29 Apr

#1. Interview with Steve Vai taken on Oct 17, 2015. Written by Anthony Garone.

Fearlessness as a prerequisite of the true creativity –

You’re always expanding on your own self. You’re never the same one moment after the next, so the most exciting thing for me is when I do something or I come up with an idea that I haven’t had before.
Fear is the thing that holds people back from their own unique potentiality. The interesting thing is, that piece of fearless creative enjoyable enthusiastic non-critical work that you then do is usually the thing you’re going to be the most successful at. You’re usually creating a style and your real true self is flowing into it. Then, the appropriate audience will be responding to it as opposed to trying to second-guess an audience, which is just stress, and you’re competing with people who write music in a field that’s very natural to them. So, that’s what I’ve become more aware of.”

On the origin of nervousness and the mindset necessary to overcome it –

“When I’d have to play live, I enjoyed it, but there was always this nervousness. What that nervousness is (that we feel) really is just our ego. It’s fear. It boils down to fear of not being accepted.
Everybody is constantly evolving. You cannot stand still. It’s absolutely impossible. On some levels, it looks that way, but no. Even at this moment, when I was talking a minute ago, I’m different. When you make a record or you do a piece of art or anything creative, it’s like a little snapshot as to where you were at the time and you continue to evolve and so many things have an effect on your creative outlook, your creative perspective, how you’re finding yourself… Things that even seem almost inconsequential: people you meet, things you might eat, places you go, the little voice in your head that remembers things from your past or projects into the future.
All of these things are continually undergoing metamorphosis. Your perspective on even the same thoughts that you’ve had is changing constantly. So, that would only naturally have an effect on your creative integrity. So, yeah, I look back at that music and the guy that was making it and I see a lot of innocence, a lot of almost bombastic freedom. It’s that youthful freedom when you’re 21/22 years old. It was an explosion of freedom. And then when I released Flex-Able, I was even apprehensive to try because I thought, “Oh, this music is weird.” But I thought, “Well, I like it.”

On getting through the ruts till the muse will get back –

 “Well, yes and there’s various ways you can circumnavigate around those ruts. The first thing is: Don’t worry about it. That’s big though, because a lot of people really worry. They think, “Oh my God, I’ve lost my mojo. I have no more vision. I have no more creativity. What am I gonna do? I keep repeating myself!” Well, that’s worrying. Another way to look at it is that the lull in your creativity is actually very valuable because it’s, in a way, it’s like you’re preparing and giving it a break. So, there’s many things that you can do that I can recommend to get through these ruts. First, don’t worry. And it’s different for different people. Some people are constantly inspired, like Frank, for instance. It never ended and he was always in the moment of it. But, for someone like me, I’m not always inspired. I’d say maybe 3% of the time, I’m really inspired, but I can do a lot with that 3%.”

On individual as an expression of the Universe and one’s ability to be uniquely creative –

“So, with that in mind, your ability to be creative is unique because you are an expression of the universe. So, yeah, that’s some of the things that I do. If you just go and force yourself with an open mind to listen… Like when I was doing Alive in an Ultra World , it was a glorious project because I was listening to all of this music from different countries, this cultural music. It was really beautiful because you taste the flavor of the country, you taste the people and the way the music is structured, because I have a musical ear (in a sense) I can hear the time signature, I can hear the technical aspects, but when you’re listening to it, you’re not listening to the technical. You’re hearing the thing that’s deeper than their technique.”

On 3 perspectives of seeing and relating to the world –

“Whatever your attitude on it will become your reality. So, if you’re looking at something… There’s three basic ways to look at something. Take new technology that’s come in and it’s suddenly there and it’s endless and it keeps developing every minute.
One perspective is: “This sucks. Why can’t we all just go back to just picking up the guitar and just playing it?” Well, go ahead and do that.
So, that’s the second perspective: Looking out and seeing, “How can this serve me? How can all this wonderful–wonderful!–technology serve me?” And I can tell you I’m doing better now than I’ve ever been doing and I’m selling a lot less records because records don’t sell, but I’m just doing gangbusters. I had my best year ever in my life this year.”
And whatever belief you have becomes your truth, but they’re all just thoughts in your head anyway. So, you have the ability to shift the vibration of your thoughts from that first perspective to the second perspective, which is much more advantageous to you. And there’s a lot of truths in that, too! Write a list of them! Write a list of all of the truths that make you feel good. There’s nothing better you can do.
And then there’s the third perspective, which is usually reserved for those people that breathe very thin air. That perspective is: “This is wonderful technology that’s going on in the world. How can I improve it? What does it lack? Where can I take it? What is impractical about it?” And there’s no end to where that ladder climbs to, by the way.”

On 3 principles of innovations –

“I don’t know what that is, but I know that what we look for as a species is convenience, simplicity, and immediacy.

(My favorite one:) On why one should not care of the ‘shit’ that made history –

“I had no interest whatsoever in virtually anything that I was learning in school. I couldn’t retain things like history. I could not retain anything. I’d sit and I’d listen to the teacher and I’d just say, “I don’t care about any of this shit. And I don’t want to know about it. It’s crazy people at war! Why do I want to know about that?”

On being in touch with the way you feel and resonating with the things around –

“But are you in touch with the way you feel? In order to be in touch with the way you feel, you need to be able to put your attention into your body and see how it feels. With thoughts being of various qualities, they create a resonance in your body, which then turns into an emotion. It’s not the other way around.”

On the emotion incompatible with being creative –

“A lot of people think, “I’m just feeling shitty.” You’re feeling shitty because of the thoughts you’re thinking. You don’t realize it because there’s this natural momentum that has happened over your whole life. Actually, it’s the collective consciousness of humanity for thousands of years, thousands and thousands of years. They’re not even your thoughts really. But they are, they’re thinking you. So, that has an effect in the body as an emotion, so when you then enter the creative zone in anything you do and you’re basing it on an emotional charge, that flows into whatever you do.”

On feeling want you want to feel –

You need to decide how you want to feel. Do you want to feel miserable?, which the ego loves. Some people really love feeling miserable. They don’t want to not feel miserable. They don’t want to not feel drama. They don’t want to not complain about something. It’s because it’s a sense of identity. With complaining you’re telling the world that you’re better than whatever it is that you’re complaining about. Or, do you want to put all that emotion aside and just get real with it? Enter that zone…” 

#2. Interview of Steve Vai Interview for the Cassius Morris Show (2021). From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaxxsFA8hr8

“Your greatest spiritual teacher is your own suffering.”

On knowing yourself, apart of the ego –

“If you don't know yourself, everything else is moot. And when I say “know yourself” I’m not referring to your name, what you do in life, the thing, you know, I am this and I am that. And that's not knowing yourself. That's not knowing. That's knowing your ego – this character that we've assigned ourselves, a character we've assigned the little voice in the head that's constantly commentating and judging things in the world and criticizing them. That is the ego. It's not who you really are. This is a very important distinction to make. But people believe it's who they are. They believe that the little voice in the head that's speaking to them all day is who they are. And this is a lie. It's not. And any trouble that you see in the world is a result of that it's the belief in somebody that you are that you're not.”

On the state of consciousness vs conditioned thinking –

“If I was to use the terminology unconscious or conscious: a person, that is unconscious is not aware that they're. They're living their life through their conditioned thinking. They're living their life through the conditioned thoughts that they were taught. That they were led to believe are actually true about themselves and the world. They don't realize that these are conditioned beliefs that are just that beliefs. They are not truth. They are not fact. They are a form of quasi faux reality. They're not. It's that when you look into the world through your own conditioned thought patterns that you've inherited you create a world that is unique to you. But it's not the real world. It's not necessarily real. It's just what you've created in your mind. It's real to you.
And you will fight to the death to prove that it's the real world and it's the only truth. This is what all the suffering in the world is about that. Just look at politics today that's exactly what it's about”.

On the only thing in which you can find security –

In reality what's happening is you're working with everybody. Inherently we are working together. The vast majority of the time we're all working together beautifully.

If you took away the complaining in the head, if you took away the belief in ownership which is just that a belief. I mean, going back to that again, it all comes back to being a belief. How can you own anything? You don't own anything. <…> Well, I mean illusion this is an illusion of the egoic perspective, and the egoic perspective finds its security in these things that it believes it owns. It believes it owns things and it puts its sense of security in them. But it doesn't work. Because there is no security in those things. Because they're futile. They change. They're constantly changing. How could you secure your sense of security in something that's constantly changing? <…>

Nothing will ever fill. Nothing can ever give you the sense of security that you get when you know who you are. When you know who you are, what you really are. And I’m not referring to your name that's not who you are. Your past is not who you are. Your fantasy future that you're creating in your head it's not who you really are. Who you are is before all of that. Who you are is the awareness that's looking at all these things. You're the awareness.”

“There's no death in it, you know. The opposite of death is birth. Life has no opposite. It just is. And who you truly are in your essence is life itself. This is not even debatable.”

On the (same) thing that one can only know exist for sure –

“There is only one thing that you can ever know for sure that's true. Even if the world is a dream, as some philosophers say, <...> there's still only one thing that you can know for sure and that's that: you're aware_right_now.
When you know that, you don't need anything else for your security. You don't need to prove yourself. You don't need to fight somebody for your position. You don't need it. You stop worrying. <…> There's no form to it. Who you are is invisible. It's not tangible at all, not tangible. Who you actually are is not a part of this world. It's not a part of this world you stand separate from. The world is outside your body, outside of you. Who you are is inside of it, it's inside of it, in your body. Who you are is perceiving your body.”

On partnership (instead of ownership) with other human beings –

“I see the world as an opportunity to co-create with my fellow human beings, and expand consciousness and expand things, and that's actually what we're doing.”

“When seen through the eyes of the ego, it turns into ‘me’ and ‘mine’, and separateness and instruction. It looks like destruction. It looks like all these things. But it's basically the way you're choosing to look at it. <…> When in a state of healthy spiritual perspective there is an appreciation and a love in for people. <…> I'm still a work in progress, you know. I constantly am seeing different layers of my own ego.”

On seeing opportunities in challenges –

“One of the things that you discover is everything is in your best interest, even though it might not look that way. This is a world of polarities, and the pendulum is always swinging, but that's how we expand. It's always going up. Everything goes like this, you know. Even the universe. Even your heart beats out. Everything. Night, day. You know everything is like that, even in the realm of life.
<…> Challenge is necessary for growth. Challenges are valuable to show you what you want because they're showing you what you don't want. But the ego loves to stick around, and wallow in those things you don't want.
So, if you look at it as whatever happens is in your best interest, because this is. I mean, as far as my perspective, this is true. But it's based on you.”

On the futility of judging –

“Another thing is can't judge, it's not that you shouldn't judge things, you can't. <…> Let me ask you this, if you look back into your past you may have noticed that things that you have judged one way you've judged another way later.
<…> Things change, and it only means that it's time for a change. <…> When you realize the sheer futility in judging things when you realize that you can't judge anything – you're free to potentially make the best call from that knowledge.”

On freedom as the state of mind –

“People think freedom is something that could be legislated. Brother, freedom can't be legislated. Freedom is a state of mind that only you are in control of. For instance, did you know politics in reality has no power over you? It has no power over you unless you let it. Unless you allow it.”

On being in touch with the immediate environment –

“Whenever you see anger criticism – that's just another face of fear. And that's what you see in the news most of the time. <…>
At any given time on the planet, there were 50 wars going on through history, and your attention to it invites it into your life. Your non-attention to it gives your attention to other things. Like, for instance, if everybody in this country right now was to give their attention to their immediate environment – the vast majority of the time everything's actually all right. And when you look into your immediate environment, everything's actually just fine.”

On choosing things happening to you –

If you're living in it, it's as if it's happening. You emotionally are responding.
as if it's actually happening in your life and your body feels that too. Your body is responding to your psychological state, so it's it is a challenge to pull yourself away from it, or to look at it from a state of independence, from a state of presence.”

On the true working solutions and avoidance of history to be repeating –

A true effective solution is when it's a win-win. Where there is no loss. No loss, only abundance for both sides. Only a win-win for both sides. Solution that works for both - that's an effective solution. If you don't then the problem keeps repeating itself in a different form. And that's called history. So, if you look through history, it's the same problem repeating itself. It's just a different form and at different times. But it will not change until an effective solution where there is a win-win comes about.” 

#3. Steve Vai’s talk "Creativity manifestation" (2017) at Starmus festival IV: "Life and the universe" held in Trondheim, Norway. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7MV-RBeVnc 

On arts and sciences' bonds – 

“There are a lot of similarities in the arts music and science and one of those is the creative process that goes on inside of us. As a musician, you start with an open field infinite field of potentiality and you look into it for an idea or a desire and it arises in you and feels good and then there's the desire to bring it into the world through the creative process.” 

On honing skills and building knowledge –

“Virtually everything you do involves creativity of some sorts. And in science, it's similar in that you have an idea and then you bring it into the world by proving it. And in any field whatsoever there's basically a period that you go through where you have to sort of prepare your vessel, whether you're if you're a musician that might require a tremendous amount of hours of playing to develop your technique…” 

On creative instincts and inspiration – 

“…getting in touch with your uniquely creative instincts and they arise in you as an inspiration, as an insight, as a creative insight.” 

On the quality of thinking – 

“There are two kinds of thoughts that we have in our head. One of them is a creative insight that arises in us. It's not even a thought it arises as an ‘aha’ moment. And you know your creative thoughts because when they arise in you there's a feeling of enthusiasm for them. We all know the feeling of enthusiasm. It could be subtle. It could be intense. But it's always of a positive value inside of you. The other kinds of thoughts we have are usually repetitive. 85% of the thoughts in our head are usually repetitive and unfortunately negative, and they stem back from our whole life.”

On overcoming one’s ego – 

“Ego is that part of you, that part of us that separates us it makes us it gives us the feeling of being separate it's the belief systems that we have. It's the reactionary part of our mind. It's the critic. It's the criticizing. Not the critiquing. Critiquing is different than criticizing. It's the criticizing part of our mind, and most of the thoughts within it are repetitive and they're based on our past. And usually, it has to do with things like what happened to us, what somebody did to us, what they should have done that they didn't do, what we did something we should have done. Sometimes these are wonderful thoughts but still, they create in us a perspective and an identity for ourselves. The egoic mind creates an identity for yourself, a concept of who you are your name. Your thoughts about yourself. What you can do. What you can't do. And these thoughts are extraordinarily limited, and they limit us – and we can be creative through these thoughts. But what we bring into the world through our egoic perspective carries in it the energy of that perspective, and you can see this in the world. And don't I don't have to mention some of the things that we've created through the egoic perspective. But also there's that other side to us that is completely inspired it has no thought in it. It's your true creative nature. It's the creative impulse of the universe that wants to flow through you. And it's the only place that creative unique thoughts can flow through you into a world that is fresh new and positive. Okay, so do we get access to that our genius so to speak.” 

On the relativity of ‘truths’ (or perspectivism) – 

The perspectives that we have, as I mentioned, are based on the thoughts in our head. And when we look into the world the world that we see is based on our perspectives, and the interesting thing about our perspective on things is there are no two perspectives in the world that are similar in anybody. In the sense that you believe them to be true anything that your perspective looks at and then believes to be true will become your reality and the ego is very difficult to change its view perspective on anything in that it doesn't like to be proven wrong. Hence all the problems in the world – war is basically – egos that don't agree with each other. An interesting thing about the ego is if it's proven wrong, it's kind of like debt and it will fight to the end to not be proven wrong and this is very obvious in the world.” 

On the need of still awareness to enter the creative state of mind – 

“But to actually create an opening is finding that dimension within you of stillness of presence where you look with attention, you use your ability of attention without thought. This is a thought. Thoughtless attention, the state of Zen may be. But how do you find access to that? Well, the first step is in recognizing the thoughts in your head. Because most people feel believe that the thoughts in their heads are who they are. But they're always changing. And to have access to the deeper part of who you really are requires thoughtless awareness. And this is something that even Einstein spoke about when he needed to find the best high-quality answer for a solution or an equation, he took moments of stillness in the body and in the mind. Stillness is thoughtless awareness and, you can do it right now.” 

On why thoughtless awareness needs to find a way for creative expression – 

“When you try to access this dimension of thoughtless awareness, the first thing that can happen if you've tried it as a matter of fact – here's. Here's the thinking mind. Here's all the thoughts, and they're going on and on and they're criticizing and critiquing. And then, all of a sudden, you're giving your full attention without thinking – now. The first thing that can happen for some people is they say: “what the hell is he talking аbout? I've no idea what he's saying. Thoughtless awareness. If I don't think, I don't exist. I think, therefore I am. Actually, he had it backwards. It's I am, therefore I can think. Because the ‘I am’ comes before the thinking. Some other things that can happen if you try to enter that dimension of stillness – you notice thoughts coming right away.” 

On finding one’s uniqueness & inner peace away conditioned patterns of thoughts –

 “The things we believe – our religion, our political points of view, how we see the world, how we criticize others – this is conditioned thought patterns that have created. Such momentum in us and in neural pathways in the brain that we think this is reality, this is truth. But in the state of presence, there are no thoughts. And that's when you actually have access to a closer idea of what reality is because truth and reality have no belief in it. A belief means there can be disbelief. So truth in itself has no belief. It has no opinion. It just is. And you have access to it through your intense attention without thought, and it deepens. And even if you can only do this for seconds at a time, it's vital. It's vital in your life. This is the only place that you will find. The one thing that every human being on the planet really wants. Peace isn't that what you really want. Peace this is the only place you will find it. Because the only thing that's causing stress in your life is the quality of thoughts in your head. And this dimension of stillness deepens. And very amazing things start to happen. You start to see things you never saw before.” 

On how ‘new’ arises out of the limitless consciousness – 

Then you enter that space of stillness and then you look at the situation, and you wait for it to arise in you. If it doesn't happen right away, you go back to that stillness. And the stillness in and of itself will take care of itself and go get longer and deeper. This is your greatest responsibility in life. Because this is what's going to transform the world and it's happening right now. It's happening as your perspective changes, your world changes. How many people does it take to reach this state before there's a massive change in the world? Оne, You. It may look like I'm speaking to a lot of people but in actuality, I'm only speaking to one person. You. Because You are connected in consciousness to everybody and as you bring this into the world. You will see it arise. And there one might say in and of itself.” 

“…Einstein’s unified field theory: when the collective consciousness of man reaches the stage of present awareness, you cannot even imagine what you can't imagine what will flow through you creatively into the world.” 

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