A conversation with Uldi Pīlēna about the soul hygiene of the individual, society and the state. The need for faith, openness, trust, action, synergy of physical and mental health in any process. The human task of creating a leap of positive thinking, a sense of belonging to the country and hope for the future as the country's president.
"Hope for the future, in my opinion, is an extremely important function of the presidential institution. The more groups of society are given this hope, and hope not in the empty sense of the word, but hope as a movement from point A to point B in the overall order of things, which we cannot influence. But at the same time influencing the things we can influence, and doing it in such a way that everyone feels like a participant in the process, all this also creates a better hope for the future for the community as a whole," says Uldis Pīlēns.
I remember a couple of years ago I asked you if you understood/remembered your mission in this life? You said then that mission is a dynamic category. Namely, if we consider life as a dynamic flow, the mission also transforms to a certain extent depending on external circumstances. You drew parallels with time, saying “if you're at sea and there's a storm, you have one sense of mission. On the other hand, if the sun is shining, you have a different feeling." In this context, I thought it was interesting why you decided to run for office and is it somehow your mission now? Why do you want it, and why do you also think you can do it?
You start with hard questions. Regarding the first part - is this my mission, despite the fact that I have spoken either evasively or negatively about such a possibility in interviews before? If you take the example from the point of view that I am successful in business, which is not only successful, but I have also provided jobs, I am socially active, last year I also launched Olu in my life, which is a private foundation and a private initiative, it would seem that I could relax, or no? After all, I am 66 years old, according to the best examples, I could relax in a chair, on the beach or something like that, but the inner voice says that you cannot be satisfied with your existing life, if you see what the situation is in Latvia as a whole. Even if your company is doing well, it has gone through all the crises, including this third one, someone inside reminds you - obey, as long as you are alive, you have your task in life. On the other hand, you cannot understand what your task is until you are out of the comfort zone of your current moment.
I am not an architect of reconstructions, I am an architect of new projects, and this means that I am confronted with the unknown, and there is an inner pull in me that I cannot avoid. In summary, in this case, I could not stand aside from the situation we all found ourselves in when Russia started a war against the Ukrainian people. For this reason, the United List was born, because it was clear that we must maintain a balance in the Saeima that unequivocally supports the foreign policy and security priorities we have already chosen, which are related to the existence and sustainability of an independent Latvian state. We succeeded, we got a large number of votes in the elections. We did not even expect such good results.
And then, before Easter, I received a one-hundred percent invitation from all 15 members to become Combined List presidential candidate, and it was clear to me that I had to do it. I was one of the standard bearers of the United List. It's such a twist that you just can't help it, you can't stand aside.
As long as you are alive, you have your task in life. On the other hand, you cannot understand what your task is until you are out of the comfort zone of your current moment.
Speaking in parables, I remember, during my student years, during the spring floods, we used to ride boats along Amata. If you have taken that boat and launched it into the river, the most foolish thing is to try to resist the natural force of the current. When the boat is pushed away from the safe shores, the trajectory changes and the tactics change as well - you don't have to try to stick to the shore, but give in to the current itself, and try to stay in the part of the flow that won't hit you against Zvārtas rock or some other rock. The approach to how you spend your energy is changing. You no longer spend it resisting, because at some point you made the decision to enter the Office, and it was deliberate, no one pushed you into that river.
If we draw parallels with nature and imagine an ocean, we are each a small drop in an ocean of billions of drops. At the same time, like a drop, we have the opportunity to become a wave, and – in its most complete performance, to multiply this wave. Do you somehow feel it as your task?
Yes, but at the same time it includes the second task - a wave without an ocean is nothing. Because it can only be a wave in the ocean, a wave cannot exist apart. To understand this interconnectedness, undulation and one's role - in my opinion, the mind is not capable, but the soul understands.
What is your feeling when talking about Latvia and its society at the moment, at what point are we, what is our floodplain and what are its challenges? We have been building our current house for 33 years, at the moment we quite openly express that we don't like it, because the neighbors - Estonians and Lithuanians - have better ones, but at the same time it is clear - even though you are not a reconstructionist, but an architect of new projects, it is difficult to dismantle load-bearing structures or is the work of the mind.
Otto Scharmer in his text on In theory refers to Nietzsche. You look for that source, go to that conditional point and see that the source is not the whole source, but the snow waters coming from the mountains. This means that there is no specific point from which you start, but a completely different process. It is, so to speak, atmospheric, which essentially passes at one particular point and new things begin again. There is a change of ideas or aggregate states, similar to physics - water can be ice, water can be snow, water can be water, and water can be steam. I think that we as a society are currently at the beginning of the process when aggregate states change.
I think that we as a society are currently at the beginning of the process when aggregate states change.
Coming back to construction - yes, it is ideal, of course, to build from scratch, but you are absolutely right, we cannot build on an empty site. If we look at Ola, this new building is not in an empty place either, its image is determined by a hundred-year-old linden on the east side, a hundred-year-old oak on the south side, hundred-year-old birches on the north side, and a wall on the west side, where the border of the plot of land is. That's how we can look at everything - do you have to reconstruct something that has been here, or can you find the best solution for this place at the moment. When the territory of Ķipsala was still a fishing village, there was a net house in this place, and it was the best solution at that time. However, in the current moment, this ecosystem, because the building is part of the surrounding natural ecosystem, is, in my opinion, the best solution. However, perhaps in a hundred years there will be a completely different best possible solution.
Regarding reconstructive topics in society, we have to think about whether we want to reconstruct something in the image and likeness of the past - let's say, try to simulate that we live in the feelings of the middle or end of the 19th century, even though it is actually the 21st century.
At the same time, in the waters of the Amata floodplain, we as a society are currently sitting in a kind of boat fleet, we are very good at rowing our own separate boats, but when we want to get somewhere together and, say, in Gauja, transfer to one or a couple of bigger boats, because that way it's simply faster it's possible to get ahead, we somehow can't. There are many individual talents in Latvia, and also those who have clearly proven themselves in the world, but most of them are from outside the country. And here I am not only talking about Garanča or Nelson, but also a number of successful businessmen who visit Latvia from time to time, but mostly live and do business outside of it. Is it our peculiar gene or some kind of test that we have to solve?
I will answer by paraphrasing Goethe, if you are a genius, you have the right to be a man of the world. If you are only talented, your place is in your home, because this is where you can make the best contribution. Looking at the really many talents, in the deepest essence it means - the soil is not to blame. I would never change Latvia for anything else. Of course it is beautiful to go to Venice, Paris or India, but here are my roots, my energy space, this is the only place where I can get this connection with myself
At the same time, it is extremely unfortunate that a classic craftsman or someone else who knows his craft, guided by some subjective or objective motive, has sought his realization outside of Latvia. If we could even for a moment imagine one feeling that we should create together, so that these people who are currently outside of Latvia would understand that this is the best possible place - this is Dievzemīte. Something has prevented them from identifying it as such. Yes, of course, complicated stages of history, the search for prosperity, which is one of the characteristics of a classic Odysseus journey, but the good news is that after all the irritations and adventures, Odysseus returns to his home. Gained experience. And we have to somehow achieve this together, because we are as few as we are.
We need every soul belonging to the Latvian nation and loyal to it in order to form this common energy current. We have to bring them home - as Akurater sings. Yes, we will not physically bring everyone home, in the current global model of the world, this is not our task either, but energetic belonging - to be proud of the place where you were born and raised, and for which you wish well, that is what this new, modern way of thinking is all about. And it must be promoted, this energy must be collected, only in this way we can overcome this test.
History has proven many times that the field of common faith allows things to happen that do not happen under other circumstances. This is also the essence of any manifestation.
History books describe that only in seventy percent of cases the strongest force wins over the weakest, the other thirty, which is a lot in the culture of warfare, the smaller force wins over the larger one. David defeats Goliath because it is a different energy battle. It just means that not everything can be measured by physical strength, we see this in Ukraine as well. Its energetic mobilization and ability to resist giant superiority - technical, human, shows miracles and mobilizes the world around it.
Looking at Latvia as a whole, and this is the scale that we can grasp - our collective creativity can be a step higher than each of us individually, but there must be people whose contribution has traction that promotes the development of collective creativity. Basically, everyone has their own task - people of the spirit have the task of strengthening the spirit, business people must create prosperity for themselves and others, create jobs and an environment where we can create this energy current according to the level of civilization of the 21st century, so that each of us feels that this is our place. Our Lady.
Looking at Latvia as a whole, and this is the scale that we can grasp - our collective creativity can be a step higher than each of us individually, but there must be people whose contribution has traction that promotes the development of collective creativity.
To engage in collective creativity, one must be willing to synchronize. We are homesteaders, we don't want to cooperate. Andrejs Žagars once said that we are a country of mediocrity and drag talents to the ground, but the situation and the global context are completely different now. As a presidential candidate, do you have a proposal to promote this synchronization?
There is no need to reinvent something, the first is your personal example. You have to live your function or mission in such a way that people understand that you mean it and do it seriously. Similar to a company, it is mostly staffed by people who do not always have the specific qualifications required for joint work. Of course, a person can learn various skills, the ability to work in a team, but one thing that is necessary in any case and is usually the task of managers - to give this philosophical field when you understand that your activity in the specific system is meaningful. That with your individual contribution you can be proud of the work done collectively, even though you are perhaps only a hundredth of the total added value.
This is the process of how, within the framework of UPB, in thirty-two years, we have created a serious enough place for people to express themselves from absolutely nothing. And this is exactly how I would like to call business - not a field where you can make money. Yes, it belongs to the order of things if the company does not make money, it does not exist and therefore does not fulfill its mission, but at the same time, the task of the business manager is to promote the best possible form of human expression.
My experience shows that if the value setting was correct, and also if at the beginning you have to be the one who pulls out and sets the process in motion, there is a moment when more and more people start joining it, and when more than 30 percent have already believed in your idea, the process is faster.
It is similar with the country - of course, the scale and degree of complexity are different, a much larger proportion of participants are involved, so things have a slower inertia, but the process itself does not change. The only parameter that marks the development of civilization is the change of consciousness.
The only parameter that marks the development of civilization is the change of consciousness.
Is this process of consciousness transformation to some extent manageable and is there a need to manage it?
In order to use this powerful energy, it is essential to feel the right time priorities. In spring, the energy is always more powerful, - birches and maples are flowing with sap, nature is waking up, we also become different as people, because we are a part of nature. We have two options - to use this external energy or not. At the moment, we are in a kind of upswing, at the foot of changes. The biggest changes are just ahead, and I think it is very important to understand the correct task of the current climb. When running with the sprint breathing method, you will not run a long distance, you need to change the breathing rhythm.
Also, from a presidential election point of view, we only have two options, which people among the candidates (and I don't think I'm the best by any means) are capable of raising the wave that will carry us forward according to the priorities with the least consumption of our energy capacity, and which , - perhaps with a more incorrect choice of priorities, basically we are not allowed to develop the speed that nature itself has imposed on us. By nature in this case, I mean a broader concept - similar to a boat, whether you resist the natural flow, try to navigate it, or don't even realize that you are in a tidal current.
It is important to realize who are the people who stimulate us, to use the fullest possible power of our society and our territory, even if we may not reach the end result, because the evolutionary processes are slow. And who are the ones who, for some reason, divert us from the main distance and make us face problems we probably shouldn't face.
At the same time, stepping out of the comfort zone is quite a delicate matter. Let's be honest, in our country these years, including in politics and business, a system has been created that satisfies many people.
Here again we can compare with nature. I like the saying of Jura Rubenis, when you look at the forest landscape from a distance, everything seems beautiful. But if we look at it in close-up magnification, we see a completely different scene, where a huge struggle for survival takes place at every step. We look a little closer and there we see that everything is corrupt. I'm not saying there isn't, but it's not the only dimension we need to look at. It is clear that the forest needs to be cleaned, and we need to do our hygiene work so that the beautiful forest landscape is passed on to the next and the generations to come. Hygiene should be carried out to localize the rodents and the problem in general. However, there are things that must be dealt with in a tactical field, without losing what we care for, because you can already deal with worms in the way that you clean and burn everything. There is such an apt comparison that you can treat a runny nose with cancer-causing drugs, because then there will simply be no problems. However, finding a masterful solution to make a patient who is more alive than dead even more alive and healthy is also a psychological task.
It is not for nothing that Ludwig Erhard, the author of Germany's post-war economic miracle, said that economics is 50 percent psychology. At the moment in Latvia, we are at a point where there must be an institution that works in such a way that we as a society can psychologically realize that, yes, we are the children of Latvia. Yes, this is our destiny and we have to live it in the best possible way. We have to help this earth, sow positive energy in everyone around us. It is this 50 percent, then the economy starts to function and the future looks better. But as soon as the future looks better, you invest again in new things, trusting that you are not the only one doing this. This is how economies, societies, countries flourish.
We need to help this earth, to sow positive energy in everyone around us. It is this 50 percent, then the economy starts to function and the future looks better.
The sketch of the egg was done for you in the moment of flow, during breakfast, and in fact it was very detailed right away. Do you currently have a set of visions for Latvia?
Basically, it is a creative process and the creative process has three stages - first you allow external events to create a context within you. This is how we can also look at what is happening in Latvia - you don't just look around carefully, but try to understand the whole context. When you understand what your task is, it is easier for you to understand who can help you. I think I'm through this first stage. Then follows the next one, which is extremely difficult - possible inner expressions are formed and arranged in you, but - using a comparison with architecture, you do not draw yet. But already put down the paper, pencils, find the right tonality of the music - you feel the readiness to express yourself soon.
And then there is the third stage - the moment when you can no longer keep it in yourself, otherwise you "dig" the idea. This is the totality that has materialized in the Ola. One of the basics of intelligent construction is to build with the material that is available in nature. In this case, if we talk about our society and territory, we must accept ourselves as we are. No worse than Estonians, no better than Leish. We have to accept it without making ourselves worse and knowing that we have a huge potential inside us. Especially the collective potential, creating the best possible combinations, including finding the best managers for each position - not according to the principle of parties, you deserve this or that, but according to the essence. Otherwise, nothing works.
One of the basics of intelligent construction is to build with the material that is available in nature. In this case, if we talk about our society and territory, we must accept ourselves as we are.
The principle of quotas is not in the interest of the society - not according to women/men or any other division, because it does not correspond to the laws of nature, is artificially created and, at best, is only a half-truth.
We must not think linearly, we must think smarter and more complex. Let's say the development of regions. Well, the urban landscape is not acceptable to everyone, and the Riga agglomeration is not the only viable model in Latvia. Yes, Riga is of great importance in terms of economic and also spiritual culture, but it is not the whole of Latvia. By ridding Latvia's regions of residents with the wrong policy, directing them to move to an urban environment where they do not feel balanced, or to leave the country altogether, we lose the power that should be ours. Therefore, with the remaining power, we have to do work designed for a much higher power. Namely, those who are on the field have to bear the force of the absent people as well, so their amortization is faster.
At the same time, there is a feeling that the internal readiness for change is even greater in the regions.
Because living in the countryside you are much more dependent on nature, you are part of the process and live in a slightly different rhythm. And this rhythm has always been the backbone of Latvia. A man with a biography of generations in the countryside, this is also our urban strength today. Riga is possible only because we all come from the regions. Looking back, there are very few people who also have a fourth generation of ancestors living in an urban environment.
Belief is the main driving force, followed by action and then there is the result. If you don't have faith, you can't have action, and if you don't have action, you can't have results, simple as that.
Belief is the main driving force, followed by action and then there is the result. If you don't have faith, you can't have action, and if you don't have action, you can't have results, simple as that.
As we know, our mind exists in all three time zones simultaneously – past, present and future. In order for us as a society to make this transformative leap, we need to make this positive thinking - also in the context of the state - an implementation intention?
In my understanding, these are the rituals of soul hygiene. If you start to think about things not only with your mind, but let positive feelings into you, then you will always try to find a set of good conditions internally that will increase positive feelings in you. Basically, this way you get a method. Similar to creative processes - the more you are inside them, the faster you understand what are the favorable external conditions that you can create or promote yourself. Of course, the impossible cannot be done, but any of us can promote the opening of certain processes in ourselves so that the signals coming through us are more often productive.
Likewise, in society, the first step is positive thinking. To each his own, - I am self-worth, I am not loser, even if I'm having a hard time right now. Each group in society is a value in itself. Everyone who lives here and is loyal to Latvia is part of our common society. We must not exclude one, the other, or the third because of more liberal or leftist politics. To bring all this together, to crystallize arguments that could be useful to the community, is, in my opinion, the manager's task.
Each group in society is a value in itself. Everyone who lives here and is loyal to Latvia is part of our common society.
The work team also does not consist of people similar to you, it is very diverse - in terms of education level, mentality, consciousness development process, and this does not mean that every employee must understand the vision of the result, which he may not see, but he must be satisfied with the practical daily process, to feel that even if I don't understand something, I am part of the process.
Changing your mindset is the first step to building on. Then follows the role of communicators who are able to promote this positive awareness. Also, the psychotherapist does not work with our physical health, but his work undeniably affects it. The general physical health of society depends not only on doctors - surgeons, family doctors, etc., but also on psychotherapists of society. In this case, to the authorities who are able to give trust and faith.
In order to develop and strengthen the Latvian state, we need everyone's heads and hands. If we are unable to fulfill this task, we are also less interesting for the big global processes, because we create problems instead of being helpful.
It has always been interesting to me to observe how mothers in nature protect their babies, fulfill the function that is instilled in them. In my opinion, for people of a certain age, this function of a protector becomes more important than the function of their ego, - even more so because, directly or indirectly, we currently feel a threat to Latvia. Not only because of the physical, aggressive Russian invasion of Ukraine, but also because of the threat to the direction of development we are going.
What do you think is the president's human task?
The president's task is not to interfere in the operational activities of the government, but as a person to do his best to raise the idea of coexistence of a nation-state society to such a height where this leap of positive thinking takes place, and we feel we belong to Latvia. We understand that everything is not in order and a lot of work needs to be done, but through belonging there is a greater return - for everyone personally, for the family, for society.
By the way, we were recently in Finland and asked them how is it possible that you are the happiest nation in polls for six years already? Especially considering the dark seasons etc. Their answer really stuck with me. Namely, it is the state and its structures that create this hope for the future for every citizen. And this thing - hope for the future, in my opinion, is an extremely important function of the presidential institution. The more groups of society are given this hope, the better future we can all achieve together.
The word "against" is very popular with us at the moment.
It is unpreparedness for openness, mistrust. If you go to a psychotherapist and you are against the method he works with, you might as well not go. You have to trust that a psychotherapist can help you, and not like a doctor by prescribing medicine, but by helping you understand yourself in a certain process. Similar to traveling, if you keep an open mind, you will find people anywhere in the world who will teach you something. And it won't always be academic wisdom, sometimes life wisdom that you notice so that you are open.
On the other hand, if a person is closed, it's like in that beautiful saying - if you don't change your consciousness, you can travel the world as far as you want, but you will always see only your own horizon. This is also this big task - to give people hope that they can open up and be much better than they have imagined. Thus, the idea of self-sufficiency is formed - both for the individual and for the country.
For example, we all need vitamin D. As soon as the sun comes up, everyone is out. At that moment, you realize that the sun is good for you, but you probably don't yet understand that other people are also doing you good and the country could also be good for you. The basic principle is one - you must be open. If you walk in the sun, put on a hood and zip up, you won't feel anything from the sun. Of course, opening yourself up can also burn you - you can't rely excessively, you have to do it wisely, but if you don't open yourself up to the processes of change, you haven't used your potential. You haven't increased your vitamin D levels, and your current level is so low that it's damaging your bone structure. So, in fact, you limit your natural potential only by choosing a more artificial relationship model.
Positive energy increases with acceleration. And on the contrary, as I have noticed in my experience as an entrepreneur - if you let negative energy into the room, the "battery" of the work team settles down very quickly. Therefore, one of the driver's functions is to constantly maintain this positive energy and see the black holes that eat it, or discharge the battery with a short circuit.
This is also this big task - to give people hope that they can open up and be much better than they have imagined. Thus, the idea of self-sufficiency is formed - both for the individual and for the country.
At the same time, you are an absolute realist, not an idealist. Do you think it is possible to transform the country in four years?
I think that four years is enough time for society to feel these things that have changed in the direction of positivity. And enough time for the material world - in this case Latvia's economic indicators - to start signaling a change of course and development towards higher competitiveness. Yes, in four years, you can put a lot on sufficiently wide tracks and outline a sufficiently long-lasting direction, which already gives some kind of next signal.
What do you think is the role of creative industries and art in this process? This conversation is taking place in Ola, and in the background is Ulda Briež's portrait photography exhibition "Free to be", their characters - legendary Latvian creative personalities, were once important drivers of the process.
Art is one of the topics of soul hygiene. Perhaps in the 1990s it strayed a bit into commerce and should now return to its core function. Spiritual healing. Of course, an artist must be able to sell his works, because he also has to live, but spiritual therapy must acquire a more national scale. And I think we have a lot of work to do here. Looking at the heroes of Ulda Briež's photographs, each of them is a great person, but in addition to their own, they have done a common thing. It's the same here, we have to finally come out of our caves and get down to this common house thing, because happiness cannot be created by operating within a cave. You may be able to create a little more prosperity, but the common cause will not move forward. No one can replace the task of an artist - if you have felt yourself as a flow carrier, you cannot avoid it, you have to awaken it. And this includes creativity in the broadest sense, I have already said it somewhere - industries without creativity are in the graveyard. Creativity is necessary in any case, it is basically innovation - only the artist has the opportunity to come up with his message even without a great technological reinforcement.
We have to finally come out of our caves and stick to this common house thing, because happiness cannot be created by operating within the cave. You may be able to create a little more prosperity, but the common cause will not move forward.
Basically, we should now write a new Latvian creativity code together?
Yes, there could be such a sustainable page of history.
Una Meister talks to Uldi Pīlēnas
Originally published Arterritory.com
Photo: Karlina Vītoliņa