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What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America Paperback – March 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Feeling empty despite the success of The Art of the Deal, which he coauthored with Donald Trump, Schwartz began meditating in 1988, thus embarking on a four-year quest in which he crisscrossed the country meeting mystics, psychics, philosophers, healers. He took breathing classes with LSD researcher Stanislav Grof, joined a dream-analysis workshop led by psychoanalyst Montague Ullman, did body exercises at California's Esalen Institute and was hooked up to biofeedback machines at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kans. He tapped an "ideal performance state" while playing tennis in a Florida training academy. He reports that a mind/body technique cured him of chronic back pain. Schwartz benefited most from use of the Enneagram, a system of classifying personality types said to help people overcome self-destructive behavior patterns. His spiritual odyssey, reflecting a smorgasboard of approaches, incorporates an insightful social history of the human potential movement with profiles of key figures like Esalen founder Michael Murphy, transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber and psychologist/guru Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass).
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Schwartz, a reporter for the New York Times, has a nice wife, good kids, plenty of money. So why does he feel so bummed? In attempting to answer that question, the author set off on what turned out to be a four-year journey in search of the contemporary Holy Grail--peace of mind. As he crisscrossed the U.S., he encountered all aspects of the consciousness movement, from meditation and dream therapy through personality analysis and Eastern spirituality. Naturally, he met a few gurus along the way, including Baba Ram Dass and others less well known to the general public but just as revered among their followers. This is not just the story of a whiner holding out his bowl and asking for more. Schwartz offers a serious, analytical look at the whole phenomenon of self-discovery, appraising what he finds as both a reporter and a searcher. In addition, he brings to the process a liberal dose of humanizing humor. Schwartz's final chapter, in which he ties together what works and what doesn't, will certainly touch readers on their own spiritual journeys. His bottom line is hardly new news, but it bears repeating: "To live a complete life requires drawing deeply on all of one's potentials--mind, body, heart, soul, and spirit." Ilene Cooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553374923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553374926
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Schwartz is the President and CEO of The Energy Project, which helps individuals and organizations perform at their best. Tony's last book, The Power of Full Engagement, co-authored with Jim Loehr, was a Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestseller and has been translated into 28 languages. Tony's article "Manage Energy, Not Time: The Science of Stamina," co-authored with Catherine McCarthy, was published in the October, 2007 Harvard Business Review. Tony co-authored the #1 worldwide bestseller The Art of the Deal with Donald Trump and also wrote What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Rahayu Ratnaningsih on April 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found this book two years ago accidentally in a local bookstore that I wouldn't expect to sell something quite like it. And this book is a gate to the whole multitude of new exciting experiences of intellectual as well as spiritual awakening to me, something that I am very much indebted to Tony Schwartz. His journey toward wisdom that precipitated this book has also lead me to the path, revived my own long dormant tradition of meditation, introduced me to the mind land of Ken Wilber and indirectly to a throng of other geniuses in the field, gave me a taste of many different spiritual traditions, awakened me to the things called performance technology, accelerated learning, and Enneagram, ignited my interests in Eastern mysticism -and even Physics and Science- as well as provide me with new insights on the world of right/left brain. This book gave a fresh perspective of meditation, something not so unfamiliar for someone with a Buddhist upbringing like me but unfortunately with little comprehension of its efficacy from a scientific standpoint. Because of this book, I began meditating regularly again and now am even helping others to meditate. This book leads me to a personal quest that consists of an exciting array of other books on the subject of psychology, accelerated learning and philosophy. I now write lots of articles on spirituality that are very well accepted and help people to see the world in a different perspective. And on top of everything else, currently I am doing the final editing of my own first "serious" book on spirituality, something I could never have thought of two years ago.Read more ›
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael Guttentag on April 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I bet that if I met Tony Schwartz I would really like him. He comes across in this deeply personal book, as a decent, heartfelt and loving person. The book is the story of his five-year quest at the start of the 1990s to find wisdom and insight in the "new age" movement in America. Though at times a bit solipsistic, Schwartz generally does an entertaining job of conveying the ups and downs of the various experiences he goes through on this quest.
The first three chapters of the book introduce us to some of the key figures in creating what has become the "new age" movement in America. The first chapter introduces us to Ram Dass, who was part of the original LSD experimentation with Timothy Leary. The next chapter tells the story of Michael Murphy and the founding of Esalen, and the third chapter covers Elmer Green and the biofeedback movement. For me this section was a wonderful introduction to how these institutions and practices got started in America in the Sixties (ignoring, of course, the historical connections back to American transcendentalism and the like).
The middle section of the book covers some of the powerful tools that were developed and refined as part of the "new age" approach. Chapter Four covers Betty Edwards and her tools to improve "seeing" and so drawing; Chapter Five reviews the insights about how the mind effects and interacts with our health; Chapter Six details tools that have been developed to help people achieve peak performance; and Chapter Seven explores the use of "new age" tools in exploring the meaning of our dreams. These chapters capture well the some of the clear gains from the "new age" movement - a set of practical tools that people now use to live healthier and more complete lives.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul on August 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most honestly written books I have ever read. Anyone interested in personal evolution will get clear, concise information on some of the best of what really works, and a wonderful explanation about why it works. Integrative and realistic, it is written from the perspective of someone willing to expose his own personal challenges and limitations. It is one of the most insightful and comforting pieces of work I have ever read. Having read over 300 works on this subject, it takes a lot to impress me - this work has gone beyond doing so!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas MacDonald on January 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Ever wanted a guide to transformative practice in the US? What's available to the committed seeker? Look no further- Tony Schwartz has written a valuable guide to what New Age practices really deliver- and what they don't.
In "What Really Matters", Tony presents different movements and thinkers, chapter by chapter, in an eminently readable and easily digestible format. Covering meditation, dreamwork, creativity exercises, personality and emotional studies, athletics, Michael Murphy's Esalen work, Hameed Ali, and Ken Wilber's integral philosophy, Tony's journalistic journey is recommended to anyone who seeks a distinctly American approach to spirituality.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
Well, in response to Frank Wassermann (below), I must say that he seems to have a case of reading only what he wants to read out of the text of "What Really Matters". He even misquotes Tony Schwartz in his review: Tony did not say (on page 4) that he has not considered "the possibilities that there might be a God..." The exact quote is "We <his parents> never discussed the possibility that there might be a God...", a considerably different matter. To suggest that Tony Schwartz had never considered such concepts is laughable (at least I got a good laugh out of it).
This book is simply one man's compendium of ideas and discoveries that he justifiably feels deserve a wider dissemination in the interest of building increased spiritual awareness in all people. Underlying the varied subject matter is a unifying wisdom tradition that is only now beginning to transplant our antiquated religious beliefs.
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