Imitate a Spiritual Master. One Candidate: Steve Jobs


One of my favorite resolutions is to Imitate a spiritual master. My spiritual master is St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and I've read her spiritual memoir, Story of a Soul, many times, as well as a whole shelf full of biographies. I think about St. Thérèse every single day (and I'm not even Catholic).

From reading the impassioned commentary surrounding the death of Steve Jobs, it's clear to me that many people look to Jobs as a spiritual master -- for his creative genius, for his perseverance in the face of failure and frustration, for his ability to communicate his vision, for his fidelity to himself and his own values.

When I read in Charles Duhigg's New York Times piece that people were paying tribute to Jobs by leaving apples, with one bite missing, outside Job's house in Palo Alto, I choked up. I went to re-read, for the umpteenth time, Jobs's thought-provoking 2005 Stanford commencement address, and I finally found the video version.

The first step to imitating a spiritual master is to identify that person, and then to contemplate what that person stands for, what that person is teaching you. The final step is to try to put those teachings to work, in your life.

One way quickly yet meaningfully to honor Jobs's life would be to sign up to be an organ donor. And of course there are countless other ways, too, each specific to an individual.

It's interesting: both St. Thérèse and Steve Jobs knew that death was imminent (from tuberculosis and cancer, respectively). Jobs observed, "Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent." One of the goals for my happiness project is to appreciate my life now, without the threat of death, beyond the ordinary intimations of mortality.

Who is your spiritual master? How do you try to imitate that person's example and teachings, in your own life?

* I'm working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone's project will look different, but it's the rare person who can't benefit. Join in -- no need to catch up, just jump in right now.

* I always enjoy checking out Time's Healthland -- "a healthy balance of mind, body and spirit." Lots of great information there.

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