Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Remembering That I'll Be Dead Soon

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

~ Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 - October 5, 2011)

CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios

Quote taken from a Commencement Address
delivered at Stanford University on June 12, 2005


Matt Gunter said...

Thanks for this Bryan.

It is a good contemporary expression of the ancient spiritual practice of recollecting one's mortality.

Of course, part of what made that recollection even more bracing for our forebearers in the faith was the prospect of coming face to face with the Judge.

Matt Kennedy said...

What a mostly impressive statement...the only flaw being the last sentence.

There is every reason in the world NOT to follow our hearts because the human heart "is deceitful above all things"

Bryan Owen said...

Thanks for the comments, Matt and Matt! I appreciate the ways in which each of you point out that Steve Jobs' statement has, from a Christian perspective, both strengths and real weaknesses. And I agree that it's important to counterbalance the last sentence of this quote. Much evil has been done by persons who were "following their heart."

Speaking of the heart, I'm reminded of something St. Macarius once said:

"The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace — all things are there."

Is it possible, in ways that are surely fallible and imperfect, that in pursuing his dreams - following his heart - Steve Jobs tapped more into the treasuries of grace than the treasures of evil?

rsctt said...

Sort of sounds like St. Paul!

Robert F said...

The Jobs quote stems from a Buddhist perspective in which nothing, not even the self, is separate or self-existent. In this framework, not even God, if such a being existed, would be self-existent and permanent. This is not Christian in the least.

Bryan Owen said...

It's true that Jobs was not a Christian. Are you saying, Robert F, that there's nothing in this quote that is compatible with the Christian faith, and thus something that Christians should reject as false?

Rober F said...

What I'm saying is that the quote uses some of the same words that a Christian might use, but they point to an entirely different interpretation of reality. The essential philosophy is expressed in the Bhagavad Gita as follow your duty, which really means your true nature, with the assumption that your true nature is pure and undefiled and perfect. Words may be the same but occupy very different world views and indicate different objectives.

Bryan Owen said...

Yes, I see your point, Robert. Nevertheless, recollecting one's mortality is (as Matt Gunter pointed out in the first comment) an important and ancient spiritual practice. Of course, we Christians do that every Ash Wednesday. Perhaps we do well to recollect our mortality more often than once a year.

Robert F said...

Yes, but when we recollect our mortality, we do it by remembering God's immortality. I think the difference is hugely significant.

Bryan Owen said...

Recollecting our mortality in the light of our baptism into the resurrection of Jesus Christ does, indeed, make a hugely significant difference!