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Steve Jobs: A Glimpse Into His Spiritual Life

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  • many faces of Steve Jobs
    (Photos: Reuters/files)
    Apple Inc.'s Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs (bottom row R) stepped back into the spotlight for the first time in nearly a year on September 9, 2009, drawing a standing ovation. Jobs, a pancreatic cancer survivor, returned to work in June after six months of medical leave, during which he underwent a liver transplant. Jobs is shown in this combination photographs dating (top row L to R) 2000, 2003, 2005,(bottom row L to R) 2006, 2008 and 2009.
By R. Leigh Coleman, Christian Post Reporter
October 7, 2011|9:04 am

Inside the secretive world of Apple and their dedication to getting things right, was a man who believed in trusting your gut, destiny and karma.

Steve Jobs, the force behind the global technology giant Apple, died Wednesday at the age of 56. He died in Palo Alto, surrounded by his family.

The visionary co-founder who inspired the world to want something even before they knew what it was, embarked on a path of giving the world iconic products like the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone and the iPad.

As technology and design admirers flocked to Apple stores worldwide on Thursday to express their sorrow at the death of Jobs, some are wondering if he had a spiritual life and a belief in God.

Charismatic, visionary, ruthless, perfectionist, brilliant thinker and irreplaceable – these are some of the words that people have used to describe Jobs over the years.

But what about Christian? Was Jobs a believer in Jesus Christ even if he eventually turned to Buddhism later in life?

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Most fans do not realize that Jobs, who was adopted, was baptized a Christian early in life and eventually grew into the Lutheran Church. He discovered Buddhism later in life.

Bob Stith, a national strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention, says it is possible that the word of God was brought back to Jobs during his last hours.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone would turn to any other religion after coming to know Jesus Christ as their savior,” Stith told The Christian Post.

“But we can pray that the teachings he received when he was younger were brought back to him during his last days on earth. Once a child of God, always a child of God.”

A glimpse of Jobs’ philosophy about life, death and faith can be found in a speech to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right,'" Jobs said from the podium.

“It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

He said this approach to life never let him down. Jobs also pointed out that he always thought he would be dead soon and used it as a tool.

He used this thought process of impending death to motivate him during the first 10 years of Apple, Inc. from just the two in a garage into a $2 billion company with more than 4,000 employees.

Jobs also used it later in life as Apple started producing some $65.2 billion a year in revenue compared to $7 billion in the late 1990s, according to Wall Street figures.

“Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important," Jobs said to the graduates.

Apple employees say Jobs had a peaceful spirit and mood around the office and when they saw him at the Apple cafeteria during the day around the Apple campus in Cupertino.

One Apple employee, who works on hard-drive systems at the headquarters, told The Christian Post that Jobs was all about karma, ethical behavior and unconventional leadership skills.

“I know he liked a peaceful working environment. The word was he did not like normal company politics,” the employee at Apple, who wished to remain anonymous, said about Jobs.

“It was all about out of the box thinking around here. It is like everyone here wants to get a taste of that wisdom Mr. Jobs had. It is also a fun place to work with free snack bars, game areas and soothing decorative areas. He inspired me."

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theology Seminary, suggests in a column that Christians can learn from the life that Jobs led, even though he did not publicly profess to be a Christian.

"Christians considering the life and death of Steve Jobs will do well to remember once again the power of an individual life," Mohler wrote in a commentary Thursday.

Jobs might have dropped out of college, but he soaked in everything that he learned while attending classes including the font types in a calligraphy class he stumbled into. Jobs said without that class, the MAC computers might not have had different font types to choose from when creating a document.

After leaving college, he ended up taking a journey through India in search of spiritual guidance prior to founding Apple.

The Examiner reports Jobs had a deep spiritual life, marked by the pilgrimage to India in the 1970s, experiments with psychedelic drugs and a life-long Buddhist practice supported by a strict vegetarian diet.

In the summer of 1974, Jobs and his college friend, Dan Kottke, who both shared an interest in Eastern religion and mysticism set out to meet a spiritual leader in India, the Examiner reports.

Christian teachings bubbling up?

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there,” Jobs continued to say to the Stanford graduates in the 2005 address.

“And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. “

Probably some of the most powerful words Jobs spoke to the graduates were about other people’s opinions.

“Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

What is interesting is that Job’s address to the graduates does not sound like a Buddhist manifesto.

“Jobs is a Buddhist, a choice he might have made thanks to his India connection," consumer trend strategist Jeff Yang told The Times of India.

"He said that the secret of Apple's success lied in Jobs’ embrace of a Zen Buddhist principle that expresses the power of nothingness. It is this that made Apple put simplicity at the core of its products."

“There is something about it that, if not intentionally Christian, is at least consonant with the best of Christian teaching,” writes Scott Richert, a religious author and editor for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.

“I like to think that, when Jobs was composing it, the lessons of his Lutheran catechism kept bubbling up in his mind.”

Richert also believes that any Christian whose life has been touched by the technology that Steve Jobs brought into the world will hope and pray that those same Christian lessons came to mind Wednesday, as he approached the final moments of his earthly life, while “surrounded by his beloved family and the guardian angel who never abandoned him even when he sought a different path.”

The pre-order sales for the biography of Steve Jobs spiked to No. 1 at Amazon.com following his death Wednesday. The biography is being written by Walter Isaacson and based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted for more than two years.

Contact leigh.coleman@christianpost.com.
 

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