Before Steve Jobs founded Apple, he went to India on a quest for spiritual insight, met a laughing Hindu holy man who scraped clean his unkempt hair, and was married in a Zen ceremony to Laurene Powell in 1991. Jobs had a 20-year friendship the monk (who officiated his wedding).
Some suggest that Jobs’ celebrated motto for the original Mac team – ‘The Journey is the Reward’ – could have been lifted from the pages of ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’.
The Apple guru gave a speech at Stanford in 2005, saying,
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
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…
No one wants to die. 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.
Your 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. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
But isn’t it strange that a person who turned out to be one of the world’s wealthiest was first something of a monk?
Zen philosophy teaches that wanting nothing and being content with what you already have – even if this is very little – leads to spiritual growth. Ironically, the less you want good things, it says, the more you get them.
It’s okay if you don’t get it now, but if you stop to think about it, the people with the most enduring legacies and wealth even, tend to be the ones who place the least value in material things. Maybe it’s because they already have them…OR maybe they already have them because they found their true treasures first.
A famous spiritual teacher came to the front door of the King’s palace. None of the guards tried to stop him as he entered and made his way to where the King himself was sitting on his throne.
“What do you want?” asked the King, immediately recognizing the visitor.
“I would like a place to sleep in this inn,” replied the teacher.
“But this is not an inn,” said the King, “It is my palace.”
“May I ask who owned this palace before you?”
“My father. He is dead.”
“And who owned it before him?”
“My grandfather. He too is dead.”
“And this place where people live for a short time and then move on – did I hear you say that it is NOT an inn?”
(Materialistic Zen; What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really? by Steve Silberman; Zen Stories)
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