Farewell of a Yogi

Ankur Bora

Of the hundreds of books , magazines , newspaper articles I’ve read over the years, the one that has a profound impact in my life, both as a child and an adult , is an autobiography , a book I happened to receive as winner of school debating competition. The period was the decade of the eighties, when the common medium of communication was the rotary phone – the phone with a cord attached to a wall. During those days, we used to get calls from one of my aunts who lived in the US ; because of the time difference , those long distance calls usually came at night time. As soon as the phone rang, there was a mad rush as everyone, whether in the bathroom or in the kitchen, upstairs or downstairs, in towels or in pajamas, scrambled to pick up. OK, all of you of a certain age are laughing now because you remember doing just that. I have the fondest memory of those calls. One day, my aunt called especially to congratulate me on winning the competition. I was beaming with pride. While talking over the rotary phone, I wanted to show her the book which I received as the first prize winner, but alas there was no way out – it was a mere rotary phone. My aunt from America was telling me, there would be phones to see each other , and it would happen soon!

It is said that imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions. We just live our lives as though our present way of life is the best it can be. A young American thought otherwise; deep down he knew that our world could be better. He imagined a world with computers for everyone of us and devices that anyone could take anywhere, where people’s connection to a computer would be far more direct and intuitive. After graduating from High school, he enrolled in a college but dropped out and traveled to India for enlightenment. He was deeply fascinated by the spiritual culture and lack of materialism in India. During his stay, he came down with dysentery. When he was staying in a village where a family helped him to recuperate by feeding him vegetarian meals, he came across a book , “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. The India trip and that book had a lasting effect on him which influenced his work ethic later in his life.

June 6th, 1981 – At the park plaza in the city of Boston, a crowd gathered to listen to a young man who had upended the way our world lived and worked. They were about to witness the unfurling of a technical revolution , a new way of human interactions, a creation far beyond what anyone had ever done before, a device no humans had ever conjure up themselves. As the excitement was building up, the keynote speaker, the man everyone was waiting to hear was nowhere to be found. The frantic organizer finally spotted him backstage. He was sitting on the floor cross-legged, completely still. Dear friends, it was Steve Jobs, the protagonist of this story , the wonderkid who had made computers in his parent’s garage, who had given up the Stanford degree, who had gone to India to discover and embrace meditation practices . That day, at the precipice of one of the biggest events of his life Steve Jobs paused to meditate. Immersed in Dhyana, he was calm and quiet amidst the chaos around and at that instance he became a perfect Yogi.

Dear Friends, the book Autobiography of a Yogi , which Steve Jobs uncovered mysteriously was also the same book that I won as an award in a debating competition when I was in high school ! Written by Paramahansa Yogananda , a spiritual teacher and illustrious author who is widely revered as the father of Yoga in the west, the book is a profound revelation to humanity – how when we become silent and calm within , we are actually able to hear and see clearly. As I began to re-read the book, I found a great illustration by Yogananda on meditation, about the human mind and people’s intuition or gut feelings. The book contains many practical examples and one of them is motion pictures and movie theater. The projector at the back of a movie theater uses a lights source to project continuous streams of big, bright images onto a screen. Just a beam of light, when focused by the machine, creates vivid color and panoramic views; as the projector moves, the rotating white lights bring into life the colorful human drama. Like the light, the human mind is an enormous source of creation and when it is focused, steadfast and unwavering, the mind becomes a marvelous machine. Steve Jobs is an example for all of us. With a razor focused mind, a clear vision, intuition and purpose, he went on to invent products no one had ever dreamed of and thus he chiseled himself into God’s masterpiece.

It is said that the Autobiography of a Yogi was the only book Jobs downloaded on his iPad, and after first encountering the book as a teenager, he would go back and reread once every year until the end of his life. The teaching of Yogananda resonated throughout his life and even in his death. At his memorial service, held at Stanford University in October 2011,every attendee was handed a brown box. Inside it was not one of the many dazzling products he created, the box inside carried this very book! The farewell gift of Steve Jobs to the world was a little book of Yoga and it was the last thing he wanted us all to think about and live by. sameboatbrother