There is something about Steve Jobs that not too many people may know. It has to do with the gift he gave to those who attended his memorial service.
When I first discovered what was inside the small, brown box, I was speechless. Perhaps you might be surprised too.
Take a guess what was in the box? An iPhone? Nope. The latest iPad? Not even close. Something more, let's say traditional.
It was a book. Not about technology or how to start a company, but a book by an Indian guru, Paramahansa Yogananda.
The title of the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, was first published in 1946. It details Yogananda's lessons on spirituality, meditation, and self-realization.
Wow. One of the most successful visionaries of our time who created a billion-dollar company left us with a book written by a great spiritual teacher.
With a powerful, final message to encourage us to use this life to wake up, turn inward, and find out who we are.
"You should transfer your attention from failure to success, from worry to calmness, from mental wanderings to concentration, from restlessness to peace, and from peace to divine bliss within. When you attain this state of self-realization, the purpose of your life will have been gloriously fulfilled." Paramahansa Yogananda
A Significant Book for Steve
In his book, Yogananda wrote about the science of yoga and how meditation leads to something called self-realization. Many stories take you to the Himalayas to meet with yogis who tapped into something, an energy, some force.
Reading the book opens up a new way to see the world, all of its possibilities, and how there is much more to life than what our five senses can perceive.
I believe this is the secret that Steve discovered. In this world, there exists another level of consciousness where intuition comes to life.
This beautiful orange book meant a lot to Steve. As indicated in his biography by Walter Isaacson, he first read it as a teenager, a few years later while in India, and then again once a year.
More profound is Autobiography of a Yogi was the only book Steve downloaded to his iPad before he left for his final Hawaiian vacation.
What was it about the book with Yogananda's striking eyes staring at you that captivated Steve?
I feel it was a tool that reminded him about the possibility to connect to the universal consciousness, the enormous playing field of the source of intuition.
In this space is where endless ideas exist. This encouraged Steve to continue to strive, to create new ideas, and to bring them to life.
Reading the book also comforted him and reconnected him to his life-changing time in India. He went there in 1974, and I am certain he came back a different person. Profound spiritual experiences will do that to you.
I know first hand. No one comes back from India, the same person who left.
The Book with a 'Mind of Its Own'
The same curiosity that Steve may have had – there must be more to this life – brought me to the East.
After leaving a 20-year career in management consulting, I left NYC and headed to India for a Yoga Teacher Training program.
This experience scratched the surface of my life that was about to be completely transformed.
I returned home and received a random Facebook message from an Acharya/teacher in the Himalayas. I never met him and have no idea how this happened since he was not even a 'friend.'
In addition to introducing himself, he wrote two things that I will never forget. He told me to start a meditation practice and to read the Autobiography of a Yogi.
I did, but it took me a few years to finally do it. Then reread it after I learned about Steve's gift at his memorial service.
During the second reading, an opportunity came to me to return to corporate consulting. This experience resulted in two important realizations.
First, I confirmed this work experience would be my last in a corporate consulting position. Second, I realized the best part of the job was coaching and mentoring a wonderful group of people.
During a time of major corporate restructuring, there was a lot of stress and anxiety. My prior yoga and meditation experiences helped me remain calm and focused while I offered support to others.
I left the company feeling closure with that strong attachment of 'needing' a corporate job to feel secure and valued. Plus, the calling to return to India was so strong that I would daydream too much at my desk. I ran out of vacation days and had no other option.
Within three weeks, I was meditating in the cave that Yogananda wrote about in his book. The same cave where Mahavatar Babaji transmitted Kriya Yoga to Yogananda's teachers.
Then I found myself in the same village, Nainital/Kainchi, where Steve stayed in 1974. It was here that he reread the book.
As indicated in Steve's biography, he discovered an English copy in the room where he stayed. Since he was recovering from dysentery, he was stuck in the room and read it several times. His time with the book must have been intensely profound.
He came to India searching for the great guru, Neem Karoli Baba, but did not meet him since he had left his body in 1973. I am sure Steve met him on another plane of existence. I did.
As I walked down the street to enter Neem Karoli Baba's Kainchi Dham, the sweet smell of incense engulfed me. As if someone covered me with flowers. But there was no incense anywhere to be found. The smell continued and carried me into the ashram.
What happened is nothing I can fully explain in words; one can only feel it. I felt consumed with so much love that it brought me to my knees, and all I could do was cry.
Something magical, ethereal happens within your being when you enter into a sacred space such as the Babaji Cave or Kainchi Dham. It is so far from logic that people who only believe in science may say you are crazy.
Truth is truth, and the heart knows. What you experience is now within, and whatever you do in the world, you carry it with you. Everyone and everything you come into contact with know that something about you is different. They want to be around you.
You believe in yourself, you trust there is another force carrying you, and you act; with courage, a lot of courage.
Spiritual experiences change the world within yourself and, by default, the world in which you live. For the better, as Steve did.
He knew what people wanted before they knew. This knowing is nothing short of a miracle, and how to do this can never be learned in a textbook.
“The deeper the Self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.” Paramahansa Yogananda
The Power of Intuition
In his biography, Steve said, "I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual, logical analysis."
It was his intuition that he valued and saw as his greatest gift. He discovered the key that unlocked the door to another way to be in the world—tapping into intuition at a very deep level, trusting it, and acting on it.
The good news, this source of inspiration is available to all of us. We need to slow down, spend time in silence, and become more aware of our ideas and feelings.
Eventually, we learn to trust our intuition and act. This takes practice and a lot of lessons learned the hard way.
One way to experience silence is to have a regular yoga and meditation practice. Or any technique that helps the body and mind slow down. Then we start to notice we are more aware and connected to ourselves and all around us.
When we make an effort to do the work, we start to understand ourselves better. We pay attention and know why we do what we do, say what we say, and think what we think.
Eventually, we show up each day a little bit of a better person than the day before.
We can learn from Steve, the teachings from Yogananda's book, and start now to live a more consciously connected life. Here are three things you can do today.
How you start and end your day matters. Develop a gratitude practice and write down three things you are thankful for.
Develop a conscious breathing practice. Three times a day, take two minutes to sit and notice your breath. Inhale and exhale using the nose with long, slow deep breaths.
Spend more time in silence. Nature is a great way to enjoy silence. Or when you are in your car, turn off the music or anything that makes noise.
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes it 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.” Steve Jobs
What Are You Committed to Do Each Day?
If you feel moved by this story and wonder about the book, I suggest reading it. Slowly and with an open mind. Messages will appear as they need to be. They may inspire you to take action to do whatever it is your spirit longs for at the time.
Some advice. You have to believe in a little bit of magic, for beyond the rational mind, there is a place where connection happens. It is in this place where ideas come to life. This book has legs, and it magically walks into people's lives. See for yourself.
I have to be honest about something. I first wrote the draft of this story last year. In addition, there are hundreds of pages of written notes from travels sitting on my laptop, yet to be shared.
Two weeks ago, a wonderful teacher asked me how I spend my day. Like a deer in headlights, I said, "Ugh. Great question. Well, I know what I want to do, but I waste too much time on unnecessary things." So he asked, "What are you committed to?"
Intuitively, I felt I wanted to finish the story about Steve Jobs. It was a message I wanted to share with as many people as possible. I started to work on it a few days ago and wanted to know when he passed away.
So I searched and discovered the day was October 5, 2011. Wow. Now I had a deadline and a real motivation. I wanted to post this story to honor the 10th anniversary of Steve's departure from this world. And I did.
This process has rejuvenated something within myself and a new sacred commitment to my writing practice. Thank you, Yogananda and Steve Jobs, once again.
Create. Love. Do. These are the words I heard as I walked out of Kainchi Dham. I think I can guess who said them. This will be my mantra moving forward.
Is there something you want to do that you have been putting off? If so, it is time to make a sacred commitment and start now. Let's do this together.