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The Zen of Steve Jobs:
CNN –Steve Jobs’ admirers praised him for de-cluttering the world of high-tech gadgetry. The products that made him famous, from the Macintosh computer to the iPad, exemplified minimalist design and simplicity of use, enabling what some called a Zen-like experience.
“Apple products are as defined by what they’re missing as much as by what they contain,” wrote tech and pop culture columnist Jeff Yang this year in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Might Jobs’ approach to innovation and design have been provoked by real-life Zen, as in Zen Buddhism?
The Apple chief, who died Wednesday at 56, had a decades-long relationship with a Zen master, who presided over his wedding and whom Jobs reportedly appointed as a corporate spiritual adviser. Their ties have fed speculation about such a connection.
Early on in life, Jobs took a spiritual retreat to India that helped lead him to embrace Buddhism. But the teacher with whom Jobs bonded with in the United States was a Zen Buddhist, a tradition rooted in Japan.
According to Yang and to other press reports, Jobs studied at the Los Altos Zen Center in the 1970s and developed a close relationship with a Japanse-born Zen master, or roshi, named Kobun Chino Otogawa.
Kobun focused his teaching on developing a Zen meditation practice.
“The real purpose of practice is to discover the wisdom which you have always been keeping with you,” Kobun said in a talk that’s posted on the website for the Jikoji Retreat Center, a Zen center he founded outside San Francisco.
“To discover yourself is to discover wisdom; without discovering yourself you can never communicate with anybody,” said Kobun, who died in 2002, in the same talk.
Jobs seemed to echo that spiritual self-reliance in public comments, including his oft-quoted 2005 commencement address at Stanford University:
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
According to Yang, Jobs appointed Kobun as the official “spiritual adviser” for the company he founded after being fired as Apple CEO in 1986. Called NeXT, that company was eventually purchased by Apple, paving the way for Jobs’ second act there.
Kobun also presided over Jobs’ 1991 marriage to Laurene Powell.
The relationship between Jobs and Kobun is the subject of a graphic novel, soon to be published by Forbes. The book, which is fiction but is inspired by the real-life relationship, is titled “The Zen of Steve Jobs.”
Via The Telegraph:
… “The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months,” he told his shocked audience.
“My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.”
Although a biopsy later showed the cancer was treatable, Jobs said it had made him think seriously about dying for the first time.
“No one wants to die,” he said. “Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.
“And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
“Our time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”…
Read the rest of ‘how years of health problems have dogged the Apple founder’ here.
His comments reveal a flawed theology, existential, indicative I suppose of the Buddhist faith he reportedly practices. One can but pray that he would turn from a belief system that gives no tangible idea of a future destiny, a destiny that is real, and can be know. Death Mr Jobs is not ‘a destination we all share’. Some of us know life.
Why have companies like Apple and Google grown so explosively in the past few years and why do the brands garner such loyalty from their customers?
A team of neuroscientists scanned the brain of an Apple fan and it showed that the brand was stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.
This goes to show that mankind’s innate need to have faith in something is so strong that, when we stop believing in God, we will substitute any convenient banality…
The above was here.
Be sure to check out the short video too.