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Steve Jobs read Chögyam Trungpa

October 25, 2011

Steve Jobs read Chögyam Trungpa, according to Bianca Bosker in the Huffington Post article “The Steve Jobs Reading List: The Books and Artists That Made the Man.”

Bosker reports that, “during his freshman year at Reed College, Jobs befriended Daniel Kottke, who went on to work at Apple, and together they devoured books such as Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind  [and] Chögyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism…”

What might have been the ideas in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism that influenced this great technological genius of our era?

This week Ocean of Dharma suggests several quotes that might have affected Jobs’ view of creativity and intelligence. We’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment with your thoughts on the connection between Buddhism and creative innovation. Or feel free to offer your favorite or most influential quotes from Cutting Through. In early November, we’ll pick five people to receive the Shambhala Library edition of the book.

Congrats to Angela Borges, Valerie Holmes, Jean Westby, Roland Cohen and Karolyn Hoover who have each won copy of the Shambhala Library edition of Cutting Through! Please come back soon for more giveaways and updates!


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35 Responses to Steve Jobs read Chögyam Trungpa

  • Valerie Holmes says:

    "Love is associated with ugliness and pain and aggression, as well as with the beauty of the world; it is not the recreation of heaven. Love or compassion, the open path, is associated with 'what is.' In order to develop love- universal love, cosmic love, whatever you would like to call it- one must accept the whole situation of life as it is, both the light and the dark, the good and the bad."

    Posted on October 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm

  • Joan Willoe says:

    Quote from CUTTING THROUGH SPIRITUAL MATERIALISM: "Meditation involves seeing the transparency of concepts, so that labeling no longer serves as a way of solidifying our world and our image of self. Labeling becomes simply the act of discrimination."

    Posted on October 26, 2011 at 6:50 am

  • Ray Roewewrt says:

    "When there is no desire to satisfy yourself, there is no aggression or speed... Because there is no rush to achieve, you can afford to relax. Because you can afford to relax, you can afford to keep company with yourself, you can afford to make love with yourself, to be friends with yourself."

    Posted on October 27, 2011 at 4:43 am

  • Janus Bæksted Jensen says:

    @ Joan Willoe: ... which is why the products were merely name "i"-tagged-onto-the-generic-item-name, ie. iPad, iPhone, etc, in order to perform the minimal amount of labeling, while letting of discriminate is from the Wphones and other stuff :) Brilliant!

    Posted on October 27, 2011 at 5:29 am

  • Janus Bæksted Jensen says:

    @ Joan Willoe: … which is why the products were merely named “i”-tagged-onto-the-generic-item-name, ie. iPad, iPhone, etc., in order to perform the minimal amount of labeling, while letting us discriminate it from the Wphones and other stuff out there :) Brilliant!

    Posted on October 27, 2011 at 5:31 am

  • Catherine says:

    We must examine our own experience. To do it, the method that the Buddha discovered is meditation. He discovered that struggling to find answers did not work. It was only when there were gaps in his struggle that insights came to him. He began to realize that there was a sane, awake quality within him which manifested itself only in the absence of struggle. So the practice of meditation involves “letting be.”

    page 9 of Cutting through spiritual materialism

    Posted on October 31, 2011 at 4:48 am

  • Jean Westby says:

    "Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere."
    His sister’s eulogy for Steve Jobs

    "Love or compassion, the open path, is associated with ‘what is."
    Chögyam Trungpa

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 6:08 am

  • Jessica says:

    Creative innovation in any field requires the willingness to let go of fixation, which allows natural clarity and playfulness to intermingle and give birth to something new. Only through learning to let go and relax can we connect with these energies.

    It is actually a rather impersonal process, antithetical to personality cults and hero-worshiping.

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 6:34 am

  • Brita says:

    Have not read this book but would love the chance to.
    THank you!

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 7:35 am

  • Raquel says:

    If I may, I'd like to add here the words of Sri Nisargadatta to reveal a pathway between Buddhism and creative innovation:

    In the words of Nisargadatta--

    1. Non-identification, when natural and spontaneous, is liberation.

    2. Having realized that I am with, and yet beyond the world, I became free from all desire and fear. I did not reason out that I should be free, I found myself free, unexpectedly, without the least effort. This freedom from desire and fear remained with me since then. Another thing I noticed was that I do not need to make an effort; the deed follows the thought, without delay and friction. I have also found that thoughts become self-fullfilling; things would fall in place smoothly and rightly. The main change was in the mind; it became motionless and silent, responding quickly, but not perpetuating the response. Spontaneity became a way of life, the real became natural and the natural became real. And above all, infinite affection, love, dark and quiet, radiating in all directions, embracing all, making all interesting and beautiful, significant and auspicious. -- http://www.mpeters.de/nisargadatta/

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 10:11 am

  • Holly A says:

    Steve lived by the motto I remember from my days spent white-knuckling my way through recovery in AA meetings--

    "Self pity is an alibi for inaction."

    Even with terminal cancer and health complications and pangs of regret regarding his child, Steve Jobs NEVER let sadness stop him from serving his Higher Self, and thus all of us.

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 10:19 am

  • Angela Borges says:

    "The action of a bodhisattva is like the moon shining on one hundred bowls of water, so that there are one hundred moons, one in each bowl. This is not the moon's design nor was it designed by anyone else. But for some strange reason there happen to be one hundred moons reflected in one hundred bowls of water. Openness means this kind of absolute trust or self-confidence." p. 102. CTSM

    Steve Jobs' work seems to be reflected everywhere I look, so this quote resonates here.

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm

  • John Miller says:

    Yes, big fan of Chogyam and Pema, would love this book, so I can learn more of this path which has helped me in my clarity. Clarity is necessary for the creative flow to occur, for all creativity comes from our authentic self. The clouds of attachments inhibit this natural state of creativity.

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 2:45 pm

  • Karolyn Hoover says:

    I'm not surprised that Steve Jobs read Chögyam Trungpa at Reed college; That's just the sort of influence one expects there. I've read some, but not as much as I'd like to, and would love to win the book to expand my possibilities.
    Thank you.

    Posted on November 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm

  • inneroutervisions says:

    I plan to read the book soon.

    Posted on November 3, 2011 at 9:55 am

  • Chet says:

    An open mind has no boundaries. This is the environment where creativity flourishes and compounds.

    Posted on November 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

  • chris says:

    I have not had the opportunity to read this book yet, but have been subscribing to "Ocean of Dharma" for quite awhile. May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

    Posted on November 3, 2011 at 12:14 pm

  • Sebastian Furdal says:

    If You realize how Your mind works, You never create things that You think are the best, You create things that are the best for everyone.

    Posted on November 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  • danasvati says:

    Steve surrendered to his own beautiful path, as we all eventually do. And by doing so, in his way, he brought us beauty, simplicity, intelligence, and yes, even love <3 Not something one usually thinks of in regard to consumer electronics, but there you go... Apple by way of Steve Jobs by way of the Way. Poetic justice :)

    Posted on November 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm

  • melanie says:

    Its so easy to recite beautiful words of encouragement, but its not until you have known the opposite of these beautiful statements where you can actually BELIEVE in them. imelanie

    Posted on November 4, 2011 at 2:24 am

  • Larry Coble says:

    "Walking the spiritual path is a very subtle process; it is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques."

    Posted on November 4, 2011 at 2:41 am

  • Nirmala says:

    On the connection between Buddhism and creative innovation:

    It is my understanding that the practice of Buddhism leads to what I've often heard say is
    "Emptiness; or an empty mind or no mind". What is meant by this phrase is that the energy that underlies the mind is pure and untainted reality. This is where true knowledge and inspiration arises. From this place, many of the greatest writers, artist, poets and innovators have formed the ideas or images that have changed the world. From this place, Vedic and spiritural texts (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit verses, etc) were also realized by the Sages.

    When one begins a focused practice that quiets the mind, the mind settles into a meditatitve state. This practice is called Dharana in Sanskrit. In this state, the mind is not afflicted by the influences of individuality and instead is energized on universality, where the greatest innovations are said to be realized.

    Posted on November 4, 2011 at 6:44 am

  • Denise Frye says:

    Trying to choose a quote and then guessing if was an influence seems presumptive. The essence of the teachings is emptiness, which leaves everything open for creativity to flow. I leave any guesses empty.

    Posted on November 4, 2011 at 6:51 am

  • Stephen CM says:

    The cult of personality around Steve Jobs is unsettling when most people in the world won't ever dream of owning an iPod, and many others live in constant suffering. May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

    Posted on November 4, 2011 at 8:16 am

  • Doug Axelrod says:

    Well, I'm halfway through the Jobs authorized biography, and it's clear that despite his authentic Buddhist connections and practice, his aggression and lack of empathy were simply stunning. Was he being spritually materialistic? Did his practice lack key bodhicitta elements? I don't know. But it is chastening to see how his behaviors (quite separate from his genius)were so opposed to dharmic teachings despite ongoing practice.

    Posted on November 8, 2011 at 11:56 am

  • Mike Williamson says:

    One of my favorite quotes from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is from page 152.
    "Thought processes continue on and on: thoughts of past, thoughts of the future, thoughts of the present moment. This creates irritation. Thoughts are prompted by and are also identical with dissatisfaction, duhkha, the constantly repeated feeling that something is lacking, incomplete in our lives."

    Posted on November 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

  • Natalia says:

    I have not read the book yet, so I do not know what ideas may have influenced him. I could not say whether Buddhist teachings influenced his creative output; I did not know the man. I personally am keen to learn about the ways in which Buddhist practice and creativity are related, since I do suffer from my own (perceived?) "creative mental blocks". And yet my priority is not Buddhism as a means to creative ends. I wish to overcome suffering first and foremost, and assist in helping others do the same. I do think creativity (the beneficial kind) will flow from that.

    Having read accounts on Apple products, their monopolising tendencies, and the terrible conditions to which Apple (and other tech companies') factory workers are subjected, I cringe at the excessive posthumous idolization of Jobs. I find his quotes on death to be extremely moving, and I have no doubt that he grappled with these issues in a very deep and meaningful way, but we should not blindly imagine a person to be some thing or another when we do not even know him/her, even after death.

    I cannot comment on his personal behavior because I do not know him. Additionally, I would never make judgments upon his spiritual character based on his behavior since each person's struggle is different, each person's hurdles are of a different magnitude, and furthermore, any 'judgment' of character seems (at least, to my uneducated self) a rather non-Buddhist gesture, since it describes something as substantial and permanent when it is not. Let us not idolize him. Let us not tear him down, either. There were (and still are) lived consequences to his actions; that we can critique. Let us remain critical so that we might be better equipped to reduce suffering, even that of those that don't have a voice to vent it.

    Posted on November 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm

  • Flavio Leal Siqueira says:

    From Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism:

    "Proper shopping does not entail collecting a lot of information or beauty, but it involves fully appreciating each individual object. This is very important. If you really appreciate an object of beauty, then you completely identify with it and forget yourself. It is like seeing a very interesting, fascinating movie and forgetting that you are the audience."

    Posted on November 9, 2011 at 1:30 am

  • John R says:

    When you cut through and start seeing and developing authentic connections, you start to realize just what kind of tools and ideas will help move people towards that.

    Posted on November 9, 2011 at 9:56 am

  • Roland Cohen says:

    Somewhere in Dharma Art there is a "quote" that occurs to me, I cannot remember where to find. But somewhere Chögyam Trungpa talks about how Mozart and other great artists must have practiced some form of sitting meditation, being completely still. Hence they were able to access from that unconditional space of mind, new perceptions that did not arise from their habitual thinking. They discovered a larger perspective which enables great creativity. They perceived a world free from klesha (passion,aggression, ignorance). Hence great Insight could then arise which Chogyam Trungpa coined "first thought best thought."

    Although Mr. Jobs supposedly manifested much aggression in his work life, there must have been moments where he could stop and see with great clarity of mind. Hence such great creativity could unfold.

    It seems we all have the challenge of applying the "view," that which we know to be true, in each moment of our lives; walking our talk.

    Posted on November 10, 2011 at 5:42 am

  • Nicole Diaz says:

    When I think of creation, I think of vulnerability and surrender.

    When you create something new, you bring part of yourself out into the world. To allow this process to unfold, you must let go of judgments and fear (What if what I have to offer is not enough?), and allow yourself to be seen. The beauty of this process is that it allows you to connect with your unique spirit. While it makes you feel vulnerable, that is actually what it feels like to be alive!

    Creation also asks you to surrender. Too often we try and control things with our minds. We try and envision the outcome, and then work to get there. In this limited process, we never escape from what our minds think is possible. The best creations come when we let go of the result, and allow a greater intelligence to unfold. The final product will likely be much more incredible than our minds could have imagined. Again, surrender may be scary, but it connects us with a deeper and wilder wisdom.

    Posted on November 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

  • Mooreads says:

    When cutting through spiritual materialism, you are not attached to a mental model, an idea, an outcome. You are "staying in the middle of the river" and that allows someone like Steve Jobs to let go, and take the next step into whatever is; to be creative without attaching oneself allows space to open up and ideas to flow.

    Posted on November 10, 2011 at 9:00 am

  • Pam says:

    "Very beautiful situations have developed using chaos as part of the enlightened approach. There is chaos of all kinds developing all the time: psychological dis-order, social dis-order, metaphysical dis-order, what have you, constantly happening. If you are trying to stop those situations, you are looking for external means of liberating yourself, another answer. But if we are able to look into the basic situation, then chaos is the inspiration, confusion is the inspiration."

    Posted on November 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

  • Scott Manelis says:

    Thank you Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Thank you.

    Posted on November 10, 2011 at 2:44 pm

  • Americ Azevedo says:
















     Steve Jobs' Last Words by americ

    Steve Jobs's last words are reported in the news. Well worth reading are Steve Jobs’s last words: ‘Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow’ (Washington Post) and A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs (New York Times). In the past, I asked students to read or listen to Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement address (2005) .

    Posted on November 30, 2011 at 6:12 am

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