Steve Jobs gave people everywhere a final, impactful message through his self-planned Stanford memorial service. His message was, “Actualize yourself,” and he delivered it through a small brown box handed to everyone as they left the service. The box contained a copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi.”
This book was the only one Jobs had on his iPad.
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com was a close friend of Jobs. He had always consulted with Jobs, as did many others, whenever he had a difficult problem with his own business. He viewed Jobs as a guru of the business and technology world.
Benioff explained his thoughts after receiving Jobs’ gift: “I said, ‘This is gonna be good,’ because I knew it was the last thing Jobs wanted us to all think about. I waited until I got to my car and I opened the box and…it was a copy of Yoganda’s book. …Yogananda was a Hindu guru who had this…book on self-realization. And that was the message—‘Actualize yourself.’ That was Yogananda’s message.”
Benioff explained that the secret to Jobs’ success was the way he functioned every day. He practiced a key principle he learned from yoga. “If you look back at the history of Steve—he went to India to…the ashram of his maharishi and he had this incredible realization—that…his intuition was his greatest gift and…he needed to look at the world from the inside out.”
Jobs’ message, learned through his practice of spiritual yoga, was that in order to achieve success we need to introspect—we need to learn to go within to tap into our inner soul. This is the place where we can connect with all knowledge and truth. Once we’ve achieved that union of soul, we have access to intuition—the intuition that arises from universal knowledge.
If you study the lives of the great masters like Einstein, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, and many others, you will find they recognized this inner connection to the source of all knowledge. Concepts and answers often came to them in flashes of insight followed by systematic work to construct their products and theories based on the insight. They had to find the words to describe their intuitions.
Einstein wrote, in answer to questions from Jacques Hadamard, a French mathematician who was attempting to understand the mental processes used by mathematicians:
“The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined. There is, of course, a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts. It is also clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague play with the above-mentioned elements. But taken from a psychological viewpoint, this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought—before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others.
The…elements are, in my case, of visual and some of muscular type. Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will.” (from “A Mathematician’s Mind, Testimonial for ‘An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field’ by Jacques S. Hadamard, Princeton University Press, 1945.” in Ideas and Opinions.)
Benioff’s final message in the video is, “I look at Steve as a very spiritual person… . I remember his thought that we need to all be working on actualizing [ourselves]. …If you want to understand Steve Jobs, it’s a good idea to [read “Autobiography of a Yogi”] because…it gives a tremendous insight into who he was, but also why he was successful. He was not afraid to take that key journey. And that is for entrepreneurs and for people who want to be successful in our industry, a message that we need to embrace and to vest ourselves in.”
In other words, the key journey is to go within.
By Jan Tucker, publisher