Wandering in India, Steve Jobs learned intuition
NEW DELHI: Steve Jobs' India sojourn in the summer of 1974 has been much written about, but always remained shrouded in mystery and speculation. A new authorised biography of the billionaire who lost his long battle with cancer earlier this month, reveals hitherto little known details about Jobs' experiences in India during a seven-month trip, and how he learnt about the power of intuition in this country.
"The people in the Indian countryside don't use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That's had a big impact on my work," Jobs later recalled to Walter Issacson, the biographer.
Jobs goes on to say that Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic but is learned. "In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That is the power of intuition and experiential wisdom,"' he said.
Jobs says his seven months stay in Indian villages made him "see the craziness" of the Western world as well as its capacity for rational thought. "If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. if you try to calm it, it will only make it worse. but over time it does calm, and when it does, there's room to hear more subtle things - that's when your intuition starts to blossom,'" he says.
But if the trip hit the spiritual high notes for Jobs, material aspects were less rosy.
Jobs received in New Delhi the classic treatment millions of visitors before and since have only been too familiar with - a cabdriver who hard sold a hotel that turned out to be a dive, a motel owner who promised filtered water but failed to deliver, and that not-so-easily-forgettable condition: Delhi belly.
"I got dysentery pretty fast. I was sick, really sick, a really high fever. I dropped from 160 pounds to 120 in about a week," Jobs later recalled. He landed in Delhi in April, and like all new visitors to the city in summers, "felt waves of heat rising from the tarmac".
Once Jobs got better enough to travel, he decided to get out of Delhi, and headed to Haridwar. His visit coincided with the Kumbh Mela, which can be an overwhelming experience even for seasoned visitors. "There were holy men all around. Tents with this teacher and that teacher. There were people riding elephants, you name it. I was there for a few days, but I decided that I needed to get out of there too."