According to The Business Insider, Steve Jobs only downloaded one book, ever, to his iPad 2: Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. To those in the know, this should come as no surprise, as it was also his parting gift to all of the attendees at his funeral — the last gesture he made towards everyone closest to him on earth.
Jobs’ spirituality was not widely well-known during his life, and while many will contest that certain practices employed by apple were, and are, far from “enlightened business”, there is no denying the company’s massive success, due mainly to it’s innovative, progressive and quality products — products that came about, in large part, due to Jobs’ fierce devotion to his intuition; his ability to “follow his gut”. Indeed, many of you are most likely reading this on a device born of that very intuition.
For anyone who has read Autobiography of a Yogi, there is no missing the connection. A business man himself, Yogananda was one of the first Indian sages to bring Meditation and yoga to the western world, creating the non-profit Self-Realization Fellowship in California by the time he was 27, an organization that continues to this day, nearly a century later. No small feat for a child born to a humble family in the heart of India in the 19th century.
Though a devoted businessman, Yogananda’s first mission, of course, was the awakening of humanity. The former was born out of the desire of the latter, which is, in essence, the heart of all successful businesses: they are secondary. They are the tools of a larger desire.
And while we continue to encourage autodidactism above all else, the lives of those figures history has named significant for one reason or another — intellectual, spiritual or neither — are always worth examining.
If you’ve already read ‘Autobiography’, you know how outrageous — and potentially dangerous, particularly to suggestible readers — many of the claims made in the book are (Breatharianism, anyone?); you also know how certain, intricate knowledge that science is only recently beginning to verify (think the higgs boson) was already old news to many of the sages spoken of in the book.
As always, a conundrum.
Regardless, here are 15 quotes on enlightened business practice from an Indian Master whose life, it seems, was a testament to both.
“Most of you have had the feeling that you could be great, and do great things; but because you have lacked intuitive power, that potential has, for the most part, remained dormant. To progress and avoid the misery of mistakes, you have to find what is the truth in everything. This is possible only if you develop your intuition. That is the practical truth of the matter. That is why I am asking you to cultivate and use your intuitive power in everything. In your relationships with others, in your business, in your married life, in every part of your life, intuition is essential.”
“By not developing the faculty of intuition, you make wrong decisions, pick up the wrong business associates, and get caught up in wrong personal relationships. …intuition will never make such a mistake. It will not look at the magnetic power of the eyes or at the attractive face or personality of a person, but will feel and perceive accurately in the heart what that person is really like.”
“Business life need not be a material life. Business ambition can be spirituality. Business is nothing but serving others materially in the best possible way. Those stores that start out with the idea of only making money are readily recognized as commercial money-making dens, but stores that concentrate on serving customers with the best articles at the minimum cost will succeed, and will also advance the moral development of the world.”
“You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God’s creative principle works in you.”
“Good judgement is a natural expression of wisdom; but it is directly dependent on harmony within, which is poise of mind. When the mind lacks harmony, it has no peace; and without peace it lacks both judgement and wisdom. Life is full of bumps and knocks. In the hours of trials, which demand your keenest judgement, if you preserve your mental equilibrium you will attain victory. This is equally true in any type of organization — any structure that has interacting parts, from nature as a whole to human relationships to corporate businesses and spiritual societies. Harmony is the soul of organization; disharmony is death.”
“The great man doesn’t think he is great. Those who say they are great are not. And those who are great are too busy being great to think about their greatness.”
“As certain training is needed for engaging in the art of war, so does our engagement in battling with active life. Untrained warriors are soon killed on the battlefield; so also persons untrained in the art of preserving their inner peace are quickly riddled by the bullets of worry and restlessness in active life.”
“Learn to be very active in this world, doing constructive work; but when you are through with your duties, turn off your nervous motor. Retire to the center of your being which is calmness… If you have a calm nervous system, you will have success in everything you undertake…”
“Good selfishness should be practiced by the businessman, who, by sincere, honest, wholesome, constructive actions and labours, enables himself to look after his own and his family’s needs and provides a useful service to others. Such a businessman is far superior to one who thinks and acts only for himself, with no regard for those he serves or those dependent on him for support.”
“Simple living does not mean poverty or poverty consciousness.”
“If material poverty is to be avoided, spiritual poverty is to be abhorred; for the latter is the underlying cause of all human suffering. A practical spiritual man is a happy man, and only a happy man is a successful man. One hundred percent material prosperity among the inhabitants of a city will not prevent murders and crime. Following the universal principals of mutual service, spontaneous cooperation, love for the spiritual life, and disciplining the human sense cravings is wholly necessary for the harmonious, happy, healthy, prosperous life of any community.”
“In order to lead a balanced life, adults must educate themselves to realize that business ambitions should be only for making ourselves and others happy. Without this ideal, over-strenuous business activity produces nervousness, lack of harmonious social qualities. Miserliness, greed, and disrespect for all good principles. By realizing the true purpose of business activity — service for the benefit of others as well as oneself — life can really be happy.”
“When one has made a great deal of money, and simultaneously helped his workers and associates to become more prosperous, and then uses his wealth for helping others to help themselves, that is spiritualistic ambition.”
“Wealthy parents who leave too much money for their children choke the evolutionary development of self-created, self-earned success and happiness in their offspring.”
“There is no difficulty that cannot be solved, provided you believe you have more power than your troubles, and you use that power to shatter your impediments.”