In the summer of 1996 Stan Grof, Pete Russell, and I spent two intense days together, first on the terrace of Stan’s house in the woods of Mill Valley, California, and then on Pete’s houseboat down in the harbor. We had before us a tape recorder and a stock of questions we had been looking forward to clearing, as much for ourselves as for each other. We had been asked – by Uwe Morawetz of the International Peace University of Berlin – to reflect on the chances of peace in the world, and ended up talking about crisis, transformation, goals and values, worldviews, understanding ourselves and others, art, science, religion, and spirituality. Above all, we talked about consciousness. The state of our consciousness, we soon discovered, was the key issue underlying almost everything else. Can we change and evolve our consciousness so as to transcend the current crisis-prone world ‘outside’, and the current crises besetting our minds ‘inside’? Having posed the question in this way, we had to go on to discuss how the outside and the inside are related. This, in turn, raised questions about the nature of mind and world, and what we are beginning to find out about them. Then we came back to the world around us and asked how we could make practical and effective use of what we had begun to call the emerging new map of reality.

My own role in the dialogue was two-fold: I was a participant, but as designated moderator I also had to see to it that the discussions stayed on track, focused on issues of pertinence to peace in the world. Originally I intended to pose questions that would catalyze discussion on the indicated topics, but soon discovered that this was not necessary. After launching it, the dialogue went on by itself, catching fire as if by spontaneous combustion.

Rather than getting off track, my principal concern turned out to be that we agreed with each other, if anything, rather too much: a dialogue is supposed to have an interplay of contrasting viewpoints.

Fortunately our contrasts came, although they were not horizontal, relating to divergent concepts and viewpoints, but vertical, illuminating the major questions from diverse angles and thereby enabling us to bore deeper toward their roots and foundations.

Subsequently, as editor, my task was to ensure that the transcript of our conversation proved legible and digestible by the reader. This was not a difficult task. Each of us had checked his own input on the basis of the verbatim transcript and provided a disk with the approved text. This conveyed the assurance that what the reader is seeing in print is what we had actually meant to say. After assembling the checked materials I merely made sure of adequate continuity and consistency in style and expression, and provided an indication of the main topics that we had discussed.

We hope that to follow the progress of our discussions during these two intense and memorable days in California will bring to the reader some of the sense of excitement and passion that we ourselves have felt – and that, on reflecting on what has been said, the reader will carry forward the reflections and the dialogues and reach new insights of his or her own.

It remains for me to thank Uwe Morawetz and his colleagues of the Peace University of Berlin for bringing the three of us together, and the Koesel Verlag publishers, also of Berlin, for sponsoring the meeting. All of us are grateful to Christina Grof for the hospitality with which she received us in her and Stan’s home. The setting for these two days was nearly perfect, and if the ideas that sprung from them have some value, they are no doubt due also to the wonderful conditions under which we had exchanged them.

Ervin Laszlo

Date created: 3-Sep-05