Steve Jobs on Death

In their discussion of the life and death of Steve Jobs, the media is referring often to Job’s acclaimed commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. Steve was acutely aware of his own mortality, and he shared many nuggets of wisdom that only come from a man who has brushed against death.

One line that is receiving a lot of run is Steve’s comment that “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

This statement is tragically only half right. Steve is correct that acknowledging our mortality is necessary for enjoying a liberated life, but it is only the first step. Steve was a Buddhist, so he did not believe in life after death (unless he had lived poorly, then karma would force him to be reincarnated as something inferior, which for him might mean coming back as a PC).

Buddhists desire to go out of existence entirely, to dissipate as a drop of water in the ocean of deity. They don’t believe that they—as distinct individuals—will live again. So while Steve may have been free to live with reckless abandon, he actually had no compelling reason to do so. He believed that he had nothing to lose because he thought he had already lost it, and he had no hope of ever getting it back.

Far better is the Christian hope in our resurrection. Paul concludes his long chapter on the resurrection by saying that it gives Christians reason to “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Death may liberate us to go for broke, but only the resurrection can move us to cash out.

3 Comments

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  1. Thanks for giving me a timely thoughtful article for my Technology EDU 573 class to read. Always looking for ways to help them see the connection between what we believe and how we live our lives.

  2. I posted on Steve Jobs’ death as well today. I have seen a number of Christians post RIP Steve Jobs. I understand the sentiment and truly admired the man’s push for innovation but, for someone who believes in hell and that only Christ can reconcile us to God, that the death of a lifelong Buddhist like Jobs is just sad.

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