Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jobs, Karma and Superman

"You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

When Steve Jobs spoke of these prophetic words at his Commencement Address at Stanford University in June 2005, what flummoxed me that a man of such stature, who had like made Apple rise like a phoenix in recent years was giving away pretty much all the credit of beautiful Typography and developing Macs to Destiny.

This was the time, when iPods, Macs & iTunes were already a sensation and though India which at times considered the "nerd country" (owing to the PhDs they have produced in United States), Macs & Ipods were still not a commonality as they have become now.

Among all this, I had just started working, was pretty much broke but was consumed by idealism of capitalistic nature which was sweeping away India (where I live).

And here was the poster boy of  all the "nerds" who was crediting Karma for his success. As much as it sounded ridiculous, it also confused the capitalist in me, wondering if Capitalism is indeed a solution.

Time passed by, I grew in maturity, but the question never went away. It stayed there at the back of my mind making me wonder, if actually in life, everything could "all work out OK", as Jobs had said.

It was only couple of days back, I got my answer - a sort of co-incidence that it overlapped with Jobs's retirement. Though I think for me it is kind of divine, since it sorted out the position of Fate in my life.

So what's the answer & where did I get it?

The story of that is as "connecting the dots backward" as it could be. I was on a vacation in Puducherry during July 2011 and had visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram there. The experience was divine, especially for an agnostic, like me. Over there I stumbled into a book called "Superman" and picked it up out of fetish for superheros. It didn't disappoint me. It was the compilation of three essays written by Sri Aurobindo in 1915, namely 'Superman', 'All-Will and Free-Will' & 'The Delight of Works'. 

The answer lied in "All-Will and Free-Will" and here what it says (excerpts):

"It is doubtful whether belief in Fate or free-will makes much difference to a man's action, but it certainly matters a great deal to his temperament and inner being; for it puts its stamp on the cast of his soul. The man who makes belief in Fate an excuse for quiescence, would find some other other pretext if this were lacking...... It is not our intellectual ideas but our nature and temperament, - not dhi*, but mati* or even manyu*,or,as the Greeks would have said, thumos and not nous.

On the other hand a great man of action will often seize on the idea of Fate to divinise to himself the mighty energy that he feels driving him on the path of world-altering deeds.......He expresses in the idea of Fate his living and constant sense of the energy which has cast him down here whether to break like some some Vedic Marut the world's firm and establish things or to cut through mountains a path down which new rivers of human rivers of human destiny can pour.....Therefore we find that the greatest men of action the world has has known were believers in Fate or in a divine Will......The Superman believes more readily in Destiny.......than the average human mind"

Needless to say Steve Jobs describes the latter paragraph, while my (conventional) thinking was stuck with former!

* These are terms of Vedic psychology. Dhi is the intellect; mati, the general mentality; manyu, the temperament and emotive mind

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