Tony Schwartz wrote THE ART OF THE DEAL for Donald Trump and regrets it. At first it was just a job, one that the thirty-five year old journalist was glad to have. Then it turned into 18 months of trailing Trump in his daily life in order to gain a coherent narrative for the book. When it was published in 1987, he enjoyed the razzle dazzle that surrounded the man who was becoming the embodiment of success in America. Schwartz described the book party they shared that took place in the lobby of Trump Tower:
“Klieg lights illuminated the Fifth Avenue entrance as guests pulled up in stretch limousines, stepped out onto a red-carpeted sidewalk, and entered the lobby, where they were greeted by a dozen strolling violinists and scores of white-jacketed waiters serving champagne in fluted glasses.”
Then something began to change. This wasn’t the book Schwartz had wanted to write – it wasn’t his book, and in fact it didn’t have anything to do with what he valued. Trump’s gold-plated version of the American Dream wasn’t what he was looking for.
“What I longed for was to feel more at home with myself, more deeply comfortable in my own skin, more connected to something timeless and essential, more real.”
He moved on beyond Trump’s world. He spent four years searching for what he longed for and published WHAT REALLY MATTERS in 1995. But before saying more about his own book, there’s an update about what he wrote for Trump. In THE NEW YORKER magazine (July 25, 2016 Issue) Jane Mayer describes Schwartz’s reaction to the June announcement that he would become a candidate for President:
“As Schwartz watched a video of the speech, he began to feel personally implicated. Trump, facing a crowd that had gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, laid out his qualifications, saying, ‘We need a leader that wrote The Art of the Deal.’ If that was so, Schwartz thought, then he, not Trump, should be running.”
What Schwartz had written became a best seller, spread Trump’s name and created his national reputation as a great tycoon. Finally, in 2016, Schwartz wanted to set the record straight. He broke his many years of silence and in an interview with Jane Mayer said bluntly that he would not write such a book now. Jane Mayer’s article is certainly one to read.
The subtitle of WHAT REALLY MATTERS is “Searching For Wisdom In America.” During those four years of searching, Schwartz sought out people who might have something to teach about approaching two age-old questions – “Who Am I?” and “Why Am I Here?”. He wanted to find people who not only knew a lot, but to learn from those who reflected what they knew in their own lives:
“I was interested not just in the ideas, techniques, and practices of those I met, but in the ways in which their work was related, the lineages from which they drew inspiration, and the degree to which their discoveries had transformed their own lives.”
That certainly was, in itself, wise. He wanted to see the theories, beliefs, and practices in action, as they were lived out. He had many talks with a wide variety of people with a wide range of approaches to what really matters. Among them were Ram Dass on psychedelics and the journey to the East; Michael Murphy on nurturing human potential and Esalen; and Ken Wilber on putting consciousness on the map. It is Chapter 3, however, that’s the reason for mentioning Schwartz’s second book in this post. Under the title of “The Yoga of the West” Schwartz wrote about what Elmer Green had to teach about biofeedback, self control, and accessing deeper levels of wisdom.
Beginning in the 1960s at the Menninger Foundation in Topeka, Kansas, Elmer, his wife Alyce and their colleagues developed clinical biofeedback – a process and set of techniques used to gain voluntary control over some body processes. In the years after he retired from this research, Elmer became more and more open about his true work, his lifelong study of the levels of consciousness and the multiple dimensions of reality. Biofeedback training was just one way to teach us that access to them is in our own control.
Schwartz described Elmer this way,
“Green, in his mid-70s when we met, is plain-spoken, low-key, and no-nonsense.”
No-nonsense is a fine word to use – Elmer is a scientist, a fair-minded skeptic, and an objective observer. He is also a highly disciplined and knowledgeable mystic with a great deal to teach about answering the vital questions about life for ourselves. It is this that will be the subject of future posts in WINN, posts written by some of us who have been Elmer’s students.