Steve Jobs’ biographer was with Jobs near the final weeks of his cancer battle and reveals an enlightened and complicated view that Jobs had of God and the afterlife. Steve Jobs may have begun life as a Bhuddist (he was married by a Buddhist monk Kobun Chino & Forbes magazine is publishing a graphic novel on the Tao of Steve Jobs), but his end of life cancer crisis challenged his thinking about everything from God to the afterlife.
The internal debate over God and life after death is captured by 60 Minutes which interviewed the biographer Walter Issacson. The author was granted rare access into Steve’s life and interviewed Steve Jobs 40 times before his death. Below is a transcript excerpt where the questions on God and death are addressed (video at bottom).
Narrator: In their final meetings, Jobs would occasionally bring up the subject of death.
Steve Jobs: I saw my life as an arc. And that it would end and compared to that nothing mattered. You’re born alone, you’re gonna die alone. And does anything else really matter? I mean what is it exactly is it that you have to lose Steve? You know? There’s nothing.
Narrator: He survived nearly eight years with his cancer. And in the final meeting with Isaacson in mid-August, still held out hope that there might be one new drug that could save him.
Walter Isaacson: He asked me at one point, he said, “There are going to be things in this book I don’t like, right?” And I kind of smiled and said, “Yep. You know, there’ll be probably things you don’t like.” He said, “That’s fine, that’s fine. I won’t read it when it comes out. I’ll read it six months or a year from now.”
Steve Kroft: Did you have any discussions within that day or at any other time about an afterlife?
Walter Isaacson: I remember sitting in his backyard in his garden one day and he started talking about God. He said, “Sometimes I believe in God, sometimes I don’t. I think it’s 50-50 maybe. But ever since I’ve had cancer, I’ve been thinking about it more. And I find myself believing a bit more. I kind of– maybe it’s ’cause I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn’t just all disappear. The wisdom you’ve accumulated. Somehow it lives on.” Then he paused for a second and he said, “Yeah, but sometimes I think it’s just like an on-off switch. Click and you’re gone.” He said and paused again, and he said, “And that’s why I don’t like putting on-off switches on Apple devices.”
Those words by Steve Jobs on God and the afterlife represent best a history of how great minds collide with great questions of eternal destiny. Steve Jobs was challenged by this momentous struggle. Many people can relate to Stev Jobs’ afterlife question.
One hidden blessing from this 60 Minutes segment is how Steve Jobs overcame a difficult adoption journey including reuniting with his lost sister. I firmly believe that one of the great unrecognized benefits of Steve Jobs will be his compelling life story on being adopted. I predict the adoption movement will find its greatest life-example in Steve Jobs and it will produce rewards continually.
Note: The view of Steve Jobs and his thoughts of religion can be seen at the very end of the second video.
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