Steve Jobs

Kobun Chino cuke page

Kobun and Steve Jobs and Shunryu Suzuki and Zen

The Spiritual Vision of Steve Jobs by Les Kaye

9-11-14 - The Zen of Steve Jobs, Kobun Chino Otogawa and Japan - thanks Gregory MacNaughton who sent it as part of a discussion with Reed Zen alumni.


DC responded: I don't know about Jobs sitting at the SFZC zendo, rather the Los Altos zendo. All I know about Jobs and Tassajara is that Kobun brought him there one day to show it to him. [Later I found out about Jobs and Daniel Kottke going there for the baths in the late seventies.]


9-12-14 - John Sheehy (who's researching Reed/Zen/Lloyd Renolds) wrote the following after reading yesterday's post from Gregory MacNaughton on Kobun Chino and Steve Jobs and DC's piece on Kobun - some interesting stuff here - dc


Thanks for the link [to this page] (and Greg too ). A great write up. I especially loved the story told by Rick Fields, a dear old friend.


I've interviewed Daniel Kottke '76 about his adventures with Jobs around Reed, SFZC, and India (now on file in Reed archives--and we will eventually provide these interviews to I hope). He denies much of what Isaacson wrote in his bio of Jobs about his practice of Zen while at Reed. They weren't meditating, but rather reading numerous spiritual books (most prominently "Be Here Now," although Steve's favorite was "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind").  Also he said that their trips together to Tassajara in the mid-70s were for the baths; and to Green Gulch once only to tour the gardens. They did not sit at SFZC. Only Los Altos.


I've also read Caleb Melby's cartoon book, The Zen of Steve Jobs, which goes into great detail about Steve's relationship to Kobun (especially regarding calligraphy). I'm trying to get in touch with Melby. It's not clear how much of his account is fictitious, and how much is based on interviews. He depicts Steve meeting Suzuki Roshi at the Los Altos zendo while a high school student in 1970, and rejecting him, responding later more to Kobun's style.


I would like to find people who had more knowledge of Steve's relationship with Kobun Chino, especially around the calligraphy and sumi painting.

From Our Great Friend and Teacher Kobun Chino

Steve Jobs had been sitting at the Los Altos zendo and had taken on Kobun as a teacher. He gave Kobun a place to live on his estate. Kobun brought him to Tassajara one day (I don't think Jobs practiced there at all as it says in his bio). Kobun performed a marriage ceremony for Jobs and his fiancÚ. Bob Watkins said he once called Steve Jobs asking for some financial help for Kobun and that Jobs had said he’d only give Kobun money if he came back to live there. Bob asked Kobun why hadn’t he ever asked Jobs for money and he said it had never occurred to him.

Kobun Chino cuke page

Kobun Chino talks about Jobs in this video at his disciple Vanja Palmers' Austrian retreat, Puregg - but just a little and it's long.

What Kind of Buddhist was Steve Jobs, Really? (or read here on cuke) - Most interesting from Steve Silberman, but the Tassajara connection doesn't ring a bell. If you have any memories of this please write. - posted that a couple of years ago (2-15-12)

2018--09-17 -  from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who just bought Time Magazine for $190 million, says he lives with a 'beginner's mind'

In his text conversation with the New York Times, Benioff reportedly cited wisdom from 20th-century Zen master Shunryu Suzuki: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."

Back in 2016, Benioff described his thought process to The Wall Street Journal: "I kind of try to let go of all the things that have ever happened so far in our industry, which is a lot of stuff, and just go, OK, what's going to happen right now?"

It's a mindset that Benioff — a former Apple intern— reportedly picked up from Steve Jobs. In an appearance at a 2013 TechCrunch conference, he praised his former boss as a "spiritual man" who was "mindful and conscious of everything he did."

Jobs himself was a major advocate for cultivating a "beginner's mind," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Jerry Halpern on Steve Jobs at Haiku Zendo

On 10/7/2016 1:15 AM, Jerry Halpern wrote:

 Hi David,

Steve did have a relationship with Kobun at the time of the effort to acquire the Pentler estate.  I believe he first met Kobun in 1974 or 75.   However,  Apple did not exist until 1976. And it was only in late 1978 or 79 that it had modest success.  The effort to acquire the Pentler estate occurred during 1975-6 to 1978.  Steve was barely out of his garage at that time.  I do not remember that anyone regarded him at the time as someone who had any money or who could possibly have contributed money to the project.

Three other short comments.

1)My sense is that Steve was bright and had an excellent sense of the beautiful.  He didn’t need any relation with Zen or Kobun for this.  For instance, before he appeared at haiku zendo he had had a substantial interest in calligraphy.  And personally, the first time I saw a copy of Feynman’s lectures on physics was at his place well before Apple was founded.

2)I do not know whether or not Steve participated in sesshins at Tassajara.  [With my view, at the time in 1972-3, of Dick, how and why (in my view) he was(still is?) operating, I kept little or no contact with SF Zen Center after I left Tassajara at the end of Dec 1972 and then finally left Page street a few months later.]  However, although I do not specifically remember it, it is very likely that Steve participated in one or more of the sesshins that Kobun and Haiku_Zendo held in 1973-1978 in the Youth Hostel on Frank and Josephine Duvanek’s property, “Hidden Villa” in Los Altos Hills.

3)Vanja has a recording/video_tape of a lecture that Kobun gave in Europe. In it Kobun talks of some of his early meetings with Steve. (Although interesting and, I’m sure, honest, Kobun has a not so important error of memory.  Kobun speaks of Steve’s Lisa computer, but the Lisa was not created until several years after the meetings Kobun describes. In whatever conversation took place Steve would likely have been speaking of the Apple_1 or Apple_II or their precursors).  I haven’t checked, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this video tape is available on one of Vanja’s Kobun websites.