Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Steve Jobs and the Larger Sutra - synopsis of Oct. 30 Dharma talk

1. Steve Jobs and Zen

Married in ceremony conducted by a Japanese Soto Zen priest named Kobun Otogawa.

In PBS News Hour interview, surprised to hear biographer Walter Isaacson say that Jobs was influenced by Zen Buddhism “to break the rules.” Zen emphasizes the precepts, formality, very structured activities – but there are many anecdotes of “iconoclastic” behavior in Zen literature (mostly in Rinzai, not Soto). Founder of Japanese Soto Zen sect, Dogen, taught ka-hitsu (“not necessarily so”) to encourage thinking outside conventional expectations, so that might’ve been some influence on Jobs.

2. Sanford Commencement Address in 2005

Recently ordained West Covina temple member, Peter Hata, wrote that all of the innovative Apple products will be overshadowed by the gadgets of the future, but Steve Jobs might be continued to be remembered for his 2005 speech at Sanford. Rev. Peter says the talk illustrates the Buddhist principles of interconnectedness and impermanence. Read the article at:  livingdharma.org

3. Embracing the Bozos

Steve Jobs felt for his company to be successful, only the top talent should be hired. To keep on anyone with mediocre job performance would bring on “the Bozo explosion” – that the mediocre people would bring in more mediocre people. My thought on hearing this was – then where are all us bozos supposed to go to earn a living?

It’s a sad fact that successful ventures in any field entail the exclusion of other people. Even in the sphere of religion there was the notion that you had to keep the bozos out – that only the select few who proved their worthiness were allowed to access the world of transcendence. The historical Buddha had to keep reminding people that isn’t the case, and in the Larger Sutra he tells us the story of Dharmakara who vowed to overcome his judgmental thinking and embrace all beings in his awakening. From Dharmakara’s fulfillment of his vows, we have the Name, Namu Amida Butsu, to remind and call to us, to hear the innermost aspiration for Oneness. In Namu Amida Butsu all beings are included, even a Steve Jobs at his worst, warts and all.

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