On the subject of Steve Jobs and “WOW”

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By Nrsimhananda dasa

I’ve noticed some articles about Steve Jobs on the Vaisnava websites during the past year. There seems to be a lot of devotee interest in him. Perhaps because he honored a lot of prasadam in his hungry days as a college student/dropout/entrepreneur? He definitely gets a human birth in his next life. Maybe because his life’s work has impacted nearly all of us in some way. But what he saw at the time of his death was certainly spectacular. Steve was not “wow’ed” by anything less than the highest standard of excellence; that we know about him. He was a consummate perfectionist. We’ve heard from his co-workers, fans, and detractors that he was not easily impressed. Yet, something he saw in the last moments of his life elicited not only one “wow,” but three in rapid succession:

In a touching eulogy about her late brother at his memorial service on October 16, Mona Simpson described the Apple founder’s last hours and the enigmatic words he uttered before he died.

She told the group of mourners at the Memorial Church of Stanford University that Steve Jobs looked at his wife and children, then beyond them, before uttering: ‘OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.’

Describing his death in the eulogy reprinted in the New York Times, she said: ‘Steve’s final words were monosyllables, repeated three times.

‘Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them, before saying his final words.’


I wonder what he saw. Was it the Visnhuduttas? Could have been the “white light” (effulgence of the Supersoul) at the end of the naga? Doesn’t appear to be the Yamadhuttas or he would be deathly afraid. We’ll never know for sure, but one thing we do know, “Oh, wow” is not the recommended mantra for deliverance from this material world. I don’t think anyone can be sure what the sound vibrations of “Oh, wow” transliterated into some sanskrit syllables may evoke at the time of death. Some joke that he was seeing the next generation of the ipad or iphone. Whatever, let us hope and pray that our last words will be “Hare Krishna” and “Hare Rama” a few times before we make our final flight from the present body. As for Steve, may Srila Prabhupada include you in his pastimes somewhere in your next life. You certainly exemplified through innovation that Krishna’s material energy is “endlessly mutable” (BG 8.4 1972 ed.) For us, in this material atmosphere, your products, were, well, “wow,” but compared to the mercy of the pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada, and the gorgeously dressed deities in temples around the world, it’s a wimper of a “wow”. They are ” OH WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW….” ad infinitum.

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1 pustakrishna

As a physician and a son, I have observed the dying process of a number of souls. Krishna’s creation, in my understanding, is not created for our enjoyment, but rather for our reform. When Arjuna witnesses the Virata-rupa, Universal Form, he questions Him, “Who are You, and what is Your mission?” Reply, “kalosmi lokashaya krit”…Time I am, destroyer of the worlds.” Krishna has not, therefore, designed things for us to receive material items, but rather to take them away. This obviously is an ingenious way to break the attachments of conditioned souls.
Some people have had the sense of this earlier in their life. Steve Jobs expressed that in his speech at the Stanford University some years ago, after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. And, despite his wealth, he lived a relatively simple life. We know that he appreciated the prasadam at the Portland, Oregon ISKCON temple, but he gravitated toward Buddhism. Despite the inherent voidism or impersonalism in Buddhism, we still remain individual jiva souls. That is the existential fact.
When we consider that Narada Muni, in his prior life, as a child servant of some sages, received the remnants of food from the sages, and blessed as he was, received the darshan of the Supreme Personality of Godhead…once. It created hankering in him, leading to his future life as the transcendental sage Narada Muni. Therefore, it is pleasing to hear of the excitement that Jobs experienced in the transition from the soul in his diseased dying body, and his next location. It is clear that “O wow” means he did not desire to merge into the brahma-jyoti, a sense-less position (a position of atma-hana, or killer of the soul itself). Therefore, we can be assured that he either was destined for the heavenly planets of this world, or he was being blessed by Lord Vishnu Himself. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says…”some look upon the soul as amazing”. This is my analysis of the obvious excitement that the soul of Jobs was exposed to as he transmigrated out of the diseased body. We all wish him well, in the true sense of spiritual wellness. And, naturally, we wish the very best for the family which he loved and left behind. Pusta Krishna das

Comment posted by pustakrishna on November 13th, 2011
2 Unregistered

Far more important than what is written in some books of the past is what the sister of Steve Jobs writes about the caharacter of her brother in the article on the daily Nwil website: There she writes: : The father-of-four was a man who lived for his family and lived for love, she said. ‘Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. … describing him as ‘girl-like’ when it came to matters of the heart.”

Do we not all like to be in the presence of such loving and caring people?!

Comment posted by harsi.hm on November 14th, 2011
3 Puskaraksa das

Great comment Pusta Krishna Ji !

I personally was graced to walk my first wife, Yamuna devi dasi, up to the gate of the spiritual world, which she entered upon her passing…

So, I am familiar with the intensity of these moments, as well as with the trial period represented by disease…

In the case of Steve Jobs, he certainly had a perception of a superior reality and he left a window open for people to wonder what prompted his marvelling in such a way, at the time of death… His last testimony to the Gigs community, is actually great preaching!

Interestingly enough, this design freak who always placed aesthetism on a pedestal, always strived for his products to prompt a “wow” of admiration amongst potential buyers…

Suggesting in this way, at the time of death, the existence of such a mind-blowing higher reality, beyond this material world made of matter, definitely brings the “wow” syndrom to another level…

Hopefully, the one of realizing athato brahma jijnasa: “now is the time to inquire about the absolute truth”

The Vedanta-sutra (1.1.1) states, athato brahma jijnasa: “Now one should inquire about Brahman - The absolute truth, the transcendental, spiritual nature”.

So, let’s hope that amongst the four pious class of men, those who are curious, will be puzzled to find out more about what prompted such “OH WOW”, three times.

Thank you Steve for this last great wonder !

“The first aphorism in the Vedanta-sutra is athato brahma jijnasa. In the human form of life one should put many questions to himself and to his intelligence. In the various forms of life lower than human life the intelligence does not go beyond the range of life’s primary necessities–namely eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Dogs, cats and tigers are always busy trying to find something to eat or a place to sleep, trying to defend and have sexual intercourse successfully. In the human form of life, however, one should be intelligent enough to ask what he is, why he has come into the world, what his duty is, who is the supreme controller, what is the difference between dull matter and the living entity, etc. There are so many questions, and the person who is actually intelligent should simply inquire about the supreme source of everything: athato brahma jijnasa.

A living entity is always connected with a certain amount of intelligence, but in the human form of life the living entity must inquire about his spiritual identity. This is real human intelligence.”

Comment posted by Puskaraksa das on November 19th, 2011

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