A list of Steve Jobs’ favorite books and most influential reads was just published on Huffington Post, and it includes Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and Paramahansa Yogananda‘s Autobiography of a Yogi. It is an interesting endeavor to try to get into the mind of a creative genius, especially when that genius apparently had a pretty deep contemplative practice.
Having read both Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism many times, what interests me is that both of these texts focus heavily on ultimate truth, or emptiness, and repeatedly direct the student to release fixations on any relative outcomes. It is interesting to think of this ultimate type of letting go of thought as it relates to the process of a creative entrepreneur. What does shunyata have to do with the specs of the first Apple computer or the design of the iPad? What does an awareness of the dangers of spiritual materialism have to do with the successful and sexy marketing campaign that made iTunes such a force in the music industry?
I am constantly interested both by the minds of the juggernauts of our age, as well as how those minds related to themselves and their own creative process. It is not really surprising that Jobs was a practitioner, and it’s beautiful to see what books influenced him. Of course, as Apple has a bad reputation environmentally, you have to wish that Jobs read a bit more on the dangers of planned and perceived obsolescence of his products, but his reading list was an impressive one to say the least.