Steve Jobs and I had the same Buddhist teacher, Kobun Chino Otogawa. Kobun was my first Buddhist teacher. I have come to increasingly appreciate Kobun. Kobun was my teacher in the mid-1970’s. In about that same time period, Steve studied with Kobun too. Kobun.
Steve gave the commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. This excerpt from Steve’s remarks reveals Kobun's teachings. Kobun taught me a similar thing:
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart…
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
If you wish to read more about Steve Jobs and his connections to Buddhist teachings, visit NeuroTribes where this excerpt appears in a post by Steve Silberman.