What Do Steve Jobs's Final Words Mean?
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*WHAT DO STEVE JOBS'S FINAL WORDS MEAN?*
By Joshua Little
October 31, 2011
Steve Jobs's last words, his sister revealed in the New York Times
Sunday, were "OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW," an unexplained final phrase that
many are trying to decipher today.
Was Jobs reflecting on his life while gazing at his wife, children and
the space beyond them? Was he experiencing some mystical vision of
heaven, a place he told biographer Walter Isaacson that he hoped
existed? Or were his last words simply the final grateful ruminations of
a man many see as a creative genius?
The Apple co-founder's philosophy and spirituality have intrigued his
devotees for years, and the greatest detail into his belief system to
date is found in Isaacson's recently published authorized biography of Jobs.
The book shows new parts of Jobs's spiritual side --a worldview that
Isaacson suggests affected everything from the design of his products to
his thoughts of the afterlife.
Among Isaacson's findings: Traces of the Eastern religions have made it
into the pockets of millions of Westerners thanks to the "deep
influence" of Zen Buddhism in the life of the late Steve Jobs.
"Steve is very much Zen . . .You see it in his whole approach of stark,
minimalist aesthetics, intense focus," said Jobs's longtime friend
Daniel Kottke in the biography.
Among the Zen influences may have been the theme of "focus and
simplicity" that contributed to the CEO's success.
Jobs became interested in Eastern religions at Reed College among a
post-sixties milieu of freedom and creativity. "I came of age at a
magical time," said Jobs in the biography. Shortly after dropping out of
college, he followed the footsteps of some friends -- and the Beatles,
of whom he was a fan -- and took a trip to India to find enlightenment.
He returned from the trip a Buddhist with an appreciation for intuition
and simplicity, both of which would influence his decisions at Apple.
"The most Zen of all simplicities was Jobs's decree, which astonished
his colleagues, that the iPod would not have an on-off switch," wrote
Isaacson in the biography.
A Zen view of focus informed Jobs's strategy of saying "no" to many
things so that he could lavish attention on a few. It echoes the
Buddhist idea of emptiness, or the idea "that a thing is defined not
just by what it is, but what it is not," suggests Jeff Yang, columnist
on Asian culture. "In order to make the iPod really easy to use"
Isaacson records Jobs saying, "we needed to limit what the device itself
"I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I
have done. Innovation is saying 'no' to 1,000 things," Jobs told
Businessweek in 2004.
The mantra of "simplify," Isaacson wrote, was about getting to the
essence of a product. "Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made
creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of
the product or service," Jobs told Fortune Magazine in 2000.
After he was diagnosed with cancer, it was Jobs's views on the afterlife
that he said served as a major motivator. In his oft-quoted speech to
Stanford University students in 2005 he said, "Remembering that you are
going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you
have something to lose."
While he rejected his Christian upbringing at age 13, according to
Isaacson's biography, he later professed uncertainty as to whether or
not God exists. "He admitted that, as he faced death, he might be
overestimating the odds out of a desire to believe in an afterlife,"
"I'm about fifty-fifty on believing in God," Isaacson records Jobs
saying. "I really want to believe that something survives, that maybe
your consciousness endures."
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.Wikipedia on Steve Jobs <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs>
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