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Tag Archive 'buddhism'

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is much in the news recently but only as a commercial or technical phenomenon. His psychological roots (as with anyone) determine his actions in the world. A prime example of the Enneagram’s Type Five personality, Jobs offers an opportunity to understand this structure as it is seen through patterns in his life and behavior.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple with Steve Wozniak, was born in 1955 while his mother was a single college graduate. Unable to support her baby, she put him up for adoption. It mattered to her that his adopting parents were college graduates. However, when the couple she had arranged with learned the baby was a boy, they reneged.

The next couple willing to adopt him did not have degrees. So she continued to nurture him for a few months until the adopting parents committed to seeing him graduate–though, ultimately, he dropped out anyway. As with Ada Lovelace, regarded as the first programmer, someone rejected at birth, grew into an icon in IT.

In line with the counterculture of the 70s, he explored LSD and went to India for a spiritual retreat. (He now identifies himself as a Buddhist.) In 1978, repeating his own history, he fathered a girl who was raised on welfare while he denied paternity on the grounds of being sterile.

Continuing to move with the times, he became one of the most innovative and often controversial entrepreneurs in IT. Apple gave new meaning to personal computing, introducing visual cues and user-friendly interfaces.

In 1998, the Dalai Lama gave permission for Apple to use his image with the words, “Think different.” China at the time was not an attractive market for Apple products. But business is business even for Buddhist ex-hippies. Under Jobs, Apple blocked a number of applications related to the Dalai Lama from the Chinese iPhones. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller responded, “We continue to comply with local laws…not all apps are available in every country.” And recently Apple admitted that child labor was used in factories in China that produce their hardware.

However, his life with Apple was not a straight road. In 1985, he was fired by the board of directors. He then founded NeXT computers, later bought by The Graphics Group which turned it into Pixar, the most prolific computer graphics company producing Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille. In 1996, Apple bought NeXT, bringing Jobs back to his original company as CEO.

In 2004, he was diagnosed with a rare, operable form of pancreatic cancer. Five years later a liver transplant allowed him to continue his creative mission.

In many parts of the world, adopted children are considered as “nobody’s children.” Perhaps a scanty identity drove him to India in search of his soul, but then he chose to construct a more acceptable one. Through prestige and money he built a well-defined “I”—iPod, iMac, iPhone, iPad. Through many anecdotes about his management style, we know Jobs as one of biggest egos in the IT world.

A pattern that emerges from the overview of his life is a repeated dropping out and redefining himself. Rejected by mother, potential parents, the very company he started; rejecting his education and his daughter; to nearly being rejected by life through major health problems.

Even making a home has been hard. Legal and bureaucratic problems surrounded a historical mansion he purchased in 1984 in Woodside, California. After living in its almost unfurnished state for years, he planned to demolish it to build a new house, but a local preservation group stopped him. He spent years renovating an apartment on the top floors of a New York City building, but never moved in. He seems in perpetual search for both inner and outer home, bouncing back from every difficulty with new tools and renewed energy to lay before the world.

Withdrawing into the Mind

Steve Job’s story is typical of the Type Five personality in the Enneagram (even thought elements of Type Seven are present too), a pattern shared by many people in the IT world. This psychospiritual system discriminates nine styles of personality. Probably of Sufi origin, it was brought to the West by George Gurdjieff around 1900, then spread in the 1970s as Oscar Ichazo and psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo elaborated the core qualities of the nine types. It was later popularized by Don Riso and Russ Hudson, as well as by Helen Palmer. A.H. Almaas elaborated the spiritual dimension in the 1990s.

Early ontological insecurity about survival can shape a schizoid personality, to which Enneatype Five is the closest. Rationality and orderliness are valuable defense mechanisms against the threat of being separated from life, assembling everything in its own place.

Type Fives escape into their mental world for safe haven. They want to be accepted for their capabilities, often disappearing from the scene to stay with their own minds and develop skills. These give them confidence to re-enter as talented (thus, accepted) persons with innovative ideas to display.

They are most successful by creating a niche which no one else occupies, giving them an acknowledged place in the world. Apple’s technology is proprietary, guaranteeing Jobs his unique place and highlighting the greedy aspect of Five personalities to horde—whether it is keeping their emotions and possessions to themselves or proprietary information.

The schizoid Type Five personality seems more widespread than others in the modern, technology-dependent world. The possible reasons for this are worth contemplating.

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The Digitally Divided Self

There’s an unusual but apparent alliance between two philosophies which are barely aware of and rarely come into contact each other, which conjure against the physical reality and the body. The first “philosophy” is represented by what have variously been called Cyberspace, Technopoly, Cyburbia and other names.

I prefer to define it as “The Digitalization of Reality,” wherein more and more human activities are being translated into bytes. Work, communication, media, entertainment, friends, dating, sexuality, culture, shopping, politics and causes are among the growing number of human needs that have gone digital.

While the Internet was something which earlier we mostly visited, now we are inhabiting the virtual worlds full-time and engineer them according to our mental projections. The Cartesian dream of a mind without a body has almost been fulfilled (even though in his old age Descartes, in Passions of the Soul, affirmed that “the soul is jointly united to all the parts of the body”).

This separation has a long history of Western thought starting from the Judeo-Christian separation between body and soul up to people like the transhumanist Hans Moravec, the artificial intelligence researcher Marvin Minsky, or the singularity guru Raymond Kurzweil who want to download the biological human mind to a safer mechanical medium in order to achieve nothing less than immortality.


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Saving time through technology

One of the most-heard mantras of fans of technology is that it “saves time.” Every new software contains procedures for making things simpler and faster, better than before, automating tasks having longer procedures earlier. All very well.

The problem is that for every task made simpler, more tasks are added. We will never save time through technology because the nature of the mind itself is to be kept busy, more so when our bodies are frozen in front of a screen. So we welcome new ways to keep it busy and we overload our minds with more – mostly useless – information and procedures.

Peter D. Hershock in Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999) writes:

According to Marshsall Sahlins, whose Stone Age Economics (1972) is an eye-opening classic, the average work week in Hawaiian and most other so-called “Stone-Age” cultures is about twenty-five hours (p. 45).

We lost the capacity to stay in empty spaces where our minds are not engaged and could be fed by an inner view, instead of giving attention only to external inputs.

Our capacity of conscious attention and presence does not grow according to the amount of information available. It actually becomes scattered and less. We can “be there” with just one thing at a time. We can even be there with none. Then we will be really “there.”


Uno dei mantra più ascoltati dei fan delle tecnologie è che “fanno risparmiare tempo”. Ogni nuova versione del software ha delle procedure per rendere le operazioni più semplici e più veloci, meglio di prima, automatizzando i compiti che richiedevano procedure più lunghe.

Il problema è che per ogni compito che viene semplificato vengono aggiunti altri compiti. Tramite la tecnologia non risparmieremo mai tempo poiché la natura della mente stessa è quella di mantenersi occupata, e ancor più quando i nostri corpi sono immobili di fronte ad uno schermo. Allora diamo il benvenuto a nuovi modi per tenerla occupata e riempire le menti con ulteriori, e più che altro inutili, informazioni e procedure.

Peter D. Hershock in Reinventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999) scrive:

Secondo Marshsall Sahlins, il cui Stone Age Economics (1972) è un classico rivelatorio, la media della settimana lavorativa nelle cosiddette culture dell’Età della Pietra e nelle Hawaii tradizionali era di circa 25 ore (p. 45).

Abbiamo perso la capacità di stare in spazi vuoti dove le nostre menti non sono coinvolte, dove potrebbero essere alimentate da una visione interiore invece di dare attenzione solamente ad input che provengono dall’esterno.

La nostra capacità di attenzione cosciente e la nostra presenza non cresce al crescere della quantità di informazione disponibile. In realtà diventa frammentata e indebolita. Possiamo “esserci” solo con una cosa per volta. Possiamo anche esserci senza niente. Allora saremo davvero “lì”.


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Internet and the weakening of central (inner) organizations

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In the Hindu and tantric Buddhist esoteric traditions, human beings are seen as composed of centers of energy called chakras. Of those, the sixth chakra, called Ajna chakra, is located between the eyes and is often associated with the pineal gland and the “third eye.”

The sixth chakra resonates with an intuitive kind of intelligence, with clear thinking and clear vision. The sixth chakra way of knowing allows one to see the forming of clear patterns in a huge amount of information. This chakra synthesizes many different aspects of intelligence and gives the skill to pick out information about anything by non-logical means.

The sixth chakra world points to a fascinating place where pure knowledge is omnipresent. Descartes would probably have loved to imagine such a place. Anybody heavily involved with information technology as well would enjoy the sixth chakra capacity to see patterns in the information overload and to live in a clear, brilliant place where intuition rules.

The sixth chakra is even more than intelligence as we know it. It is pure knowing, where even thinking is not needed any more. It is also a place where single individualities melt, where there’s nobody who knows and just knowing remains, a place where there’s no separation between inner and outer, between me and you… no more duality. There is a transpersonal flavour about the sixth body.

The sixth chakra is supposed to take charge of the person when the ego, through a spiritual path, doesn’t have the primary role any more. The sixth chakra starts to coordinate the body and the mind from a higher awareness than the ego and one of its names is “the command chakra.” The ego keeps the personality together through a thick net of thoughts, feelings and conditionings that are mostly acquired, while the Ajna chakra gives direct vision, knowledge and action, non-mediated by any past conditionings.


Nelle tradizioni esoteriche Indù e nel Buddismo tantrico, gli essere umani sono composti da centri energetici chiamati chakra. Di questi, il sesto chakra, chiamato  Ajna chakra, è localizzato in mezzo agli occhi ed è spesso associato con la ghiandola pineale e il “terzo occhio”.

Il sesto chakra risuona con un tipo di intelligenza intutitivo, con un pensiero e una visione nitida. La modalità di conoscere del sesto chakra consente ad una persona di vedere con chiarezza delle strutture, dei pattern, all’interno di un’enorme quantità di informazioni. Questo chakra sintetizza molti diversi aspetti dell’intelligenza e conferisce la capacità di estrapolare informazioni su qualsiasi tema tramite procedimenti non-logici.

Il mondo del sesto chakra mostra un luogo affascinante dove la conoscenza pura è onnipresente. Probabilmente Cartesio avrebbe amato immaginare un tale luogo. Anche chiunque è fortemente coinvolto nell’elaborazione dell’informazione si feliciterebbe della capacità del sesto chakra di vedere delle hiare strutture nel sovraccarico informativo e di risiedere in un luogo trasparente e brillante dove l’intuizione la fa da padrona.

Il sesto chakra va oltre alla definizione di intelligenza per come la conosciamo. E’ conoscenza allo stato puro, dove anche il pensiero stesso non è più necessario. E’ anche un luogo dove le singole individualità si fondono, dove non vi è più nessuno che conosce e dove rimane solo la conoscenza, un luogo ove non vi è separazione tra interiore ed esteriore, tra me e te, nessuna dualità. Il sesto corpo ha un sapore transpersonale.

Si ritiene che il sesto chakra si prenda cura della persona quando l’ego, tramite un percorso spirituale, non ha più un ruolo primario. Il sesto chakra inizia a coordinare il corpo e la mente da una conspevolezza più elevata dell’ego, tanto che uno dei suoi nomi è “il chakra del comando”. L’ego mantiene la personalità unita attraverso una fitta rete di pensieri, emozioni e condizionamenti, perlopiù acquisiti, mente l’Ajna chakra produce una visione, una conoscenza e un’azione diretta, non mediata da alcun condizionamento del passato.



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The mind as a kind of media


Marshall McLuhan told us that every medium and every technology has a role in the extension and numbness of our organs. The mind’s extensions created by computer technology on the one hand expand our mental possibilities in terms of research, information, and knowledge processing, but on the other bring us to amputate or to numb some of the capacities of the same mind.

The computer can seem an extension of the mind’s capacities, but in reality it numbs our capacities to observe our minds from the inside, as self-consciousness, of our mental mechanisms, and of our whole body/mind systems.

At this point, my hypothesis is: If the computer is a way of outsourcing the mind’s functions, the mind itself could be considered as a “medium” which determines an extension and an anesthesia, in this case in relation to the original completeness of the soul. This is an application of McLuhan’s theories considering the knowledge that comes from the psychology of the ego.


Sappiamo da Marshall McLuhan che ogni medium ed ogni tecnologia hanno un ruolo nell’estensione e nell’intorpidimento dei nostri organi. Le estensioni della mente create dalla tecnologia del computer se da una parte ci espandono le possibilità mentali in termini di ricerca ed elaborazione di informazioni e conoscenze, dall’altra parte ci portano ad amputare o intorpidire alcune capacità della stessa.

Le estensioni della mente create dalla tecnologia del computer se da una parte ci espandono le possibilità mentali in termini di ricerca ed elaborazione di informazioni e conoscenze, dall’altra parte ci portano ad amputare o intorpidire alcune capacità della stessa. Il computer, che può sembrare un’estensione delle capacità della mente, in realtà intorpidisce le capacità di osservazione della nostra mente dall’interno, intesa come consapevolezza di noi stessi, dei nostri meccanismi mentali e del nostro sistema globale corpo/mente.

A questo punto la mia ipotesi è che se il computer è un modo di esternalizzare le funzioni della mente, la mente stessa può essere considerata come un “medium” che determina una estensione e una anestesia, in questo caso in relazione alla completezza originaria dell’anima. Un’applicazione delle teorie di McLuhan considerando le conoscenze della psicologia dell’ego.



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Loving the truth for its own sake, interview with Almaas

<h1><a mce_thref=[en]The Diamond Approach, the path created by Hameed Ali, better known by the pen name A.H.Almaas, emphasizes loving the truth for its own sake. Searching the truth takes place through a process of inquiry that includes the subjectivity of the researcher and his personal history as a way to reach objective knowledge of the soul and of the divine.

In this interview, originally appeared on Innernet, he speaks about the inner inquiry process, the researchers and the nature of the soul.


Il Diamond Approach, il percorso creato da Hameed Ali, meglio conosciuto con il nome di penna di Almaas, valorizza l’amore della verità fine a se stessa. La ricerca avviene tramite un processo di “inquiry”, di interrogazione interiore, che include la soggettività del ricercatore come passaggio per arrivare ad una condizione di oggettività della conoscenza dell’anima e del divino.

In questa intervista, originalmente apparsa su Innernet, Hameed Ali parla della ricerca interiore, dei ricercatori e della natura dell’anima.



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Neural reflexes and reflections on meditation

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At the bottom layer, both the television and the computer screens are about moving images. Looking at anything new moving in front of our eyes brings an ancient impulse to react through the instinctual fight-or-flight mechanism and our “orienting response.”


Di base, sia la televisione che il computer sono immagini in movimento su uno schermo. Guardare qualcosa di nuovo che si muove innanzi ai nostri occhi fa riaffiorare l’antico impulso a reagire attraverso il meccanismo “lotta-o-scappa” e la nostra “risposta di orientamento”.



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