Apple, Inc has announced the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

He was controversial.  He was innovative.  Some say he was a madman, while others call him a perfectionist.  The truth is that great people defy description because of the polarities that goes into forging an indomitable will.

Best wishes to the Apple Community and to Steve's family.  He was a true innovator and he will be missed.

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It's true, Steve Jobs was a great creative innovator of Digital products and certainly had outstanding business acumen to go with it. There's no doubt, though, that Apple will survive without him. As for the medical issue, he most likely died from the chemotherapy than the cancer. But, that's another subject.

On the other hand, I can't recall him ever expressing any kind of metaphysical or spiritual belief, thought, ideas or reference to it publicly. If he had any such orientation in his life, he certainly kept it well hidden. Perhaps I'm wrong, Joe, and you or others can correct me on this.

Steve Jobs was a mercurial genius. An innovator par excellence. The loss is greater at Microsoft. Who will they copy now?

It speaks volumes for his indomitable spirit that in spite of battling with cancer for nearly three years, he continued to work until the end and set all his affairs in order before taking the final retirement. In many ways he reminds mwe of HPB's spirit.

Journey well Steve. The world will miss you, for you were a true symbol of innovation.


Like his practices or not, without him we would be living with much different technology today.  He was a true pioneer in the tech industry.

In my first response I asked whether Steve Jobs had any metaphysical/spiritual orientation and if he'd expressed any views of such publicly. Well, the answer is that he was a Buddhist, evidently Zen style. Here's a short news blurb about him:


Steve Jobs — Local Zen Center Holds Memorial in His iHonor

I would argue that the sacrifices he made by doing business doesn't really adhere to "Zen" lifestyle.  I personally disagree with his method of doing business because he took advantage of people in order to obtain wealth.  He wasn't doing this for the greater good of humanity, it was to build an empire.

It's true that Steve Jobs and Apple were obsessed with secrecy. An article the other day, amidst all the praise, brought out out how ruthless Jobs and Apple could be towards certain Journalists and publications, online and offline, they deemed violated the secrecy surrounding new products. It seems they wanted Jobs famous presentations of each new product to be the very first time anyone outside of Apple knew anything about the product. They were extreme in trying to uphold this.

How this would would jibe with Zen principles seems strange to me, but I'm not a Zen Buddhist. But, one needed be one to know that Zen has been moving out of the traditional monastery and into the modern world over the last 30 or 40 years. A check at Amazon reveals there are 336 titles dealing with "Zen and Business" available:

Maybe some of our members here who are into Buddhism and possibly the Zen school give us more insight into if Zen can legitimately be reconciled with business practices. And, if so, if Steve Jobs perhaps went too far in this.

I knew Steven Jobs, actually Wozniac too ... way back in the day.  They showed up with a box of parts and wanted to have us sell their idea for a microcomputer; we were the major player in that industry, and in that day.  It was a long relationship that resulted in a very successful series of viable products and unfathomable success for the guys.  It was really like working with a couple of hippies, if I can use the term ... though, I was around the same age.  Reading the characterizations above, and having lived through all the drama of the age, I might add that they were characterizations evolved over a large span of time.  Woz, for example, was practically afraid of his own shadow, yet I see him on television routinely now.  Jobs was rather open and adventurous at first, but became more and more isolated and withdrawn over the years.  I had to work with them person to person back then, but APPLE outgrew the two people behind it faster than AOL mail updates.  IBM and their PC was yet another back-story during that age, and indeed, silicone valley was such a pot of jumping beans, overnight successes, and failures by the hundreds, it would have made a MOST EXCELLENT "reality show" in today's venues. 
Francis said, "
I would argue that the sacrifices he made by doing business doesn't really adhere to "Zen" lifestyle. I personally disagree with his method of doing business because he took advantage of people in order to obtain wealth. He wasn't doing this for the greater good of humanity, it was to build an empire."
WELL, the last sentence isn't quite true, but such may be your interpretation from history, or outside of the action itself.  The ONLY companies that could make it had to change on a dime, moving fast was quintessential.  The real thrust of Jobs, was to get the Apple brand immersed into the culture, one dominated by stodgy mainstays such as IBM, Digital Equipment Corp and HP.  They put every imaginable effort into  indoctrinating children and schools to the product concept so that when they themselves grew up, they would want an Apple.  It worked, but I assure you the company was on death's door more than once ... this was an industry moving so fast it was suicide.  Jobs brought in industry megaplayers to run the company rather early-on, so I'm not so sure much discredit levied at Jobs.  An "Empire" was not the intent, as I saw it, it was giving the company "staying power."  You do have to recall that IBM was nipping at their heals, not to mention an entire pack of tech-dog companies that sprouted faster than dot.coms (which did not exist yet.)
Good post.  Thanks for the insight.  I can definitely see where you are coming from.  I am having a hard time getting over some of their more well known transgressions towards humanity while developing this overall methodology of IT delivery.

Fascinating story, Christian, and thanks for sharing.

As a point of interest, did Steve Jobs ever mention any interest or involvement in Zen Buddhism or anything metaphysical/spiritual?

Michael, to my recollection, he spoke modestly of those areas AS an interest or involvement, however, his terminology would suggest it somewhat.  He studied Zen Buddhism in his younger days, he actually wanted to be a monk.   He was known for his Zen Buddhist meditation practice (sometimes, just when a meeting was scheduled.)  Steven was a Buddhist, though I don’t ever recall hearing this from him.  His marriage was presided over by a Buddhist monk.  He had a liking of things Japanese.


This was a time when transcendentalism was evolving into "New Thought."


Werner Erhard was gaining great success with his EST movement (Latin for "it is," though too an acronym for Erhard Seminar Training) which also had a Zen connection.  This philosophy permeated my company, and we were big, really big,


It eventually destroyed it as the getting [clear] process of “everything just is” spiritual-ized attitude placed an obligation on outside commercial partnerships.


What was curious then was this New Thought was the province of men, and today it is most evident with women - and its content and context has evolved (?) too from recognition of the esoteric influence of an Ancient Wisdom, to individualization of it.


The above said, it might produce a better image of Steven Jobs spiritual influence if one recognized these philosophical concepts were entering the geek-driven technology industry to the point of becoming a part of its culture.  Jobs, Wozniac, et’al were exposed to its varied facets in one way or another.  Recall, DEC’s (Digital Equipment Corporation) first personal computer was called, the “Rainbow.”  We had Steven’s nature suggestive “Apple,” and companies and products like Pet, TRS-80, VisiCalc, Nintendo and Space Invaders became household names.  Burroughs was out, and the new conglomerate Xerox was in.  [ In 1970, Xerox Corporation hired Dr. George Pake to lead a new research center in Palo Alto, California. PARC attracted some of the United States’ top computer scientists, and produced many groundbreaking inventions that transformed computing—most notably the personal computer graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer, and object-oriented programming. Xerox was unable to market the inventions from PARC but others did, including Steve Jobs (Apple), Bob Metcalfe (3Com), as well as Charles Geschke and John Warnock (Adobe) ]  Xerox’s computer endeavor failed within 6 years.  The modern take is that Steven Jobs raided Xerox, but in fact, Apple was invited in for a limited time in exchange for stock options.  Steven loved the scenic mountain area around Palo Alto, and Stanford … he used to hike the area.  He was a photographer of sorts.


On April 1, 1976 (April Fool's Day) Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack incorporate the Apple computer company.   Gates registered Microsoft 6 or 7 months later.  There was another Apple partner, Ronald Wayne who sold his interest back to Apple for under a thousand dollars, just month’s before Apple hit it bit.  I recall their early investor, multi-millionaire Mike Markkula very well … HE was the one who had the true marketing mentality.  John Sculley came much later, to keep Steven Jobs in line, as he had become eccentric by then, perhaps what the earlier poster was referring to,  though Apple’s financial power over its contractors was also an issue back then.  I was still around when Jobs was (from our perspective) ousted, or fired, and he began a short-lived company named NeXT.


In spite of the negative controversy indicated earlier about his “empire,” Steven drew a rather modest salary; one dollar as I recall.  It wasn’t adjusted for inflation.


Bill Gates entered the scene within this era … surprisingly, Bill and Steve were friends back then, and Steve Allen, Gary Kidall and Woz all frequented the popular Homebrew Computer Club.

I recall Bill’s years of struggle with Windows; I could approve carrying it early on.  He had a basic vision, quite limited of four square windows on the screen, and you could switch from one to other.  I pulled him aside in a hotel suite where he was holding demonstrations at a convention and told him how to make his concept work dynamically.  Drawing from satellite, space, and control system experience I shared how he could use hardware interrupts, and “clocks” to time-slice in order to service multiple windows in real time.  This, of course worked, I was the expert farmed off to every viable company back then including the development of technological insight in the areas of Marketing, Advertising and the Legal Field, though in reality a tech expert.  You would find the first incarnation of the IBM PC hysterical, though that was never made public, since I had to work under secret agreements with these companies I was assigned to.


I think, Michael, it was when Steven was ousted from Apple to form NeXT that  Steven's Zen Buddhism became openly evident … I was no longer in his sphere at that time. 






Quite an "adventure," Christian, for you back then. Congrats on your hi-tech skills and personal smarts and savvy to be in the "thick of things" in those heady formative years of the IT and digital Industry in Silicon Valley. And for being such an influence on such important figures as Steve Jobs, Wozniack, and Bill Gates.

Based on what you're told us, your personal inside first hand experience would certainly make a "blow the lid off" article or book on that era and the people you were involved with.

You mention the "New Thought" movement. From what I know, though, "New Thought" officially got started in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The "est" movement of Werner Erhard, which I'm somewhat familiar with, was part of the "Personal Growth" movement of the 70's. Erhard drew from "New Thought" and Zen and other traditions. As you well know, it was controversial, but everyone I knew that took the training said they had benefited in some fashion from it.

It's interesting you say that est eventually "destroyed" your company. That's not exactly clear to me, though I can speculate on why and how. But, I'm getting outside the perview of this forum.

Back to Steve Jobs: You say he only took a salary of $1.00, but he had a family and didn't live like a pauper. There were stock holdings and other benefits he had that paid him a handsome residual income, right?



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