Steve Jobs Sought Enlightenment in India After Dropping Out of College

Via Bob Weisenberg
on Apr 12, 2010
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Steve Jobs

Fascinating excerpt from all about Steve Jobs:

It was at Reed that Steve started experimenting with Eastern mysticism. He delved into weird books and came to believe that if he ate only fruits, for example, he would eliminate all mucus and nten yearsa decade later, when he was a multi-millionaire). He tried LSDs, and became part of the whole hippie movement, although it already belonged to the past back then (he was a decade late). One of his best friends at Reed was Dan Kottke, who shared his interests in such philosophies.

The following year, in 1974, Steve desperately needed some money and he got himself a job at Atari. Atari was arguably the first video game company: it was created by Nolan Bushnell in 1972, and one of its first employees was Al Acorn, the inventor of Pong. Steve was hired although he would often call his co-workers names and smell pretty bad. That’s why he was soon moved to the night shift.

Young Steve Jobs looked up to Atari’s founder Nolan Bushnell. He was impressed by this iconoclastic man who made a lot of money by building pinball machines. He was clearly an inspiration for him to start Apple.


While he was at Atari, Steve convinced Bushnell of paying him a trip to India. Atari did pay his trip up to Germany, where he had to work on fixing some Atari machines. Then Steve was joined by his hippie friend from Reed, Dan Kottke, and they went to India in search for enlightenment. They came up pretty disappointed, especially after they met the guru Kairolie Baba, who, as they quickly found out, was a con man.

“We weren’t going to find a place where we could go for a month to be enlightened. It was one of the first times that I started to realize that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Kairolie Baba put together.”
(quoted in Michael Moritz’s The Little Kingdom“)

When Steve came back, he resumed his job at Atari, and would spend some of his days in primal scream therapy sessions or at the Los Altos Zen Center, where he befriended Governor Jerry Brown and his guru Kobun Chino. He also spent several weeks with his girlfriend Chris-Ann and Dan Kottke in a hippie commune in Oregon, the All-One Farm. Here they would cultivate apples and for some time, Steve would eat only that — when he wasn’t fasting, that is.



About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.


22 Responses to “Steve Jobs Sought Enlightenment in India After Dropping Out of College”

  1. tamara says:

    Thanks for sharing and I'm not surprised to hear this about him… Steve Jobs is an independent thinker, encourages others to develop their own beliefs and is an overall awesome man! 😉

  2. Mahita Devi says:

    Thank you Bob for sharing this information. As Tamara said, Steve is an independent thinker.

  3. Wow – who knew? Thanks for this Bob!

  4. Thanks Bob! Primal scream therapy, huh? Intriguing.

  5. chris says:

    I had some memory that Steve Jobs had such a background, and have heard it said that if Bill Gates had tuned in and turned on back in the day, Windows and Microsoft products might me a lot more interesting.

  6. hathima says:

    steve jobs is a billionaire and neem karoli baba was enlightened. i would place my money on maharaji…

  7. Taj Majii says:

    Without Neem Karoli Baba there would not have been the book “From Bindu to Ojas” later renamed “Be Here Now”, authored by Baba RamDass (aka Richard Alpert). This book brought a enhanced awareness for spiritual quest.

    Steve likely deciphered the identity and location of the guru of Baba RamDass and stayed for a short duration.

    Obviously one does not find enlightenment in one month (without Karmic endowment).

    Steve could also be designated a renowned con man his-self.

  8. Vivekananda says:

    How on earth can the author call Sri Neem Karoli Baba a con-artist – especially after such poor research to not even get his name right…!? Neem Karoli Baba was one of the greatest Indian saints of this past century and he was guidance and inspiration to countless souls both in India and the west – even now, almost four centuries after his Mahasamadhi in 1973.

    That Steve Jobs chose the way of fame and money instead of a more direct spiritual path alongside a Guru in no way lessens Maharaji's greatness.

    Jay Sri Gurudev

  9. […] via our friends at Elephant: Steve Jobs Sought Enlightenment in India After Dropping Out of College This entry was created by Rod Meade Sperry, posted on October 6, 2011 at 11:30 am and tagged […]

  10. dharma_singh says:

    I read a different version of his trip to India – that when he got to Neem Karoli's ashram he had just passed. Steve never actually met him. That makes a little more sense than the "con-artist" story.

  11. Guest says:

    I suggest the author of this article do his homework on what is really true and also before calling a great guru a "con man". I really didn't expect something like this from Elephant Journal. Pretty disappointed in a few of these recent articles.

  12. Friend of Krishna says:

    Though I doubt Neem Karoli Baba cares what anyone thinks of him to say such a thing is really disrespectful. I will be taking elephant journal off my facebook page

  13. Ren says:

    As far as I know, Elephant doesn't produce many of the articles – it's a collaboration of independent artists who are expected to do their own fact-checking. It is a curse and a blessing.

  14. Guest says:

    Steve Jobs started at Atari in 1974 to earn money for a trip to India, according to the article. Neem Karoli Baba died September 11, 1973.

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  17. Sanjeev Sharma says:

    I would expect the author to cross check the facts to bring authenticity in this script. I have read Steve's biography written by Walter Isaacson . It is absolutely and unambiguously clear from the biography that Steve visited Kainchi Ashram of Baba Neem Karoli Maharaj in the Year 1974 after his Mahasamadhi (leaving body and be existent in spirit, commonly and mistakenly called death) happened on 11th September, 1973.
    I quote from the above book
    " He went by train and bus to a villiage near Nainital in the foothills of the Himalayas. That was where Neem Karoli Baba lived. or had lived. By the time Jobs got there, he was no longer alive. at least in the same incarnation."
    ( Page 46, Steve Jobs written by Walter Isaacson)

    I appeal The Elephant to verify the facts correct them and tender an apology for hurting the feelings of devotees.

  18. sanjeev sharma says:

    Calling Baba Neem Karoli Maharaj " a con artist " shows lack of seriousness and authentic research by the author of the script.

  19. Anurag says:

    Neem Karoli Baba was not a con man. He is still worshiped by millions of people around the globe. In fact Steve Jobs could not meet hi.

    Steve reached his ashram in 1974 and Baba had taken mahasamadhi ( left for heavenly abode) in 1973.

  20. Sandeep Apte says:

    Even John Sculley had suggested that Steve Jobs had returned from India a disillusioned man.

    In the year 1999, when I was writing a pen portrait of Jobs, I decided to write to him to clarify his experience of India once for all.

    It was very difficult to get his co-ordinates, and after three months of effort, I tracked down Steve's email id.
    After that it took me seven weeks and seven emails to get him to respond!
    I did this by changing the subject line of the email every week … what worked was "Is John Sculley right?" 🙂

    Steve replied saying his experience of India was a very pleasant one and he was NOT disillusioned at all. He added that he still revered Neem Karolie Baba.

    Hope this settles the dust of misunderstanding & misrepresentation.

  21. Calling Neem Karoli Baba a 'con artist' is an epic level of ignorant bluffing. Not that NKB would have cared 1 iota. Laughable spoofing.