On Steve Jobs and his books

A view from the Self-Realization Fellowship at Encinitas, California

A view from the Self-Realization Fellowship at Encinitas, California

Despite my recent views on money, it is still necessary. One needs to work within the parameters of this world as it currently is, and that is still the currency (literally), the vehicle to get around.

So we still have to look at the pros (and I mean the professionals, those who made it) and their best practices.

There’s Warren Buffett, the superstar of personal finance.  We don’t know how he managed to thrive and survive the many financial meltdowns suffered by his generation (a clarification: it is ours too). His life is a testament to the reliability of having a process (look at the financial statements line by line, even the explanatory notes), following the process meticulously (buy, hold-for-a-long-time, sell), and then living simply. This guru/genius/chief, if it is to be believed, still lives in the house he bought in 1958. Isn’t that a wonder!

One other is Apple’s former CEO, the late Steve Jobs (1955-2011).

More than his acerbic nature (if it is to be believed) and his quotable quotes (stay hungry, stay foolish), very intriguing were the books that he read.

One would think it would be about business, finance, cloud computing – it is not. Oh, I’m sure he read them all too, but in the beginning, when he was still finding his path to greatness, here were some books that had a strong influence in his life and his future:

  1. “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda

Jobs has introduced me to this book and this book has led me to the Self-Realization Fellowship (which by the way I visited in Encinitas, California). Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) preached scientific meditation and Kriya Yoga. The Fellowship is not a religion, rather, it embraces all religions, recognizing that harmony and oneness is possible if we go back to the original principles: overcome evil by good, sorrow by joy, cruelty by kindness, ignorance by wisdom.

His Kriya Yoga, though, is something else. I found it hard to understand, let alone master. But Yogananda also said: Persistence guarantees that all results are inevitable. So there’s hope.

  1. “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass

I could not believe it was a book when I first saw it. It had drawings and curious markings that I wondered if perhaps I am seeing an illustrated version? It was a trip – this book. It provided the whole experience and gave a lot of punches that hit home. I mean, he says, “We’re fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them” and similar entreaties. It is enchanting, disarming, enabling, humbling. We already know (maybe sense?) the truth he presents, but no one has stripped it as bare as he has that we are forced to see the truth for what it is, and be awed by its power. Yes, Ram Dass is a very interesting read indeed.

  1. “Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind” by Richard Maurice Bucke

Bucke (1837-1902) is a psychiatrist and therefore his book was composed and written using the scientific method. It was about the stories of famous men, religious leaders, philosophers, poets and artists (but no women?) who, in the estimation of the author, achieved cosmic consciousness in their early 30’s (this appears to be “the age”). There was a premise and then a restatement and a conclusion; there were direct quotes, little known facts (about Dante’s Beatrice, for example), that although it is dated, it was still fascinating.

The full list of Job’s books is here.

We have the Oracle of Omaha (with his simplicity) and Steve Jobs (armed with the knowledge of his impending death) transcending to more than the physical, to more than the material: that although they have mastered this world, their eyes are always looking up to the next (spiritual) plane.

Maybe that is our beacon. Maybe that is where we should look too.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. – Steve Jobs


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