Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For Steve Jobs, maybe life is like an "on-off" switch. "Click! And you're gone.

Walter Isaacson in his massive bio, "Steve Jobs" tells the story of Jobs attending a Lutheran church with his parents. All this came to an end in 1968 when LIFE Magazine published a shocking cover story on a couple of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took the magazine to Sunday School and confronted the church's pastor. "If I raise my finger, will God know which one I'm going to raise even before I do it?"

The Pastor answered, "Yes, God knows everything."
Jobs then pulled out the LIFE cover and asked, "Well does God know about this and what's going to happen to these children?"

Jobs announced that he didn't want to have anything to do worshiping such a God, and he never went back to church. He did, however, spend years studying and trying to practice the tenets of Zen Buddhism.

Years later, in reflection, he said, "The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it." I would agree. But it's sad that He just shut the door to Christianity based on a presumption that God wasn't doing anything to alleviate suffering in the world. My question to Steve Jobs would've been, "If you are NOW so enlightened, what are you doing to relieve human suffering like that in Biafra?"
When Jobs learned that he had pancreatic cancer, one of his first calls was to Larry Brilliant, whom he had first met at an ashram in India. "Do you still believe in God?" Jobs asked him. Brilliant said that he did, and they discussed the many paths to God that they had been taught by the Hindu Guru Neem Karoli Baba. Then Brilliant asked Jobs  what was wrong. "I have cancer." Jobs replied.
One sunny afternoon when he wasn't feeling well, Jobs sat in the garden behind his house and reflected on death. He talked about his experiences in India four decades earlier, his study of Buddhism, and his views on reincarnation and spiritual transcendence. "I'm about fifty-five on believing in God," he said. "For most of my life, I've felt there must be more to our existence than meets the eye."
He admitted that, as he faced death, he might be overestimating the odds out of a desire to believe in an afterlife. "I'd like to think that something survives after you die," he said. "It's strange to think that you can accumulate all this experience, and maybe a little wisdom, and it just goes away. So I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe your consciousness endures."
He fell silent for a very long time. "But on the other hand, perhaps it's like an on-off switch," he said. "Click! And you're gone."
Then he paused again and smiled slightly. "Maybe that's why I never liked to put on-off switches on Apple devices."
From what we know of Steve's last days, he never had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. In fact, I believe that's why there was so much uncertainty and contemplation on life after death. Even Steve Jobs found it hard to accept the fact that you just flick an "off" switch and this whole thing is over. Nothing survives except maybe your company and some really cool products.

Steve Jobs' legacy is AMAZING!! It includes the following:

  • The Apple II, the first personal computer
  • The Macintosh, which begat the home computer revolution
  • PIXAR, which gave us "Toy Story" and ramped up the miracle of digital imagination in cartoons.
  • Apple stores which reinvented the role of a store in defining a brand.
  • The iPod which changed the way we consume music.
  • The iTunes store, which saved the music industry.
  • The iPhone, which turned mobile phones into music, photography, video, email & web devices.
  • The App store, which spawned a new content creation industry.
  • The iPad, which launched tablet computing and offered a platform for digital newspapers, magazines, books & videos.
  • iCloud, which demoted the computer from its control role in managing our content and let all our devices sync seamlessly.
Apple has surpassed Microsoft and everyone else as the most valuable company in the world. Steve Jobs accomplished a lot in his brief time here on earth.

But, having said that, I am reminded of the words of Jesus recorded in Mark 8:36, "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything (even creating the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, Pixar, even Apple itself) worth more than your soul?"

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