Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Steve Jobs and Buddhism

  1. #1

    Steve Jobs and Buddhism

    In my line of work, the new biography of Steve Jobs is a pretty big deal. I read the book, and reviewed it on my website:

    http://www.mcelhearn.com/book-review...ng-steve-jobs/

    One thing that surprised me was this sentence: “Among other things, Buddhism made him feel justified in constantly demanding nothing less than what he deemed to be ‘perfection’ from others, from the products he would create, and from himself.”

    In all my years of practicing the dharma, I've never seen or heard anything that can justify that statement. Has anyone seen anything in the dharma that suggests such an attitude? Or is it simply that the authors of the book are, well, just plain wrong?

    While Steve Jobs is known to have been influenced by Buddhism - and even had a personal Zen monk teach him for many years - I don't think there's anything about his life that could suggest that it made him, in any way, a "better person." Not that this is the goal, of course, in our tradition our goal is goallessness, but Steve Jobs was a pretty mean sonofabitch, and any meditation he might have done didn't seem to allow him to find a middle way.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    流文

    I know nothing.

  2. #2
    Hi.

    I never knew the guy, of course. But for what I have read in books and in personal accounts, he was no Buddhist at all. As a matter of fact he lead a life pretty much against it.

    I have noticed that among the super rich in the world, it's hip to say they really care about the people and spiritual stuff, but at the end of the day they keep on exploiting employees and destroying the Earth in their endless hunger for profit.

    But I'm no one to say that. I just observe things.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  3. #3
    To be fair, he was exploring Buddhism long before he became rich. He even went to India when he was relatively young to follow some guru, but the guru died a few days before he got there.

    Gassho,

    Kirk


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
    流文

    I know nothing.

  4. #4

    Steve Jobs and Buddhism

    It's hard for me to judge the guy as I did not know him directly.

    Like any human being he has/had many dimensions.

    For all his personality traits and abrasiveness, he also made it possible for thousands of people to have jobs and support their families. That doesn't offset his complicity in facilitating substandard working conditions for contractors in China and other countries but it's another dimension of a complicated human being.

    I reflect on the challenges of living with compassion in a world economy where income is increasingly unevenly distributed and we are all drawn into making difficult choices between earning a living and taking care of ourselves and those around us. The imperatives of capitalism are very dehumanizing, for employees and CEOs alike.

    I was a senior employee in a big management consulting concern years ago and I can tell you I was a big grandiose asshole and all the while thought I was a caring and insightful boss. I also thought I was making the world a better place. The narratives we use to justify our actions and behavior are interesting and powerful. Steve Jobs is a human being like any one of us. He had a lot of money and smarts which seem to have given him an outsized ego and society has fed that narrative in turn. I write this post on my iPhone..... His life has touched even mine.

    Deep bows
    Yugen




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Yugen; 04-07-2015 at 03:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post

    One thing that surprised me was this sentence: “Among other things, Buddhism made him feel justified in constantly demanding nothing less than what he deemed to be ‘perfection’ from others, from the products he would create, and from himself.”

    In all my years of practicing the dharma, I've never seen or heard anything that can justify that statement. Has anyone seen anything in the dharma that suggests such an attitude? Or is it simply that the authors of the book are, well, just plain wrong?
    Hi Kirk,

    I have nothing to add about the Buddhist Practice of Steve Jobs, except to say that I do not really know his story. My understanding is that his experience and exposure to Zen Practice were not as long and deep as some believe.

    However, Kirk, about your question: There are many aspects of formal Training and Practice in the Japanese Zen Tradition which demand the best and highest standards that one, and one's students, can obtain. Yes, our way is "Goalless" and there is "nothing to attain", and yet we diligently and sincerely work to do the best we can (a Koan).

    This is most clearly encountered in, for example, the Practice of young monks to undertake the precise details of a ritual, of a tea master in the elegance of every gesture of the tea ceremony, of the martial artist in his Kata forms.

    Three videos will demonstrate. A (surprisingly young) tea master, such elegance and precision ... worth watching for some minutes ... :



    This is our Yugen's Karate Master in Okinawa, Japan (Yugen himself is 7th Dan in this Tradition):



    And, of course, Soto Zen monks in Training (go to the 5.00 mark here, and look at some of the fancy footwork of the young monks. That does not come without effort) ...



    So, striving without striving, effort without effort, perfection amid imperfection, achieving without achieving, goals free of goals ... losing oneself and finding oneself in the dance ... such is the Zen Way.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-07-2015 at 04:32 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Never met him but from my days in the tech industry , I would guess he was similar to others who wanted to develop technology to help and change the world.

    I don't see any connection between Buddhism and demanding perfection from others.
    If you have a vision you believe in, you have to be strong and demanding to get others to believe it. Otherwise they will come up with reasons why it is too difficult or can't be done.

    Just 2 cents from a know nothing.

    Sat today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  7. #7
    People are complicated.

    I know, duh.

    Gassho
    Meishin
    Sat today

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich View Post

    I don't see any connection between Buddhism and demanding perfection from others.
    Well, I might disagree. I sometimes say that, when undertaking a Ceremony, we shoot for the undertaking to be flawless ... yet inevitably, there are always mistakes and flaws ... yet we shoot for the flawless nonetheless ...

    ... and holding all is a kind of Buddha-Perfection, a "Big F" Flawless that holds and dances both small human "little f" flaws and no flaws, small human judgements of perfection and imperfection.

    Please watch the short video (select the language of your choice, and then click on the "Eiheiji" chapter, although the other short films are interesting too). I do not think that one can watch the Eiheiji film without seeing how the seniors demand perfection from the junior monks in all their Practice.

    http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/...layer_eng.html

    By the way, the translation of the greeting monk when the new monks come to the front gate is much too polite! He actually says something like, "Who the heck do you think you are to come here, what do you want?" Seniors talk to juniors quite gruffly generally in a monastery, as well as throughout traditional Japanese male culture.

    Gassho, J

    SatToday (however imperfectly)
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-09-2015 at 04:24 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Hello,

    Distinction is good fun. Thank you.


    Gassho
    Myosha sat today
    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  10. #10
    Yes, we definitely try our best for perfection while accepting our mistakes and flaws as teachers to a more perfect perfection. The words demanding it from others was just a little strong for me. Leading by example and gently correcting works too.

    Sat today
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

    https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    However, Kirk, about your question: There are many aspects of formal Training and Practice in the Japanese Zen Tradition which demand the best and highest standards that one, and one's students, can obtain. Yes, our way is "Goalless" and there is "nothing to attain", and yet we diligently and sincerely work to do the best we can (a Koan).

    (...)

    And, of course, Soto Zen monks in Training (go to the 5.00 mark here, and look at some of the fancy footwork of the young monks. That does not come without effort) ...

    Hi Jundo,

    Why do they do that thing with those "books", opening to left, then to right, what is written into it?

    Why this "fancy footwork"? what this gestures means to a monk's formation? and how does it contribute to achieve/maintain illumination?

    Recently I've bought and I'm reading "Eat, Sleep, Sit", and the things I've read so far goes almost the contrary to what I understood as a buddhist's compassion... Why that? Are these formalities above Zazen practice?
    _/|\_

    Kyōsei

    強 Kyō
    声 Sei

    Namu kie Butsu, Namu kie Ho, Namu kie So.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Marcos View Post
    ,

    "Eat, Sleep, Sit"
    "Read" when thirsty.

    Gassho, Jishin, _/st\_

  13. #13
    Haven't read the book (so I might be way off track) but here goes.

    To paraphrase the Heart Sutra: the formalities are no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than the formalities.
    But what is written above may just sound like a mere attempt to be clever - to understand the formalities as no other than emptiness it is necessary to practice them, or as Jundo might say, give 'em the old college try. Then notice the resistance to them that comes up when doing them - the thoughts about what they all mean and what contribution - and just as in zazen, let them come and let them go.
    Just this one's thoughts on the matter.

    Gassho,
    Raf
    Sat today
    Last edited by pinoybuddhist; 04-26-2015 at 08:35 AM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Marcos View Post
    Hi Jundo,

    Why do they do that thing with those "books", opening to left, then to right, what is written into it?

    Why this "fancy footwork"? what this gestures means to a monk's formation? and how does it contribute to achieve/maintain illumination?
    Hi Marcos,

    That is the "Tendoku" ritual reading of the 600-fascicle Large Prajña Paramita Sutra (Tendoku ritual reading involves shouting the title and volume number of the sutra, then quickly flipping through the sutra book itself). The purpose is a bit esoteric, much like the belief that simply praising the name of a Sutra equals the merit of reading the whole Sutra, or that even spinning a wheel containing the Sutra once is equivalent to the merit of reading the whole Sutra. In fact, think of the merit of then spinning a whole bookcase, as in this photo from a Shingon Buddhist temple in Japan! Similar wheels are found in Tibet, China and the like.

    Talk about "speed reading"!



    Here is the Tibetan portable version ...



    As to Ceremony ...

    There is a spiritual beauty to losing oneself ... and finding oneself again ... is the intricate and subtle steps of ritual, just as any dance ... any ballet into which the dancers are swept. As well, ritual is found in all religions as a manifestation with the body of religious feelings, no different from a Catholic Mass and such.

    Now, "Tendoku" readings and intricate rituals are -not- Buddhist Practices that speak to me particularly (I am rather a minimalist Quaker when it comes to rituals), so we don't Practice such here. It does speak to some however, and more power to 'em!

    Recently I've bought and I'm reading "Eat, Sleep, Sit", and the things I've read so far goes almost the contrary to what I understood as a buddhist's compassion... Why that?
    Well, sometimes the way to get past the "small self" is not just with a gentle tongue, but with a firm hand. It is a kind of "tough love" perhaps. Japanese monasteries (and other monasteries from Thailand to Tibet) can sometimes be a kind of spiritual "marine boot camp". I think that even the Buddha was quite firm sometimes. However, no, it is not my way either.

    I have written more about that book elsewhere ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post73291

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 04-26-2015 at 10:00 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •