Steve Jobs' Mantra Rooted in Buddhism: Focus and Simplicity

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Jobs Gave People Computer Power

Thurman contends Jobs' greatest success was not necessarily financial.

"It was his initial role in making the PC available to individuals to give them computer power," said Thurman. "He was democratizing computer power. It was his own inspiration of things and not accepting the status quo and breaking through the power of the people."

Though Jobs may not have been a devout practitioner of Buddhism, his personal and corporate vision certainly struck the same tone -- "wisdom and compassion," he said.

"Zen vision is that human beings can understand reality if they focus their mind on it and develop wisdom," said Thurman. "When you do, you have the greater capacity to arrange the nature of things and to help people."

But the irony of Jobs' spirituality was that as much as it reflected the most beautiful aspects of the products he made, those very "machines" have in some ways enslaved a generation of users, according to John Lardas Modern, a professor of religious studies at Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania.

Jobs made computers and hand held devices that have allowed people to become "disembodied" on a certain level -- "to escape and transcend the mundane reality of bodily existence," according to Modern.

Such spirituality begs for freedom from the trappings of tradition, he said, but it has a down side.

"These machines are amazing," said Modern. "For the last 12 hours, I have been seeing people on Facebook and Twitter in praise of how the devices he made allow ease and convenience and empowerment."

"I love my iPad, precisely because it feels like an extension of my mind and I can't live without it," said Modern. "The irony is, these products ground us in a chair behind a desk, behind a computer and in a sense they have pushed us inward -- and you don't have physical connections with others."

"It cuts both ways," he said.

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