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What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America Paperback – March 1, 1996
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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.
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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Of course there's no controlled experiments in existence to support the helpfulness claimed by gurus - and the author adds no scientific process here in this book. "What Really Matters" is just one man profiling gurus and looking for a solution to his own vaguely described problems. It is frustrating that after observing and generally supporting each approach for pages and pages, he'll then choose to dismiss it with a few offhand comments at the end of the chapter: for example, the brain-wave chapter seems to find him relishing this dubious treatment throughout, until he casually mentions that the clinic wound up closed and the practice essentially discontinued. Given it's current status, it seems that reading the history of this practice wasn't even necessary.
In contrast to other reviewers, I found the final chapter to lack any focused conclusion. It even seems like Mr. Schwartz continued in the same vein after all of this research: flipping through the very same therapies with essentially the same problems he had before, albeit with an added sense that no one cure will eliminate them permanently.
Given that this was published over 15 years ago, some of this material is quite dated. It is too scientifically lacking to be a great resource, and too vague to be a first hand personal account. Frankly it is well written - perhaps it would have been better off as one or the other in total, rather than a weak pass at each.
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It's an older book, with a copyright in the 90's, so some of it comes across as a bit dated.Read more