Steve Jobs visited
Among the three people Steve mentioned I have no expertise on two: Karl Marx and Neem Karoli Baba. However, I have a huge respect for Thomas Edison – I consider him to be the father of systematic innovation and have written a dozen articles in this blog referring to Thomas Edison & his contributions. I also know a few things about another baba: Ramana Maharshi – who fits the bill of a spiritual teacher who didn’t do much, didn’t speak much, didn’t travel much, didn’t wear much etc. – I guess you get the picture. In this article I want to visualize a hypothetical tennis match between Thomas Edison and Ramana Maharshi where points are scored based on “improvement to the world”. Shall we begin?
Before we begin, it may be good to look at a few things that were common to both Edison and Ramana. First, both were school dropouts.
Let’s start with Thomas Edison, for the simple reason that he is umpire-friendly. It is much easier to count the score. In a career spanning sixty one years (1868-1930)
Let’s look at Ramana’s “career” from the point he started living in a cave called
An important aspect of Ramana’s day-job was having dialogues with visitors to the Ashram – either through silence or through words. Some people would come from nearby places, others would come from places as far as US. I don’t know the total number of unique visitors who met Ramana. More importantly, was meeting Ramana making any difference? Sometimes ‘yes’ and sometimes ‘no’. Again this ratio of “yes-visitors” to “no-visitors” is not known. And even if we take the total number of “yes-visitors” to be a million (perhaps a gross exaggeration),
This is where the game becomes really tricky. Because the crux of Ramana’s teaching is concerned with the umpire himself i.e. the scoring system in my mind. Ramana felt that the biggest problem in the world was that the umpire ("I") falsely identifies himself with the scoring system. Steve Jobs himself was a super-umpire. He not only had opinions, his opinions thrived on super-villains (like Bill Gates). However, I really appreciate Steve for an important and yet overlooked keyword in his quote: "may be". I would like to stay with "may be" until I really understand the "I who wants to keep the score" very well.
Hope you enjoyed the match!
I read Steve Jobs quote in “iCon: Steve Jobs, the greatest second act in the history of business” by Young and Simon, Wiley-India, 2008, pg 25.
For more on Ramana Maharshi, I recommend Arthur Osborne’s “Ramana Maharshi and the path of self-knowledge” or