of money, but it doesn’t mean anything to me, it never did. Dr. Weiss’ therapy helped me understand that my wealth serves as a teaching tool in my present life. Perhaps I was poor in my last reincarnation.
I also learned that we all get a chance to make amends in this life and if we don’t, we’ll return to relive it. This might sound strange but it’s been well known for generations. It appears in the Kabala and in all religious persuasions. By the way, it has nothing to do with religion, I am by no means a religious person, but I do have faith.
I can’t point to a single person or incident that changed my life, but the recognition that there is a certain world order, has been consequential. It has empowered me to do things my way. I found an inner truth by which I abide. I feel I have been charged with a mission, to pass on this message to whomever I can, to help others understand there is a price to pay for each of our actions.
Once you realize that everything happens for a reason, attitudes towards matters such as illnesses, or law suits, for example, change.
YA: How are the changes you experienced following your therapy with Dr. Weiss put into practice?
SA: Dr. Weiss’ sessions helped me understand that there is continuity, nothing ends in this life. Although we are physically laid to rest, we meet again and again to make amends. If I hurt someone in this life I’ll have to relive it to make amends. It helps you realize that by hurting someone, you are actually hurting yourself.
YH: When all is said and done, we all get up in the morning, get into the car, go to work, go shopping. We just want to live our lives, to enjoy ourselves not to constantly be taught lessons, so how is the change implemented in your daily life?
SA: Do you see this picture? Ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed that I would find the courage to climb a mountain and ski. The change in me occurred a year after my therapy with Dr. Weiss, it took me while to digest.
My phobias haven’t disappeared overnight. It’s constant work. I have always been aware of them. But there are people who spend their entire lives unable to come to terms with their predicament. I’m not completely phobia-free today, but my condition is definitely improving. I am a much happier and relaxed person today.
YA: Does your spiritual involvement affect your work, your decision-making process?
SA: Business is not a spiritual matter, and my business decisions are not based on spiritual considerations. When I founded the Essence of Life, a project aimed at teaching tolerance and respectful dialogue, the person appointed to head it was Irit Atzmon, a former colonel in the army. Can anything be more down-to-earth than that? Shlomo Nechama, chairman of Bank Hapoalim, is a businessman in every sense of the word. I wouldn’t pick a guru to run the bank.
YA: Has your involvement in spiritualism changed your social life?
SA: Of course it has. Social circles change in accordance with the circles of life. When you’re single your friends are single, when you have children you mix with other parents, and when you are involved in spiritualism you mingle with the same type of people.