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Would Steve Jobs have liked "Zen N" and (or) Scientology?
This article was put up "quick and dirty" and the author hopes some day to have enough time to give enough thought to what Steve Job's might have really felt about Zen N and Scientology. It should also be noted it was written without the advantage of having a good cup of Starbucks coffee at hand.
We'll never know now
While reading articles about Steve Jobs after his death I learned that he had been a Buddhist. I never knew this and was very delighted because I converted to Buddhism in my sophomore year of college in 1976. Then a couple of days later I discovered that my book Zen N is available on iTunes.com. I was delighted about this also as it meant millions of people with iPads could instantly download my book.
The wheels started turning and I started to wonder what Steve Jobs would have thought about my book Zen N. From there it was only a matter of time before I wondered what he would think about Scientology or if he was ever introduced to it.
Opportunity missed and lost
Had I known Steve Jobs was a Buddhist I would have loved to have sent him a copy of Zen N. Zen N is a collection of four short stories I wrote with a Zen Buddhism slant.
My first thought of wishing he had read it before he died was based on the question I had in my mind whether Zen N would have helped him face death better, in the years he dealt with cancer.
I wondered briefly about just how Zen N might have helped and realized that each story does address death and that it is not final... and that the soul lives on.
Then I started to wonder how Steve would have been influenced by Zen N... and since Zen N points to Scientology, I started to wonder what he would have thought of Scientology and how different life would be on earth if Steve had indeed become a Scientologist.
Here's what came up...
First a brief history of my involvement or experiences with Apple products.
I have never owned an Apple computer but I have always liked them and wished I owned one.
I remember seeing an Apple computer for the first time, my brother-in-law's Macintosh.
I really thought it was cool and I was very jealous and wished badly I had one, but I had no need or money at the time to buy a personal computer.
Then in 1993 I started selling personal computers at a retail store on Long Island called "The Wiz". They just opened a computer store annex to their main store. I learned about and sold the Performa computers and the Newton.
Shortly after I moved across to the opposite side of Roosevelt Field mall to the Compusa Computer Superstore and eventually was assigned as a full time Apple computer salesperson.
Here we had our own section and sold the more professional Quadra models, professional monitors, printers and scanners.
Shortly after, the Power Macs were introduced. This was very exciting for me and I enjoyed very much helping professional artists and musicians get their next, new Apple computer.
I was also amazed to play Myst on an apple computer with a friend. The graphics were beautiful and stunning.
But for me, being an "addicted gamer", I stayed with the IBM PC clone - Windows machines for which most computer games were written (some of which would later be translated for Mac).
Add to that, I was hooked on the PC 2 button mouse and had enjoyed learning DOS and being able to modify or build my own computer. So for all of my life, I've been a PC guy.
A year or two ago I got an iPod touch and had my first Apple product. It is this device from which I obtained the apple logo sticker you can see on my Plantronics headset, in some of my videos.
YouEverything - iEverything
Long before YouTube made it possible for anyone to post videos on the internet, without having millions of dollars to for traditional TV spots, Steve Jobs had the vision to make computing affordable and easy for EVERYONE.
As mentioned in most recent articles about Steve Jobs, his Apple computers made desktop publishing, music and movie production and editing possible. To say he changed the world as we know it is so significant it's a bit like... OMG X infinity.
What was he thinking?
I didn't know Steve Jobs personally at all. I never met him. Never talked to him. Never had any connection or correspondence with him in any way.
So as I hypothesize what he would have thought of my book Zen N, it is totally hypothetical and my opinion only. But one thing I do believe is that Steve had respect for individual opinion. Whether he agreed with an opinion on how to develop Apple products is another thing... called business.
I don't have time to read everything about Steve's interest in or experience with Buddhism or Zen but at a quick glance, I found this article helpful and insightful.
Zen N for Steve...n
Ok... so let's imagine I found out 1 year ago that Steve Jobs was:
- a Buddhist
- dying of pancreatic cancer
And that I decided... "Holy shit! I have to send him a copy of my book Zen N!"
Ok. He gets his copy and looks at it wondering what the heck it is.
He has some interest because it is about Zen.
He gets some curiosity because of the drawing on the cover of a Alchemist or wizard in a castle basement laboratory.
He decides... "WTF, I'll at least take a look at what's inside."
He like anyone else will notice there is no table of contents. Anywhere. Very Zen!
He would then notice that the introduction is very not-zen and may toss it off to the side unless he, by chance, happens to make it to the 4 acronyms I invented that may be some of the most powerful (or perhaps the only) spiritual freedom and enlightenment oriented acronyms ever... in the English language.
That might be enough to keep him slogging through the painfully dry and boring introduction.
Either way, he will probably at least flip through the pages to get some idea what the heck is in there. Just what are these short stories about? What exactly is the wisdom in here?
But fear not. In the end, he will read the entire book because it doesn't matter how boring the introduction is. It doesn't matter what page his flipping lands on. For the very reason that the book itself is magical and will communicate a hint of the message before he even gets to page one.
I know this sounds silly but I believe it's true. There is something magical about the creation of Zen N. And I believe the book will bring magic to its owner, silly as that sounds.
My guess is Steve would, like many people, find Frog to be a cheap imitation of other stories, most notably, Alice in Wonderland, at first glance.
But Frog actually has a real, Zen message. And while seeming simple and perhaps even adolescent, it is a profound message usually not conveyed in such a manner that makes digestion of it as easy as eating ice cream.
So while I think Steve would at first chock it up as amateurish, in the end he would not be able to argue with the message and it would reinforce any insight on that matter he already has. And that's a good thing.
So far so good.
The story Harry emphasizes the concept "KISS" - keep it simple silly. Like others, Steve might get the thought an 8 year old could have written this story. Here's the rub though.
No 8 year old ever wrote it and someone had to and that someone ended up being me, for better or worse, at the age of 21.
I think Steve would "get it". I think he would get the Zen-ness of the story even though there is, on the surface, nothing Zen at all about it.
Silence is golden
Silence is probably the most obviously Zen themed story in that it is so damned abstract and yet so simple. But it is also so untraditionally Zen in that it actually communicates directly an ultimate truth about life, literally, not by the concepts, not by the way of thought, but by both synergistically in a manner never before seen by man, in the English language.
It is so base and yet so powerful, people don't even know what happened.
And yet they know.
I think Steve would definitely get it but would be too busy with business to let himself be dazed or mesmerized by it, as others might.
I think Steve would like this story more than he would admit because it communicates a Zen message but also is about the future of electronics and sharing thoughts and experiences just as Steve's inventions have helped people share music, ideas, images and thoughts.
What's it all mean, anyway?
Ok, so assuming Steve survived reading the introduction and all four stories, just what would he think of the book as a whole?
More important, would it impact him at all or influence his future thinking or inventions?
More than anything else, I think it really would have helped him confront death because it would help him experience that even someone involved deeply in cutting edge technology will also have a Zen or Buddhist death, not just monks or new age hippies praying to flowers.
I think Steve Jobs would have been a perfect candidate to understand how something as old as Buddhism or Zen is still as relevant today as it was hundreds of years ago before any technology existed.
And I think Zen N would have helped him accept his obsession with the material universe, this playground we find ourselves in, while pursuing ways to use that technology to make it possible for people to share high fidelity aesthetics and through aesthetics... love and spirituality and peace on earth.
Scientology and Steve
The first thought that comes to mind is that Steve would not desire to adopt someone else's philosophy as his main belief system. I can see Steve selecting ideas here and there that inspire him, as he might with concepts of Buddhism, but to study Scientology a person eventually is confronted with "KSW 1", a policy letter by L. Ron Hubbard explaining that he was the first and only person to be able to develop the tech to free man, without getting lost in the reactive mind "bank".
My impression of Steve Jobs is that he would also like to think of himself as someone that could do that and would start to develop his own ideas or modify or "improve" Scientology technology and in essence would end up "squirreling" Scientology Tech.
Given time though, if Steve Jobs was interested in going Clear and getting the spiritual counseling to do so he would eventually realize that the spiritual counseling technology of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard created, is light years ahead of anything anyone else is doing out there.
It's hard to imagine that someone as successful and independent as Steve Jobs, would feel he needs to "go Clear". And yet as a Buddhist, wouldn't he aspire to attain such a freedom?
If he was alive today, he just might. When Steve Jobs career took off Scientology was still battling brutal black propaganda, the type of crap you see in the grocery store tabloids about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and John Travolta.
Along with that, the original books on Scientology were quite discombobulated by the editors in the 50's.
With the advent of the new "BASICS" books, revised reference books exactly as L. Ron Hubbard meant them to be, Steve would have a chance to see the real value and truth in Scientology, quickly and probably would "get it" that this is what Buddhism was striving for.
If someone took the time to draw a parallel of Scientology to computer technology and just said to him, "Steve, you understand how you are able to think into the future to create designs and products ahead of everyone else and nothing else is quite like an Apple product. Well it's the same with Scientology regarding spiritual counseling. L. Ron Hubbard was "the guy" that was ahead of everyone else technologically regarding developing a precise method for helping people gain the spiritual freedom promised in Buddhism."
Unfortunately the great advances in Scientology that are occurring now are too late for Steve in the physical body we know him as but I have a strong feeling in his next life he will be quick to embrace what Scientology is now offering and releasing to the world.