Professor Ervin László has achieved many things, from being one of the greatest philosophers of science, a systems theorist, to founding the Laszlo Institute for New Paradigm Research and the Club of Budapest. He has received the highest degree in philosophy and human sciences at the Sorbonne University of Paris and been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The professor has written over 100 books published in over 23 languages, written hundreds of papers in scientific journals, and lectured at Yale and Princeton. He has run global projects for the United Nations and their research teams, which led to the incredible discovery of the Akashic Field and received honorary PhDs from all over the world. He is the initiator of the Fuji Declaration a transnational alliance for peace, along with Masami & Hiroo Saionji from the Goi Peace Foundation.
This mentoring series of interviews is brought to you in partnership with National Mentoring Day, taking place on the 27th of October each year to recognise and celebrate the impact of mentorship.
Professor Ervin László: Full Interview
How has mentorship helped you in business and life?
Well, I would say in my life, yes, I’m not in business, so to speak. I’m in the business of life. Mentors have helped me.
When I was a young child, and a concert piano prodigy, during the end of World War II; I was in Budapest, my native city, and my family was known for its liberal views, very anti-Nazi, and anti-fascist.
We were seriously threatened as a family by deportation by the Germans when they came invading Hungary at the end of the Second World War. There was a very critical period in which a lot of people known for their liberal and anti-Nazi views got “sentenced” and deported to concentration camps in Germany.
My mentor, at that time, was the famous conductor, pianist and composer Ernst von Dohnányi, who was the Minister of Culture of Hungary at the time. His musical works are still part of the standard concert repertoire in the world over. He found out what this threat actually was to my family and therefore, to myself. I was 12 years old at the time. He called the Spanish ambassador and told him of the situation. And the Spanish Ambassador said;
Let this child with his parents come to the Spanish embassy. We will save him, we will mentor him, we will keep him from the Germans,
– because Spain was an ally of Germany, and the Germans were very careful not to antagonise the allies. So a Spanish ambassador in Hungary at that time had the position of power. We moved into one of the houses possessed by the Spanish embassy. And actually, that saved my life.
He was my mentor. He took care that I could appear in public and meet the right people. He gave me lessons in piano, which was really just sort of playing for me, but he thought his ways should be played and I could play in my own way. And we would just compare and move forward together.
So this was a great experience, having a man who at that time was in his 70s and was one of the most recognised of zongorista‘s in Hungary, and also the world over actually. So I know what mentoring can do, it can create careers, it can save lives.
When I look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, mentoring plays a key part in helping us to reach them. Why do you think it’s important for people to pay attention to mentoring?
Well, because we are living at a critical time, and we know it. We are going through a period now, which is almost unparalleled in conscious history, recorded history, and we need all the guidance.
Mentoring to me is very much, among other things, an intergenerational relationship, where the elders who have a lot of experience devote their time, energy, and attention to the younger people around them, who need to be fostered in their development.
I think to reach the goals that are set by the United Nations, actually any moral and defendable public and human goals; we need the experience that older, senior people have.
Of course, you can have wisdom at a very young age. But obviously, people who have lived through many different and also difficult periods in their lives, have experienced suffering, have experienced love and friendship, those people have invaluable gifts to offer younger people.
Mentoring, I think, is a way that the senior people can turn to the next generation and say, I will help you grow. I will help you develop what you can be. And this, I think, is a key element of the success of the great enterprise undertaken by the United Nations, and by all public-spirited organisations in the world today.
In which ways do you think that organisations can use mentoring to advance their workforce and society more effectively?
Creating a more responsible, more conscious workforce themselves, they themselves, the leaders and the members who follow them need to become more conscious than they were before.
Consciousness is being conscious of one’s actions, of one’s responsibilities, it’s not something that comes at the spur of the moment, it’s something that’s acquired, something that you grow into and a mentor can bring his or her own experience into play so that people around him or her can become more conscious.
An organisation today has to be responsible to themselves, to the collaborators, to the clients, to the customers, and to the stakeholders, which is actually society all around the organisation, whether it’s a business, public, educational, or scientific organisation, in every way, in every kind of organisation, we need to become conscious of our responsibility, of our role to create a more sustainable and better world. We can do that if you use the experience that we have and if you pass on that experience to others around us.
Every leader has that responsibility. Every person who participates in our organisation has the responsibility to be open to this kind of element of mentoring, whereby the people who have the consciousness pass on some of this consciousness to the people around them, that is their responsibility. It is their duty and their privilege, and it’s very much needed in the world today.
You have achieved outstanding success with all your works and everything that you’ve done for humanity. What is your personal definition of success?
I am what you might call a system thinker, but more specifically, evolutionary system thinker.
I believe that the world is not staying put, it’s evolving, it’s changing, and that there is something in nature, something in the universe, which guides this evolution. It’s not random. It’s not just anything that can happen will happen.
If we are really connected to the source as my more recent book, Reconnecting to the Source, stresses out in detail, if you’re connected to nature around us, to the universe, to the deeper levels of consciousness of humanity, then we recognise that we have an evolutionary mission.
To me, success means guiding oneself to achieving that mission, guiding ourselves toward that mission, toward finding that we can be a conscious part of that evolution, that evolution is toward oneness, towards coherence, toward love for each other, to nature, to the world, for oneself as well. And that is built into us. It’s built into every quantum, every cell of our body.
And the definition of success for me is to be able to achieve a higher level of progress towards that oneness, towards coherence, towards that law, which is present in the world, which is present everywhere. We just have to recognise it. To recognise it, to further it, is to me success.
With the problems that humanity faces and the disconnection we see within society, how can we accelerate this paradigm shift that you talk so much about, from this separation to oneness?
Einstein says separation is an illusion. It’s an illusion provoked by our perception of the world as consisting of separate people and objects seemingly separate. But underneath, it’s not true that we will be separate.
Another great thinker, William James, said that we are like islands in the sea. We’re separate on the surface, but we are connected in the deep. And I think we are deeply connected and the new sciences, especially Quantum Physics, Quantum Disciplines, Biology and Psychology, tell us about this intrinsic connection that we have. And to further that is basically our moral duty. How to do it is to be part of ourselves, part of that progress, toward more oneness, move toward more love in the world.
We can be, because it’s in us if we allow our deeper nature to speak, to come forth, to utilise that divine spark in us, which is the feeling, the understanding the sensing of the source where we come from, from one common ancestry, we all come from the universe, we’re children of this universe. On this earth, we are all parts of the web of life.
Now, that to me is the greatest responsibility, the greatest necessity, and the greatest positive factor as we can construct it, to become aware of our oneness, then with that awareness, we solve many problems.
We can potentially solve all our problems, because our problems are due to separateness, due to disconnection, due infighting, not recognising that underneath the surface manifestations of conflict and disagreement and tragedy, there is an impulse for a deeper oneness in the world, otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.
Mother Nature couldn’t be what it is; the universe wouldn’t be what it is.
So we know this, and it is now our duty to act on it, to create oneness so that we can have the coherence to confront the problems in a united way. Not you or me, but you and me, together with the rest of humanity, and together with the world around us. That is the recipe, that is the means to go forward. Nothing else will work, especially in such critical times. And poor steps forward can have disastrous consequences.
We have the opportunity to do good things. If we have this background, conviction, realisation, that fundamentally we are after all a part of the life of the universe, and part of oneness.
Consciousness, a scientist Erwin Schrödinger said, consciousness is one; there is no way we can talk about consciousness in the plural. Because ultimately, we conscious beings are born through our consciousness, and it’s time to recognise it because that’s the way we can overcome problems and make progress to becoming what we truly are, part of one universe.
How do you see the future of humanity?
I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I would say I’m a possibilist. I believe in possibilities; I believe in the potential of humanity to overcome problems, to progress towards this higher level of oneness, high level of consciousness. I believe that this could come forth; this could happen. And strangely enough, I think that this crisis really is a stepping stone, because it loses the hold of old conflictual ideas, or old rivalries, of all selfishness in the world. It draws attention to the fact that we are all in this together. And we can all move beyond this crisis together.
I see the future of humanity as potentially incredibly bright, moving forward to a higher level of consciousness, a higher level of recognition of our true nature. And therefore, creating a world that is safe and sustainable, and humane to all. It is possible.
Nothing is stopping us but our own short-sighted perceptions of who we are. But I think we’ve overcome that. We can truly create a sustainable world where life can flourish. And you can be part of that architecture. And we can also be important architects in creating this better world.
So many of your amazing books are written about consciousness, the consciousness revolution, the connectivity hypotheses, the self-actualising cosmos, intelligence of the cosmos, reconnecting to the source, what is required to advance consciousness in business?
Recognition is required. That what we have been doing in the past or up till now, is not the way to go. Recognise that there’s been too much self-promotion, self-interest, actually self-centeredness and selfishness.
We said put ourselves first, you’re only interested in us, our country, company, at the most our community, or perhaps our state or nation, we don’t see we are already part of this larger whole, which is the web of life on this planet, we are really part of that.
We need to progress. We need more of what in science and philosophy is called the holistic perception. Understanding that the world is not created by little fragments being randomly put together; the world is a whole, every organism is a whole, health means being-whole, and sustainable ecology being a whole ecology. This is an old notion; it goes back thousands of years. But now in science, especially the quantum sciences, it’s being recognised again.
Wholeness is the characteristic of our world. And just as we are healthy when we are whole, so our world around us is sustainable, doing well, when it is whole.
We cannot dismiss what other people are doing and how they’re relating to us, everything we do must promote us, we together and not me, against the background of indifference, against you, or this indifference. So we have to work together. I know this is an old adage, it’s something that’s being said over and over again, but now we are learning how important that is.
I don’t see how we can create a flourishing world beyond the crisis that we are now experiencing unless we recognise that we are part of one another. And together we are whole, the world can be whole, we can make it whole, and there’s nothing in the way of this recognition. The feeling rather of the recognition that we are whole, I have great confidence that the crisis itself is a kind of a blessing in disguise.
We can get hold of the old ideas and old conflicts, the old separateness, and move towards a better understanding of the community of life, the community of consciousness in the world. That is what is needed in the world more than ever today.
I know that you’re doing events and inviting world leaders to participate, to spread the word on consciousness and to really get this movement moving. But what else can be done?
Well, we have the possibility now, with the communication that is at our disposal, to bring people together. We know that we don’t have the need to bring them together physically anymore. We have to bring them together so their mind, so the attention to their consciousness is the recognition of the consciousness being one that I think is the key to success, it’s a key to progress. And it’s not difficult.
It’s the ancient art; healing arts have always been based on this recognition of oneness, also, based on the techniques, mechanisms and methods of accessing this oneness, that wholeness. That means letting go of the superficial chatter in our minds, the little drivers of conflict, and be forgiving, be loving and be one with each other. That I think is a way in which we can move forward. And we can do it because it allows nature to reach our consciousness.
As all the great religions have been telling us, enter into a deeper dimension and that dimension is not outside. That dimension is inside you. You, each one of us is the universe. It has all the impulses, all the motivations, all the tremendous drive to create a more united world. That is the flourishing world that is part of us.
And if we allow our consciousness through meditations, through mindfulness, through the love of nature, through the love of people, as Gandhi said;
If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
That is in us, if we allow that to come to us, I think, and you have nothing to fear.
Right now we can repeat that in the midst of this crisis, nothing but fear itself. You do not need to fear because we have what it takes in us. Let’s just access it, bring it to the surface, and live it.
How concerned should we be for our world’s future? How important is it that organisations use sustainability?
Sustainability simply means what we do is not bound to fail. And if it’s unsustainable, that means that we fail, sooner than later.
Sustainability means that it is proof against breakdown. But no absolute proof, of course, but we can make our organisations, our businesses, our lives, as sustainable as possible. And that is very high because we have all the means for it; we have the resources, we have the energies, we have the know-how.
What we lack, sometimes the political circles on top say to me, is “the political will”, they say, to recognise that we are more than one country, more than one community among people, we are all the countries all the peoples together, that it means sustainability, creating a world that works for all and it keeps working for all, no limits in space, no limits in time. That is the goal.
It’s difficult to reach, but it can be reached because life is healthy when it’s sustainable. And let’s make our lives, our human life healthy by making it sustainable.
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