Some Reflections on Steve Jobs

I just finished Walter Isaacson’s compelling biography of Steve Jobs. Undoubtedly a visionary genius yet he seemed a very unresolved human being. From my perspective as a Spiritual Coach he appeared a classic example of someone who explored their spiritual nature but not the psychological dimension. The result is that his spiritual aspirations towards Zen Buddhism do not be appear to be reflected in his day to day life and I can only surmise the dissonance that this must have created at some level of his being. Jung suggests, “When the inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate.” I have long believed that one of the pitfalls of our age is when people evolve spiritually but don’t explore their psychology or the meaning of their lives.

My work with Inspire Health gave me a lens to consider Jobs’ response to his cancer. It focuses on the patients’ health using an integrated approach that combines nutrition, exercise, emotional and spiritual support with standard cancer treatments. I facilitate a men’s’ support group and my observation has been that two of the fundamental responses that help people through cancer are life change and stress reduction. Every single person in my group has at some time expressed the belief that his cancer was a gift. In fact Isaacson does not mention whether Jobs ever sought meaning in his disease but the suggestion is that he did not.

Although I do not necessarily hold with the concept that all disease represents an underlying metaphysical context or meaning, I am always curious when I get sick to peek into Louise Hays fascinating little book Heal Your Life so I could not resist looking up pancreas and cancer. The pancreas represents the sweetness of life; cancer can be deep hurt, longstanding resentment, secret grief and carrying hatreds; I cannot not help but wonder whether Jobs’ unresolved issues got in the way of the sweetness of his life.

Steve Jobs appears an enigma in so many ways. His profession of Zen Buddhism was all about non- attachment yet his creative and inspirational genius likely created more attachment to “things” than any other person of his time. As I complete these thoughts I find the elegant refrain from Mark 8:36 haunting me, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

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