Here’s how Zen meditation changed Steve Jobs’ life and sparked a design revolution


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When Steve Jobs showed up at the San Francisco airport at the age of 19, his parents didn’t recognize him.

Jobs, a Reed College dropout, had just spent a few months in India.

He had gone to meet the region’s contemplative traditions — Hinduism, Buddhism — and the Indian sun had darkened his skin a few shades.

The trip changed him in less obvious ways, too.

Although you couldn’t predict it then, his travels would end up changing the business world.

Back in the Bay Area, Jobs continued to cultivate his meditation practice. He was in the right place at the right time; 1970s San Francisco was where Zen Buddhism first began to flourish on American soil. He met Shunryu Suzuki, author of the groundbreaking “Zen Mind, Beginners Mind,” and sought the teaching of one of Suzuki’s students, Kobun Otogawa.

Jobs met with Otogawa almost every day, Walter Isaacson reported in his biography of Jobs. Every few months, they’d go on a meditation retreat together.

Zen Buddhism, and the practice of meditation it encouraged, were shaping Jobs’ understanding of his own mental processes.

If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is,” Jobs told Isaacson. “If you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”

Jobs felt such resonance with Zen that he considered moving to Japan to deepen his practice. But Otogawa told him he had work to do in California.

Evidently, Otogawa was a pretty insightful guy.

When you look back at Jobs’ career, it’s easy to spot the influence of Zen. For 1300 years, Zen has instilled in its practitioners a commitment to courage, resoluteness, and austerity — as well as rigorous simplicity.

Or, to put it into Apple argot, insane simplicity.

Zen is everywhere in the company’s design.

Take, for instance, the evolution of the signature mouse:


It’s the industrial design equivalent of the ensoor hand-drawn circle, the most fundamental form of Zen visual art.


But Zen didn’t just inform the aesthetic that Jobs had an intense commitment to, it shaped the way he understood his customers. He famously said that his task wasn’t to give people what they said they wanted; it was to give them what they didn’t know they needed.

Instead of relying on market research, [Jobs] honed his version of empathy — an intimate intuition about the desires of his customers,” Isaacson said.

What’s the quickest way to train your empathy muscles? As centuries of practitioners and an increasingly tall stack of studies suggest, it’s meditation.

When you take that into account, it’s easy to see that for Jobs, growing his business and cultivating his awareness weren’t opposing endeavors.

When he died, the New York Times ran a stirring quote about what he did for society: “You touched an ugly world of technology and made it beautiful.”

We can thank that time in India and on the meditation cushion for that beautiful, rigorous simplicity — one that sparked a design revolution.



Artist and Pigalle family member GÔÔDMAN has just launched a new brand called FüRTHER and to highlight the label’s upcoming first collection, it has released this teaser video titled “BOLLYHOOD.”

The unique video previews some upcoming pieces from the label and showcases the Hinduism-meets-streetwear aesthetic of the first collection. As GÔÔDMAN put it, “I found inspiration by thinking (to) myself, how Master P would dress if he would fall in love with a Bollywood actress?”

The collection will be available exclusively at the Pigalle store in Paris from February 18.


Hindu group proposes building ‘monkey god’ statue on grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol


Lord Hanuman is a popular deity in India. He is revered for his devotion to Lord Rama.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, announced plans to erect a statue of the revered Hindu god Hanuman, the monkey king, outside the capitol.

Hanuman is an important deity in the Hindu pantheon. He is revered for his life of service and his devotion to the powerful god Rama.

A Republican-held legislature might have unintentionally opened the door to such displays of religious devotion when it approved a bill in 2009 that placed a Ten Commandments monument at the state’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.

If the Oklahoma state capitol was open to different monuments, we would love to have a statue of Lord Hanuman,” Zed said in a press release.

The request would have to be approved by the Capitol Preservation Commission. Trait Thompson, the commission chairman, said that he had received an email request from Zed, who will now have to fill out application forms.

I suppose when one group gets some publicity, everyone else wants to make their point,” he told Tulsa World. “If they follow through and put forth a good application, it will be voted on. It’s hard to say. There are a lot of factors.”

A group of Satanists also wants to erect a monument right next to this 6-foot-tall Ten Commandments statue at the Oklahoma Capitol.

The privately-funded Ten Commandments monument cost $10,000 to construct. It has sparked controversy ever since it appeared at the capitol in 2012. The American Civil Liberties Union and Baptist Minister Bruce Prescott have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the monument.

We must ensure that Oklahoma welcomes people of all faiths and those of no faith at all,” said Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma legal director, in a press release.

The Hindu request has come from outside Oklahoma. Zed’s group is based in Reno, Nev.

Hari Musapeta, a spokesman for the Hindu Temple of Greater Tulsa, told the World that there were about 5,000 to 8,000 Hindu families in Tulsa. He had never heard about the Universal Society of Hinduism.

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Hindu group proposes building ‘monkey god’ statue on grounds of Oklahoma’s state capitol