Last week saw the demise of one of the greatest technological visionaries, Steve Jobs. While the world is slowly coming to grips with the fact of his departure, the buzz in the media has been of the leadership legacy that he left behind. In this article we wish to delve into some of the key principles of life he professed and how they resonate naturally from one spiritually inclined.
Most notable of his talks was the one he gave at the Stanford University. He begins his talk admitting his failing to get to a formal college degree. Indeed, the true mark of a leader is his or her humility. Radhanath Swami often quotes how a fruit bearing tree is seen to be bent while a thorny tree is generally erect, indicating how one in knowledge (having good fruit) is naturally humble (bent). We can also note thesynonymy with the eastern paradigm that real knowledge is not a factor of formal education but rather a factor of keen awareness of one’s own frailties, and thus offering of respect to others.
Steve shares three key messages in his talk. The first he refers as connecting the dots. In this he shares his life’s past and how the various events in his life made sense when viewed from the present. He gives an example of how his taking of calligraphy classes out of interest later paved way for the provision of fonts in computers – typography would have remained lackluster otherwise. This principle of connectedness, of making choices in one’s life, of following the yearnings of one’s heart,with belief that some higher power will lead us to an advantageous position that we may not be able to foresee, is an attribute all aspiring spiritualists should nurture. In a similar context, Radhanath Swami defines faith as that substance through which we can see the invisible, through which we can connect to the Absolute Truth, God.
Second message that Steve explains is about viewing apparent reversals as having the seed for our future growth. And most notably Steve says that such reversals are inevitable and they are analogous to bitter right medicine that the patient requires. He refers to the incident where he gets thrown out of his own company that he founded after much struggle and how in that period of seemingly unfair treatment meted out by circumstance he discovers his innate creativity that becomes the foundation of his future success. Steve advises one to never lose faith in pursuance of one’s inner calling and to never get complacent of one’s situation in life. These form an integral part of the armor of a spiritual warrior – unswerving optimism and relentless urge to learn and grow. We see this principle very much illustrated in the life of Radhanath Swami also. In his autobiography Radhanath Swami shares the various gems of lessons he acquires as he passes through the crests and valleys of his journey in search for true substance in life.
Finally Steve explains his perspective on death. This talk that he gave was in 2005. And in that year he was diagnosed with cancer. Steve compares this stark reality of inevitable death as the single best invention of life. Why because it clears out the old and makes way for the new. Given that everyone has this inescapable reality awaiting, Steve suggests one to not waste time living a life of pretense and to follow one’s inner calling with courage.
Steve’s conclusion of his talk was this much quoted phrase that epitomizes his life: ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish’. We find in the medieval history of India the life of a renowned spiritualist Sanatana Goswami. He was the prime minister in the kingdom of Nawab Hussain Shah of Bengal. He was the most sought after advisor to the King. He had riches and following. But he didn’t get complacent. He was well aware of the inevitable death and temporary nature of any situation in this world. He voluntarily gave up his position to pursue his inner calling to practice unalloyed, unmotivated, uninterrupted spirituality. This didn’t come easy as he had to overcome several hurdles including imprisonment. Finally when he got the opportunity to meet his mentor Sri CaitanyaMahaprabhu he submits himself as a fool, wanting to learn from his mentor – indeed he is considered to be the emblem of ‘Stay hungry, Stay foolish’.
We pray and wish Steve to continue his journey towards higher realizations in the continuum of life that all of us are traveling.