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[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 1 Moxipop



By Sean Carpenter, Justin Pansacola

What is there to say about the legendary Steve Vai? The guitarist is is such a titan of his field that even if you're just friends with a rock guitarist you probably know him. Approaching such a ubiquitous subject can be challenging. If you[03/12/2013 09:17:55]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 1 Moxipop

have more than a casual familiarity with Vai, you might know that he works off of a very in-depth philosophy. With this in mind, we decided to explore Steve Vai's outlook in an exclusive 2-part interview. In part 1, Vai talks about his approach to success, personal choice, and overcoming the troubles of the mind. ___________________________ Moxipop: You've talked before about the power of personal choice and how even you still have your struggles with simply deciding to change your negative tendencies. Do you believe that too many people resign to their circumstances? Steve Vai: What makes sense to me is that we all create our circumstances by the way we think. The concept

of resigning yourself to your circumstances implies that your circumstances are just happenstance or coincidental but I believe we create them based on our thoughts and feelings. If a person wanted to change their circumstances they would have to change the way they think. The power of personal choice starts with the realization that, for the most part, we are completely imprisoned in our own self-created and perpetuated thought patterns and beliefs. Pulling our attention out of this prison and taking the initiative to change the thought pattern is the one true freedom we have. This is the power of personal choice. But its illusive.
MXP: The idea of visualizing your goals and personally choosing to want it more to the point of fruition has a lot in common with the "positive thinking" movement from books like The Secret. Are you familiar with that movement/book and do you have any thoughts on it?

SV: I haven't read that book but I believe the principals in it are not new. They are as old as the Universe. They are at the core of the creation of the Universe, the law of cause and effect.

Its possible for a person to be completely happy and not have achieved any of the things that the world might consider successful.
MXP: One of the criticisms of "positive thinking" as a movement is that it casts unsuccessful people as not wanting it hard enough or not trying hard enough. How much of a burden do external factors, like economic standing, carry in the positive thinking/personal choice model? SV: A persons external factors, economic standing and everything else, is entirely a reflection of their inner

world. Just choose the thoughts that make you feel good at whatever level you can feel good at given the circumstance.
But positive thinking is only part of the equation. Its positive feeling that really matters. You have to define successful and unsuccessful. Its not uncommon to see people striving and wanting

something really bad and actually getting it because they aligned themselves with it. But the satisfaction of fulfillment of having it can be short lived and before you know it, they're onto wanting the next thing. Its also not uncommon for a person to achieve great worldly success only to realize its totally unfulfilling.
Achievements, in the eyes of the world, can be deceptive too. We think that great athletes, inventors, artists etc. have made great achievements and they are praised, but in reality they're just doing whats natural to them. A truly great achievement is when a person can retrain themselves to think, act and feel in a more positive way than they would normally. What we think we want is to be loved and to love, to be wanted and respected and we try to find these[03/12/2013 09:17:55]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 1 Moxipop

things in the world. But what we are all really looking for through those things is perfect peace and liberation from fear. But we can never find these things in the world because everything in the world changes and this includes thoughts. They may bring a moment of happiness but eventually when the things we have based our happiness on change, we are usually unhappy.
Theres many ways to define success in life but one way is to say that success is leading a life free of stress.

Free of the anxiety of wanting something and not having it. Success in life is discovering the peace, freedom and inner joy that is actually at the core of who we are, beyond ego and even beyond thought. Its possible for a person to be completely happy and not have achieved any of the things that the world might consider successful.
MXP: Youve talked before about finding truth. What does 'truth' mean the way you use it? If it's such a nebulous idea, how do you know when you've found it in your life? SV: Like most people I believe my answer is the correct one and that answer is, I dont know. Having said that, there are some things that make sense to me. Absolute truth lies underneath the activity of

the mind, and that includes any belief system a person may have. Absolute truth is the unconditioned, timeless, formless, pure consciousness that just is, and it is at the core of who we are. You know you have found truth in your life when you see the oneness and profound perfection in everything.
The one thing that is absolute and not subject to any change is unconditioned consciousness. Its the backdrop

that gives rise to all phenomenal things in the world, including thoughts. This pure consciousness is at the core of our being and is formless, timeless it just is. It can be recognized in a human being as the I am. The formless sense of being that has nothing to do with a persons identity or beliefs.
Its the thing in us that gives light to the world. Its our consciousness without thought. Its right in front of

us, the simplest thing there can be and we dont see it. It is inextricably linked with the present moment and in essence is the present moment in its deepest chasm. It is eternity itself and has no past or future. Its the now.
So I cant define truth because any words that are written about it are not quite it. And how do you know you found it in your life? It can be found when we are able to be still without thought. To be totally aware and perceptive without criticizing, judging, labeling or thinking at all. MXP: On conquering your own personal issues, is this a battle that can ever ultimately be won? Or is it just something you gain ground on, little by little? SV: Again, Im not an authority on these things. I can only tell you what makes sense to me and I could be

completely wrong. Having said that

Our own personal issues are all just thoughts in our head. In reality they dont actually exist as issues. They

are just repetitive thought patterns that keep playing themselves out in our external world. In essence thats what Karma is, repetitive thought patterns that bear fruit. All personal thought creates some kind of reaction.
But the fruit of our thoughts and actions is necessary. The process is a perfect design because it eventually

brings us to the point, (and maybe not in this particular incarnation) where we come to the truth by rising above thinking and desires. Thats the end of karma and incarnating. Then we are in total sync with the Universe and primordial intelligence can guide us. Then perhaps there is no more need to come back to this particular lens. But something tells me that the evolution of consciousness is infinite and inexorable and there are myriad lenses.[03/12/2013 09:17:55]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 1 Moxipop

Newer: [Live] David Sedaris at CSUN 11.16.13 Older: Around the Web - Week of 11.25.13 6 Likes / share[03/12/2013 09:17:55]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 2 Moxipop



By Sean Carpenter, Justin Pansacola[03/12/2013 09:18:12]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 2 Moxipop

In Part 1 of our conversation with guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, we talked about his personal philosophy and big ideas. In Part 2 below, we continue our talk this time steering more toward the artist's mindset and the view on his work from this stage of his career. ___________________________ MXP: You seem very goal focused and driven to conquer new obstacles.

Steve Vai: I may seem goal focused and driven but in reality I only move towards things that are exciting and interesting to me. Theres no discipline involved.
MXP: But there's a lot of people, especially in this generation, that aren't even really sure what they want. Do you have any thoughts on how they can create goals and discover their specific desires?

SV: My feeling is that everyone has some kind of talent or gift but sometimes it can go undiscovered or can be thwarted. For some people there can be many obstacles obscuring their natural talent. Those obstacles are all mental. Someone may have an impulse to engage in a gift they have but a little voice in their head may say you're not good enough to do this, nobody will like this, you dont have the time or the money, etc. These feelings are all based in insecurity or fear.
The advice I might give to a young person that may feel confused in finding a vocation in life might be, first,

try not to take everything so seriously. You need to get in touch with yourself; your inner self, and then there may be some answers. Try to understand that you may be being brain washed by the world.
In order to find our center we need to quiet the mind noise. One of the best ways is meditation. Unfortunately, that word is shrouded in preconceived ideas pertaining to religion, spirituality, cult, etc. But meditation is just the process of slowing down and stilling the mind noise which is vitally necessary for our sanity and health.

There are many methods of meditation and I would recommend contacting a qualified master for any kind of deep meditation, (Im not qualified). Having said that a very simple mediation practice is to just sit and do two things, relax and breath. Only think about doing those two things. Focus on truly relaxing every part of your body with every breath. Theres no end to how deep you can relax. Keep your attention in the moment and on your breath and relaxing.
This only need take a few moments or can be practiced for longer periods. Once you have tried this practice and your thoughts are at ease, ask yourself, without any pressure or

expectations: what is it that you do in your life that never causes anxiety or fear, but makes you feel excited even just thinking about doing it. Perhaps its your own little secret, or something you've never done before. Try to just let the answers arise without even trying to think so hard about it.
Chances are that in these calm moments an inkling of an idea of what that thing is will come to you. You may

also notice that the mind may quickly rebound and start criticizing. Its important to not be reactive but just recognize that it's a conditioned mind pattern; just bring the attention back into the body by breathing and relaxing.
The trick is to go in and out. What can happen is your realization of the thing you would enjoy doing will

become clearer and every time you shut down the negative thought patterns as they will loose the stronghold they've had on you for so many years.
I don't mean it to sound as if a person has to be doing or achieving anything in order to find happiness or

success. For some people just being is plenty enough life purpose for them. Another way to look at it is, it doesnt matter what you choose to do, what matters is how you align yourself with your choices.[03/12/2013 09:18:12]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 2 Moxipop

MXP: You seem like you have an artist's competitiveness as opposed to, say, a sportsman's competitiveness: your competition is with yourself and having each performance better than the last. With such a long and storied career, does that competitiveness change? My perspective on competition has changed through the years. When I was very young I never felt

competitiveness with another musician, only myself. I couldnt understand competing with someone else musically. I always felt that everyone was a better guitar player than me and with that perspective I felt surrounded with people that inspired me.
In the mid 80s to early 90s when I started to become famous as a rock guitar player, on the cover of all the

music and guitar magazines, winning all the guitar polls world wide, being told I was the best etc. I started to believe it all. All of a sudden success was gauged by where you fell in a poll or how many records you sold. When you create an identity for yourself based on things that change then you will inevitably suffer. It was good for me to go through that.
These days, and for the last 15-20 or so years, I dont have such strong feelings of competition with others -- I

mean, its nice to stack up in regards to popular choice but I really dont pay as much attention to that stuff as I used to. But I do still compete with myself and even through those very ego-centric years I still had a fierce sense of self-completion. Its more of a desire to expand and evolve my own unique creative vision deeper than before.
MXP: Let's talk about that approach to art today. Can you knowing that you've reached the heights that you have? What do you strive for?

SV: In regards to my career the heights I reach are always mental ones and they are usually when I am imagining something creative that is really exciting to me. The coasting is there when Im not thinking of these things.
Im fortunate in that I enjoy doing many things in life, be it working, relaxing, etc. If the only reason I worked

was to reach heights of fame then my work would probably get boring to me and I would be uninspired.
MXP: I'm sure there's a lot of young musicians that want to work toward that. What advice do you give to artists that are attempting to find their voice and apply it to their art? How do they know when they've found it? SV: Be critical with yourself but only in constructive ways. Dig deeper into expressing that side of you that seems to be a secret passion, or a unique vision. Be patient and enjoy every moment of the process. LIFE does not exist in the goal. It exists in every moment on the way to it.

Dont be swayed by criticism good or bad because criticism is really only someone elses mind constructs.
Know that you are absolutely capable of creating something unique. That should be obvious because even in

the external world everyone looks different. No two are the same.
You will know you found It when you are marveling at your own work and cant even truly comprehend or

explain how it all came to you.

MXP: I've heard you talk about guitar playing as telling a story. What goes into speaking through that? What do you tap into to try and get your messages across? SV: You can never really guess what will resonate with some people and not others. Its really up to what the[03/12/2013 09:18:12]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 2 Moxipop

listener is interested in and tuned into in order for them to understand the language and the story you are telling so to speak.
I just try to be very present with each note and give it my attention. There is this illusive frame of mind that exists where my attention is in the inspiration that is arising and then my fingers play it. Its sort of a tiny time shift dimension of sorts but its happening at the same time. MXP: Do you think artists need periodic validation & recognition to continue making their art? If determination and mindset is the key, there's a line of thinking that says these needs are a distraction and all you need is to toil in hard work. I think its different for different artists. Some dont need validation and are content with just fulfilling their

creative impulses. And then there are some that will not continue creating unless they are receiving validation. And then theres everything in between. Its across the board and the level of unique and powerful inspiration that an artist may have access to can also be varied and influenced by their desire, or lack of desire, for validation.
I am grateful whenever my contributions are being recognized but more so Im compelled by an exciting idea.

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ngel Ruiz
about 2 hours ago

Really nice. Thanks!

about 4 hours ago[03/12/2013 09:18:12]

[Interview] Steve Vai & The World, Part 2 Moxipop

Thank you I enjoyed this interview very much

about 10 hours ago

Wise Insight!

about 11 hours ago

Excellent interview. Perfect advice Steve. Your music shows your soul. I enjoy every sound! Thanks, Kathy

0 Likes / share[03/12/2013 09:18:12]